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What is the best fishfinder for the money for a center console?

Old 06-29-2014, 01:57 PM
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Default What is the best fishfinder for the money for a center console?

So back in 2003, we bought a Mako 25' center console. I did very little research at the time and bought a fishfinder unit that was more or less useless. It has never worked right from day one.

We desperately need to get a new unit but I'm having a hard time figureing out what to get. I have been building computer since I was 13 years old and have a pretty good knowledge of electronics. However, with these units they seem very expensive for what you get. I'm aware that they don't sell a lot of them and they need to be waterproof but I'm still not happy with the prices. I'm looking for the best bang for my buck but I don't want to skimp.

What do you guys think is the best fishfinder for the money for my type of vessel? I don't need all of the bells and whistles but I fish five days a week and I need something that is as accurate as possible. My budget is around $800 for the unit without installation.

Thanks
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Old 06-29-2014, 01:59 PM
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What is your fishing depth?
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Old 06-29-2014, 02:09 PM
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Everything from inshore to 500'. Most of my fishing is done between 20' and 300'.
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Old 06-29-2014, 02:17 PM
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For the money right now the Simrad NSS8 is a great deal and they're about $1075 give or take BUT, you'll get a $200 rebate. IF you NEED structure scan, add $500 for a sonar hub and then $225 or so for an LSS2.

You don't mention what you're running for a transducer.. if you want ALL THE BELLS and WHISTLES, Airmar B175W - BUT IT IS PRICEY

Just a thought anyway.
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Old 06-29-2014, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Badbagger View Post
For the money right now the Simrad NSS8 is a great deal and they're about $1075 give or take BUT, you'll get a $200 rebate. IF you NEED structure scan, add $500 for a sonar hub and then $225 or so for an LSS2.

You don't mention what you're running for a transducer.. if you want ALL THE BELLS and WHISTLES, Airmar B175W - BUT IT IS PRICEY

Just a thought anyway.
Thanks Badbagger, I've heard really good things about Simrad. I think that I will need to get a new transducer. I bought it back in 2003.
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Old 06-29-2014, 02:38 PM
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How about a Furuno GP1870F, it has GPS and sounder (fishfinder) capabilities and with a decent transducer (after rebate of $150) you'd be right in your budget.

Gil (semperfifishing) who posted above is (IMO) one of (if not the best) resources for electronics on here!
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Old 06-29-2014, 03:12 PM
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I agree about the NSS8, but tomorrow is the last day for the rebate.

I was out in 1100' this morning scouting deep drop spots and the NSS8 compared very favorably against a furuno DFF1.
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Old 06-29-2014, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by newellchunker View Post
How about a Furuno GP1870F, it has GPS and sounder (fishfinder) capabilities and with a decent transducer (after rebate of $150) you'd be right in your budget.

Gil (semperfifishing) who posted above is (IMO) one of (if not the best) resources for electronics on here!
Here's the thing. I called my local marine electronics shop and they recommended this unit. I went down to take a look at it because I was interested. When I got there I was extremely disappointed. The screen was tiny, the maps took a long time to draw, and the software only seemed marginally better then the one I have which is from the early 2000's.

To be honest, I don't understand it. I just build a new computer with 2 ssds, a fast cpu, a nice motherboard, 8gbs of fast ram, ect; for $600. With this unit you spend a grand and get what...? A waterproof device that has the power of an antiquated computer from 10 years ago with proprietary software that isn't even impressive. I'm sorry but for that kind of money I expect a lot more.
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Old 06-29-2014, 03:32 PM
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FAT, check your PM inbox.
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Old 06-29-2014, 04:55 PM
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Do you have navigation equipment already on the boat, or do you need this as well? A good combo unit will serve you well, with you being a computer whiz you may find the "bells and whistles" a good thing. I can't tell you how many people I've installed a no frills cheap fishfinder on a boat and they've come back unhappy with the lack of features. You can get into a reliable Garmin, Lowrance, or Hummingbird for about what you're budgeting.
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Old 06-29-2014, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by fatstriper1 View Post
Here's the thing. I called my local marine electronics shop and they recommended this unit. I went down to take a look at it because I was interested. When I got there I was extremely disappointed. The screen was tiny, the maps took a long time to draw, and the software only seemed marginally better then the one I have which is from the early 2000's.

To be honest, I don't understand it. I just build a new computer with 2 ssds, a fast cpu, a nice motherboard, 8gbs of fast ram, ect; for $600. With this unit you spend a grand and get what...? A waterproof device that has the power of an antiquated computer from 10 years ago with proprietary software that isn't even impressive. I'm sorry but for that kind of money I expect a lot more.
Don't be too hard a the GP187F or any 7 ' unit in the same class...such as a Lowrance elite 7 etc...or a Garmin 740s...FCV627 etc
You mentioned a budget around $800....and assuming that includes a transducer...these are the units that most commonly one looks at in that price range.
And the GP1870 can be used as fishfinder only..no need to use the charts...and they are excellent sonars..$565 after the rebate is a nice price.
Or the Sitex SVS 650..also a good unit..$500.

What you did not and cannot test in a showroom is the sonar capability...and these smaller screen units have excellent sonar capability.


Stepping up in price a tad you can go into the 8" units..many more options there...and if you are looking for fishing.. .many of the newer units have a built in CHIRP.

Last edited by semperfifishing; 06-29-2014 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 06-29-2014, 05:36 PM
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How much would it cost you to build yourself a nice fishfinder?
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Old 06-29-2014, 05:45 PM
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Furuno has won every NMEA FF award
presented. I believe 38 years straight.
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Old 06-29-2014, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by mossbackinsocal View Post
How much would it cost you to build yourself a nice fishfinder?
I was originally going to build my own unit. I found a waterproof touch screen that was over 20" for a very reasonable price. I also found a nice waterproof fanless case to install a budget build PC. There are attachments to link up to satellites for GPS. My friend who is the captain of a 100' tug has one on his boat back home. It works well.

This unit would do everything faster, cheaper, and better then what you can buy from a manufacturer. However, I'm still searching for software that would allow me to turn a PC into a fishfinder. If it's out there I may go choose to build it, but I need something soon; the season is already underway.

I really didn't care for the Furuno. I would honestly go back to using charts before I spent over a grand to install that device. I'm judging it on it's screen size and it's chart-plotting software. I cannot judge it on it's sonar capabilities. I would spend considerably more on a unit that had a better interface, with nicer software, a touchscreen, web browser, faster processor. However, if that is not available at a decent price, I'm more interested in just a fishfinder without the plotter.
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Old 06-29-2014, 06:44 PM
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for your budget the Lowrance elite 7 could be had.. if u bought the chirp you could still be in that price range... possibly get the gold+navionics package.. it get you a decent gps/plotter and ff combo..

the lowrance will have the general basics no expansion for radar and all that jazz but it dosn't sound like you want or need the ability to expand..

i would love a nss8++ but it was not in my budget last year... i do plan to go that rout this year... i may wait till spring and see if the new nss integrate structure scan+chirp or see what the changes for early 2015 are.. i think i can get 2 years out of my elite7 with what i do. but it has left a big desire to upgrade with the ability to expand+bigger screen... i had my mind set last year on the hds8 and cheaped out.. now im kicking myself... but the 2nd go around i will know what i want from use/experience.
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Old 06-29-2014, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by mossbackinsocal View Post
How much would it cost you to build yourself a nice fishfinder?


Customers selecting the newest CHIRP units from Sonars-R-US.... .......some assembly required.

Last edited by semperfifishing; 06-29-2014 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 06-30-2014, 06:33 AM
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I can relate. As a IT person myself, a few years when I started looking for a new unit I was shocked at the price for what you get in hardware. I'd had similar thoughts about rolling my own, but that ended REALLY quickly Really for SOOO many reason, it just isn't practical. There is some interesting hardware and software and it could be really cool to see what you could put together yourself, but that would just be for fun DYI adventure and not with any thoughts of producing a better end result for a lower price.

When you buy these units you are buying specialized hardware and software not just some combination of off the rack stuff. First, even with a waterproof air-tight case, how do you deal with heat transfer (this will be a unit outdoors in hot weather). You will need to very non-standard heat sink setup connecting the controlled internal environment to the external. Your standard "click-in" RAM isn't going to stay clicked in long with the constant vibrations and occasional big slams from large waves. So you'd need to solder it in. Does standard work there or are there special types which will hold up in a marine environment? How do you connect your transducer and have it remain a watertight design? Must transducers don't connect via USB

I could go on and on and on, but at least for me I very quickly realized this was not something feasible just from a hardware perspective (software is a whole other can of worms) if my goal is higher quality and lower price.

So then I had to decide between the traditional units on the market. In honesty, at that point I decided to stay out of the market. CHIRP was pretty much brand new but massively expensive and it just seemed like the industry was in a transition period. I'm glad I stayed out of the market at that time as just a couple years later I find the offerings MUCH more attractive (or maybe I'm just tired of my old crap electronics so am getting more desperate ). Either way, I'm currently pretty close to choosing a Simrad NSS EVO2 setup which combines low enough price, good included functionality, and really good expandability. I've really been waiting on a lower end setup where full dual-band chirp can be added later if I feel like it and the EVO2 is really the first one I've found.

So I think there are some reasonable options today but at your price point there isn't anything I'd really like. Some good options were given above at least close to your price range, but I'll add one you may also want to consider. If you aren't really happy with the options today and want to see what is there in a couple years but also want something today better than you currently have maybe consider the Raymarine Dragonfly. I wouldn't consider that a long-term solution (at least for me), but is in your price range and is likely much better than you have today. Some good and bad is it is a very simple and standalone system (in the long term you won't be building a full electronics package around it, but that also means simple to setup and easy to get rid of later). So you could buy it and start using it today, but it also very easy to pull out and resell if in a couple years you find there is a system you would now prefer.

The short version is I feel your pain/surprise about the prices, however, building your own probably isn't a viable option. Your options are probably
1 - Buy a cheap unit improve your fishing today and see where the pricing/technology goes over the next couple years at which point you reevaluate
2 - Bite the bullet (probably double your budget at least) and you can get a really good unit you can really build around going forward.
3 - Live with what you have. Basically just keep what you have and keep an eye on the market to see if something new comes up in the next couple years which you think makes sense for your fishing and your budget.
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Old 06-30-2014, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by ccarpediem View Post
I can relate. As a IT person myself, a few years when I started looking for a new unit I was shocked at the price for what you get in hardware. I'd had similar thoughts about rolling my own, but that ended REALLY quickly Really for SOOO many reason, it just isn't practical. There is some interesting hardware and software and it could be really cool to see what you could put together yourself, but that would just be for fun DYI adventure and not with any thoughts of producing a better end result for a lower price.

When you buy these units you are buying specialized hardware and software not just some combination of off the rack stuff. First, even with a waterproof air-tight case, how do you deal with heat transfer (this will be a unit outdoors in hot weather). You will need to very non-standard heat sink setup connecting the controlled internal environment to the external. Your standard "click-in" RAM isn't going to stay clicked in long with the constant vibrations and occasional big slams from large waves. So you'd need to solder it in. Does standard work there or are there special types which will hold up in a marine environment? How do you connect your transducer and have it remain a watertight design? Must transducers don't connect via USB

I could go on and on and on, but at least for me I very quickly realized this was not something feasible just from a hardware perspective (software is a whole other can of worms) if my goal is higher quality and lower price.

So then I had to decide between the traditional units on the market. In honesty, at that point I decided to stay out of the market. CHIRP was pretty much brand new but massively expensive and it just seemed like the industry was in a transition period. I'm glad I stayed out of the market at that time as just a couple years later I find the offerings MUCH more attractive (or maybe I'm just tired of my old crap electronics so am getting more desperate ). Either way, I'm currently pretty close to choosing a Simrad NSS EVO2 setup which combines low enough price, good included functionality, and really good expandability. I've really been waiting on a lower end setup where full dual-band chirp can be added later if I feel like it and the EVO2 is really the first one I've found.

So I think there are some reasonable options today but at your price point there isn't anything I'd really like. Some good options were given above at least close to your price range, but I'll add one you may also want to consider. If you aren't really happy with the options today and want to see what is there in a couple years but also want something today better than you currently have maybe consider the Raymarine Dragonfly. I wouldn't consider that a long-term solution (at least for me), but is in your price range and is likely much better than you have today. Some good and bad is it is a very simple and standalone system (in the long term you won't be building a full electronics package around it, but that also means simple to setup and easy to get rid of later). So you could buy it and start using it today, but it also very easy to pull out and resell if in a couple years you find there is a system you would now prefer.

The short version is I feel your pain/surprise about the prices, however, building your own probably isn't a viable option. Your options are probably
1 - Buy a cheap unit improve your fishing today and see where the pricing/technology goes over the next couple years at which point you reevaluate
2 - Bite the bullet (probably double your budget at least) and you can get a really good unit you can really build around going forward.
3 - Live with what you have. Basically just keep what you have and keep an eye on the market to see if something new comes up in the next couple years which you think makes sense for your fishing and your budget.
I agree with you 100% there are some major obstacles to overcome before taking on a project like this. I toyed with the idea for a while and soon after I decided that I would bite the bullet and try and find the best unit per dollar. You are correct, it is not practical especially in a limited time-frame.

However, I'm sure in the near future that projects like this will become more realistic. If there is a will, there is a way. An ultra low voltage cpu, in a watertight fanless case, with a passive heatsink, would take care of heat. The RAM might be a problem, I didn't even think of that. I'm sure there is a solution though; soldering could work. As for software, I'm sure that someone eventually will create emulators for different fishfinder systems. A USB transducer, that might make a great business idea . If man invented the computer, and if a fishfinder is a type of computer, then it's possible to make a personal computer into a fishfinder. The only questions are: How long would it take? How much money would it cost?

I will bump up what I have to spend to get something decent if I have to. I will do some research on the unit that you suggested. Thanks for the input.
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:36 AM
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I had some interest in the Elite 7 for a while. Never got it though. Depending on what my next boat comes with I amy look into upgrading myself. I was thinking of the NSS...
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:49 AM
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Why don't you pick up a used Furuno DFF1 black box sounder? New the're about $700, many have upgraded to the DFF chirp. Should be lots of these sitting in garages of THT members. You should be able to pick one up for $150. They output into Ethernet, so you should be able to resolve the code to make it work with your PC.

Just a thought...
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