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

Dometic Optimus All Electric Steering System installed on Panbo(at)

About two weeks ago I wrapped up the installation of Dometic’s Optimus All Electric Steering System. I first wrote about this system the end of last year as it collected several major innovation and design awards. At the time I was intrigued by what it promised and the improvements it could bring to the installation and operation of outboard steering systems.

Since that piece I’ve acquired an outboard powered center console of my own and I’ve been able to fit one of Dometic’s new steering systems to my boat. Now I’m able to experience first-hand what it can do for the handling of the boat. After a remarkably simple six hour install (much of that time spent convincing the old, hydraulic, salt encrusted system to let go of the motor) I’ve been able to get out on the water and put the system through its paces.

So far I’ve put about 35 hours on the system and my initial optimism has only grown. The system hasn’t stumbled and so far I’m yet to find a situation in which it’s not an improvement over the hydraulic system it replaced. I want to get over 50 hours of usage on the system so I can get a sense of how the system holds up over a slightly longer run but I anticipate publishing a full review in the near future. After my initial review, I’ll continue to run the system and be able to report on how it holds up and any issues that might arise.

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Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of Panbo.com, 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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