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minnkota powerdrive autopilot problems

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Old 07-12-2009, 10:33 PM   #1
EE
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Default minnkota powerdrive autopilot problems

took the boat out tonight, had some issues with my electric trolling motor.
It is a minn kota bow mount 80 lb thrust, Power Drive, Autopilot (has the transducer built in). About 3-4 years old, will have to go back and check out the exact date of purchase.

The first part of the trip, it was doing fine (as it's always done), but after a while it started doing some wierd things. When I pressed the foot pedal to turn left (only slightly), it would do an almost 180* turn (as in, I would only tap it to turn slightly, but when I removed my foot it continued to turn a certain distance). I didn't want major changes in direction, just slight adjustments. It wouldn't make small adjustments though, only big adjustments. So I would try and go back slightly the other direction, same deal..... it would turn way past the point I wanted to (no, the pedal was not stuck or anything..... I looked for anything that may be interfering with the foot pedal). The 'adjustments' the trolling motor was making were always the same distance from left to right.

So then I thought I'd try autopilot.....same deal - it wound up making non-stop adjustments (to the same degree), back and forth, back and forth, back and forth....... so I'm thinking there's something definitely wrong with the computer in this thing. So I turn it off. Amazingly - while in the off position - it continued to swing back and forth! so I unplugged it, really confused at this point.
Let it rest for a while and tried it again.... initially, it worked fine, but after a few minutes it started to randomly turn on it's own.

At home, I set it up, plugged it in, played with it for about 10-15 minutes and suprisingly - not one single problem. On, off, no problem. left right, it turned only as far as I wanted it to. I let it run for a while and it behaved normally. This is really strange.... I would think if there was a problem on the water, it would still have that problem a few hours later at home.

anybody have a similar problem or any suggestions? In the end, I'm sure I'll have to take it to a Minn Kota Authorized Repair Center and since it's about 3 years old, I'm sure it's out of warranty.
But I'd sure like to know what this may be.
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Old 07-13-2009, 07:27 AM   #2
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Before I offer any suggestions, need a bit more information.

1. Did all this occur while the Autopilot was turned on?

2. What was the condition of the water (Calm, medium, very choppy)

3. How high do you have your "head" raised above the base?
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Old 07-13-2009, 08:22 AM   #3
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1. no, this happened without using Autopilot as well.

2. a breeze with a slight chop, nothing abnormal.

3. head is about 6 inches above the base.
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Old 07-13-2009, 09:26 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EE View Post
1. no, this happened without using Autopilot as well.

2. a breeze with a slight chop, nothing abnormal.

3. head is about 6 inches above the base.
Hmm, since you weren't able to reproduce the problem off the water these were my first thoughts. Not sure why it would be different off-water with your answers being what they were.

*I'm assuming that you have the older style foot pedal with the flat blade connector? Not the newer version with round screw together pedal connector? The older style pedals are notorious for going "wonky" after a while especially if they are exposed to a lot of moisture, rain dirt etc. Luckily foot pedals aren't too expensive - I think less than $80 retail or often you can find them on ebay.

1. Double check your batteries and all connections on the boat. Since the PD's are electronic they can be affected by batteries in poor condition or poor/corroded connections.

2. Check the foot pedal plug connector to see if there is corrosion on/in the plug. (WD-40 should do the trick.)

3. Borrow a foot pedal from someone else and see if it does the same thing. (If it does, the problem is with the main unit - not the pedal.)

4. If none of that exposes the problem, then you might be dealing with a bad board on the motor itself. Not a cheap fix, but certainly less than buying a new motor. If you're in the Columbus area I can suggest BOAT THINGS over in Westerville near Hoover as a reliable place to take your motor to have it tested. He is very knowledgeable and good to deal with. 614 895 2628

Lastly, here is a link to diagrams on most of MK's PD units
(I don't think the V2 or Terrova are on here.)
http://www.profisherman.com/minnkota/

Good luck
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Old 07-13-2009, 01:39 PM   #5
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thanks for the feedback (I'll leave the diagrams to someone who knows how to use them! ). Yes, I have the flat connector, the pins are almost in a row, definitely not the round connector. I checked them, they are good.

I thought of something this morning that is very similar to one of your suggestions (I'm hoping it's just the foot pedal, not the main unit). I have co-pilot as well; I am going to switch over to the remote control and take it out later on this week. If it runs flawlessly on the remote control co-pilot, then I know the problem must be in the foot pedal. Didn't think to try this on the water yesterday. If it still does it's own thing, then I know the problem must be in the main unit.

I also have fairly old trolling motor batteries (I have to go back and see how old they were when I bought the boat, but I've had the boat for going on 4 summers now and have never changed out either one); it may be time to change them out. Though I did this at the beginning of the season, I will also clean the connections again and see if that makes a difference.

Next step after that is to get it checked by a minn kota professional and decide where to go from that point, etc.

thank you for your very helpful suggestions Sean (sp), maybe I'll run into you out on Hoover at some point.
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Old 07-13-2009, 03:03 PM   #6
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Also, might try to disconnect the Co-Pilot and see if it does the same thing with only the foot pedal. (I know a lot of guessing here - but sometimes that is how electrical problems are solved - ask me how I know. )

Yes, feel free to give me a shout if you get out to Hoover. I rarely put up with Alum this time of year unless I have the rare chance to go during a weekday. Good luck, and be sure to post back on what you find.
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:41 AM   #7
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A return to my original post, for those who read it a few weeks ago. I replaced both batteries and the problem has vanished. Might help someone else at some point, so if you are experiencing some problems with your electric motor that would be a good place to drive.
Swollengoat, I sent you a PM to let you know, since you had replied to this thread three times. Thanks for the suggestions.
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