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A+T Instruments: Plug and play

A+T Instruments

A+T InstrumentsWhatever happens to your electronics, there is a powerful and quick upgrade available.

After a lightning strike or finding a race processor too difficult to maintain or configure, you’re mentally ready for the large sums you know lie ahead to get fully functional again. As the system is dissected, one look at the complex of wires going into the back of a finely finished cabinet will give serious pause: do you have to rip all these out of the boat to remove an instrument system you know has failed after many years of service and is in need of replacing?

Is there not a better way to fix everything that might be a little less expensive in time and money than wholesale replacement of everything? Fortunately A+T has solutions to help in these scenarios.

These solutions can provide huge cost-savings whilst also improving the functionality. All previous calibrations, custom settings and channels can be reset into the new A+T processor so setups that have been painstakingly crafted can be maintained.

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A+T systems are not only electronically compatible with older systems, the displays even physically fit within the same footprint, so no new drilled holes. Input cables from all sensors and output network cables are also compatible and reduce, if not eliminate, the need to run new cables.

This may not seem that important on a stripped-out race boat, where everything is generally accessible if needed, imagine this process on a 50-metre superyacht where dozens of metres of cables and harnesses are buried in multiple layers of furniture, insulation, headliners and the like.

Main picture: the supermaxi Leopard 3 faced a huge bill for new electronics plus high installation costs when her WTP2 processor became unstable and began to malfunction, with only a few weeks available to solve the problem between two major regattas.

‘Race boats are relatively easy retro-fits and many are professionally maintained so finding the cables and attachments is usually easy,’ says Hugh Agnew of A+T. ‘In superyachts it becomes a real challenge to chase down the issues and solve them in a way that does not involve tearing apart the interior.’

Take for example A+T’s retrofit of the Farr-designed Leopard 3. Captain Chris Sherlock and his crew have campaigned this iconic carbon yacht through its thousands of miles of races, charters and deliveries in the past dozen years since her launch. Leopard 3 is constantly on the move between the UK, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and Down Under, and her instrument system has been through it all.

Over time displays on Leopard 3 started to fail and had been changed out for new A+T replacement displays. By September 2019, only two of the original FFD and four 40/40 displays remained. ‘The WTP2 had provided good service including having been repaired after a lightning strike in Malta,’ says Agnew, ‘but it was increasingly unstable, shutting down with overheating and causing display lock-ups that will be familiar to many raceboat captains.’

A+T Instruments
A+T was on hand with a neat solution that took just two days to install, test and commission – at a much lower cost.

Leopard 3’s system is complex and typical for a boat this size with some 30 inputs for processing, display and logging that includes:

  • All normal sailing sensors: wind, boat speed, depth, compass, GPS
  • Pitch, heel and rate gyros come from ATP1 built-in internal sensor
  • Keel cant, rudder and mainsheet traveller position
  • Upper and lower deflector positions and loads
  • Vang load and hydraulic pressure
  • Loads on the bobstay, headstay, R2 tack, inner forestay, mainsheet and runners
  • Barometric pressure from ATP1 internal sensor
  • MOB input and alarm

With a busy Caribbean season ahead and only a tight window for the refit in Palma, it was decided to upgrade to an A+T ATP1 processor between the Maxi Worlds in Sardinia in September and the Voiles des St Tropez regatta in October 2019.

‘The original installation and drawings had been done by Olectric in Sydney and were very good,’ says Agnew. ‘This was very helpful in allowing the removal of the old processor, installation, testing and commissioning of the ATP1 to be completed in only two long days, including updating drawings.’

Leopard 3 met her schedule, and reported ATP1 performance as equal or better than WTP with the huge advantage of a modern web interface that allows all settings to be easily changed and backed up.

‘This also allows for deep diagnostics, so all incoming data and calculations can be monitored, if necessary with remote login support from us at A+T,’ says Agnew. ‘It also has a direct interface over Ethernet to Expedition and Adrena that allows for the display of externally derived race parameters.’

Agnew reckons that a replacement set of instruments would have cost Leopard 3 at least €60,000 plus installation, while the A+T upgrade was less than 20 per cent of that including installation to provide a better performance solution. This is just one of many instrument upgrade tales that are common for A+T, who are there for when original race processors become unreliable or in many cases just too hard to modify and support.

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