Steer by app

Steer by app: New electronic products make it possible to maneuver your boat with precision and ease.

 Minn Kota

You’re in the back-country fishing at one of your favorite spots. Then a gust of wind moves the boat, and you have to reel in your perfect cast to reposition the vessel. For owners of Minn Kota® trolling motors equipped with i-Pilot® and i-Pilot® Link™, there’s a revolutionary new app for anglers that allows them to use their smartphone or tablet to control the motor via Bluetooth® (where there’s data coverage).

The goal of the apps was singular: to enable anglers to catch more fish. Brad Henry, brand manager for Minn Kota, says that controlling the boat is essential to that endeavor.

“The new Minn Kota apps help make that easier than ever,” adds Henry. “From setting speed and direction to activating Spot-Lock and our new Spot-Lock Jog feature, we are putting a host of features into the familiar, convenient interface of phones and tablets.”

Minn Kota programmed the apps with the most frequently used commands by anglers when they’re on the water: Propeller On/Off, Left/Right Steering, Speed Control, AutoPilot activation, and deployment of Spot-Lock and Spot-Lock Jog—a feature that maintains position in wind and current. Furthermore, High-Speed Bypass boosts the motor to rapidly accelerate if moving the boat quickly is required.

Updates to the app are communicated to users and can be activated as needed, even while out on the water. “Since integrating Bluetooth into select Minn Kota models, it has opened up a new frontier on upgrades and functionality. On-the-fly software updating is just one of many benefits,” Henry explains.

The Minn Kota apps for i-Pilot and i-Pilot Link were designed with a user-friendly screen layout that mimics Minn Kota’s handheld remotes with which anglers are already familiar. The navigational icons are the same, and the response time is immediate.

Some anglers have reported using the new app as their primary control or as a back-up to their wireless remote, while others prefer to use the foot pedal for control. Ultimately, it comes down to angler preference, and Minn Kota delivers options for anglers to choose how they control their trolling motor.

Simply download the Minn Kota i-Pilot or i-Pilot Link app to an iOS or Android device, then pair it with one of the Bluetooth-enabled Minn Kota trolling motors: Ulterra, Terrova, PowerDrive (i-Pilot only), and Ultrex models. The push-button task is fast and easy.

Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson Outdoors and consists of the Humminbird®, Minn Kota® and Cannon® brands. Humminbird® is a leading global innovator and manufacturer of marine electronics products including fishfinders, multifunction displays, autopilots, ice flashers, and premium cartography products.

Minn Kota® is the  world’s leading manufacturer of electric trolling motors, as well as a complete line of Talon® shallow-water anchors, battery chargers and marine accessories. Cannon® is the leader in controlled-depth fishing and includes a full line of downrigger products and accessories. 

SeaStar Solutions

You love your boat, your outboards have plenty of power and are in fine shape, but when it comes to steering, especially at certain speeds, the combination of the two leaves something to be desired. Maybe it’s the factory-installed electrohydraulic steering system that’s giving you grief. Or, perhaps, you’re driving your boat differently now than when you bought it and you haven’t adapted accordingly.

If you own a boat with Mercury® Verado™ outboards, there’s good news. You can now replace your factory electro-hydraulic steering system with SeaStar Solutions’ Optimus Electronic Power Steering (EPS), which provides an easier boat-handling experience with more precision and control. According to Tom Douglass, vice president of sales and marketing for SeaStar Solutions, the Optimus EPS system was developed in response to boat owners who wanted to upgrade to power steering in order to improve the handling of their boats and their boating experience.

“Now, we can extend the benefits of Optimus EPS to more boaters that are looking for ways to make driving a little easier—and a lot more fun,” says Douglass. The Optimus EPS system also offers speed-adaptive technology, a feature that enables programmable steering resistance based on the engines’ rpms. For example, it will make maneuvering your boat easier at low speeds around docks and in marinas, yet at higher speeds it will help to maintain a straight course while cruising.

To install the Optimus EPS system, remove the factory helm, hoses and power assist pump and replace with the Optimus electronic helm, NMEA2000® harnesses, CANtrak display, hoses, and hydraulic pump. Take note that on typical hydraulic steering systems (and on the Mercury Verado system), the autopilot controls a separate steering pump and actuators that steer the boat when the system is engaged. With Optimus, you don’t need that second pump as these autopilot systems that are compatible—from Garmin, Raymarine or SIMRAD— just plug into the Optimus system and use its pump and controls. This makes installation very easy and much less expensive.

For boats with two helm stations, adding a second station is simple because this is a drive-by-wire system. All you have to do to is run a wire from your network up to the second station and plug it into the Optimus electronic helm. The Optimus EPS system is now available for boats powered by up to four outboards.

By L.N. Evans Southern Boating Magazine August 2017

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