About Controls

Controls are the primary contact point in a boat for most boat drivers. They typically come in different shapes and styles, but most have a dual-function of controlling both the throttle and shift. Single-engine installations have one handle; dual installations have two handles. For bigger boats with three or four engines, we even make controls with more handles.

Not all controls have the same features, but tend to be specific to the type of engine and boat they are controlling.

Digital vs. Mechanical

Mechanical controls use a cable that connects the control to the engine. When installing controls for dual-engine installations, each engine requires a cable.

Digital controls make use of sensors and wires to transmit the signal from the controls to the engine’s computer. Only one harness is required for each engine. Today’s sophisticated engines, such as Verado and OptiMax, use Digital Throttle & Shift (DTS).

Mount Types

Controls can be installed in different mount types, depending on the boat and engine package.

Side mounts are for mechanical controls on outboard engines. The control box is installed on the inner wall of the boat with the handle attached. Side mount controls include a warm-up lever, primary engine harness, trim switch, and safety switch.

Panel or flush mounts can be used with both mechanical and digital controls. These control boxes have the functional components hidden behind the wall, with the handle mounted flush to the wall. They can be used with either outboard or sterndrive engines. All panel mount controls have trim switches and safety switches, and the digital controls include additional buttons or features.

Console, binnacle, or top-mount installations can also be used with both mechanical and digital controls. These types of controls usually are mounted into a flat-top surface, such as you would normally find in a center console or pontoon boat. The functional components are hidden under a decorative housing and the handle is attached through this housing. They can be used with either outboard or sterndrive engines. All controls have trim switches, but the safety switch is sold separately. Digital controls have additional button or features included on a track pad located in the housing.

Axius & Zeus

Axius and Axius Premier from MerCruiser® are revolutionary piloting systems that turn the most stressful part of boating into something you’ll enjoy. Never before has there been such an advanced level of control, maneuverability, and handling – with the ease of an intuitive joystick.

Perfect for dual sterndrive boat packages from 27 to 46 feet, the Axius system provides an incredible level of precise control. Docking is made easy with the pinpoint accuracy of Axius’s advanced Joystick Control System, which provides incredible control and mastery for the ultimate in boating confidence. The optional Axius Premier piloting technology offers additional features and enhancements to make boating even easier and more worry-free.

The instant throttle response and smooth shifting of SmartCraft® Digital Throttle & Shift (DTS), as well as electronic/hydraulic power steering, provide responsive, effortless control backed by thousands of hours of proven reliability.

Zeus is the joystick piloting system for larger boats powered by diesel engines from Cummins Marine.