Simrad's two new autopilot control heads, the AP 28 (above) and the smaller, knobless AP 24, may look like minor upgrades to the revered Simrad (Robertson) line, but there's a big change behind the scenes. Each head uses SimNet, a flavor of NMEA 2000, to communicate with one of two new SimNet-talking autopilot computers as well as to new SimNet compass and rudder-angle sensors (which can also feed handsome new IS 20 instruments). This will neatly simplify initial installations, and later add-ons, plus make data sharing easier with other manufacturers' gear, like, say, NN3D or G (see 3D & G). The latter will require patch cables, as SimNet uses a slim custom cable design, but, besides legendary basic performance, Simrad's new pilots appeal with some advanced features like the ability to steer fixed patterns or to a specific bottom contour line—both appreciated by trolling fishermen—and "No Drift Course," which means that even if you just set a course, the pilot creates a virtual waypoint and corrects for current and leeway. Simrad also has some interesting new multifunction displays that will be detailed here next month.
This article originally appeared in the February 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.