Don’t discard your old Autohelm ST 50Plus Tridata system when it stops functioning! First do the research and see if you can replace components that will bring it back to life! For a mere $265, we’ve revitalized our system, but it took a bit of research and putting pieces of the puzzle together.
When we bought Winterlude, we had a great display of 3 year old instrument electronics – wind, speed, depth, all Autohelm ST50 Plus Tridata. Now 12 years and 11,000 miles under the keel later, the instruments are beginning to die one by one. However, a quick check of the pricing to replace them all with new Raymarine ST60 Plus Tridata gave us sticker shock.
So when our Wind Speed instrument stopped working last winter, we replaced the transducer at the top of the mast with a Raymarine ST 60 wind transducer that everyone told us wouldn’t work. But the reality is that it does work, the wind speed may not be quite correct, but it gives us a fairly good approximation as well as wind direction. Bottom line, for literally nothing since a friend gave us the transducer – it was part of a lightning strike and he had all new electronics and didn’t need it anymore. He wasn’t positive it worked, but voila, problem solved. Cost $0
Fast forward to crossing to the Bahamas last year when the depth sounder decided to fail as we entered the harbor at Bimini to check in – luckily it waited until we got to the dock. It was blinking crazy numbers when we knew we were in 7 feet of water. Click here for the post covering the fun.
So we jerry-rigged the extra Garmin GPSMap 541S depth transducer that we just happened aboard and sailed the rest of the winter’s cruise to the Bahamas with two temperamental depth sounders that worked when they wanted and quit when they didn’t feel like providing information anymore. Not optimum, but we made it and had a great time rather than running back to the US to get it fixed and losing our winter’s months cruising.
Prominent on our haul out list this fall was replacing the depth sounder. In talking to Raymarine (Raymarine bought Autohelm) at the Annapolis Boat Show, they recommended we contact a company named Gemeco that apparently manufacturers all the transducers for alot of manufacturers and would be able to tell us exactly what extinct model we had and exactly which new model would work with it — apparently despite physically looking the same, different models run on different hertz’s and won’t talk to each other.
We contacted Gemeco and despite an initial mix-up with sending us the speed sensor transducer rather than the depth sensor transducer, they were able to identify which old depth transducer we had — a model P-19 and specify that the new 200 hertz transducer would be a model D800P-200-2.
In the meantime, we were trying to decide if we keep the incorrectly shipped speed sensor or send it back…
It occurs to us that in the last two years, two of the transducers have failed and both have been out of production and extinct. There’s only one more transducer to fail, and it’s the speed version. David checked it the new one sent by Gemeco by connecting it directly to the instrument at the helm and it works fine. Then he checked to see that it fit inside our existing housing and found that worked fine too. So now the only question is do we re-run the new wiring or do we simply splice the old wiring to the new transducer since we know the wiring for now is funtional.
So the moral to our story is that for $125 for the replacement speed transducer and $140 for the new depth transducer, Gemeco has solved our problem and allowed us to continue to use our extinct Autohelm ST50 Plus Tridata instrumentation! WOOHOO! And thanks to our friend’s generosity with last winter’s wind sensor transducer, we have invested a total of $265 and have “new” functional instuments – wind, depth and speed! Sure beats buying a new system for over $1,600. Now if only the Icom M802 SSB repair estimate comes back at a reasonable cost! Keep your fingers crossed!
I wish all boat issues were that easily (and inexpensively) resolved!
Here’s Gemeco’s contact information … anyone that answers the phone can help you — and it IS answered usually on the first ring by a real human being! Customer service is NOT dead in America after all!
Click here for the follow up – after we received the new depth transducer and installed it — then splashed the boat and …. Here’s the next post! 🙂
Gemeco – located in South Carolina — 803-693-0777 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have other ways to save extinct electronics/instruments? Please leave a comment and share for all us good old boat owners that can always use help with these things! 🙂 Cheers — Jan