Installing New Raymarine Evolution EV-100 Wheel Pilot to my Westerly Pentland by Steve Parry

The time had come to replace my ageing Raymarine ST3000 on WALKABOUT, it had given sterling service over the past 20+ years and was still going strong but it was time for a change. On investigating what autopilots were available I soon discovered that there was only one on the market that used a wheel drive unit. Most were hydraulic units which needed a lot more work to install and were more money to buy. So, after much searching, I went for the Raymarine Evolution EV-100 Wheel Pilot.

The cost of these ranges from £1350 to £1575 depending on which electron- ics company you go to. The Evolution EV-100 consists of the following parts:

  • P70s Control Head
  • EV1 Sensor Core (Electronic Compass)
  • ACU 100 Drive interface (Drive Computer). Wheel Drive Unit (with fully enclosed motor). Evolution cable kit
  • All brackets/screws to install the system

At first glance it looked a bit daunting to install but I found the instructions for installation very clear and concise. There is also a very good YouTube video which gives you a step-by-step guide which was put together by two ladies who installed the system on their yacht. The first thing you need to do is decide where to site the various pieces of kit, those of you who know the Pentland will know that it has a hexagonal pedestal (not the normal round one which caused the first problem which I will talk about later in the article). The pedestal is supported by two arms bolted between the pedestal and the cockpit seats sides. These two arms came in handy for wiring and fitting the P70s Control Head. The aft cabin layout of the Pentland was useful when siting the various pieces of equipment. I decided to use the port side bunk area for the installation. The EV1 Sensor core, the ACU 100, would all fit into the area under the bunk with ease. The cabling for this was mostly below the bunk and out the way.

FITTING THE SYSTEM: Fitting the wheel drive system to the wheel itself is quite straight forward. It is held in place by three brackets held in place with bolts. You have to drill out the necessary holes to fit the drive wheel to the boats wheel as shown in photo 1. Once the drive wheel has been fitted my attention then turned to the bracket that is attached to the pedestal to hold the wheel drive in place and stops it revolving around the drive. The bracket that is supplied does not fit a hexagon pedestal therefore you have to get a stainless steel flat based bracket made up to suit the wheel drive (making sure the round bar does fit the slot in the wheel drive), I used the supplied bracket diameter as a template.

As you can see from the pictures the bracket has to go across the access plate for the steering cables and the pedestal itself, so to make this anchor point strong enough four self-tapping screws are put in the pedestal itself and the remaining three are in the access plate. Getting this plate in the right place does require you to slip the wheel and drive unit back on the spindle of the pedestal and align as necessary then screw in place. This is fiddly and can take time and patience on your part!

The position of the drive motor unit is on the top left of the pedestal (facing forward) and a hole is drilled and a gland fitted to push the wiring through for the drive motor which then goes down the ACU, this is where the arms come in handy to route the wire through to the ACU and P70s control head.

I located the P70s control head within one of these arms on a piece of hardwood.

As you see in the picture it sits nicely in the port arm, this is done by cutting an access hole in the arm so that the Control Head sits flush. In this position it is out of the way of the wheel/feet etc., I did investigate getting a POD to put the Control Head in but the Pods are very few and far between plus they are expensive. The other problem was where to put the pod which would not cause more work or get in the way of the wheel and increase the installation costs so the arm it was. As pointed out earlier these arms can facilitate the system wiring without impeding anything in the cockpit. Both the drive motor and control head are then fed through a hole drilled in the cockpit seating wall where the arm meets the wall, again all neat and self-contained.

Now that the wiring for the drive unit and control unit are now into the aft cabin (see pictures above) you now have to put in the connection block for the wiring, to make it tidy and out of the way of anyone that uses the aft cabin bunk. I purchased a electrical connection box big enough to take the connection block and all the wiring from the ACU and Sensor Core (these were fed via a conduit from under the bunk).

The ACU was then fitted to the engine bulkhead just below the bunk, in the picture the small round connection next to the ACU is the 12V power supply.

The Sensor Core was next and the siting of this critical. It should be fitted facing forward in line with the ship’s head and away from any metal objects which could interfere with the heading outputs. I fitted it away from the engine room bulkhead and placed it on the cockpit locker bulkhead in the middle but still under the bunk, once the bracket is fitted you then place the sensor into the bracket, the fine grooves made it fairly easy to align.

With all the bits of kit in place I connected the power to the ACU, the interconnecting data cables as per the installation instructions and tidied up all the cables with cable ties etc. Then it was ready to power up.

Calibration of the system proved to be straight forward. It is well explained in the ‘setup instruction’ and is automatic once you follow the menu instructions. Gone are the days of going round in slow circles to calibrate the autopilots, it’s all automatic!!

I hope I haven’t confused everybody! My experience was that anyone with basic DIY and electronic skill would find this system is simple to install.

Now, you might ask, “where should we install the various components?” Well, every boat is different, but the principles are the same!