Commissioning a tiller pilot

Complaining about the difficulty of getting a tiller pilot installed and calibrated is probably a small thing compared to having an obedient hand on the tiller when your attention is required elsewhere.
Still, for a device that has been around as long as the Ray Marine ST/1000/2000, one might expect clearer instructions and a better calibration interface.  There are six buttons on the device, and a lot of overloaded combinations (chords, if you will) for invoking various states of calibration and operation.

Since calibration is only rarely invoked, and hence not easily retained,  best to keep that manual handy!

My first attempts were near the end of a tiring, chilly day and were less than fully satisfactory.  The next day I went out on Lake Union and tried again, with greater success.  Having calibrated magnetic deviation and heading,  I tried the +40 degree test called for in the manual to assess tiller-gain.  Hit the +10 button 4 times, and the heading should come to starboard by 40 degrees without excessive hunting.  In my limited testing so far, I determined that the rudder gain needed to be dialed down, and I did this, which improved the performance of the pilot.  I'll probably dial it down further still.  There is considerable nuance in the performance of this device,  and it will take a fair amount of experience to grow comfortable with it.

One issue I have not resolved is that the tiller pilot seems to become confused if you move through a large course correction in one go (for example, hitting the +10 or -10 button multiple times in succession).  One at a time seems to work reliably.  Multiple times seems to confuse the pilot and put the boat in a tight circular course.

I am wondering if causing a maximal extension of the push-rod is the culprit?  When I was careful to avoid doing this, I had no problem.  If the push rod goes to either end of its excursion, it pulses, seemingly trying to go further than it can.  Might this be causally related to heading confusion?  I don't have enough experience with the device to know.  Any readers have any insight?


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