What is virtual rudder feedback

The most difficult thing when installing an autopilot on an outboard or sterndrive boat is fitting the rudder feedback sensor. In order to avoid that TMQ has developed the AP47 with virtual rudder feedback. This means that no physical sensor has to be installed. Instead this has been integrated in the autopilot software, hence the term virtual. It works in small boats under 8 meter of lenght.

There are some other brands of autopilots that has the same feaure and there is different opinions if this works or not. We have seen many discussions about that in different forums all over the world. Based on our experience after selling several houndreds of these autopilots we can say that this works in the absolute majority of all cases. In only 2-3% of all cases we have had to complement the installation with a physical rudder feed-back sensor. The reason for this has been:

– The boat is quite high and sensitive to side winds. If something else, like the wind, can turn the boat the virtual feedback does not work in many cases. The problem will show at very low speeds.

– Highly powered 5-6 m length, deep V hull (22-25 deg deadrise, 175+HP outboard) offshore fishing vessels whose operators will fish even in very rough seas with high winds. These vessels just do not seem suitable for non-RFU autopilot since they are very responsive to small amounts of “rudder” especially at high speed.

In all these cases, after fitting a physical rudder feed-back unit the boat has performed well. It should be noted that it’s very easy to add a rudder feed-back sensor on an AP47 making it a AP47R autopilot.  Bellow you can find pictures explaining how to fit a rudder feedback sensor on an outbord just in case you will need it. The bracket on which it is mounted is included in the kit.