Boat Drifting or has Erratic Steering when in Spot-Lock (i-Pilot or i-Pilot Link) (2007-2023)

Spot-Lock uses a single point of reference that is recorded when the Spot-Lock button is pressed. The reference point is a set of GPS coordinates based on the location of the motor at the moment the button is pressed. This point is recorded and can be saved into one of the Spot-Lock memory locations. Spot-Lock works by creating an Arrival Circle around the Spot-Lock that the motor will automatically navigate to and try to stay within. Spot-Lock engages the motor to keep it in the Arrival Circle around the Spot-Lock location. If i-Pilot or i-Pilot Link sees the motor is within the Arrival Circle, it will adjust the motor speed to zero. If i-Pilot or i-Pilot Link sees the motor is outside of the circle, it will control motor speed and direction in an attempt to get the boat back into the Arrival Circle.


Variables Affecting Accuracy and Responsiveness

The accuracy and responsiveness with which the i-Pilot controls your boat is highly dependent upon many variables including:

  • Ratio of motor thrust to boat weight.
    The effect of this is excessive thrust on a smaller boat can cause i-Pilot to over correct. Not enough thrust on a large boat can cause i-Pilot to respond slowly.
  • Wind.
    Excessive wind and/or current can reduce i-Pilot’s positioning accuracy.
  • GPS signal strength.
    The greater number of GPS signal bars the greater the accuracy. As voltage at the motor lowers the GPS will become less accurate or drop out completely.

Expected Accuracy for Spot-Lock

The expected accuracy for Spot-Lock depends on the version of i-Pilot or i-pilot Link you have.

  • For Legacy i-Pilot and Legacy i-Pilot Link (2007-2016), the expected accuracy is within 10-15 feet.
  • Bluetooth i-Pilot and Bluetooth i-Pilot Link (2017-current), the expected accuracy is within 5 feet.
  1. Load test the battery and check all connections.
    A drop in voltage to the motor will cause the GPS information to be inaccurate and will cause erratic steering.
  2. Verify proper GPS signal.
    The GPS signal strength indicator on the i-Pilot/i-Pilot Link remote should show at least 1 bar.
  3. Adjust the boat scale on the i-Pilot/i-Pilot Link remote (only available on Bluetooth i-Pilot and Bluetooth i-Pilot Link (2017-current).
    Ideal installation for a trolling motor is to have the proper amount of thrust for the size of the boat. If the motor thrust is not properly matched to the boat size it can cause overshooting the Spot-Lock location.
  4. Keep all ferrous metallic objects away from the i-Pilot Controller (top head)
    This includes anchors, metal framework, etc. which may cause interference.
  5. Heading Sensor Interference
    The heading sensor needs to be in a place where it is not subject to magnetic interference. Ensure that the heading sensor is mounted at least 24 inches from magnetic or ferrous materials or anything that may create magnetic interference. This includes: base of the trolling motor, anchors, metal railings, speakers, radios, and trolling motor battery wires. It must be mounted on a flat, horizontal surface with the arrow on the heading sensor parallel to the boat’s keel. It should also have a line of sight to the trolling motor.
  6. Clean debris behind Prop
    Check for weeds, fishing line, or other debris behind the prop that may restrict the movement.
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