October 4, 2023  How to get Axiom to work with old Raymarine autopilots

If you have an old Raymarine SmartPilot series autopilot, you may find that it is not compatible with the latest LightHouse 3 or 4 MFD software. We have a solution based on our Bridge YDNB-07.

LightHouse IV autopilot settings tab

Figure 1. LightHouse IV autopilot settings tab

Many are surprised to find that 10 year old autopilots such as the SmartPilot SPX-30 are no longer supported on modern Raymarine MFDs (Axiom, Axiom Pro) running the latest LightHouse 3 or 4 software. The autopilot is correctly displayed by the MFD in the NMEA 2000 device list, but the autopilot control button remains inactive (LightHouse 3) or the "Autopilot" tab is completely missing (LightHouse 4).

This problem can be easily solved by using our NMEA 2000 Bridge YDNB-07. Just trick the MFD into thinking it works with a newer version of the Pilot Computer. All you need to do is change one byte in the entire SmartPilot data stream, and the Bridge program fits in just three lines of code:

   # modify proprietary PGN 65379 "Seatalk: Pilot State"
   # on-the-fly and set byte D6 = 7
   # CAN1 is connected to MFD, CAN2 is connected to autopilot
   match(CAN2, 0x00FF6300, 0x1FFFF00)
       set(DATA+6, UINT8, 7) # set D6 byte to value 7

As a result, you will be able to activate pilot control on the Axiom MFD (see Figure 1). And you get a side panel with autopilot status information and control buttons on on the chart plotter screen.

LightHouse IV autopilot side panel

Figure 2. LightHouse IV autopilot side panel

However, this solution requires you to split the SeaTalk NG / NMEA 2000 network into two separate "autopilot" and "main" segments (each with its own power source and bus termination) and interconnect them via the Bridge.

The best option is to leave the autopilot both computer and pilot head units on one "autopilot" segment and put all the rest of the network, including the MFDs, on another "main" segment so that the pilot head can still control the pilot computer even if the bridge or "main" segment fails, but we have also tested with only the pilot computer unit on the "autopilot" segment and with the pilot head on the "main" segment.

We have extensively tested the solution with the Raymarine SPX-30 and Axiom MFD with the latest version of LightHouse 3 and would welcome any feedback on tests with other SmartPilot models.

To learn more about the NMEA 2000 Bridge YDNB-07, please, visit it's homepage.


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