When Yamaha introduced its Helm Master boat-control system in 2012, the product stirred intense fascination with its many robust features and its ability to control multiple outboard engines independently. This week, Yamaha debuts its second-generation Helm Master EX with even more control features, and this newest version takes the system into smaller vessels that are powered by a single engine, all the way down to the 2.8L F150.
“The expansion of the system to single-outboard boat configurations is perfect for smaller center console and larger bay boats,” says Ben Speciale, president of Yamaha Marine U.S. Business Unit. “The new joystick option, which is the same as that used on multioutboard systems, allows boaters who desire single-outboard power to enjoy the majority of the benefits associated with multioutboard Helm Master EX applications.”
Of course, a single-outboard system can’t offer all of the features available on multiple-outboard boats because the latter can use opposing propeller thrust to move the boat. For instance, the single-outboard system can’t move the boat directly sideways, although it does streamline docking by combining steering and propulsion into the joystick. It also can’t employ StayPoint, a function that maintains the boat’s heading and position. But it does provide these capabilities:
· FishPoint Bow or Stern: seeks to maintain boat position (not heading), pinning either the bow or stern.
· DriftPoint: seeks to maintain heading (not position), allowing natural drift.
· DrifPoint Track: maintains heading while drifting along a track (route) of selected waypoints.
· Heading Hold: holding heading underway.
· Course Hold: holding course underway.
· Track Point (autopilot): pilots along an input set of waypoints.
· Pattern Steer: allows selection of one of two patterns — zigzag or expanding circle.
· Joystick adjustability: adjust speed, SetPoint modes, heading or course by minor degrees with the joystick.
Helm Master EX also applies to twin-, triple- and quad-outboard configurations, improving on many functi
ons of the original Helm Master system such as a redesigned joystick with smooth-shifting software, precise digital electric steering that can be added to any DEC-capable (Digital Electronic Control) Yamaha outboard (except 3.3 L F250 and F350A models), a new digital electronic control box and an effortless autopilot adjustable with the joystick.
The autopilot system includes a panel on the console, a heading sensor under the console, an antenna above the boat and a control unit. Beyond the multiple capabilities it enables, autopilot also seamlessly integrates with Speed Control, Trim Assist and other EX functions or modes. It also offers Waypoint Arrival, automatic deceleration when approaching the final waypoint on a route, as well as automatic neutral upon arrival.
Digital Electric Steering, similar to what’s built into the 425 XTO Offshore, is now available for most outboard models in single through quad installations. The system employs no conventional steering pumps, hoses or wiring, creating a clean bilge. There are also no valves, hoses or control units, and no need for fluid filling, purging, bleeding or resultant cleanup.
In addition, Yamaha says, boaters can choose to select heavier steering for navigating in heavy seas or set the system to not use auto-increase/decrease features. DES also increases the available net battery-charging power compared with hydraulic systems.
Yamaha also offers a new display option with the CL5 color touchscreen. In addition, the software has been updated on the existing CL7 fully functional MFD. Boaters can also directly connect to many Garmin or Raymarine MFD models with a hard-wired interface panel.
Helm Master EX will be available for repowers, and boaters can option up in degrees — initially adding just the Digital Electronic Control, and later DES, Autopilot and joystick. The retail price for the full EX system starts at $8,400 for a single 425 XTO and increases to $42,400 for a quad application. Boat builders are starting now to install the system on new boats.
More information on the Helm Master Ex will be available on yamahaoutboards.com starting July 1.