Push rod systems, in which an electric motor is connected via a transmission directly to a push rod, are the most straightforward form of autopilot. The push rod is extended or retracted to move the tiller.
Simple cockpit autopilots consist of a single module which includes the compass, the motor and the push rod. In larger cockpit models, the control unit and compass are separate modules which may be linked to other external transducers via a data bus. Autohelm indicates its network-compatible instruments with the 'ST' (SeaTalk) prefix and Navico uses the 'Corus' badge.
Tiller push rod systems are not particularly powerful, and are therefore only suitable for smaller boats. They use relatively small (power-saving) electric motors whose force has to be multiplied by major gearing down before it is applied to the push rod. This makes them noisy and the sound of a cockpit autopilot in operation is quite intrusive. Cockpit autopilots are relatively frugal in normal operation but, under high loads, consumption can approach 3 amps. They tend to be rather ponderous in their movements.
The AUTOHELM ST 800 Tiller autopilot
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Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.