Joysticks for Outboards
Teleflex Marine introduced its Optimus 360 by SeaStar this week at the 2012 Miami International Boat Show, and I had a chance to run it the day before the show started. This system makes it possible to have joystick-style low-speed maneuverability, similar to the MerCruiser Axius and Volvo Penta joystick systems for twin sterndrives, but for boats with twin outboards.
In December 2010, Yamaha Marine and Volvo Penta had announced a joint venture to develop a joystick control system for Yamaha outboards, but now it appears that Teleflex has beaten everyone to market with the first such system for outboards.
With the Optimus 360 joystick control, the boat can move forward, back, diagonally or rotate on its own center for easier docking, negotiating crowded marinas or loading the boat on a trailer. As the skipper moves the joystick, a series of actuators and Teleflex “SmartCylinders” respond to independently steer each outboard and engage forward and reverse gears.
Boasting state-of-the-art electronics, Optimus 360 can be added to an existing twin outboard boat. The heart of the system is the Teleflex Optimus Electronic Power Steering System (EPS) that replaces the traditional hydraulic steering system on boats with twin outboard engines.
The patented Optimus electronic helm connects via a fault-tolerant Can Bus to the Pump Control Module (PCM) that operates individual hydraulic pumps installed below deck. These pumps are connected to electro-hydraulic SmartCylinders that control individual movements of the outboards.
While the system helps with low-speed handling, it is also designed for precise control and ease of handling while underway. It allows the captain to electronically fine tune boat-handling performance. Optimus 360 easily interfaces with third-party autopilot systems, according to Teleflex.
To learn more, looking for test of the Teleflex Optimus 360 system in an upcoming issue of Boating and on Boatingmag.com. You can also visit teleflexmarine.com.