Joystick control for shaft drive boats

24 Feb 2017

This new joystick control for inboard engines can be fully integrated into the boat’s electronic systems

This new joystick control for inboard engines can be fully integrated into the boat’s electronic systems

Swedish marine engine manufacturer Volvo Penta has extended its reach into nearly every part of the marine propulsion sector with its engine ranges now supplemented by a variety of propulsion systems plus a wide variety of ancillary equipment such as interceptors and electronics.

Joystick control of the propulsion was introduced when Volvo
Penta developed the IPS Drive over a decade ago, which is capable of 360°
steering and they have since adapted joystick control for their stern drives.
Now the company has developed a joystick control system for conventional shaft
and propeller propulsion such as the systems used by many work boats.

Instead of performing complicated steering, gear shift and
throttle combinations, the boat driver can now perform the same manoeuvres
using the joystick and the boat responds accordingly. Unique to the inboard
engine segment, the system not only communicates with the thrusters, but also
coordinates the rudders, gear and throttle together.

The result is what Volvo Penta describes as ‘a world-class
driving and docking experience.’ Both Joystick Docking and Joystick Driving
functions are available, the former allowing the precise control needed to
manoeuvre a boat into a tight berthing space. Joystick Driving is engaged when
the boat is proceeding in the open sea and allows simple joystick control of
both speed and direction.

Steering with the joystick is achieved by rotating the
joystick knob and a push button in the top of the knob engages the auto-pilot
so that any desired heading can be maintained. This applies at both low and
high speeds. When manoeuvring in harbour the joystick electronics detect a
balance between the propeller thrust and the rudder in order to achieve the
desired turning effect and with the thrusters integrated into the system it is
possible to make the boat have sideways movement under full control. Obviously
the system works better when a stern thruster is incorporated so that bow and
stern thrusters can help with control but the system can operate with just a
bow thruster as fitted to many work boats.

This new joystick control for inboard engines can be fully
integrated into the boat’s electronic systems resulting in movement displays on
the dashboard. The system can also be retro-fitted provided that the engine and
thruster installation have the required connecting capabilities. By having all
of the propulsion components from the engine to the propulsion and control from
one manufacturer allows for a single level of responsibility when things go
wrong plus an extensive number of service centres which could be useful for
boats operating on time-critical jobs.

Visit Volvo Group UK at Seawork International 2017 on stand PO93.

By Dag Pike

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