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Here's A Fish Finder Question For Ya

Old 12-23-2003, 01:02 PM
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Think about this. Its pretty likely that the very best picture and performance that you can ever immagine your fish finder to be able to give is that which is shown in the simulator. The manufacturers use those simulators to sell the equipment and you can bet the farm they are showing off the very best that it can do.

So there you are out on the briney and what you see isn't really the same as the simulator, arches in one are blobs on the other and clear top lines are more often filled with clutter, bottom too sometimes for that matter.

So, you gotta ask yourself, why is my real world picture not like the simulator? Well, you know its not the display unit because the same one is showing you both sides of the fence. Its got nothing to do with power supply, that's either on and sufficient or it is not. There are no inbetweens. Nope, the only thing different is your transducer.

I've always thought that proper transducer installation was paramont to satisfaction with a fish finder. That aside now days I'm starting to think more and more that proper transducer selection may be an awful lot more important than I had immagined. Then I got a bit annoyed. Other than conversations about the ubiquitous 'cone angles' you don't see anyone ever saying much of anything at all about their transducers. The display unit gets blamed for everything and I'm not to sure that's how it should be.

Whatcha think?

Thom

A Wise Man Once Said: "That's EXACTLY why I try NOT to read manuals, I start trying all sorts of stupid things and wasting all sorts of time when I read manuals...."
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Old 12-23-2003, 01:20 PM
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Thom,

I agree with your thoughts on the transducer. I think proper selection of transducer and installation are the absolute most important elements of any and all fish finders no matter who makes them.

When I got my 240 Blue last Christmas, I studied it for at least a month. I talked to other Sea Pro owners about their installs and I called Garmin. I took pictures of the hull and emailed them to the tech support guys at Garmin. After all this, I still grimaced when I drilled the first hole for the Airmar P66 transom transducer.

After all of my efforts, the first test was a success and I have never even had to adjust the transducer. Although, I did hit a log running 50 mph and the unit popped up and broke the mounting bracket. Garmin sent me a replacement free of charge.

I have also noticed that many times problems are self inflected by not reading the manual completely or trying to adjust settings. As an example, after some experimenting, I found the optimal gain setting for salt and fresh water !! Okay, so this is something I have to remember, big deal if it makes the unit provide it's ultimate performance.

You have to spend time and get to know your electronics.

This was my first transducer install and it stays in contact with the bottom at WOT 53 mph.

Thom, I always enjoy reading your posts sir, glad I could contribute to one.



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Old 12-23-2003, 01:45 PM
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[B]Actually, you forgot one thing, as I'd rate the "algorithm" used as THE most important of the fish/depth finder modules.

Think about it ... it takes what's seen by the transducer and coverts it to the image that the display simply presents. The display is "dumb", and yes, the transducer needs to be "sensitive" (let's ignore installation errors) ... but it is the algorithm that needs to be "smart".

I know Thom doesn't care for Humminbird units, but IMHO their higest resolution units have the most realistic representation of "what's displayed" versus "what's really down there" on any fish/depth unit I've ever used. I've calibrated their old Vison models to fish from pogies/menhaden (which would relaibly trip the small FishID icon), on striped bass to 20 pounds or so on the middle ID icon, and to bass > 24 pounds using the large ID icon.

This past season i was running the 320x320 screen as seen on the Eagle/Lowrance units. Very accruate on depths, even on depths below 1 true foot below the transducer face. But ... too much clutter shows up on screen. Sure, one can filter it oiut, but you need to do so actively, like when running with the current versus running against it. On the old H'bird Wide Vision - it was set on AUTO all the time.

Not counting Furuno in that mix there above, mind you, as they seem to be the defacto standard for deep water offshore/commercial machines.

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Old 12-23-2003, 02:11 PM
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Yep. That's why I ALWAYS jump down peoples throat here when they say "The Raymarine L470 Fishfinder sucks cause it won't hold bottom...." (or other model). I almost always jump in and say, "GET A THRU HULL DUCER and your problem will most likely go away".

Like those guys, I didn't listen, and installed a transom mount ducer first, getting poor results, constantly loosing bottom and could never use it above 10 or 15 MPH. I always blamed the machine. Then I installed a thru hull, whallah!! Suddenly the machine is better than what I need.

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Old 12-23-2003, 03:47 PM
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Thom,

You are definitely onto something. I travel all over the country and the world trying to explain that the transducer is a very important part of a sounder selection. Too often I get involved after the boat owner has spent thousands on the electronics, hundreds on the installation, and isn't educated to the transducer selection. It's frustrating for us to see people make the wrong choice. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mean wrong choice by brand because when I get called in it means they have been sold the wrong transducer...out of our own product offerings. Too often they are sold an "inexpensive" transducer and think it will be good enough to meet their expectations. The transducer is like the speakers in a stereo system, or the cable feed for your television. It is both the speaker and the microphone of the fishfinder system. The better the quality and the more efficient the choices, the more satisfying the results are. If you were serious about maximizing your results you wouldn't think of building the ultimate home stereo system and then shopping yard sales for used speakers. Or how about using your grandparents 60-year-old rabbit ear antenna to get broadcast signals into your new 60-inch hi def. television? Just not going to happen if I lay out my hard earned cash.

The problem is there is not a lot of information in the media available so people can really understand this part of sounder selection and educate themselves on how to make a decision on the options. It's in our best interest to make this information available so your thoughts on the best avenues are welcome.

Happy Holidays

Peter Braffitt
Business Development Manager
AIRMAR Technology Corp.
Milford, NH USA
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Old 12-23-2003, 04:37 PM
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HOLY SMOKES!!! Thom, that was perfect peice of bait ya laid out there.... look who posted!!

PETER, WELCOME!!!
First, where've ya been? Man, we need somebody from your company around here!!

Second, check out this short thread from a few months ago titled: "What am I reading on my FF?". Basically, we were trying to figure out what/where the ducer REALLY is seeing...?

http://thehulltruth.com/6/ubb.x?a=tp...1&m=5146067634

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Old 12-23-2003, 04:55 PM
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Default Here's A Fish Finder Question For Ya

I agree, the transducer is the key to optimizing your screen.

I have a Lowrance 104C with a B256 thru hull transducer, mounted in my 2002 246WA Shamrock.

When trolling in the Gulf Stream, I will constantly read bottom in 2500' +. The detail and color line if the unit is tuned properly is awesome.
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Old 12-23-2003, 04:57 PM
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Thanks Peter and welcome aboard. Can you help in the selection of transducers?

Blue skies, rising tides and tight lines...
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Old 12-23-2003, 05:25 PM
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Good reply from Peter here as well:

http://thehulltruth.com/6/ubb.x?a=tp...1&m=9626008525


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Old 12-23-2003, 06:10 PM
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Great Post and I must admit, it’s not something I have pondered very much. I merely took it for granted that everyone realized the importance of the placement and selection of the transducer. After all, regardless of how many pixels your sounder contains, it’s the transducer that centralizes the SONAR emissions and picks up the returns right! That’s where the rubber meets the road IMHO! BTW Birdman, very interesting thread and I read every reply. Thanks!! Now here's one to make you scratch your head. Given that the diameter and hence radius of the cone increases as a function of the depth, it's theoretically possible that at extreme depths the image presented on your screen may represent areas, which are actually "In front of your boat". This would occur in situations the radius of the cone exceeds the overall length of you boat itself. Now not to take this to an extreme, but as the depth approaches infinity, so does the radius and diameter of the SONAR cone, as well as the surface area and volume of the cone! So what does that mean? Well I guess it's mathematically possibly to see every square inch of the entire area below a boat. Sorry, it’s the Math and Physics major coming out in me again. Now, where do you cast??

Thom??

BTW, I love this forum and just signed up for my “Wheel”. I’m in good hands and have been following some of these knowledgeable and kind folks for years on other boards, and it appears that this is BY FAR the place to be!
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Old 12-23-2003, 07:16 PM
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So much question and so little answer required. All you need to know is which side of the boat faces the deepest water. Cast there. The reason is well known, the deeper the water the bigger the fish. Everyone knows that.

Its that terrible illusion that comes from a 2-dimensional display of a 3-dimensionalsubject. The fish finder shows location and signal strength vertically and the impression that the fore/aft dimension is covered by the moving screen. The problem is that we only immagine that we know on a horizontal plane where a target is located.

We all look at the screen and come to the immediate conclusion that we know what is under us and what we have just passed by but in truth what we believe to be under us could as easily be forward or to the side of us and what appears to be behind could be ahead. We who troll live on the eternal hope that we are right in believing that all fish reside behind the boat,or soon will. Its what drives us forward.

Thom

A Wise Man Once Said: "That's EXACTLY why I try NOT to read manuals, I start trying all sorts of stupid things and wasting all sorts of time when I read manuals...."
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Old 12-23-2003, 07:37 PM
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Well-said Thom!!
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Old 12-23-2003, 08:26 PM
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To all, thanks for having me aboard. It’s great to see so much interest in transducer selection, specifications and installations. It can be the root of all perfect…and horrible sounder performance stories! I’d like to clarify that I am not here to sell AIRMAR products. Almost all of you that have a transducer on your boat are already using our products as we sell to, and support, all major and minor sounder and instrument manufacturers. If you are looking to buy new electronics it’s a safe bet you will end up with one of our products anyways, but I appreciate the opportunity to educate you on deciding which one is right for you. I am here only to contribute useful information to help in the selection process…or troubleshooting if I am already too late! There are probably so many questions out there that I may have found a new full time job, so bear with me on responding. I travel a lot but will do the best I can to get you the information you want as quickly as possible. There is a wealth of information on our website on transducer technical data. The site is graphics intense so isn’t currently dial-up friendly. We are working on a faster loading site, but I will work on posting tons and tons of useful data and images in a new location on the site if you want it. It will be generic sonar information, not AIRMAR specific.

Enough said…?

Moving forward: what is currently showing on your sounder screen is history unless you and the fish are sitting still. What is on your “A” scope is what is under your vessel at that particular second in time and is about to become the next vertical line on the sounder screen. A scope can be a very useful tool if you get to know it. If you are traveling at 30 knots and want to see fish on the screen, I have to ask why? When they show up as fish on your sounder they are already a half-mile behind you. If you really want to get into detail you can start to place fish spatially under the boat by understanding the beam widths at 50kHz and 200kHz on you particular transducer. If you see the same target in the narrow beam and the wide beam it is fairly close to under the boat in average water depths. If it is showing up in your wide beam but not your narrow beam that means it is outside the narrow beam’s cone diameter, but inside of the wide beam’s. It’s not easy to relate its position fore aft or port-starboard. I suppose it’s possible to pass over the same target from 90 degrees and see if it’s location is different, but I would rather spend my time baiting up and dropping line.

Have a great evening and I look forward to meeting you all.

Peter Braffitt
Business Development Manager
AIRMAR Technology Corp.
Milford, NH USA

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Old 12-24-2003, 12:09 PM
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Peter,

I expect you must feel like the guy from the Discovery channel who takes the pictures of the avalanches screaming down the mountain. You make one little peep and you get yourself burried.

Well, you asked so here it comes. I have always found the Airmar web site a little difficult to navigate, and that is aside from the speed issue (we country boys have to use modems). I would not begin to suggest that I now anything about web design to make suggestons for improvment but I'll just say that if nothing else a Site Map would help greatly but maybe taking a good look at the logic behind the way the pages are linked might be worth doing. Also the windows are proportioned so that reading the detailed information is more difficult that it probably has to be. That's just presentation though and not really all that important.

There is an article on your site titled "Sensor Design Fundamentals", subtitled Piezoelectric Transducer Design For Marine Use, that is just the thing for an Engineering student but way to technical for common consumption. I think Airmar would do the user communit a great service by taking that article and removing about a fifth of it (some parts are of no interest at all to the common user) and then dumbing down what was left to about 2/3 the level it is now. I'm not saying bring it down to something like the description that the Lowrance web site gives to how a fish finder, but maybe twice that level if I'm making any sense. Dumb it down a little and trim it, but not to much in either reguard. Make it so a B-student Accounting major graduate with a few science courses under his belt could grasp.

Then there is this; I can go to just about any of the marketers and get a selection of transducers for most of the fish finders they sell. What I can't do is find much of anything that tells me what the strengths and weaknesses of each is so that I can make a sensible choice when its time to buy. Just about all that we see to guide our selection is a choice between transome mount, in-hull, and thru-hull, and many times not even that much information. As it is now you all have the cross reference index, but it presupposes some knowledge of the capabilitys of the different models. I think what I would prefer to see might be more like a selection tree at least on the transducers that might be found for recreational units.

As an example of that a visitor to your site might do something like the following:

Go to the North American home page and find the recreational page, hit on a button that said something like 'Transducer Selection'. So I go there and select a Manufacturer, say Furuno. That would lead to a drop down menu with the models from the last 10 years or so, pick one. Once that level of detail had been selected, and let's say we came up with the ever popular Furuno 582L, a listing of the transducers available that might be used with it would pop up, maybe a thumbnail and caption. Clicking on the thumbnail would bring up your brochure for that model (which might be beefed up a bit to suggest what sort of application the particular model was optomized for.

So when I bring up Furuno, and then 582L, it might then list everything from the b-66 to the M260 and each of them with a drop down further description to include the intended use for that model as well as a further link to the brochure.

So there, you asked for it. Whoops, it might not hurt to make it a little easier to find a link to Gem too. I realize you all may have marketing agreements with others that would make that difficult but at least a more accessable set of links to outlets for the more obscure sensors would be nice.

In the end most of us understand the three mounting sytles for transducers and some of the good and not so good points about each but when it gets down to the individual models within the mounting styles many folks don't even know that they have further choices let alone how markedly imporved their bottom box peformance might be if they had known to select a transducer other than what XYZ-Marine wants to stick in the box as a package deal.

Oh, and then about 200 photographs showing installations (step-by-step) in different small boat too as long as this is a wish list.

Years and years ago I worked for an old boy down in Miami named Harry Knuckles. Dirty Harry, as he was sometimes not so affectionately called, had the habit at the end of the day of saying something like, 'when ya'll get that done come on back, I got more for ya to do'.

P.S.:

I do not know just what your relationship with Gem is but I can see it is close. I have never made a call to Gem that I did not consider a success. They and you are to be congratulated for outstanding service and product. No kidding.

Thom

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Old 12-24-2003, 09:05 PM
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Thanks to all. There is nothing I can add, except that this is why I visit this site daily.
good luck
robert from oregon
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Old 12-26-2003, 04:59 PM
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Peter,
Welcome aboard, what took ya so long? If you would have been here earlier you could have saved Wiley alot of bandwidth space! Please see Tabmans corner and you will appreciate the regards we have for good factory people. Look forward to your posts for many years to come. There is a magic in transducers that we all try to figure out, I hope you can enlighten us many times over and make us better fishermen.

Question, I bought the Raymarine 770D a couple of months back and from my understanding the low profile thru hull ducer is not yet available for this unit. I have heard that it may be 6mo before it is ready. Is this correct? If so, please let me know so I can get the first one on the first day they become available. Please note, I do not want to install the bronze thru hull ducer on my boat for the fact that I want to do it myself and am not a fiberglass expert. As of now, I have the shoot thru ducer and feel like this is a waste, for I believe I have the best display on the market today and have to shoot thru the hull and may be losing some of its capabilities. Please check on this situation for me and let me know when I can get the low profile, deadrise compensation preferred. It's frustrating when your willing to spend the money and a company is slow to deliver their product. Any help would be appreciated!
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Old 12-28-2003, 10:44 AM
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Pbraffitt,
Welcome, lucky one of my friends sended this topic to me otherwhise I had missed it.
I was on holiday, but have great interest in transducers, especially here in europe info stinks.
And my english you get used to after a while, just like Tabman

greetings from holland
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Old 12-28-2003, 01:38 PM
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pbraffitt,

Welcome, It seems your expertise will be a great addition to this forum, there are always finder/ducer questions popping up. I just got a new 582L and will be installing it on my new Vector 2400. I would really like to use your new tilted element flush mount ducer. What is the current status on availability on those units? I was told the end of November, but from what I've seen they are still not out in the market. I'd be happy to be a test boat if there were prototypes available. Thanks in advance and again welcome to THT.

Good Luck,

Capt. Terry Nugent
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