Garmin GHP 12 autopilot, hello sailors!
Yup, that’s a Garmin GHC 10 autopilot head steering to an apparent wind angle, along with one end of a linear drive typically used to control sailboat rudders, but never before supported by Garmin. Announced today is the GHP 12 sailboat autopilot system, which will work with a choice of two linear drives designed to handle sailing vessels from 20 to 70 feet…
Specifically, the Class A Drive seen in the photo below is for boats up 28,500 pounds of displacement, while the Class B Drive goes up to 79,000 pounds. An interesting and perhaps unique feature of the A Drive is that it contains a rudder angle sensor (the rudder sensor on the B Drive is separate though it mounts right on the drive). The original Garmin GHP 10 autopilot, which is only for hydraulic steering systems, doesn’t need or come with a rudder angle sensor, though many users install one just so they can see where their rudder is. On the other hand, the new GHP 12 system does not include the GHP 10’s Shadow Drive feature, which lets a user disengage or engage the pilot simply by turning the wheel or leaving it still for a moment (which can be sensed hydraulically). Otherwise, the two Garmin ap systems seem to share a lot of attributes…
One is that spherical gyro compass, which seems to be one of the reasons many GHP 10 users experience extraordinarily steady automatic course holding. Note that while it cables directly to the GHP 12’s processor, it also has a NMEA 2000 port, which means its fast heading info is easily available to other device. And I like the way the Garmin release states that “When interfaced with Garmin’s GWS 10 or other compatible wind sensor, GPS and network
electronics, the GHP 12 can support workload-saving features such as
heading hold, wind hold, step turns, tack/jibe, MFD route following and
more.” The italics are mine, but that’s still a declaration of interoperability you don’t see every day. Not that a GWS 10 and GMI 10 displays aren’t good wind instruments, but it’s nice to hear some assurance that standard N2K wind and other data will work with this autopilot.
And obviously the GHP 12 works with the same GHC 10 control head as Garmin’s other autopilot (which actually began its evolution as the Nautimatic TR1), in fact up to three of them distributed along an N2K backbone. I’ve had some time with that control before, and have little doubt that Garmin will do a good job of implementing sailing functions on it…and improving those functions over time. Seen below is a tacking screen which looks good (though it may include a mock up error; shouldn’t the rudder be to port if the boat is just beggining the manuever, as indicated by the yellow band?). A complete GHP 12 system with one GHC 10 control head will retail for $3,900 or $5,000, depending on the drive needed, and they’re suppossed to start shipping Q1, 2011.
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