This forum uses cookies
This forum makes use of cookies to store your login information if you are registered, and your last visit if you are not. Cookies are small text documents stored on your computer; the cookies set by this forum can only be used on this website and pose no security risk. Cookies on this forum also track the specific topics you have read and when you last read them. Please confirm whether you accept or reject these cookies being set.

A cookie will be stored in your browser regardless of choice to prevent you being asked this question again. You will be able to change your cookie settings at any time using the link in the footer.

  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
First experience with PyPilot on a 39' Jeanneau Sun Fizz
#1
Photo 
I think, it is due time, to provide some feedback and experience about/with "my" Pypilot.
 
Up to now I had two Autopilots installed on my boat - a Jeanneau Sun Fizz built 1981 - 1. an almost "antique" Autohelm 3000, with an external timing belt and the drive motor attached to the outer wall of the port-side storage locker in the cockpit.
2. a wind steering pilot "Wind pilot Pacific".
 
Everything worked (and still works) fine. The Autohelm (the control-unit too is attached to the wall of the storage locker on port) steers relatively reliable the programmed course and can be handled easily, as it is in almost direct reach from the helm.
The "Wind pilot" steers according to the wind-angle and this too is very reliable and doesn't need any electricity or board energy, which would make it the first choice anyway on longer ocean passages with stable wind conditions (trade winds ...).
 
So, why now looking for another autopilot??
 
One thing clearly was backup: The Autohelm failed electronically twice up to now and I had to repair it trying to get spare parts in electronic shops etc. However, it still works fine - further the motor had to be exchanged once, as the brushes were worn off and there was no replacement - a cheap electro motor from a scale-model (Conrad in Germany) shop works perfectly. .... 
 
The second reason is, that these autopilots work relatively simple by either just keeping a course angle to the wind (Wind pilot) or just to the Compass direction (the Autohelm - the Autohelm too offers the option to attach a wind-vane to take wind directions into consideration). 
 
The pypilot now offers definitely a new dimension of automatic steering of a boat:
 
1.  It steers - conventionally - according to the compass - you steer a course manually, then activate the autopilot and it keeps course, at least - and this is the point - the correct angle to the compass .... If there is any current or wind drift it steers like the Autohelm and it therefore does not steer the "true" course. ...
2.  However, you can connect the Pypilot to e.g. OpenCPN - then you could define a "route" with waypoints, activate this route and the Pypilot then just follows the route - one waypoint after the other....
3.  Here - and I think, this is to be mentioned explicitly: It does NOT steer a course and follows it, it now steers TO A LOCATION (e.g. a waypoint).
 
This - in my opinion - is a definitely new dimension and advantage over the Autohelm and the Wind pilot ...
 
So, this all was to be tested and seen, how this would work in practice.
 
Here is my setup:
 
First - I mounted the pilot directly above the chart table to the bulk-head. The same for the motor controller. Just for possible more power consuming motors or actuators, I used 10 mm² cable from the controller to the steering motor.
Now the other setup:
 
1.  I am using OpenCPN and as a "normal" PC has quite a considerable power consumption - I run OpenCPN on a Raspberry Pi 3+ to have some more compute power available.
2.  Regrettably the OpenCPN plugins are only current or on the latest level on the Windows platform and certain communications (like HF-Radio) only run under Windows, I still need a "real" PC running Windows to do e-mail via HF, etc. ...
3.  Therefore, you need some communication between the Raspberry AND the Windows PC AND further to the Pypilot.... Wi-Fi looks like to be the option - you can, however, only be connected to ONE Wi-Fi at a time therefore -
4.  I have a router installed on the boat to provide for a "ship WLAN". The router is connected to a relatively good antenna via USB to get connections to e.g. harbor WIFI’s, so you have internet and a nice communication vehicle on board.
5.  However, as the Pypilot also serves as a Wi-Fi server.... - by just using your Wi-Fi, you would be in trouble, as you could only connect to either the Pypilot OR the ship Wi-Fi (WLAN). This was fixed via
6.  Ethernet: The router (my router - therefore you should check, that any router you purchase has at least the same amount of Ethernet connectors) provides TWO Ethernet connections.
7.  Therefore, the Raspberry Pi is connected via Ethernet (cable) to the router AND the Windows PC is connected via Ethernet (cable) to the router. This way both computers have a connection to each other AND to the internet, provided you can attach to the internet via any harbor (or else) Wi-Fi.
8.  The Raspberry Pi now in addition connects to the Pypilot via Wi-Fi.

As this may sound relatively complex, I show a picture here - it is definitely VERY simple... (I left out the power cables and you need to "imagine", that the Pypilot connects to this via Wi-Fi:


O.K., I am having difficulties to attach the configuration picture here, I am constantly getting error messages, so, everybody who is interested may send me a message and I will send the configuration. Maybe meanwhile I too find a solution for this problem here  - so, only text, sorry....

9.  I now configured OpenCPN on the Raspberry to connect to the Pypilot (Tools menu) - and now, this is important - you need to fill in the correct same parameters - click on: 

   "connections" then
   "add a connection" and here you need to specify:
   "Network"  then the "protocol" here specify:
   "TCP" the Address then is:
   "192.168.14.1" and the Data-Port:
   "20220" then you need to check the fields:
   "Verify Checksum"
   "Input on this port" and
   "Output to this port"
   The "Talker ID" should default to EC and
   the "Precision" should look like x.xxxx
   The fields to define accepted or denied sequences for      

   input and output should be left blank.


10.In the Pypilot plugin configuration you need to specify the same (IP) address as above 192.168.14.1 


Now you are all set. In case you have a GPS (USB-Mouse) available, this could be connected to the Pypilot as well and the Pypilot will now use both, the GPS and the (built in) compass. (In addition, you could as well connect a wind sensor).
 
As the drive motor I connected just the "old" drive motor of the Autohelm to the Pypilot motor controller.
 
 
The Test:
 
After all this was installed, I went through the "calibration" process - first levelling the inertial sensors of the Pypilot at the mooring place, then drove slowly a "8" in our relatively calm harbor water.
 
Then, out of the harbor and still running under engine, I specified a route to where we wanted to go.
The Pypilot was activated and the boat just went on a straight course.
Then I "activated" the previously defined route. ....
The Pypilot immediately steered to the waypoint where the route started...
When we got closer the next waypoint got "activated" and - in a VERY smooth curve - the Pypilot steered to the next waypoint....
While steaming to the next waypoint we set sail (just furling out the genoa and as the course was relatively to the wind, we even set the main sail while now sailing already under the genoa.
The engine was stopped ....
 
And now?? NOTHING... regardless whether we were going under engine, setting the genoa (the boat got of course more drift), setting the main (more drift of course) stopping the engine (even more drift) some sea developed, etc. ... NOTHING happened
The Pypilot kept the course straight to the next waypoint everything was compensated - later, checking the track, it never went farther than 10m max. from the defined route. ...
 
IT WORKED LIKE A DREAM!!!
 
Under way, we were changing waypoints - and therefore the route - no problem - the pilot just followed the changes, definitely that simple.
 
Finally, we extended the route back into the harbor - incl. a kind of U-turn around the starboard harbor light - ok, you have to watch the traffic etc. - but the pilot just followed the route.
 
In fact, almost all functions around the navigation following routes even the "navigate to here" function just work with the Pypilot without any problem...
 
Again, it worked like a dream.
 
It is, as if you have a VERY reliable helmsman who keeps track of the correct course, you have time to set the sails trim them etc. the ship is being steered where you wanted to go (ok, if there are sudden wind changes etc. which cannot be compensated by adjusting the sails, you need to do something manually. But other than that, I only can say it works perfectly.
 
Another nice function is the "Weatherrouting" plugin - I used it to calculate a weatherroute with current GRIB data. The track was converted to a route the route activated and then - just, as above just - from time to time adjusting the sails and that was it... (ok, there is more to do, if you have to tack, however, even this is done by the pilot, you just need to keep track of getting the sails to the "correct" side....
 
So much to the test. as a summary I can say I am VERY happy with this new addition to my boat and I am looking forward to some single-handed sailing (with the electronic "second hand") ...
 
Just some words to the huge number of parameters you can change to influence the precision of the pilot: I am still fiddling around with the "Gains" and I think there is more behind these, when you are getting into rougher conditions, however, for a start, you should just begin with some small adjustments of the first two gains (right hand) and this did almost everything in my situation. So, don't make things too complicated in the beginning it works fine with minimal adjustments right from the start.
 
All in all - another almost perfect tool from Sean, as there are "Weatherfax", "Weatherrouting", "Watchdog", "Climatology", "Celestial Navigation" etc.....
 
Sorry for the loooong report here, but I hope it helps "newcomers" a bit to directly get to a good start and - last but not least - promote this - in my opinion - excellent autopilot.
 
Best regards, Uwe      
  Reply
#2
Another first experience:

http://phoenixketch.blogspot.com/2019/01...pilot.html
  Reply
#3
(02-03-2019, 11:40 PM)seandepagnier Wrote: Another first experience:

http://phoenixketch.blogspot.com/2019/01...pilot.html

Hi there,

just tried to read the blog, but above link seems not to work (at least not for me). To everybody who has the same problem(s) please try:

http://phoenixketch.blogspot.com/search/...lectronics

very interesting and excellent report ....

Best,

Uwe
  Reply


Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)