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Yamaha Unveils New 'Helm Master EX' Control System for Single to Quad Engines

By: Scott Way

Yamaha Helm Master EX Components
The All-New Helm Master EX Component System

Yamaha continues to release impressive new tech in 2020 by announcing the arrival of the all-new Helm Master EX control system. Like the release of some impressive boat offerings this year, Yahama continues their strategic advance towards a larger market share.

The Helm Master EX is all-new software that builds upon the original Helm Master concept and was designed specifically for use with Yamaha outboards. This new tech is part of Yamaha's CommandBlue philosophy; a commitment to advance modern engineering into the hands of customers, giving them user-friendly products that build confidence on the water. The new system has variations for single to quad engine outboard arrangements, with unique features and user-friendly upgrades to each.

The official consumer launch will happen July 1st, 2020, and the new EX system will be available on new models beginning in January 2021.

Docking boat with Yamaha Helm Master EX
The New Helm Master EX Makes Low Speed Maneuvers Easier


The Helm Master EX is a customizable boat control system that's fully integrated for single to quad motor applications. It has an all-new joystick and new software, and generates smoother shifting than its predecessor. A full array of single-function buttons are available for operators, and the joystick allows fine tuning of auto-pilot settings for both speed and direction that link up with the SetPoint positioning system. In totality, the new system improves application not just for fishermen, but also for overall maneuverability, docking, and slow-speed operation.

The list of new features for 2020 includes:

• Available in single to quad engine outboard configurations

Re-designed joystick with new single joy function and DriftPoint® Track

• Autopilot that can be adjusted with joystick

• Digital electric steering that can be added to any DEC-capable Yamaha outboard (except 3.3-litre F250 and F350A models)

• New digital electronic control box

• Binnacle DEC control box (single or twin handle w/ identically sized base)

• Bolt-on Digital Electric Steering (DES)

• Available, smaller, non-tilt Helm Unit

• New Electronic Key Switch (EKS)

• Keyless ignition fob (works with EKS)

• Five-inch Touchscreen Display (CL5) – works with all DEC and Command Link-compatible outboards

• Touchscreen integration with Garmin® Multi-functional Displays (MFDs)

• Integration with Raymarine® AXIOM® XL MFDs using remote

One of the more helpful aspects of the new system is that it can be installed by OEM partners, or by service techs when re-powering customer boats at a dealership. This allows dealers to install the Helm Master EX system during a re-power or upgrade, as opposed to only an OEM installation. Previous iterations were based on the Volvo Penta system and could only be done as an OEM install on individual boats requiring complicated re-programming.

Single joystick boat helm Yamaha Helm Master EX


Helm Master EX is new equipment and software that's designed to be intuitive and user friendly. Features like autopilot and digital electric steering can be customized to create individualized settings for your boat. There are also separate benefits for dealers and consumers. Consumers will enjoy new levels of control and comfort, and dealers will have flexibility in system design with easier service and installation. The new components are much better suited to repowers than the legacy system.

Some of the notable upgrades over previous versions are:

Single-touch autopilot features including heading hold, course hold, pattern steer and heading/course adjust

Heading Hold – automatically maintains set compass heading, but allows for drift

Course Hold – keeps course, even under current and/or wind

Pattern Steer – allows boaters to select one of two pre-set steering patterns (zigzag or expanding circle) without having to set waypoints. Speed Control and Pattern Shift are available to use while in Pattern Steer mode

• Track Point pilots automatically along an operator-input set of waypoints. Manual override capable for operator change of direction

• Integration with Speed Control, Trim Assist, and other Helm Master EX functions/modes

• Enhanced joystick maneuverability with smooth and precise shifting and new features like DriftPoint Track

• Full-featured DEC – all functions previously on the Helm Master control is now standard on the DEC control used throughout all systems

• Bolt-on electric steering with Improved speed and precision- steering is responsive and requires minimal effort to operate

• Greater vessel control. Zero lag time, and new variable lock-to-lock settings (four-nine rotations) and adjustable steering friction (100 – 200 percent) become available automatically based on outboard RPM. Boaters can select heavier steering load manually (i.e., in heavy seas) or can set the DES system to not auto-increase/decrease features

• More net battery charging power. Increased available net charging power over hydraulic systems. The system is not constantly drawing amps like conventional power steering pumps. This offers the potential for more charging amps to help power on-board electronics.

You can get more info from Yamaha's press release.

Check out the video below to see how the intuitive Helm Master concept works:

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