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Alpha Marine Systems Alpha 3000 Installation And Operation Manual

Made by: Alpha Marine Systems
Type: Installation And Operation Manual
Category: Autopilot System
Pages: 16
Size: 3.5 MB


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The goods sold by ALPHA MARINE SYST EMS, INC. are warranted to be free from defects in
workman ship and mater ials for a period o f two years for p arts and on e year for labo r on recrea tional vessels
and ninety (90) d ays for com mercial vesse ls upon co mpletion an d return of warranty registration  card to
AND A N Y   O T H E R  OBLIGATIONS  O N   T H E   P A R T   O F   A L P H A  M A R I N E  S Y S T E M S ,  INC. OR ITS
EMPLOYEES AND REPRESENTATIVES. No agent, employee, or representative of ALPHA MARINE
SYST EMS , INC. has a ny authority to m odify the terms  of this warranty.

All rights conferred under this warranty and ALPHA MA RINE SYSTE MS' liability under this warranty
shall consist solely of the repair or replacement of the goods returned to the factory postage paid.  Under no
circumstances  s ha ll   A LP H A   M AR I NE   S Y ST E M S or its officers, employees or agents be responsible or
liable  or injury to person or property, loss of profit, or any other consequential or resulting damage which
may be claimed to ha ve been incurred throu gh the use or sale of the produ cts.

Before using, user shall determine the suitability of the products  for his intended use and u ser assumes a ll
risk and liability whatsoever in connectio n therewith. This warranty is governed by and shall be construed
in accordance with the laws of the State of Washington.

Manufacturer, ALPHA M ARINE SY STEM S, INC. is not responsible for installation of its products nor for
damages to the prod uct caused by faulty installation. Purchaser assumes the responsibility for proper
installation  o f  t he   p ro d uc t.   If   th e   pr o du c t  i s  n o t  i ns ta ll ed   b y  a n   au th o ri ze d   Al ph a   M arine Systems dealer,
strictly in accord ance with ma nufacturer's instructio ns, this warranty sha ll be null and vo id in its entirety.


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Table Of Contents

Warranty Registration .................................................................................... 3

Operation ........................................................................................................ 4

Installation Planning ...................................................................................... 6

System Connection Notes .............................................................................. 7

Installation instructions .................................................................................. 8

-System installation ............................................................................................................ 8
-Drive unit installation ..................................................................................................... 11
-Compass installation ....................................................................................................... 17

Maintenance and Troubleshooting ............................................................... 20


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Your autopilot has been specifically designed for ease and simplicity of operation and as
a result has very few controls. The function and proper use of each of these controls are
discussed below.


Pilot power is controlled by a pair of push buttons on the Control Unit. POWER ON
switches the pilot On and selects that station for control in multiple station systems.
POWER OFF shuts Off the entire system.


The course selector knob is calibrated in degrees and oriented so that course changes are
natural, i.e. a course  change to the left is made by turning the top of the knob to the left. 
Compass heading is calibrated in degrees magnetic and is portrayed as in a standard
compass rose.  Course changes may be made in any amount.  The pilot will always turn
the shortest direction to achieve the desired heading unless lead slowly with the knob.


This control turns the automatic trimming system On and OFF in the Control Unit.  With
the switch in the "OFF" position, the Autopilot will steer a course which is somewhat
dependent on the wind and sea conditions.  With AUTO-TRIM "ON", the Control Unit
will continually compute a trim correction for the vessel, thus maintaining a far more
accurate course.  This dynamic trim compensation is important because the trim
correction is dependent on wind and sea conditions and thus ever changing.


During course changes, AUTO-TRIM should be turned OFF if the change is large or
requires a change of tack, since a tack change requires a trim correction in the opposite


Trim may be left on but vessel heading will vary for approximately 1 to 2 minutes.


The Yaw Control permits the helmsman to adjust the response of the autopilot and select
the maximum amount of yaw permissible. Each vessel is different, but in general a mid-
range setting will be found to provide adequate helm response and low power
consumption. In heavy following seas the response may be quickened by turning the
Control toward MIN. However, this will increase the power consumption. It may be
adjusted toward MAX in a head sea to allow the vessel to ride easier to the sea.


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It is located on the rear of the main Control Unit.  This adjusts the Compass for proper
response on your vessel.  To obtain maximum pilot performance, the compass gain
should be adjusted until the vessel just stops “S” ing at the vessels top speed. Once set,
no further adjustment should be required.


Pulling the Morse Control handle OUT projects the engagement latch and rocking the
wheel will engage the autopilot when alignment is correct. To disengage, PUSH the
control handle IN while rocking the wheel to relieve the latch pressure.  On pilots
equipped with the optional EDL-1 electric drive link operator, the latch will be extended
and retracted automatically in response to the ON and OFF buttons. 




1.  Set Course Selector to match vessel heading.

2.  Push POWER ON button to turn the pilot on.

3.  Engage the Drive Link using the Morse Control and rock either the ships wheel or the

Course knob to engage.

4.  Trim course with Course Setting knob.

5.  Switch the AUTO-TRIM  "ON" for automatic trim correction.

6.  To dodge around an obstacle, use the Course knob or the Remote Helm unit.

7.  To turn the pilot OFF, press in on the Morse Latch Control while gently rocking the

wheel to relieve pressure on the Latch.  The power may be shut off later using the

power "OFF" button.


* * CAUTION * *

DO NOT drive the autopilot Drive Unit with the wheel, as damage to the Control Unit
may result.

* * CAUTION * *

An autopilot can take away the drudgery of continuous helm attendance but is NO
substitute for an attentive watch. Therefore, the unit should not be used in narrow or
congested waterways or in close proximity to other vessels.


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Alpha Marine Systems autopilots are of a desirably modular design providing great
installation flexibility. The installation should be planned so that the various units will be
located within the vessel for optimum operational ease. Each unit, however, has its own
installation limitations.


The Compass Unit is a linear flux-sensing type and thus responsive to magnetic fields.
As with all magnetic compasses it should be located at least three feet from any other
compass, as they will influence each other. In addition, the Compass Unit should not be
mounted in close proximity to any large magnetic steel or iron object or to current
carrying wires, as these produce local magnetic fields that may alter the course output
signal. The Compass Sensor should be mounted low in the boat and about mid-way
between Bow and Stern to prevent acceleration errors. Additionally, the Compass Unit
should be mounted as nearly vertical as possible with the connector facing upwards. It
should be mounted in its mounting bracket and attached to a sturdy support with non-
magnetic screws or bolts.
The Compass Unit is internally gimbaled and allows up to forty-five degrees of heel. If
greater angles are anticipated, it is suggested that an external gimbal be used.

* * CAUTION * *

The Compass is liquid-filled and therefore must not be opened, nor should holes be
drilled in the case.
DO NOT try to rotate the black can relative to the top as seals may be damaged.


The Control Unit has been constructed of the finest quality components and has sealed
controls to prevent moisture intrusion. Flush mounted units must be caulked to the
mounting surface and tested for leakage. Trunnion mounted units must be mounted
below decks out of the direct weather, as with all premium electronics such as radios.
The trunnion-mounted units have been provided with a mounting bracket, which may be
utilized either by itself or in conjunction with custom fabricated brackets.

WARNING: In no case may additional holes be drilled in the Control Unit case and only
the four existing screws supplied or 10/32 screws not exceeding 1/2" in length may be
used for trunnion mounting the Control Unit. The mounting bracket may be drilled to suit
the installation.

 * * CAUTION * *

The Control Unit has heat-dissipating components and MUST be mounted with adequate
ventilation. It must not be mounted in a compartment with other sources of extreme heat
such as engine compartments, as loss of operation or damage may result.


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Interconnection of various units should be done carefully, in accordance with
interconnection diagrams (fig. 3.1 & 3.7) or damage to units may result. Particular
attention and care should be exercised in connecting input power to ensure that polarity is
observed and that the supply matches the 12 Volt DC Pilot requirements.

Before Pilot Installation, vessel's electrical system must be checked for proper transient
voltage suppression. Particularly, transients produced by alternator and starter motor
during engine start and shutdown to see that voltage never exceeds 50V where pilot will
be connected. Also, check any high current motor.

Electric Motor Driven systems, Power Windless, Refrigeration, Macerators, etc. produce
excessive transients. An electrical survey and any required corrections must be
performed before connecting any pilot component to the boats electrical service.

Since efficiency is the keynote of this unit, cabling from the battery must be of adequate
size to prevent excessive voltage drop and power loss. The following wire schedule is
recommended. Power cable length to 15 ft., #12 gage, 15 ft. to 30 ft., #10 gage, 30 ft. to
60 ft., #8 gage. All above specified wires are stranded copper and tinned. If drive unit
power cables are extended, use above table in calculating wire gage.


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1. Make a two-way powered run, in each direction mark Center Helm position (this is

best done on a day with light winds and calm seas).  Split the difference between these
two marks with a third mark. This  is operational Center Helm position. Retain this
mark for use later in Drive Unit alignment.

2. Plan installation as outlined in the planning section, determine exact unit locations and

cable routing.

3. Your Drive Unit will be received in its full retracted position for shipping. To position

the Drive Unit at Center Helm for installation, temporarily connect the Drive Unit and
power to the Control    Unit as shown in Fig. 3.1 for the selected extension sense.





Drive units may be installed in numerous configurations. However, the resulting steering
action when drive unit extends from Center position is to either steer the vessel to Port or
STBD. The Control Unit must know which way it is installed so it may steer correctly.
When the Drive Unit is installed to turn to PORT when it extends, wire Drive Unit to
Control Unit (Shown in Fig 3.1 PORT EXTENSION). When Drive Unit is installed to
turn to STBD when extended, install as shown in Fig. 3.1 STBD EXTENSION.

 Set the YAW Control to Full CW and AUTO TRIM to OFF.  Make sure the shipping
cord leads straight from the outer housing through the end fitting and back to the housing
with no twists. If not correct, rotate ram until you get a straight lead.


Misalignment will effect correct Center Helm positioning.

When correct, push Power On.  The Drive Unit should extend so that  7.0" to 7 .5 “ on
12" stroke drives of stainless steel ram exposed and to 9.5" to  10" on 18" stroke drives. . 
This is the correct Center Helm position.  Shut OFF the Power and use the extended
Drive Unit in subsequent installation steps. 


If the Ram tries to retract shut OFF Power and correct wiring. If the Drive extends to
beyond Center
Position shut OFF Power and correct wiring. 

4.  Mount the Control Unit through a bulkhead on flush mounted units or in its bracket

for trunnion mounted unit.


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5.  Route both the drive unit cables to the Control Unit and connect the rudder feedback

cable (three wires) and the motor power leads per Figure 3.1

6.  Measure the input power cable length needed to connect the Control Unit to the

battery disconnect switch.

7.  Determine the correct wire gage for the power input cable from section 3.0 and route

the cable.

8.  Install Spade Lugs on the power cable (DO NOT connect to the Control Unit).

9.  Connect the power cable to the power source.

10. Check the polarity of the power at the spade lugs.


Reverse polarity can cause serious damage to the unit.

11. Shut OFF the input power and connect both the Drive Unit and input power leads to

J1. (17 Pin Terminal Strip as shown in Fig. 3.1)


12. Mount the Control Unit in its mounting bracket with four screws or secure the flush

mounted unit and caulk to the bulkhead.

13. With the YAW control in the MAX position, turn the battery disconnect switch ON

and recheck the input power polarity at J1.

14. Repeat step 3 to ensure Drive Unit position has not changed


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After completing section 3.1 proceed with the following Drive Unit installation.

1.  Assemble the Morse Cable on the rudder drive link as shown in the assembly drawing

Fig 3.4.

2.  Adjust the threaded sleeve and stop nut to provide proper adequate latch engagement

and disengagement.

3.  Test the assembly to ensure freedom of operation.

4.  Install the rudder drive link on the rudder stock with the Helm locked in the

operational Center position. Leave the whole assembly loose on the rudder stock so
that it may be correctly positioned later. (See Fig. 3.5)

5.  Hold the Drive Unit in place with the Pilot ON as in section 3.1 step 3. (The ball joint

bolt may

be used to ensure alignment.)


DO NOT allow the Drive Unit to hang un-mounted on the Drive Arm.

6.  Check Fig. 3.5 for proper mounting alignment and mounting angles. Be sure that the

Drive Unit is at 90 degrees to the Drive Link.

7.  Find the proper mounting location for the Drive Unit and make a bracket to provide

support or mark this location if there is an existing structure.

8.  Attach the drive unit mounting plate to the boat or fabricated bracket using 4 ea. 1/4"-

20 SST bolts or lag bolts.

9.  Mount the Drive Unit on the mounting plate using the rubber mount and a 1/2" x 2"

bolt, as shown in Fig. 3.6.  Use LOCKTITE (R) tread compound to secure the bolt.

10. Swing the end of the Drive Unit to the end of the Drive Arm and verify that it is

properly aligned with the Drive Arm. If so, install the 3/8" bolt & washer then secure
with an elastic stop nut.

11. Tighten the clamp bolts on the rudder stock clamp and spot drill for the drive link set

screw. Remove rear half of clamp for drilling.


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12. Reinstall the clamp and install the drive link screw. Secure with Lock-Tite™

13. With the Morse Control engage the Drive Link with the     Autopilot in the OFF

position. Swing

the helm slowly through the Autopilot operating range while observing the unit to ensure

sufficient clearance. The Drive Unit MUST NOT touch anything along its entire
length.  This must be done slowly or damage to the Drive Unit may occur. 

See caution

note below

. With the Drive Unit fully retracted, disengage latch and swing Helm hard

over to hard over and check clearance. With the Drive Unit fully extended disengage
latch and swing Helm hard over to hard over while checking for clearance. 

14. Install the Morse control head at the chosen location per instructions included with it

and check

for proper latch motion.

15. Recheck that the Drive Unit centers the Helm.  Minor adjustments may be made by

screwing the ram in or out up to one full turn.  If further adjustment is necessary, the
rear mounting bracket must be moved.

16. Lubr icate the Driv e Unit Ba ll Joint with marin e grease as this is sh ipped d ry.

Proceed with the Compass installation section if all of the above tests are satisfactory.

* * CAUTION * *

The Drive Unit moves toward the rudder stock when the Helm is put hard over manually.
be given clearance or great stress will be placed on the Drive Unit with possible damage

DO NOT attempt to move the Drive Unit beyond its normal operating range
of  +/- 9" (On SDU Drive Units  +/- 6.0").


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The installation of the pilot compass shares many things with the installation of any

compass, except
that visibility and access are of minimal importance. For optimum steering precision and
accuracy, the compass should be mounted away from magnetic objects such as engines or
carrying wires, both of which can produce local magnetic fields.

The optimum compass placement is at the common intersection of the Roll, Pitch

and Yaw axes of
the vessel. This means the compass is located amid-ships, over the keel and at
approximately water
line level. This location is not always possible but should serve as a guide to good
placement. The vessel extremes, Bow and Stern, should always be avoided.

The basic compass consists of two units; the sensor and the electronics.



  Lay out all components as required by the vessel design.

2.  Locate all components with particular attention to the Sensor. This unit must be

mounted with the connector uppermost and the canister mounted vertically. It is
internally gimbaled to 45 degrees in roll and pitch and is the only magnetically
sensitive component.

3.  The sensor mounting bracket may be mounted using either SST screws or bolts. In

either case they must be non-magnetic.

4.  The Sensor is next mounted in the bracket with the heading     reference toward the

Bow (The exact direction of vessel travel).


DO NOT Use force on, or twist the black compass case to position compass as this may

damage internal seals and cause the Compass to leak.


The Compass Electronics case must NOT be drilled for mounting as this may cause

internal damage.

5.  Mount the Compass Electronics on a bulkhead in a locker using the angle brackets on

the front and rear.



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The Sensor must be more than one foot from the Electronics. The cable from the

sensor to the

 electronics must not be altered in any way


6.  Interconnect the units as shown in Fig. 3.7.

a. Connect the Sensor to the Compass Electronics using the cable exiting the lower
rear of the electronics housing.




This cable may not be cut or extended


b. Connect the Compass Electronics to the Control Unit using AMS cable #CC30X0
(X0 denotes cable length in feet and are available in 10' increments to 90 feet). The
compass end is secured using two screws in the connector and must be fully seated for
reliable contact. The control unit end is connected as shown in Fig. 3.7.



This is 100% shielded cable and must not be extended.

7.  Any auxiliary units may now be connected to the system according to the directions

supplied with them.


Carefully check the installation and verify that all connections have been made



1.  Engage the Drive Link Latch using the Morse Control while rocking the wheel.

2.  Set the Compass knob to agree with the ships heading.

3.  Press POWER ON and rotate the Compass knob and verify that wheel follows the

Control with Helm corrections in the proper direction.

4.  If the pilot Compass does not agree with the main ships Compass, rotate the Compass

Sensor in its bracket until correct or loosen the two set screws on the Compass knob
and rotate to agree.

5.  If the pilot is equipped with a Remote Helm, select the Helm mode on the Remote

Helm and test its operation.

6.  Set the compass calibration to MIN (refer to fig. 3.7) and sea-test the system with the

Yaw set to the mid-travel position.  While sea testing, slowly turn the compass
calibration pot toward MAX.  When  the boat starts to "S", back the adjustment toward
MIN about 1/8 of a turn.

7.  If required, install an optional Compass Compensator to reduce deviations per

standard practice.


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Every component has been thoroughly tested and component materials have been chosen
for inherent resistance to the marine environment. The electronic units should require no
maintenance in normal service. If the occasion should arise it is suggested that they be
returned to the factory for service. If this is not practical, any competent marine
electronics technician should be able to effect repairs.

Every effort has been made in the design of this unit to utilize commercially available
components. However, whenever possible replacement parts should be obtained from the
factory to ensure optimum performance. Some system components are available only
from Alpha Marine Systems because of their custom nature.

The mechanical drive unit has seals. However, the extending and retracting nature of the
drive piston causes the internal volume of the unit to change, making a total seal
impractical. Therefore, to prevent water intrusion, none of the drive unit parts should be
submerged in bilge accumulations.

Your autopilot has been designed to be basically maintenance free. However, occasional
lubrication of the Drive Link, Latch, Swivel and Ball Joint is recommended. Inspection
and adjustment of latch for proper engagement and disengagement is also recommended.

Wherever the unit is mounted, it should be kept clean and all bolts checked for tightness.

The Compass Unit requires no maintenance other than to keep it clean and give it the
care you would any precision compass assembly. The compass is liquid-filled and sealed
and contains no user serviceable parts, therefore, if the compass should need repair it
must be returned to the factory for this work.

The Control Unit uses sealed controls for protection from the salt and moisture
environment, therefore, it also must not be opened. If the unit needs repair, it is
recommended that it be returned to the factory. If this is impractical, the entire unit
should be taken to a competent marine electronics technician.

If you should experience difficulty, make sure the unit is wired according to the
information contained in the Installation Sections.

Occasionally rodents get aboard a boat. These creatures seem to have an appetite for
electrical insulation and of course they frequent the less visible areas. If unexplained
performance problems arise, particularly of an intermittent nature, all wiring should be
carefully examined for this type of damage and chafe from vibration, as well as for loose

A trouble shooting guide is on the following page. The purpose is to isolate what unit is
causing the problem and is not intended as a repair manual. Consult the factory or


Dealers for service. 


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Problem and solution

Pilot does nothing

1. Check power input and polarity Check fuse

and replace if necessary Check connection
to drive unit Check wiring for broken leads

Sluggish response

2. Yaw setting at “MAX”

a) Adjust knob towards “MIN”Wheel lock
engaged Drive system jammed Drive unit damaged
a) Return for repair Insufficient drive unit clearance
a) Check for correct installation Bent
rudder stock

Steering off course

3. Drive link slipped on rudder stock

a) Check alignment of drive link Incorrect
drive link installation
a) Re-drill rudder stock if necessary

Steers hard over

4. Poor wiring connections

a) Clean connections and tighten Reverse
polarity has damaged control unit
a) Return for repair Rudder feedback not working
a) Check the following resistances:
10k Red to White
5k Green to Red
5k Green to White
(All above readings are to be taken at
center helm with the control disconnected.)

Control gets hot

5. Overload condition

a) See sluggish response

6. Hits mechanical limit

a) Check drive unit alignment

If you are still having difficulties after consulting this guide, call the service department
at (206) 275-1200 Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm PST.