A choice of control panels is available for each type of thruster. They may include local controls, wheelhouse controls, wing station controls or radio-remote controls. Controls may be mechanical, using push-pull cables, hydraulic, pneumatic or electrical. Most wheelhouse control panels use electric controls and the voltage may be specified by the user when ordering.
Wheelhouse control panels are usually drop-in style panels and may include full follow-up or non follow-up joysticks, engine or electric motor controls and alarm systems. Retractable thrusters are normally provided with full follow-up combination joysticks, controlling propeller speed and steering angle in one handle, and are provided with momentary push buttons for raise and lower.
The push button command will steer the thruster to its home position, retract and latch the thruster when fully retracted, then turn on the indicating light that the unit is safely stowed. Steering is automatically disabled whenever the thruster is not in its fully lowered position.
Tunnel thruster controls normally include an electrical joystick with detent in neutral and provide for either full thrust or proportional thrust control in port and starboard direction. They can be spring return or friction held.
All thrusters can be provided with an interface for dynamic positioning.