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Author Topic:   Joystick Steering Coming to Boston Whaler
jimh posted 01-10-2013 02:19 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
Boston Whaler will be offering an option for Joystick Piloting, which is Mercury's trade name for a system of controlling outboard engine throttle and steering independently so that they can be used at low speeds with a joystick controller.

Mercury has previously offered joystick controls with their ZEUS pods and AXIUS sterndrive propulsion systems. They now bring this option to outboard boats.

The Joystick Piloting is available for use with the 250-HP and 300-HP VERADO engines. It can be used with twin, triple, or quadruple outboard installations. The system can only be used with new engines, however it will be available to re-power situations. I find this to be very surprising; I would have expected the technology would be limited to OEM-new boat builders. I suppose a dealer will have to meet thorough qualifications to be able to offer the product for re-powers.

No one in the boating public has seen this product yet. Its introduction to the public is planned for the Miami International Boat Show. The product is not anticipated to be available on the market until mid-2013.

The demonstrator boat used to show the new product to press insiders was reported by several sources to be a Boston Whaler twin-engine boat.

saumon posted 05-13-2013 11:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for saumon  Send Email to saumon     
Here's articles describing the Mercury Joystick control

and the Skyhook system, in which the Joystick system is linked to a GPS receiver to maintain a position

"This new joystick control ties into the existing Mercury SmartCraft digital throttle and shift (DTS) supplied with Verado Motors and modifies the electro hydraulic power steering system to work in unison with the joystick control. This new control also ties in with Mercury's [VesselView] and working in unison allows for some interesting new piloting possibilities that will be discussed in the next article on Mercury's new technologies."
bluewaterpirate posted 05-14-2013 10:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
Boat Test has a good video of the system in action. 8500034_Joystick-Piloting_2013


jimh posted 05-16-2013 12:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
That is a nice video, but I did get a good laugh from the remark of the reviewer who says, "The system is very simple..." I would hardly describe it that way. It appears to be an astonishingly complex integration of many mechanical and electrical components. For example, when the JoyStick Piloting mode is engaged, the system operates some mechanism (which is not described) to cause the steering wheel to return to an amidships position. That to me seems complicated, not "simple."

The presentation is also a bit confusing. The number of outboard engines on the transom of the boat changes from two to three and back to two many times. This is explained later in the presentation.

The reviewer also shows how the boat can be maneuvered with the Joystick Piloting system, and says "...a good captain can do this with the sticks..." That is not true. Many of the maneuvers that can be accomplished with the Joystick Piloting are only possible if the two outboard engines can be steered independently. In a conventional steering system where a mechanical tie-bar links the two outboards, no amount of operation of "the sticks" can produce the maneuvers that can be done with the Joystick Piloting system, no matter what the skill of the captain.

Because the Joystick System uses two separate hydraulic actuators, one for each engine, there must be some complexity in the linkage of the steering wheel to the actuators. I wonder if the steering wheel is still the usual hydraulic pump? Perhaps the wheel has just become an electronic input sensor to the real system that controls the hydraulic steering. I look forward to learning more details about this.

Jefecinco posted 05-16-2013 07:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
I have a single Verado Gen 2 135 HP engine. If the cost is not prohibitive it would be nice if the Skyhook technology trickles down to the 135 HP size.


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