IBEX 365 News
2020 IBEX Innovation Award Interview with Yamaha Marine
Helm Master EX Joystick for Single Engine Applications
Yamaha Helm Master EX makes the ultimate in control, including joystick maneuverability, available to customers with single-outboard boat configurations. Perfect for smaller center consoles and larger bay boats, this new joystick option allows boaters with single-outboard power to enjoy the majority of benefits associated with multi-outboard Helm Master EX applications.
What problem does this product solve?
Helm Master EX brings most of the same fishing, positioning, and docking capabilities that multi-engine boaters enjoy to single-engine applications. Now, single engine boaters can hold station, fish easily over wrecks, enjoy full autopilot functions like heading and course hold, and even adjust heading and speed with the joystick.
How did you become aware of this problem?
Single engine boat owners had been asking “How about us?” since Helm Master first appeared. The first generation Helm Master was only available for twin and up outboard powered boats. The features of the original Helm Master enabled boaters to move and position their boats with more ease and added many benefits for both fisherman and casual boaters. On smaller, single powered boats, additional accessories were often installed to enable some of these features, such as allowing a boat to hold position while fishing. Previously, this required the installation of a trolling motor. The Helm Master EX for singles now allows a fisherman to hold position while only requiring the single outboard motor.
What obstacles or complications did you encounter?
Designing software to make a single engine respond to our list of demands was challenging. It shifts smoothly and with minimal frequency, yet still maintains position by reading external inputs like wind and current. The primary technology is a high quality GPS unit to locate the boat’s position, a heading sensor to establish the boat’s current heading, and the computer processing systems that also read engine data. By examining changes to location and heading, the computer can automatically control the power output of the motor while steering the motor to move the boat in the intended direction to correct undesired movement caused by current or wind.
What was Yamaha’s intention regarding product development?
Helm Master EX was developed for boaters to make boating easier and more enjoyable. Single engine boats present many challenges particularly for new boaters. Helm Master EX brings benefits of the system previously only available on multi engine boats, but more importantly enhances the maneuverability. By using the joystick and the super quick digital electric steering positioning, moving a boat quickly and precisely in tight quarters has never been easier.
What customizations do you offer?
The Helm Master EX is an expandable system. Helm Master EX for single applications is available as a Digital Electronic Control for engine throttle and shifting, or with the added integral or bolt-on Digital Electric Steering for super quick and precise steering. Adding the Yamaha autopilot gives the boat a fully integrated autopilot system. And finally, the Maneuverability Package adds the joystick to enhance maneuvering and includes the SetPoint suite of features; FishPoint Bow or Stern, DriftPoint, and DriftPoint Track. Its flexibility gives the boater the opportunity to grow into the product and become familiar with its myriad of functions and benefits.
Were there noteworthy personnel who worked on this product?
This was truly a team effort, with the developers, testers, researchers, and application engineers all working together to produce a product that was useful, beautiful, and created a new realm of usefulness for single-engine boats.
How has the Helm Master EX been received?
In the latter half of 2020, we began the Helm Master EX Demo Tour. Two boats with captains provided on-water training at over 15 select locations to over 400 dealership staff. The response was incredible! The benefits for consumers and the increased control now available have elevated how a single engine boat can be used.
For more information about the 2020 IBEX Innovation Award winners, click here.