Dometic Optimus All-Electric Steering system installed and testing under way

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, completed the Great Loop in 2017.

6 Responses

  1. William POzo says:

    Great article. On your full write up – Can you give us pictures of the helm pump or interface to the steering wheel? What does that look like? Does this have an ecm mounted somewhere? Is the noise noticeable at the helm while driving slowly? It has a hydraulic ram bar so is this unit still hydraulic pump actuated? Whats the power draw?

  2. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    William POzo, I sure will discuss the specifics more. But in the meantime let me fill in some of the details. Although that ram looks like it’s hydraulic it’s not. It’s all electric. The initial writeup I linked to above has some cutaway pictures showing the ram. But, the short story is there’s no hydraulics involved, no pump, no hydraulic lines, etc. The only connection is a bundle of electric cables. That bundle contains large-ish positive and negative cables and multiple CANBus networks. That harness connects to the side of the ram and then to the helm unit. There’s no separate ECU so it would seem the smarts are in the three components (helm, display and actuator).

    -Ben S.

  3. Interesting how sailboats have had full electric options since … forever? and it’s taken this long for someone to do some lateral thinking and apply the same to outboards!

    We’ve got a fully redundant setup on Merrimac, with one hydraulic and one electric drive. We always use the electric one, but I guess its main benefit (noise level) is wasted with an outboard!

  4. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    I passed the 50 hour mark this weekend on the system without a hiccup. I’m working on collecting all my thoughts on the process and plan a thorough write-up shortly.

    • Michael Geric says:

      Very interested in the full write up. I drove a 37 Seahunter with triple at the Miami boat show with Nick Thull from Dometic. After market installation was just getting ready to launch.

      I just spoke with Nick yesterday they are now shipping. However, there is some trail blazing to be done and unknown answers as to how the System can interface with older say A pair of Yamaha F250 mechanically controlled motors Like I have on my boat. The joystick won’t work without adding E actuators for the shifting and throttle complicating the system.

      The E steering alone without the joystick should work but then it cannot utilize Dometic’s autopilot. Nick said I would need to swap Out my older Simrad autopilot for a newer fly by wire capable unit which is no problem..

      Or replace my F250s with 800 hours and a clean bill of health for newer fly by wire motors. However my 2001 Stamas 326 express is only rated for 300 hp so Without upgrading to 350s and getting more speed it is A less Appealing way to go.

      Still I would like to explore how the system can Best integrate Into a twin engine mechanical control boat.

      Thanks Michael

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