Intellisteer Europe

Retrofit autopilot made simple

Motorboat magazine wrote an article in the January 2014 edition about Octopus' two compact systems designed to fit a wide range of outboard and sterndrive boats. 

The Octopus system is a simple autopilot for cable-steered powerboats. Aimed at the retrofit market it does not require you to convert your boat to hydraulic steering and is designed for boats with limited space. All the drive units are concealed so it can be used in an open boat and the system will interface with all major brands of autopilot. Octopus comes in two versions: S/T, located behind the dash, and R, a remote-mounted system. Hull length is limited to 33 ft (10m). The S/T system replaces the original steering bezel with an electrically powered bezel connected to th autopilot. It uses the original wheel and steering cable.

The R system uses an electrically powered remote-mounted steering drive unit connected to the autopilot. The drive unit is usually within a few feet of the sterndrive, outboard or rudder. It can be fitted to single or twine-engine/rudder set-ups. The R system works by piggy backing on top of the existing steering system. The original wheel, steering bezel and cable used for manual steering becoming redundant when autopilot is engaged. The R system, unlike the S/T version, can be manually overridden without disengaging autopilot first. Both the S/T and R models can be fitted with an optional rudder feedback unit, which is strongly advised. This ensures that the Octopus matches the steering geometry of the boat by limiting turns within the constraints of the boat's original steering system. 

The R drive unit is only 6x6x8in. Having a short 6ft cable it is likely to be more responsive to the commands of the autopilot than the S/T system. The systems will fit a wide range of boats from the 1980s onwards. 

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