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Author Topic: New to Forum and Need helpw with Chartplotter/sonar  (Read 3989 times)
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Wiggler
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« on: September 02, 2010, 08:48:50 AM »

Hello all,

I have been lurking for a while and just recently joined the forum. As of yet, I am not a Panga owner, but plan on ordering a Panga Marine 18 skiff in the near future.  I have always run flats skiffs and decided it was time to step up to something a little more versatile. Enough of the introduction, let me get to the heart of my dilemma.

I want to put a chartplotter with sonar on my Panga but do not know where even to begin. I never have had the luxury of a sonar system on a boat and need suggestions. I have always used Garmin chartplotters/gps systems but am willing to switch brands.

I really like the idea of the Hummingbird SI/gps/chartplotters, but I do not know how good the GPS/chartplotters are from Hummingbird. I also have no experience with side scan sonar.  If anyone has a HB side scan/chartplotter please chime in and let me know if the maps are good and what system you would recommend.

I also do not know what accessories I would need to purchase with the system: extra map software, transducer, cables, antenna, etc.

Glad to be a new member hear and I can't wait to get my boat! Capt. Ryan, thanks for taking the time to talk with me yesterday!

-Regards,

Wiggler.
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Captain Tyler
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2010, 09:59:10 AM »

Welcome to the Forum!! Thank you for signing up!

I have limited experience with the hummingbird systems in the wild but I have messed around a bit with them in the shop.  To me, the charts and bottom machine are pretty solid. The Side scan feature is awesome when you are in around 35' of clean water however once you get deeper the images do become a bit distorted but still it is a pretty cool feature.

Extras,

I would count on getting a chip for your area. Im not 100% if the charts are preloaded or not so I would count on getting one.

Most new systems right now do a bundle pack with a transducer and cables so you wont have to worry about that.


So what kind of panga are you looking at ?

Look forward to seeing your new boat!!

Capt. Tyler
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imgranty
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2010, 03:04:11 PM »

Hi Wiggler,

Welcome to the site. You will find very good advice here from very talented, knowledgeable, and experienced people.

Please be aware that I am not one of these people but i write more words then everyone else so i am good for something.....

I am a electronics nerd with about 2 years of boating experience. I actually looked at the HB unit but selected a different side scanning sonar for my panga.

Since side scanning sonar is something i have and use i am going to focus mainly on this aspect.

The side scanning sonar questions you might want to ask yourself are:

#1) Is this a novelty / fun factor or will you use this frequently?
 
I.E. do you dive, looking for sponge bob, searching for lost treasure, just curious to see whats down there?Huh I wanted it because i thought it was super cool and because i am super impulsive I had to have it. I really think it is amazing and interesting to find stuff and see it so clearly.  Also helped me justify the boat to my wife as a hobby.


#2) How deep is the water you will using the Side scanning feature? 

Capt T is correct the HB unit is not very good over 35 feet.. I had my boat in California and the water there was VERY VERY deep so the HB unit's side scanning capability would be almost useless.  The system i purchased has crystal clear images in water up to 150'  & pretty good images up to 700' + (you can see a wreck easily but not able to really tell what you are looking at) My boat is in NYC now and everything is so much different. the water is VERY VERY crowded with commercial boat traffic, i don't think i want to find or know what is on bottom of the hudson or east river,  and the atlantic is much more shallow (at least where i go) VS what i was expecting.  I have so many other things to look at and do around NYC that the side scanning thing is much less important.


#3) What conditions will you be using it in?  (Waves & speed)

This is one of the main reasons i don't use it more often. The pictures you see on the web are almost always taken in super flat conditions and usually going very slow (2 - 4 kts)  I was able to find things in swells up to 6' (i don't go out in much bigger) but find its the fast chop that turns the pictures into something very very shaky looking (think EKG heart monitoring machine)  I was able to find things and impress the hell out of the people who ride with me, but not very detailed.

#4) Security?

Will your boat be in your garage, storage lot, marina slip?Huh? This isn't specific to side scanning sonar, but something to think about.  I always keep my boat in a marina slip with security guards and controlled access but this stuff can be expensive so i wanted to be able to lock up the valuable stuff. thats one of the reasons i have components that are detachable.   I never had anything taken when in the water at my marina, but the lot where i stored the trailer (and boat when getting maintenance or Installs) had the first GPS chart plotter, and transducer along with a few other things ripped off.  I didn't really care because it was cheap, but even though the place had said it had security cameras it didn't help.

for side scanning sonar prices can cover a really large range. On the entry level side you will find the HB unit (i think i remember it being around 1,000 - 1,500 installed when i looked at it, but that was a long time ago and i dont really remember. My unit is the next step up. It is called " Starfish Sonar" (www.starfishsonar.com)  It is dedicated just for side scanning sonar and requires a computer or laptop to work (i push the image / video out to my Garmin MFD 5212 display / chart plotter which is easy to see in direct sunlight)
it is priced in lbs on the website since the company is in scotland but it is in the $3,500 USD range)  and after that sky is the limit....

I like the starfish because you can attach the "torpedo"  directly to your boat and its draft is less then 6".  I can run with it regardless if it is on or off when it is mounted like this at any speed without noticing its impact on performance of the boat. (it is useless to get images over 8 kts)

If you are in deep water or want to get up close detailed pics of something You can also let out cable and the "torpedo" dives down about 50' (obviously you go very very slow when doing this and try not to get hooked on something)

I love my unit, i think it really good, its fun, different, and blows people away.  If you are interested i am selling it (check out my post in the classified section of this site) Nothing wrong with it just space is tight and to much boat traffic to use something like this.
(email me if you have any other side scanning questions or might be interested in mine)

Multi functions devices in general i think are great.  While i think everyone has their own brand preferences and some differences do exist I think you could find a really good product to meet your needs & budget from any of the major manufactures.

I selected Garmin for myself. I liked their interface the best and they are fantastic about releasing software upgrades to older products when they come out with new features. At the time i made my selection the 521 2series was special because it was touchscreen (Big screen in smallest footprint)  i added Radar, AIS, sonar, and a ton of other things and have not had any problems. My wife liked the 5212 because it matched the Garmin 540s i already had on the boat so how could i even look at  anything else? (Carpet must match the drapes)

If side scanning sonar is no longer a requirement i think the garmin 7XX series is a really good overall value and also offers future capabilities if you think you may want them (radar as an example)

Let me know if you have any questions,


Grant




 

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gobreeze
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« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2010, 05:23:52 PM »

Wiggler,

I have a HB 797 with SS and external GPS antenna.  The new 798 has the a slighly larger screen which is nice and has a internal GPS antenna which I would prefer.

My unit came with everything I needed to install.  I installed it myself with no real problems.  The hardest part was selecting a location for the transducer.  I can post pics if you need me too on where I mounted mine on a 22 PM boca.

I use it, but not as much as I thought I would.  I can say, when I'm fishing a new area, I really like it.  I can remember two times it helped me find ledges that held fish quickly.  The water was murky and choppy and the unit worked fine. I would use it more but I fish locations I know form before I owned the unit.   

The key to reading imagery of any kind is learning what your looking at and experience.  Kind of like reading a MRI or x-ray.  The more you use it the better you'll get at it. 
 
You'll have to bye a chart card for you area for I think about about $200.  It's worth it. My unit is also detachable.  There is a SS yahoo group you can join.  Those guys are the real experts.  Customer service from HB has been good for me and they offer updates at thier website when they come out for free.

Capt Tyler and Grant are right.  Anthing over 35 Feet and you use utility.


Hope this helps

Go
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Wiggler
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2010, 07:05:39 AM »

Thanks for all of your responses.  I fish in water mainly between 3 and 50 feet.  I really like the idea of having something I can pick up structure with on a broader field of view. However, if it is useless after 35 feet, I am on the fence as to whether I want to spend that kind of money.  I often use the high-end SI tow-fish systems for work and they are really nice, but I cannot afford them, nor am I going to carry a laptop and tow-fish on my boat. 

  I guess the other question is how well does the dual functionality work on the HB units?  I know many can switch between traditional sonar and side scan. Or, those with the HB units, do you feel it would be better to go with a traditional sonar/chartplotter system say from Raymarine or Garmin?

Thanks again,

Wiggler
« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 07:27:33 AM by Wiggler » Logged
gobreeze
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2010, 04:36:34 PM »

It's not useless after 35 feet.  It just can't "see" the bottom.  I've imaged schoold of dolphin in 150 feet that were at 20 feet in dual mode.  The broader field of view matters, if you know what your looking for and use it in conjuction with other information.  I imaged a mantee three days ago leaving the ramp.  I aloso imaged a ATV in the bottom of a canal once that was 20 feet off the center line of the bow. 

The duel function works as good as your brain works.  If you have a understanding of the enviroment your in and can correctly interpret what your seeing on both displays it does help allot.  The rest is luck and skill.  I saw somewhere that luck is simply a acronym for "Labor Under Correct Knowledge."  SSI is not the holy grail... just another tool in the tacklebox.

The larger the display you can afford the better.

Others who have been on my boat love the SSI and they all have traditional units on theirs.  Like any good tool, it's only as good as the operator.  If $$ is a real issue (it was for me, I got my $200 off on clearance) then go with a traditional for now and upgrade later.  HB's patent on SSI will run out soon and I think Lowrance now offers a version of it.  Competition may drive the price down over the next few years.
Hope this helps

Go
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four boys
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2010, 07:24:11 PM »

Before I got my boat in April, I really wanted the Lowrance unit but I was talked out of it because of the poor customer service record they had. I had some other units from them in the past and liked their sonar but agree they have poor customer service.  They (Lowrance) really didn't do anything to help as I even sent them several emails just asking for a response as a jesture they cared, yet they never even responded! I had hoped their change in management might have had led to an improvement in their customer service with the launch of their SSB but I guess they were having problems with the HB lawsuit against them.  My Garmin has been rock solid as promised but I must say their fish finder isn't as good as I had hoped. 
One thing about the transducer for the Lowrance.  It has to be mounted off the transom and if you are in the flats a lot like I was in Texas, I would think it might take a beating from time to time in skinny water.  I didn't know there was unit that worked with Garmin.  I just figured they would have theirs out in a year or two. 
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