Wireless autopilot controls: Madman for Raymarine, Si-Tex SRS-100 for any brand

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 25, 2015

Madman_ap_control_for_Raymarine_cPanbo.jpgSome people think it's crazy to run an autopilot with a smartphone, so maybe it's fitting that a company called Madman Marine is the first to make this possible with Raymarine pilots. But then again, Madman's AP-WRC3iF comes with two fobs that run on a separate wireless frequency and that can also make course changes, initiate autotacks and change pilot modes. And it only costs about $235 U.S. plus shipping from Australia (with the fob-only model at about $190)...

Madman_AP-WRC3iF_for_Raymarine_aPanbo.jpg

What Madman has done is to figure out the autopilot commands in regular SeaTalk, so that the installation only requires 12v power and a three wire ST connection to a (hopefully) spare ST terminal block on an older Ray course computer like the STx000 or SPX series. Apparently, it is also possible to use the Madman control with the current Evolution pilots, but the needed SeaTalk to SeaTalkng (NMEA 2000) converter will add to the cost. But then again, I'm not sure that Raymarine's own S100 or SmartController wireless autopilot controls -- which look great, but are more expensive -- can be made to work with Evolution.

Finally, note that while all current Raymarine MFDs include autopilot commands and can be remotely controlled by either RayRemote on a smartphone or RayControl on a tablet, in both cases the only limitation is that "autopilot activation/deactivation is not possible via a mobile device." I think that other manufacturers also limit autopilot control over a mobile device WiFi connection. Are they being overly cautious?

SiTex_SRS_100_handheld.jpg

The Madman products reminded me of the SRS-100 that Si-Tex introduced in 2013 -- video here -- though it has nothing to do with smartphones and is not actually an autopilot control. In fact, the user is advised to turn off an existing autopilot, or at least put it in standby, when using the simple steering control above. (Yes, it looks like a Fisher-Price toddler toy, but it floats and might be quite visible even when overboard.) As shown below, the SRS-100 base station connects between an autopilot and a steering drive and thus doesn't care about AP commands. The steering kit costs just $299 complete, and while neither the product description nor the manual are currently on the Si-Tex site, they are definitely available upon request.

SiTex_SRS_100_handheld.jpg

Comments

iNavX has been controlling autopilots for years..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7POAPsK-SY

Posted by: GPSNavX at March 25, 2015 7:09 PM | Reply

Great video, but that's providing Nav data to an autopilot, not autopilot control like the Madman app does. Some boaters might want both; iNavX to steer routes by, iSteer to dodge pot buoys along the route or go into (steer by) Wind mode or autotack.

Posted by: Ben in reply to GPSNavX at March 25, 2015 8:46 PM | Reply

Do we know if the Furuno remote app can control the on-screen autopilot functions of a TZT or the new TZT 2? It seems to be able to do just about everything else.

Posted by: Quitsa at March 26, 2015 7:53 PM | Reply

I don't know, Quitsa, and it may be that the Raymarine apps only limit the ability to engage or disengage the pilot from a mobile device.

But I come across interesting evidence that the Ray SmartController works with the new Evolution drives. Dealer/installers can not get one free with an EV autopilot from wholesaler WinTron:

http://www.wintronelectronics.com/landing-pages/BLOCKAD

Posted by: Ben at March 27, 2015 11:39 AM | Reply

I am in the process of having a new Furuno system installed on my boat that will have a pair of TZT2s (assuming they ever ship them!) and a TZT 9 (which is already installed) as well as a Furuno 711C autopilot. I won't pick up the boat from the yard for six weeks, but I might ask my installer to try the iPad app and see if he can control the pilot.

Posted by: Quitsa at March 27, 2015 3:56 PM | Reply

Update on Furuno iPad control issue -- I posted a question on their support forum and got this reply: "This would have to be checked, but in theory yes. I do not recommend it though as there is a delay when using the iPad app, especially if you are using a higher resolution display.
It is just not a smart thing to do with a device that is driving the boat. But that is just an old timers opinion."

Not very enthusiastic but it does appear that they have not disabled the function.

Posted by: Quitsa at March 28, 2015 7:26 AM | Reply

I like that Sitex controller! Nothing to mess up. Operational question though... if a pilot is engaged holding a course and then the sitex device moves the helm, the pilot is going to throw all kinds of alarms... off course, rudder response, etc.

Posted by: emsusa at March 28, 2015 12:06 PM | Reply

Right, that's why I wrote "the user is advised to turn off an existing autopilot, or at least put it in standby, when using the simple steering control above."

Posted by: Ben in reply to emsusa at March 28, 2015 5:02 PM | Reply

I don't understand why Raymarine allows you to control the autopilot with an s100 but doesn't allow this from a mobile device. They just forcing us to buy another accessory when the phone or tablet is perfectly capable. Anyone have any experience modifying the Raymarine MFD software? It is likely a parameter than can be commented out.

Posted by: Chris at March 30, 2015 8:52 AM | Reply

The Raymarine S100 remote just works fine with my Evolution EV-100 autopilot. It's rather strange however that Raymarine doesn't offer a remote which is SeatalkNG compatible.

Posted by: ilCigno at May 7, 2015 3:35 PM | Reply

Hi I tried to hook up the smart
Controller to work with my system but no data is being received. I have the smart
Controller hooked into the sea talk backbone. All my electronics are from 2014. I thought this would be plug and play but I must be
Missing something?

Posted by: Anonymous in reply to ilCigno at June 6, 2015 3:49 PM | Reply

Both the Raymarine S100 as well as the Raymarine Smartcontroller are only Seatalk1 compatible. In order to connect them to the Seatalk NG backbone you will need the Raymarine Seatalk1-SeatalkNG converter ( http://www.raymarine.com/view/?id=3767 ).

Posted by: Anonymous at June 7, 2015 3:06 PM | Reply

Both the Raymarine S100 as well as the Raymarine Smartcontroller are only Seatalk1 compatible. In order to connect them to the Seatalk NG backbone you will need the Raymarine Seatalk1-SeatalkNG converter ( http://www.raymarine.com/view/?id=3767 )

Posted by: ilCigno at June 7, 2015 3:07 PM | Reply

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