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View Full Version : Never had an autopilot before. Is Trutrak a bad idea?


cheeselion
08-21-2020, 08:58 AM
I've recently started doing longer cross-countries in the RV-4 and the thought of using a simple VFR autopilot is appealing to me (neither I nor the airplane are IFR-capable).

I like the look (and price!) of the Trutrak xCruze 100 2", and I have an open hole in the panel it could slot right in. But I've done a bunch of reading and the prevailing wisdom seems to be that Trutrak has gone off the rails since their acquisition.

Am I putting 2+2 together and getting 8? Or should I stay away from them for a new installation? Given my use-case I'd rather avoid paying double for a Garmin or Trio if I can avoid it, but if the group wisdom is to stay away from Trutrak nowadays, I'll bite the bullet.

rocketbob
08-21-2020, 09:17 AM
In my opinion getting a GRT Mini X and adding servos to it is a very good value.

DennisRhodes
08-21-2020, 09:27 AM
I have a Trio (single axis ) built initially into my 9 due to having had one also in a LongEZ before that. The LEZ almost required a wing leveler if you wanted to look at a sectional( back in that day) . The 9 is a pleasure to set the W leveler/ tract on course and the trim takes care of the altitude. The Trio will track a GPS input NMEA signal just fine and has several other fx as well.

If the glass panel is not in the 4s future a Trio would work well.

I saw a Trio and Gold servo on e bay removed from a 4 that would be an excellent choice for your 4 I almost bought it for spare parts all he was asking was $ 500. about the cost of a servo. Except never had any reason to need a spare part, It has worked flawless for 10 years now.

Birkelbach
08-21-2020, 09:59 AM
I've had two TruTrak Autopilots. They work really well and haven't given me any trouble. I upgraded my DigiTrak to the XCruze 100 after the Bendix King acquisition. TruTrak had a great upgrade policy and I was worried that BK would make it go away. So I bit the bullet and upgraded. It took forever to get all the parts but I'm not sure if that was BK or Mid Continent. BK has basically out sourced the upgrades to Mid Continent.

Once I got it installed the Xcruze (actually the Vizion) manual didn't match the actual unit. It turns out that the firmware was changed at some point and the manuals haven't been updated. I had to use a combination of the Piper install manual and the old Vizion manual. The Piper manual for the button pushing and setup and the old manual for the settings for my RV-7.

Everything took forever and the whole deal was not without it's hiccups for sure, but everyone (BK and Mid Continent) was responsive and the AP works great. I suspect that once they get the wrinkles worked out it'll be fine.

RONSIM
08-21-2020, 01:30 PM
they have been effective and reliable -- currently have the vizion --- however, the small Garmin, Dynon, or GRT mini-PDFs driving their autopilots would probably be a safer bet, at this point, in time.

If you ever decide to do the complete EFIS panel, the mini's become great backups.

Ron

cheeselion
08-21-2020, 04:29 PM
Thanks all! My panel is a mishmash of some Garmin (G5, GTR200, Aera) and some MGL (all of the engine instruments) so I wanted something that could take a vendor-agnostic RS-232 input and fit in a 2" hole. Not sure if I'm going to do the G3X thing or the MGL EFIS thing yet.

Good advice though, I'll re-consider the mini+servo approach...

TruTrakAndrew
08-21-2020, 05:03 PM
For what it's worth, while the TruTrak autopilot now has a new name, they are still built in northwest Arkansas by many of the same people that were building them before. I am still around to help as needed, although to be fair not on VAF as much as I would like. BendixKing / Honeywell have no plans to kill off this great product. In fact, we are working to expand integration into our xVue Touch and to continue expanding the experimental product line.

Yes, there have been some hiccups in the transition, but I have personally been working those and will continue to do so. I would say come see me and my cowboy hat at the next trade-show, but who knows when that will be.

I am sure that you will be happy with any autopilot that you choose, as they are all great, but I would love to see you stick with the TruTrak products!

tailwinds!

DRMA
08-21-2020, 05:54 PM
Thanks all! My panel is a mishmash of some Garmin (G5, GTR200, Aera) ...

If you already have the Garmin G5, you might want to consider installing a single Garmin A/P servo along with the Garmin A/P control head. I think that would give you the autopilot you want with the G5 providing the intelligence. You might even find a used G3X control head at a lower cost from someone upgrading.

Best of Luck

akschu
08-21-2020, 06:27 PM
I agree with the garmin comment. The garmin servos are much lighter, and if you ever upgrade to a g3x you gain free redundancy.

Jetj01
08-22-2020, 03:54 AM
Andrew,

Good to hear! I know you helped a lot on my new install last year and the TruTrak works great for me!

blackbeard10
08-22-2020, 06:56 AM
I have the Trutrak Efis and the servos in my 4. Good product with good service originally. The handoff to Bendix was rough and getting product info and manuals which were readily available when Trutrak was Trutrak was difficult if not impossible after the sale. Sorry to say, but if I were doing a new build, I would take the advice given in earlier posts and buy elsewhere.

NewbRVator
08-24-2020, 01:10 PM
Iíd like to hear more about installing a Garmin A/P servo as I currently have a G5 and an older autopilot that isnít worth restoring.

ColoradoSolar
08-24-2020, 05:42 PM
I installed a Garmin autopilot as part of installing a G5. Everything was straight forward. The roll servo was a bit of a pain due to the tight space, getting it aligned just right for full movement without and binding took some trial and error. The pitch servo was pretty easy if you don't count the fact that the space in the baggage area is a tight squeeze and I usually remembered a tool I needed after I squeezed in :D

What else would you like to know?

NewbRVator
08-24-2020, 09:56 PM
Very helpful. Thanks. I has just thinking single axis.

PCHunt
08-25-2020, 12:59 AM
I'm thinking that shortly after you install and use a single axis autopilot, you will be kicking yourself for not installing both servos while you have the airplane apart............

JOMO, and worth what you paid for it. ;)

Shark
08-25-2020, 07:18 AM
I currently have a single axis TruTrack and am planning to switch to garmin 2-axis this winter. nothing against Trutrack but this way I can hook into my g5's and eventually a GPS-175

jbDC9
08-25-2020, 08:35 AM
I'm thinking that shortly after you install and use a single axis autopilot, you will be kicking yourself for not installing both servos while you have the airplane apart...
Yeah, that! As long as you're in there, and it's not that much extra coin; you'll really like having a two axis system...

cheeselion
08-25-2020, 09:04 AM
Thanks again guys, I planned to take the advice and go with the Garmin option, but I went out to the hangar last night with a printed-out footprint for the GMC 507 (that thing is huge!) and there's just no way I can make it work in my mostly-steam panel.

An autopilot is really just a sandwich-enabling device for me, I don't fly this thing in IMC, so I decided to go with the xCruze because I have an empty 2" hole it will slot right in.

swordtail
08-25-2020, 03:46 PM
Two axis is the way to go! Lighten your load on long trips. just my 2 cents worth.

PaulvS
08-25-2020, 05:17 PM
Thanks again guys, I planned to take the advice and go with the Garmin option, but I went out to the hangar last night with a printed-out footprint for the GMC 507 (that thing is huge!) and there's just no way I can make it work in my mostly-steam panel.

An autopilot is really just a sandwich-enabling device for me, I don't fly this thing in IMC, so I decided to go with the xCruze because I have an empty 2" hole it will slot right in.

Good luck, hope it goes well, please share your experience after as I am sure that many are interested and would benefit. Thanks!

Captain Avgas
08-25-2020, 07:02 PM
For what it's worth, while the TruTrak autopilot now has a new name, they are still built in northwest Arkansas by many of the same people that were building them before. I am still around to help as needed, although to be fair not on VAF as much as I would like. BendixKing / Honeywell have no plans to kill off this great product. In fact, we are working to expand integration into our xVue Touch and to continue expanding the experimental product line.

Yes, there have been some hiccups in the transition, but I have personally been working those and will continue to do so. I would say come see me and my cowboy hat at the next trade-show, but who knows when that will be.

I am sure that you will be happy with any autopilot that you choose, as they are all great, but I would love to see you stick with the TruTrak products!

tailwinds!

Andrew, I sent you a private message on VansAirforce. Looking forward to your response.

Andreas68
08-29-2020, 11:57 AM
I have an early TruTrak A/P (Pictorial Pilot), with Basic Servo - B (DSB-B) that worked well for several years after I bought the RV7A - though I didn't use it much - didn't take many long flights - but for the past two - three years has begun to drift significantly. Especially right upon engaging the autopilot, it would go into an automatic turn and have to be dialed back into straight and level flight which it would then attempt but not always succeed in holding a heading. The immediate drift/turn upon engagement sort of negates the value of having an A/P for obvious reasons including emergency use such as VFR into IMC. I just removed the servo and the external shear screw is still intact. Now that the servo is out of the plane, looking for advice (including from 'TruTrak Andrew') about which way to go: take it apart and look for internal pins that may have backed out and replace the pin(s), order the replacement servo from Mid-Continental Instruments for $500 (will the replacement servo work seamlessly with the front end (panel) display/programmer?), or reinstall the present servo and reprogram it to standard settings and hope for the best?

Thanks for any advice.

Dean Pichon
08-29-2020, 07:30 PM
I'd like to have a similar set-up in my -4. I built the plane, but I'm not a point in my life where I have the time to undertake the task. Can anyone estimate for me the rough cost of installing a system when starting with a flying aircraft and a box of (autopilot) parts? Which supplier has the best installation kit and support for a -4?

Thanks,

RONSIM
08-30-2020, 07:25 AM
Both roll and pitch for used Digiflight? -- I bought the install kit from Trutrak -- it is not technically challenging, but, I was in my upper 70s at the time, so, physically brutal in the tailcone.

I probably spent total of 12 hours on it --- just hooked it to a Garmin 660.

Ron

TruTrakAndrew
09-01-2020, 12:36 PM
Andrew, I sent you a private message on VansAirforce. Looking forward to your response.

Emailed you a reply. Thanks for reaching out!

TruTrakAndrew
09-01-2020, 12:39 PM
I have an early TruTrak A/P (Pictorial Pilot), with Basic Servo - B (DSB-B) that worked well for several years after I bought the RV7A - though I didn't use it much - didn't take many long flights - but for the past two - three years has begun to drift significantly. Especially right upon engaging the autopilot, it would go into an automatic turn and have to be dialed back into straight and level flight which it would then attempt but not always succeed in holding a heading. The immediate drift/turn upon engagement sort of negates the value of having an A/P for obvious reasons including emergency use such as VFR into IMC. I just removed the servo and the external shear screw is still intact. Now that the servo is out of the plane, looking for advice (including from 'TruTrak Andrew') about which way to go: take it apart and look for internal pins that may have backed out and replace the pin(s), order the replacement servo from Mid-Continental Instruments for $500 (will the replacement servo work seamlessly with the front end (panel) display/programmer?), or reinstall the present servo and reprogram it to standard settings and hope for the best?

Thanks for any advice.

Send me an email and let's get this resolved. I'll need a little more data to make a diagnosis. andrew.barker(at)honeywell.com. How well does it fly when it's established on the course? Does it always drift the same direction? Is there lost motion when you wiggle the servo output arm?

TruTrakAndrew
09-01-2020, 12:43 PM
Both roll and pitch for used Digiflight? -- I bought the install kit from Trutrak -- it is not technically challenging, but, I was in my upper 70s at the time, so, physically brutal in the tailcone.

I probably spent total of 12 hours on it --- just hooked it to a Garmin 660.

Ron

Dean, this is pretty accurate. Times can vary pretty significantly depending on what GPS you are interfacing with. Most cases I see people plan it for a weekend project and that's pretty doable. If you want to save time, buying a completed wiring harness will save LOTS of time, and they typically sell for under $300.

wnplt
09-01-2020, 12:53 PM
I have a TT coupled to advanced flight EFIS. Itís been rock solid in every respect...

cheeselion
09-03-2020, 04:10 PM
Distributor reports a six week lead time on the xCruze 100. Not sure how to feel about that...

donaziza
09-03-2020, 09:24 PM
Hi Tru Trak Andrew, I've got a question for you. I've got a Tru Trak Gemini. Its hooked up to a Garmin 496. If I put in point A to point B, it tracks fine when GPS Nav is selected. But you know how the 496 will show a direct to line if you hit the "direct to" button. And then, no matter which way you turn your airplane, it still shows that magenta line "direct" to whatever airport you picked? In this situation, when I put the Gemini to "GPS Nav", the airplane will turn about 40 degrees right of the 496's magenta line, and then just stay there. I mentioned this to you personally, maybe 2 years ago up at Oshkosh.

Any ideas?

Fox3twoship
09-14-2020, 04:37 PM
Hi TruTrak Andrew,

Sent you a PM

Thanks!

ALagonia
09-14-2020, 05:35 PM
I upgraded my TruTrak Digiflight II to the Vizion 385 in my 9. Really like the autopilot. And support from Andrew was excellent.
I only have two comments, neither of which is major.
1. The autopilot porPoises just slightly in altitude hold. So little that my wife doesnít even notice. But I do. Tried various sensitivity settings to no avail. Not a big enough issue to bad mouth the unit
2. When I did the upgrade I sure wish they would have offered, even with additional cost, a harness with pins. Had to solder each and every wire. That was a pain. The whole Upgrade install would have gone much much faster and easier. And I would have been happy to pay for a harness with pins.
Other than that, couldnít be happier.

rleffler
09-14-2020, 08:04 PM
I upgraded my TruTrak Digiflight II to the Vizion 385 in my 9. Really like the autopilot. And support from Andrew was excellent.
I only have two comments, neither of which is major.
1. The autopilot porPoises just slightly in altitude hold. So little that my wife doesnít even notice. But I do. Tried various sensitivity settings to no avail. Not a big enough issue to bad mouth the unit
2. When I did the upgrade I sure wish they would have offered, even with additional cost, a harness with pins. Had to solder each and every wire. That was a pain. The whole Upgrade install would have gone much much faster and easier. And I would have been happy to pay for a harness with pins.
Other than that, couldnít be happier.

Did you adjust sensitivity and gain on both the Vizion and the 5600? Start with the Vizion, the fine tune with the same settings on the 5600.

ALagonia
09-14-2020, 08:36 PM
Did you adjust sensitivity and gain on both the Vizion and the 5600? Start with the Vizion, the fine tune with the same settings on the 5600.

I have a dual 4500 system. Iíve only adjusted the sensitivity on the EFIS. Didnít know I could adjust it on the Vizion. Iíll have to,get out the Vizion manual and see where I go to make that adjustment.
Thank you sir.

ALagonia
09-15-2020, 07:27 AM
Did you adjust sensitivity and gain on both the Vizion and the 5600? Start with the Vizion, the fine tune with the same settings on the 5600.
Went through the TruTrak Vizion manual and find nothing indicating how to adjust sensitivity and gain for altitude hold. Do you know how this is done?

rleffler
09-15-2020, 07:34 AM
Went through the TruTrak Vizion manual and find nothing indicating how to adjust sensitivity and gain for altitude hold. Do you know how this is done?

Chapter 5 in the operations manual, not the install manual. I have the initial release of the doc. I donít know if there are updates available.

ALagonia
09-15-2020, 07:48 AM
Chapter 5 in the operations manual, not the install manual. I have the initial release of the doc. I donít know if there are updates available.
I wonder if we have different manuals. Just read Chapter 5 again and cannot find anything there. The manual I have that came with the Vizion 385 is TruTrak Doc:167