MIBS 2024: Dockmate DPS

Dockmate DPS’ helm display with DPS activated in precision mode

Dynamic positioning systems (DPS) have been around for over a decade. But, until now, DPS has been a feature of joystick control systems tightly coupled with propulsion packages. So, a boater interested in adding DPS to their boat couldn’t unless their existing engine and control package offered it. Typically, that means pods or recent outboards. That propulsion integration means if you own a boat with traditional inboards, shafts, and props, there very likely isn’t a viable DPS option. Until now! Dockmate now offers DPS as an add-on to any twin-engine boat fitted with their remote control.

Dynamic positioning systems use a combination of GPS and heading sensors to determine the boats position. Then, integration with the boat’s propulsion system allows the DPS controller to put in the right commands to hold the boat in place. Dockmate’s DPS offers two modes: Open Water Mode and Close Quarters Mode. Open water mode utilizes just the engines to hold the boat in the same basic position while allowing heading to vary more. In close-quarters mode, the system uses both engines and compatible thrusters to hold the boat in a tighter area while also controlling the boat’s heading.

Dockmate’s DPS system requires their Single, Twin, or Twist remotes (reviewed on Panbo aboard Have Another Day) to be installed on the boat. Dockmate remotes interface with electrically controlled transmissions so they can be shifted from neutral to forward or reverse and back by command. Dockmate’s DPS only interfaces with proportional thrusters, hence the traditinoal on/off thrusters many of us know so well won’t work. The reasoning is two-fold: first, proportional thursters allow the system to use a little thrust to hold the boat in place and dial it up if conditions warrant and second, proportional thrusters generally are designed for continuous operations so they won’t disable themselves with a thermal shutdown.

Single engine boats are compatible with DPS. However, single engine installations need bow and stern thrusters. For twin engine installations, open water mode is possible with no thrusters while the addition of a bow thruster enables both open water and close quarters modes.

The heading sensor sits in front of the compass forward of the demo boat’s helm

A Dockmate remote installation consists of the remote itself and a transceiver box. Adding DPS adds a helm display, heading sensor, GPS antenna, and a processor module. Additionally, DPS installations will be more involved in light of the need for longer cabling runs to the GPS receiver and heading sensor, and installing the helm display. All system controls use the Dockmate remote.

I took a demo ride just prior to the show opening as part of the Innovation Awards judging process. Our demo ride was pretty quick and took place in the fairway of the marina during show preperations. As you might imagine, it wasn’t ideal circumstances but the system still showed its capabilities. Based on what we saw during our demo ride and the ability to add DPS to existing boats in the marketplace, we awarded Dockmate’s DPS system with an innovation award in the Propulsion equipment and Parts category.

A DPS kit, including the processor, heading sensor, helm display, and GPS antenna, lists for $17,500. Installation will be charged in addition to the equipment and will be determined by Dockmate dealers based on the complexity of install. DPS systems will begin shipping this spring and are currently available for preorder.

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of Panbo.com, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, 100-ton USCG master.

1 Response

  1. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    Yacht Controller has also been advertising a DPS system coming soon for their remotes. They’re promising the system will use the existing processor hardware of their Maximo remote system. The system isn’t on any boats that I know of yet. They had a sign up for it at the Miami show and are offering discounts at the Palm Beach show as well.


    I’m heading over to Palm Beach for a day or two so I’ll check out what they have there.

    -Ben S.

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