MIAMI 2019: Sea Star develops fully electric steering actuators

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Sea Star Optimus steering actuators eliminate the need for hydraulics or cables.

Sea Star Optimus steering actuators eliminate the need for hydraulics or cables.

MIAMI — SeaStar Solutions, part of the Dometic Group, introduced the Optimus Universal Electric Steering Actuator for outboards at the Miami International Boat Show. The manufacturer designed the electric steering with an inverted planetary roller screw inside the housing, which also contains a brushless motor.

It can be operated with a joystick or steering wheel, and the actuators are about the same size as a SeaStar Tournament Cylinder. It mounts directly on the outboard in place of the hydraulic cylinder. The electric actuator has integrated proprietary position sensors and embedded electronics, eliminating the need for the separately mounted hydraulic actuators used in the Optimus joystick and EPS systems. The electric system eliminates the need for hydraulic pumps, cylinders and fluid.

The Optimus electric actuator is installed in a fly-by-wire system in which an electronic signal goes directly from the helm/joystick to the actuator to move the outboard. The system has a pump control module that includes ECM, rudder-position circuit and CANbus communication inside the actuator. Steering power is delivered by the brushless DC motor and the roller screw.

Installation is simplified with three CANbus connections, plus power. Twin, triple and quad outboard installations will be set up similar to current designs, with Optimus Electric Steering Actuators controlling adjacent engines with tie bars.

“If we can lower the amount of parts for the boatbuilder, they can make more boats,” said Eric Fetchko, president of Dometic, during the product announcement.

The system will start shipping at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019.

Also at the show, SeaStar introduced a new series of replacement starters for sterndrives and inboards.

Parent company Dometic announced a new portfolio of window coverings. The products are a rebranding of the recently acquired Oceanair products.

Oceanair offers 50 percent of its blinds portfolio with automation options, said Justine Heeley, head of Dometic Marine Blinds, in a statement. “Design, engineering and innovation are what have kept Oceanair at the forefront of the luxury marine markets.”

In other news, Dometic won an iF Design Award for its portable lithium battery, Dometic PLB40. A 67-member jury from the Hannover, Germany-based iF International Forum Design, voted on the awards. An estimated 6,375 entries were submitted from 52 countries.

The battery pack is designed with a stainless-steel carrying handle and has three-way charging.