Garmin TR1 Autopilot on a small cruiser - reviewed

Discussion in 'OnBoard Electronics & Controls' started by missinginaction, Jul 14, 2017 at 9:57 AM.

  1. missinginaction
    Joined: Aug 2007
    Posts: 637
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    Location: new york

    missinginaction Senior Member

    I thought I'd take a few minutes and review the performance of the Garmin TR1 that I installed this spring on my restored 1973 Silverton sedan.

    Typically these autopilots are used by fishermen who are looking for hands free trolling. When connected to a chartplotter the TR1 will follow a preset course. I'm more of a cruiser than a fisherman. I often boat alone though and find that steering all day gets a little tedious. I spoke with a couple of reps at Garmin. They were both pretty honest. "Well, we haven't personally seen the TR1 installed on a cruiser but it should be fine" was the answer I got. So I saved up and bought one.

    Installation was probably easier than on a small boat, since I had more room to work. It's important to get the fluxgate compass installed near the boats centerline, close to the waterline AND away from any metal that could cause issues with the magnetic fields the compass is designed to detect. Bleeding the hydraulics was pretty simple. The rest of the install is "plug and play".

    Over the past couple of weeks I've had the chance to adjust and fine tune the Tr1. The instructions Garmin provides are correct but read them carefully and more than once. There are specific sequences of commands (buttons you need to press in correct order) in order to make adjustments to the autopilot and to confirm the adjustments you've previously made.

    Once you begin to tune the system you can see the performance improve. Once the compass was calibrated I began running a course between two Nuns about a mile apart. I came up on the first buoy, lined up on the second and engaged the TR1. I ended up off by about 400 feet. I adjusted the rudder gain, rudder counter gain and tried again. This time I was off by about 40 feet. Time for a third attempt.

    I adjusted the two gains again and adjusted the sea state filter one setting lower. I passed my target marker 10 feet to starboard. I did a second run to verify the first, it tracked straight with only a couple of degrees of oscillation from time to time due to wind.

    The TR1 is a bit pricey, but based on my experience you are getting something of real value for your money. I don't work for Garmin or have any connection to them, I'm just a guy who enjoys building and running his boat like many others here.

    I wanted to post this since I don't see a lot of recent information on this system. I took an educated gamble (but trusted the Garmin reps opinion) when I invested in this system. I'm very glad I did.

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