Having trouble setting up your nke gyropilot?

The nke gyropilot 2 can be adjusted in many ways, the defaults and auto settings out of the box aren’t right for every boat.  The following settings have worked well for us.

The base vessel was our Davidson 42 performance cruising vessel “Spitfire” which is approx. 13m LOA, with sailing length of 12m, weighing about 6,500kg. The design is very balanced with high stability.

Base set up minimum nke equipment recommendation for sailing to which this note applies:

  • display unit
  • Nke speed reference speed/depth box – required for wind calculations
  • Nke wind speed/direction instrument
  • Nke regatta or the replacement new 9x compass. These recommended compasses also measure heel and pitch and are not subject to card dip in the southern hemisphere. Note: The nke fluxgate is like a magnetic compass that will develop a dipped card in the southern hemisphere resulting in likely stickiness in its operation
  • Gyrographic computer, rudder feedback sensor, electric/hydraulic ram package


Geometry: Install/check the pilot tiller and rudder reference sensor distances on the installation manual.

Compass: Check that the vessel’s magnetic compass/es are correct with less than 5 deg deviation on any heading. Install the nke compass in a location where there are no nearby computers/displays or large metal objects at approx. the widest part of the vessel. Adjust the installation heading to match the vessel compass heading and check on all headings to reduce the deviation to a minimum. Re locate if necessary. If there are issues, update to the latest firmware (we had an issue with the regatta compass that was resolved up a firmware update).

Only when the above had been done, perform an auto compensation if required.

Connections: Tin the wires and connect carefully as per the nke installation instructions.

Primary display: Set a multigraphic, or multidisplay at address 1 on the bus (if the installation pre-exists with a legacy older display).

Initialisation: Power up and initialise the pilot as per the nke instructions


The gyropilot 2 can be set on auto but we have found better results by adjusting the sensor inputs. The goal is to simulate a good helmsperson. Generally, a good helmsperson will have a smooth steady hand with slight movement in smooth seas and more correction required in rough conditions. We don’t want the pilot working back and forth like a saw, the least movement to keep the vessel on track is optimum. The main sensor inputs that affect the performance are: Compass damping, rudder coefficient, counter rudder, wind damping and gain. When the auto settings are de selected on any channel the gain setting has less effect.

Before getting started, read the section in the multigraphic/multidisplay “Multigraphic operation with the Gyropilot 2 processor” this will provide an overview. Don’t worry if you can’t remember it all.

Now; go into the sensor menu and adjust the compass input sensor

Hint: to get to the main page menu press and hold the page button, then scroll to the “sensor” menu. The below are found in the sensor menu:

Compass: Select magnetic heading > damping, set at approx. 15 – this can be adjusted to a lesser setting for more reactivity.

Next go to the Autopilot menu to adjust the settings

Hint: to get to the main page menu press and hold the page button, then scroll to the “autopilot” menu. The below are found in the autopilot menu:

Rudder coefficient: Select Pilot setting > rudder coefficient, set at somewhere around 8 to 15 initially a bit higher for a very high-performance vessel or higher speed. A higher setting will be more responsive (such as may be required in rougher conditions). When motoring or sailing in smooth conditions reduce the setting if the helm is moving excessively (sawing back and forth)

Counter rudder: Select Pilot setting > counter rudder, set at around 2 to 4 initially, there should be less counter rudder than main rudder as vessels are designed to have a tendency to round up to weather (weather helm), however some vessels may develop lee helm in some situations which can be countered by the use of counter rudder.

Wind damping: Select Pilot setting > wind damping, set at around 6 initially (on a scale of 0-9). The higher the number the more dampened the effect.