Yamaha Launches New Helm Master EX System


By Capt. Dave Lear


Yamaha Marine Engines has announced the introduction of its new Helm Master EX system for enhanced outboard-powered boat handling and control. The new components are being installed by builders now, and retrofit components will be available by late summer and early fall 2020.

Designed for Yamaha’s larger digital outboards (115 horsepower and up), this new system has many innovative features to make boat handling easier and more intuitive, with improvements in ergonomics, functionality, and rigging. The new system will also be applicable for single-engine boats, a first. Significant aspects include a re-designed Digital Electronic Control (DEC) binnacle, new joystick control, Autopilot, Digital Electronic Steering (DES), and multi-function displays. The Helm Master EX is designed as a component system so that it can be installed in modules based on desired functions.

The new DEC controls come in single or twin handle configurations for single up to quad outboard installations. With low profile identical bases, enhanced ergonomics for better comfort and precise control, and single-function selector buttons, the DEC binnacles give the operator sure-handed command of the boat. Specific features include Speed Control, Neutral Hold, Station Selector, and All Engine Trim, among others. Keyless ignition with a buoyant wireless fob is another advantage.

Yamaha Launches New Helm Master EX System the introduction of its new Helm Master EX system for enhanced outboard-powered boat handling and control.

In addition to modifying the SetPoint Modes (SetPoint, StayPoint, FishPoint, DriftPoint, and DriftPoint Track), the sleek matching joystick control has enhanced software to allow finer, more precise adjustments and sensitivity. The boat’s speed (in Autopilot mode only), heading and course can be fine-tuned with a quick toggle or thrust of the joystick. SetPoint adjustments are also quick and easy.

For the first time, the new Helm Master EX brings joystick control capability to boaters with single outboard power. That function was previously only available with two or more engines. Through the use of the joystick, operators can control shift, throttle, and steering functions in one intuitive operation. The advantage is advanced low-speed maneuverability, plus several SetPoint adjustments that anglers and pleasure boaters will find especially useful.

The Digital Electric Steering addition (first developed for the 425-hp XTO offshore engines) is now optional for any current Yamaha DEC-controlled outboard from single to quad configurations. Since it is digitally controlled, conventional accessories, such as pumps, valves, and hoses, are eliminated. This results in a cleaner bilge, adding storage, and eliminates the need for messy and time-consuming maintenance like purging lines and cleaning up hydraulic fluid. Electric power steering has many advantages. It takes less effort to get the desired response and control. Adjustable settings allow the system to be tailored for sea conditions and eliminate lag time. As an added benefit, the DES doesn’t constantly draw amps, so that additional power can be re-directed to run onboard electronics uninterrupted.

Yamaha Launches New Helm Master EX System the introduction of its new Helm Master EX system for enhanced outboard-powered boat handling and control.

A new Yamaha autopilot system is another aspect of the new Helm Master EX system. It is required for the full EX install. There are four individual compact units required for the autopilot. Enhanced control features include single-touch engagement for heading and course hold, pattern steering, and heading/course adjustments. With the autopilot engaged and certain functions selected, the boat will automatically maintain compass headings (with or without compensating for drift). Steering patterns can also be chosen without requiring waypoint input. Anglers will find these functionals particularly useful when looking for bottom structure or trolling over underwater features. The autopilot Track Point function will steer the boat automatically along a set on chosen waypoints. As a fully integrated component, the autopilot also synchs seamlessly with the Helm Master EX Speed Control, Trim Assist, and other modes.

A new color touchscreen multi-function display is another aspect of the Helm Master EX introduction. The CL5 unit is thin and compact with a modern design that will accent any helm. Its smaller footprint allows room for other electronic displays. The CL5 is compatible with earlier DEC components. It also syncs with Command Link-compatible mechanical outboards. The CL7 multi-functional display is also compatible with the Helm Master EX system, so replacement isn’t necessary if it’s already installed. Available interface units for Garmin and Raymarine displays provide direct connectivity, too.

Digital integration and joystick controls have shortened the learning curve for novice boaters, making complicated maneuvers like docking in strong currents or heavy traffic less stressful. Even old salts appreciate the expanded capabilities of precise course adjustments and pre-set tracking provided by electronic inputs. All combine to make the boating experience more fun and enjoyable. The Helm Master EX system provides all that and much more. Maybe the EX designator is really short for extraordinary?


To learn more about all the many capabilities of Yamaha’s Helm Master EX system, visit Yamaha Outboards.com

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