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Perfect Pass -- will new GPS-based "Simple Slalom" mode work well enough for me?


TallSkinnyGuy
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I am planning on getting Perfect Pass for my 1997 MC 190 within the next month and am trying to figure out which version would be best for me. The main issue is whether the Wake Edition will suffice or if I need to spend the extra $200 on 3-event. The latest version of Wake Edition includes what PP calls "Simple Slalom" which is described in the manual as "A new simple-to-use GPS Slalom mode for up to 28 off." I'm not positive, but I think this GPS version of Simple Slalom was new last year with software version 8.05.

 

This same Simple Slalom is also one of the slalom modes available in the 3-event version, along with GPS Slalom, Practice Slalom and Classic Slalom. All but the Simple Slalom mode require calibration to match speeds with RPMs. Simple Slalom requires no calibration, but you can map a slalom course and it will give you 3-ball and full course times.

 

With the information I have now it seems like the Simple Slalom mode that I can get with the less costly Wake Edition would be enough for me. PP in my boat will be used for free skiing and periodically in a course (I'm planning on buying a portable later this year). It is unlikely that I will ever pull someone through a course at shorter than 28 off and neither I nor my friends are likely to ever compete.

 

So, as I said, it sounds like the Simple Slalom mode will be enough for me but I wanted to check with any of you who might have experience with this mode to find out from your first-hand experience if it works okay. Thanks for your advice.

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If the Wake edition doesn't have a paddlewheel get the 3 event version regardless. A paddlewheel will make the pull much better for the tricks and wakeboarding. The boat is worth the extra and your skills are likely to require the best pull. PP is magic, get the best magic.

Eric

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@MISkier I hope they haven't gotten rid of the paddlewheel. I have yet to get an acceptable ride on PP without the paddlewheel regardless of what satellite system is installed. It's still needed for me. I haven't heard of an accelerometer based PP yet.

Eric

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Earlier today after I received initial responses encouraging my use of the 3-event version I emailed Perfect Pass and asked if one could calibrate the slalom speeds in the 3-event version without a slalom course (I could not find any instructions on calibrating the slalom modes without a course). Aaron, one of their engineers, responded within a couple hours and told me that if I had the 3-event version but no slalom course in which to calibrate I should just use the Simple Slalom mode since it does not require calibration. So it sounds like the 3-event version would be worthless to me until I get a course.

 

eleeski and MISkier -- My understanding is that the paddlewheel is no longer available and that the main component to make Z-box different than regular Stargazer is the addition of an accelerometer.

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@TallSkinnyGuy You can calibrate the slalom speeds in the 3-event system without a course. I can't remember the name of the feature in stargazer,and my manual is in the boat under wraps I'll try to dig it out. Anyway once it's in GPS it's pretty rock solid on open water. Perfect pass was supposed to release a version in the 3 event system that didn't require calibrate much like the simple slalom. Was supposed to be around the first of this year. I haven't heard any more about it. I know it was in testing late last summer. You might want to ask Aaron if it's due out any time soon. That would solve all your problems should you get a course.
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Perfect Pass is an obsolete system for obsolete boats. Harsh? No, because it can work wonderfully. Still you want the best options available. You are saving a ton by going older so don't scrimp on what you need to get your boat as close to the new boats as possible.

 

The paddlewheel is a critical option. It is still supported on their website and still recommended for skiing in currents. I have not tricked Zbox without a paddlewheel. The Zbox slalom rides from a couple years ago weren't close to ZO. Maybe it's better now but I didn't buy it at the time. I did buy PP classic 3 event with the paddlewheel and the switch. I can simulate ZO and give consistent quality pulls with that.

 

Stan's 08 MC has both ZO and Stargazer. I hated Stargazer for slalom (used it a lot because I drew a Stargazer boat at Regionals and Nationals). The paddlewheel Stargazer felt fine for tricks. Best part was that the speed was always properly calibrated.

 

I've installed a few paddlewheels. Followed the directions and never had a leak, broken hull or even a damaged wheel. It's an improvement to the boat.

 

I wish someone from PP would chime in with the current data. My experiences are a few years old. I loved PP. I now love ZO. But my 11 MC is as obsolete as my 79 American Skier. I might make the old boat my first string boat. If so the PP options will become important to me.

 

Eric

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@rockdog I just watched the videos and looked through the manual again and there is nothing about calibrating without a course. However, I suppose you could map a virtual course by just throwing an anchored buoy in the water and using that as the entrance gate (my understanding is that it only takes a GPS point on the entrance gate). Maybe throw another buoy in the water about 800 feet away to aim for and help keep the boat straight as if in a course.

 

I will probably never ski behind a ZO boat and if I do it will certainly not be in a competition since I will never be entering one. I have absolutely no need for my boat to be as close to the new boats as possible -- I just want to improve the experience for both the driver and skier with a speed control device.

 

I didn't save a ton by getting an older boat -- I maxed out my budget and got the newest boat I could with the money I had available. So, I didn't save any money, but rather I spent less than someone who can afford a newer boat. I would also like to spend less on my PP upgrade if the lower priced option will provide all the benefit I need. That is why I posed my original question.

 

If the "Simple Slalom" mode is junk and won't provide a consistent pull through a course for 28-off and longer as implied by the PP people, then I will spend more and get the 3-event. But I don't like spending more money for features or benefits that will provide little additional value to me.

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When I installed my stargazer, our course wasn't in yet. I used the capture mode to calibrate it and it was fine. Once our course was out I. I then calibrated it in the course. So yes there is a non course calibration setting
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I have the wake edition and use simple slalom. I do not like it all in the course but open water it's fine. I havnt tried rpm mode in the course but it might be better. When I pull out and go through my gates it speeds up to 60-61kph, it then slows down and sometimes speeds back up. I havnt mapped a course and I won't bother as I'll up grade to 3 event. The pull also feels really soft. I thought The wake edition would keep me happy but no such luck.
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@TallSkinnyGuy You're here and engaged. Obviously waterskiing is a passion. ZO has dominated the new market because it really is a good system. You do want to emulate that system with PP.

 

I understand budget constraints. But I bet your learning curve will be steep. You might surprise yourself with just how soon you get a portable course or get a membership on a private lake. You will need the full PP then. It's not a huge investment now compared to the boat. You will advance faster and farther - and you won't have to upgrade again later. Until you MUST have that new boat!

 

Eric

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Well, since the change from what he wants to buy to the 3 event is just a software upgrade - what is the downside to starting with the lesser priced unit? Is the software upgrade significantly more than the $200 price difference? And if he decides to go to z-box, it looks like it doesn't matter which of the 2 options you have? (So the overall price is cheaper if you go that far?)

 

 

7. Q. We like to Wakeboard and run in a Slalom coure but are not serious competetive skiers and do not care to time our passes. Which system is right for us?

The Star Gazer Wake Edition has a great slalom mode that is GPS enhanced and very simple to use. This system does it all except course timing.

 

8. Q. If we buy a Star Gazer Wake Edition but in a few years my kids want to start skiing competitively, what is involved in upgrading to the Three-Event Edition?

In most cases you can purchase a Software Update Stick, and download the Three-Event software yourself.

 

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@TallSkinnyGuy: you actually have some additional options to throw in your decision matrix. You can scour ski-it-again or Great Lakes Skipper and pick up a used or new in box but old version PP unit and save some $. If you look at the GLS site, you might find the PP unit that was installed as a factory option in your boat. An older classic unit for example, would allow all the features although would most likely require a paddlewheel unit install if a pre GPS version. Not a big deal and they are actually very reliable and accurate. Downside to classic to get course times, you will need magnets, may or may not be a concern to you. Upside, you just saved a significant amount of $ and all PP systems are upgradeable as noted by OldJeep when funds are available.

 

Scroll through all the available manuals, there are instructions on how to calibrate a system with and without access to a course. A simple method is simply using a hand held GPS and then entering the correct RPM value for that speed.

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If looking at used ones just make sure you get something with the multiline display. You cannot get any upgrades for the older single line display systems without replacing the entire display and sometimes the control box.

We just swapped a display on an 04 LXI last year because the old display was having issues, and even going from an old multi-line to new multi-line required a control chip swap - PP was short on chips and actually provided a new control module for the same price.

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@DW many of those new old stock are for throttle by wire and not servo control for a '97 boat. I have looked for a servo type classic PP for one of my friends. They are not as easy to find as you think. If you do find one they are not that much less than a Star Gazer system.

 

I have PP classic w/ paddle wheel . My 2 cents is +1 for PP with GPS (star gazer wake/ 3-event/ z-box) and not classic. I say, not the classic b/c like @eleeski said the price of PP is small compared to the price of a new or new-used boat, so get what you want.

 

I vote against classic b/c. I am a recreational skier (hooked on chasing buoys but don't ski tournaments). We ski a portable course without magnets and I never know if our times/speeds are correct. To make sure boat speed is in the ball park we have been using a cell with GPS or a garmin. So get a PP w/ GPS and forget it.

 

As for the paddle wheel, if you're not a tricker like eleeski, who needs it? PP told me it is only accurate up to around 22-24mph (can't remember the exact speed but slow). I would not cut a hole in my boat when I could spend $200-300 more for Star Gazer.

 

PS: I know I can get the timer switch to calibrate classic PP in the course without magnets. I just have not ordered it yet.

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Not just tricks but wakeboarding, kneeboarding, surfing and kids speed need the accuracy that the paddlewheel offers. Drill the hole in the boat - it should increase the value of the boat (at least you would be able to install the temp sensor there if the paddlewheel gets obsolete).

 

Stargazer is a good choice to start with. When you get serious enough you can add magnets and dial in Classic mode with the switch to make it feel exactly like ZO. With the right system your wife will get engaged too.

 

Eric

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@Bill22 You got that right about finding a old or used one. Ive been looking for 2 years for my 96 supra ts6m. You can get a better price if your a USA waterski memeber at skier to skier. A guy on here a little while back said he called perfect pass for him and two of his buddies. And he sounded like they gave him an unbelievable deal. I wonder if we could get a group buy through perfect pass?
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@foxriverat yes, I remember that discussion, I logged it in the back of my mind. If the price is right count me in. We can start a new discussion to look for 1-2 more buyers.

 

I have no problem with the pull of PP classic but both of my speedometers are broke and I want Star Gazer for the GPS speedometer and bigger display.

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I talked to Aaron just yesterday and ordered the upgrade from StartGazer to ZBox.

@TallSkinnyGuy for what you're about to spend regardless of whether you're going to course ski or not my advice to you is to at least get StarGazer. One day you might want to sell your boat and upgrade to a newer one. It's well worth it now than losing on the back end.

As stated in my thread regarding my system running hot the guys at Perfect Pass are great to deal with and I give them an A+ on customer service.

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I upgraded to Zbox from classic and it was a great move. So much easier for my wife to operate. That being said I have everything in a box that came out. Display, module, switch, magnet sensor, and all wiring just sitting in the box that the new one came in. Still on boat is the servo and the paddle wheel.
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@TallSkinnyGuy, we bought a 2003 196, it came with Stargazer Wake edition. We were originally thinking we would upgrade it to 3 event, but have found out that the rpm mode works fine for us in the course. We tried the simple slalom mode and had more variations in the boat speed, although it would be fine for free skiing. We don't do tournaments anymore, so aren't so concerned about exact times and the Zero Off feel.
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I would get the 3 event version. It has wakeboard mode with it. It works the same as trick mode except the buttons advance the speed up or down by .2 or .3 MPH where trick mode does it by .1 MPH. I have the first version of Stargazer on my boat which has the paddle wheel and the magnets. I could set my baselines in the open water or in the course, but they recommended I set up my baselines using the slalom course. The new versions you can set it up in the open water with a capture mode. My brother has the newer version on his boat and it works great. If it was my boat I would set it up using the course if that mode is still available. The 3 event version gives you more bang for your buck.
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Update: I purchased the 3-event version and installed it in my boat. I then followed the instructions from the PP video on Youtube regarding the Capture method of calibrating the GPS Slalom mode, but the menu was different in my software version than what they showed in the video. So, I emailed tech support at PP and they just got back to me -- they removed the Capture method of calibrating from the latest version of the software. You can now only calibrate the GPS Slalom mode in a course after mapping the course.

 

I guess I'll be using Simple Slalom mode after all (or maybe try RPM mode) until I can get my boat in a course.

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Update 2: After confirming with Aaron at PP that this could be done, I decided to throw a buoy in the water today and map a virtual course so I could calibrate the GPS Slalom mode. I "marked" this buoy as my entry gate and drove a little further and recorded the exit gate. I then drove "through" my virtual course in either direction and the timing would trigger at my buoyed virtual entry gate and I calibrated multiple speeds.

 

I was hoping the GPS Slalom mode would hold speed better than Simple Slalom mode, which was the reason for doing the calibration. However, while open-water skiing in my newly calibrated GPS mode it kept running fast out of turns -- more so than the Simple Slalom mode. Part of our lake is a narrow canyon where the river feeds into it and you have to make numerous turns. It was weird to have the speed set at 34.2 and seeing it zoom up to 36 or even 37 after coming out of a turn and see that it was asking for "more throttle." It would often take a couple hundred feed for it to settle back down to the proper speed. I emailed Aaron again today about this for suggestions.

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You have to throttle back from the set point to turn. As you turn, you lose velocity in the original direction of travel and the GPS thinks you are slowing down while still going straight. Pull back from the set point, make the turn, then throttle smoothly back up and the PP will take over again.
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