I have read of many accounts on the Mainship E-group of the SidePower keypad control failures, and often wondered when it would happen to me. Both keypads had worked flawlessly for 10 years. I always kept the boat covered and dry at the upper helm station. One day I decided to hose things down a bit when I was cleaning up top. Big mistake. I found out later that any moisture entering the keypad membrane will render it useless in a short while.


The accounts I had read, had the replacement cost of these controls to be upwards of $300.00, for a Joystick version. I never could understand the cost, or the need for anything more than a simple on-off-on momentary switch for this purpose. The bow thruster is operated by relays that use very little current. The wires coming to the controls are in the area of 18 guage or less, (I didn't actually measure them.) I heard the controls are very fragile so I hated to blow half a boat buck on a joystick.


Liking the KISS principle, I decided to go the simple route. I went on-line and ordered an ON-OFF-ON momentary toggle switch and a rubber boot to keep it dry. Back at the boat, I pulled the failed keypad control cut the wires off the control one at a time. I would highly recommend turning off the power to the bowthruster while doing this, by turning off the battery switches.


Measure the stem on the switch and get an appropriate size drill bit. On the back side of the keypad you will see round boss in the center of the keypad that looks likwith the action of the switch to be sidewayse it was there for this purpose. Drill the hole to mount the switch. Install the switch in the keypad with the switch oriented so it works from side to side, and install appropriate terminals on the wires. You will only use the gray, blue, and red wires. The other wires are for providing power and ground to the original keypad control. Install the red on the center terminal, blue on the port side, and gray on the starboard side terminal.



Reinstall the keypad in the panel, and test the switch. The whole project was done for $17.00 and I like it much better than the original keypad. With the original, you needed to look at the switch to make sure you pressed in the correct spot. With the toggle, it is stiff enough to prevent accidental actuation of the thruster, while making it much easier to feel for the switch while your eyes are focused on docking. Of course the on-off switch does nothing now, and you never have to worry about the switch timing out like the original did.


I think it looks fine and it works so much better.