Autopilot NAV mode

Most autopilots have NAV mode, which essentially asks the pilot to steer to a plotted route rather than just in a specific direction. It’s particularly useful in cross-currents and strong winds, or when travelling longer distances. NAV mode has not worked on our system since day one, and now that we’re doing longer trips it would be quite useful. We’ve been wrestling with this for about a month, where the pilot is getting all the data it needs to properly execute NAV mode (pictured above), but reports an error.

On advice from Furuno, we redundantly sent navigation data from the Furuno NavNet 3D Black Box to the autopilot. In the picture below, you can see the jumper cables while we were testing this temporarily. Presumably the pilot is looking for some proprietary Furuno data that wasn’t being sent through the normal path. It works great now, so we wired it in permanently. An added advantage of what we’ve done is the autopilot now gets all the rest of the navigation data redundantly, so a system fault is less likely to affect the autopilot.

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2 comments on “Autopilot NAV mode
  1. Thomas Klein says:

    I see in your bio that you too are a computer nerd and I mean that as a compliment. I wonder how the ‘normal’ owner would feel debugging these issues. As more and more things are computer driven, from refrigerators, to automobiles, to cell phones, and televisions, people like you and me have an advantage as we can visualize the programmer who wrote the software and predict what they may or may not be expecting.
    I almost think that Information Technology needs to be required learning in our middle and high school curriculums. People don’t have to write the software but understand how it was written, how it communicates, with us and with other systems.
    What you did makes perfect sense. My wife on the other hand things you wrote a story in Greek.
    Safe travels.

    • Experience with software certainly can help. In fact any time spent in engineering can make a positive difference but anyone can do it. You just need to be stubborn, methodical and willing to slowly work through the possibilities. Patience might honestly be the most important attribute to solving these problems.

      For long term career opportunities, I 100% agree with you that software training needs to be a core part of a good high school program. Software is behind innovations in an ever broader set of industries. Even jobs that don’t directly write software will be working with people that do.

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