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Transducer "Arms Race"

Old 10-16-2015, 11:03 AM
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Default Transducer "Arms Race"

I thought it might be iinteresting for everyone to start a thread about the never ending flood of new, bigger, more expensive transducers that many people feel compelled to buy. If you go on an older boat with a Furuno 582L and a B260 transducer and fish in water less than 300 feet and do the same thing on a new boat with a CHIRP sounder and a transducer that costs three times as much, the difference in the real world impact on seeing fish and bait is just not very significant.

Even more ironic is that the newest CHIRP "ultra wide" transducers, which no doubt will be very expensive, seem to be an attempt to solve the problem of the narrow beamwidth of the CHIRP transducers apart from the specialized "HW" models. A cheap old P66 or B60 has a wide beam and is pretty damn good at showing large pelagic fish and bait balls.

For bottom fishing in very deep water, there is a big advantage to the large multi-element CHIRP units. That's not what most people actually do, however, which is fish for species found in the top 200-300 feet of the water column.

I am not trying to sound like an anti-technology Luddite talking about the good old days when we used flashers. In fact, I have two boats, the larger of which has an expensive CHIRP sounder and big expensive transducer. My small boat has a B60 and conventional sounder and I do just fine with the much cheaper hardware inshore.

Wondering whether others think this is all getting a bit much and people are just wasting their money chasing the latest and greatest (and I have no problem with anyone spending their money however they choose).
Old 10-16-2015, 02:00 PM
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Airmar is the big winner in the CHIRP game... It is more hype than true gains from my experience as a near shore/bay fisherman.

I have been on boats with new CHIRP systems and will take my fixed frequency fish finder with simple p66 or B60 any day of the week and twice on Saturdays for my Chesapeake Bay and near coastal fishing. I get a nice wide cone at 50kHz and a narrow more sensitive cone at 200kHz for picking up things like bottom fish, thermoclines and bottom density changes.
Old 10-16-2015, 02:21 PM
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I have a simrad NSE12/BSM2/airmar B175M chirp setup and it is like you said, I love my chirp setup for deep bottom fishing, 300-900 but while fishing for pelagics I use my "old" Furuno 585 which is hooked up right now to a P66 transom mount. I am either zoomed in on the deep bottoms with chirp or using 150 or 200 depth range on the furuno looking for pelagics. So I don't get it either, I would not spend the money on an expensive chirp setup right now if I wasn't deep drop fishing. I suspect that as things develop one day not too far away, all sounders will pretty much be chirp but we are not there yet. When that day comes they wont be that expensive.
Old 10-16-2015, 02:27 PM
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I'm on the edge of buying new equipment for my dated Garmin 3210/546 displays that came with my boat. They work great for navigation, from what I've read, the 3210 is a solid unit.

my ideal situation is keep my current displays for navigation and find something that is wifi enabled for radar/sonar. so I can keep the eyes on the road, and whoever is with me can watch for fish/birds on a tablet. I see some lower end units coming into the wifi world. but I think that will be the next wave of technology, data streaming wireless.
Old 10-16-2015, 05:16 PM
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hind sight is 20/20 if I had it to do over I would buy Garmin 840xs over my 7608xsv I rarely use DI orSI. I was all hep about chirp so I bought 7608xsv the 840xs would have given me g2 vision which I don't use but could of saved a thousand or so live and learn.
Old 10-17-2015, 04:25 AM
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The old transducers like the P66 circa 2000 where ahead of their time. The advances are not so much the transducers per se, but the digital signal processing of modern equipment. The CHIRP technology originally in radar was adapted for sonar use in the early 90s in the commercial fishing and surveying industries. It now filters down to the leisure industry. The advances in miniaturisation now makes sounders CHIRP capable that 20 years ago weight in at 30kgs. big transmitter boxes, power converters etc . The next 'new' thing will be electronic phased array beam forming techniques currently used in omnidirectional and searchlight sonars.
Old 10-17-2015, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by isitstuffed View Post
The old transducers like the P66 circa 2000 where ahead of their time. The advances are not so much the transducers per se, but the digital signal processing of modern equipment. The CHIRP technology originally in radar was adapted for sonar use in the early 90s in the commercial fishing and surveying industries. It now filters down to the leisure industry. The advances in miniaturisation now makes sounders CHIRP capable that 20 years ago weight in at 30kgs. big transmitter boxes, power converters etc . The next 'new' thing will be electronic phased array beam forming techniques currently used in omnidirectional and searchlight sonars.
That's a very good point. One thing that a lot of folks do not realize is just how much license some of the electronics manufacturers take in their signal processing to have a screen that makes the recreational consumer think it has a better sounder than than another brand. Without working for the companies and knowing their proprietary processing code, I would bet that Simrad and Garmin in particular have become much more sophisticated in getting their sounders to paint nice arches even though the actual detection of targets is no better than for example some of the pre-Navico Simrad sounders or a Furuno 527. Some of the screen shots I have seen people post are just too perfect. If Furuno can put those silly blue fish on your screen when you turn on "Accu-fish", Simrad can put a cleaner arch on your screen.
Old 10-17-2015, 09:59 AM
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My take is pretty much the same with a twist. I don't care what freq your using, a bait-ball is a bait ball. But if you don't have the larger cone, you ain't seeing shit.

I have been preaching the merits of the B60 to so many people, I sound like a broken record!

But, being in the business, if I don't equally promote the Chirp systems, then my customers feel I'm outta touch.

I also have to admit, I do really love my Cp470 with a tm275lh-w. ------- clarity yes, but the 25degree cone is really the ticket. There is no way I'd recommend any other transducer for chirp. If a guy won't spend the $$$ on it (or the thru-hull version) I will not sell it without telling a guy it isn't worth it in my opinion. Frankly, now you know why I sell the hell out of a cp100 (dragonfly) and a baby chirp/Downvision system 20:1 over anything else. 25 degree cone and a 60 degree fan beam. Beam width to show bait-balls!

A bait-ball is a bait-ball AS LONG AS YOU HAVE THE CONE WIDTH TO SEE IT.
Old 10-17-2015, 10:37 AM
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My ole Furuno 585 does the pretty arches, not so much for my Simrad chirp unless you mess with scroll speed and even then not so pretty. So, I don't know about some cheesy sounding trickery. And CME as you probably know the red blob bait ball that we are use to in non-chirp now appears as hundreds or thousands of tiny fish in chirp. Kinda cool but useless info. I guess that's why I still have my 585 running for that type fishing.
Old 10-17-2015, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by knotreel View Post
My ole Furuno 585 does the pretty arches, not so much for my Simrad chirp unless you mess with scroll speed and even then not so pretty. So, I don't know about some cheesy sounding trickery. And CME as you probably know the red blob bait ball that we are use to in non-chirp now appears as hundreds or thousands of tiny fish in chirp. Kinda cool but useless info. I guess that's why I still have my 585 running for that type fishing.
I completely agree.

The one truly helpful thing, as a quick note, Chirp is better at discriminating the bottom and fish right on the bottom. For Salmon anyway, it's a good thing. For bait-balls, eh-- not so important.
Old 10-17-2015, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by knotreel View Post
I have a simrad NSE12/BSM2/airmar B175M chirp setup and it is like you said, I love my chirp setup for deep bottom fishing, 300-900 but while fishing for pelagics I use my "old" Furuno 585 which is hooked up right now to a P66 transom mount. I am either zoomed in on the deep bottoms with chirp or using 150 or 200 depth range on the furuno looking for pelagics. So I don't get it either, I would not spend the money on an expensive chirp setup right now if I wasn't deep drop fishing. I suspect that as things develop one day not too far away, all sounders will pretty much be chirp but we are not there yet. When that day comes they wont be that expensive.
I am confused. One group of people claim the Chirp doesn't work well in deep water. Others insist that its main advantage is deep water sounding. In my experience (BSM-2 R509), specifically low/lowest chirp doesn't work well at all. There are other threads about it and you can see that many people agree it doesn't work. There are no ACTUAL screenshots of fish in 500-600 meters.
Old 10-17-2015, 10:08 PM
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Not a lot of people fish the bottom that deep, at any deepish depth you must use the zoom actually see anything on the bottom, 2x 4x and maybe more zoom at the depths you are talking about. Even big fish anywhere in the water column are tiny dots when the screen is at that scale. A screen showing 1800' water column a 10' fish would be 10/1800 or 1/180 'th of your screen . You can zoom the bottom so that the left screen side will show maybe bottom 300 or so feet. When you say low/lowest, I wonder if you are selecting a single frequency at the low end of your low chirp band, if so, then you are not using chirp. The chirp has higher resolution at all depths, giving more target detail, but my comments are that the high resolution in some fishing situations is not really that useful, especially given the cost of chirp as it is priced now.
Old 10-18-2015, 02:56 AM
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Originally Posted by knotreel View Post
Not a lot of people fish the bottom that deep, at any deepish depth you must use the zoom actually see anything on the bottom, 2x 4x and maybe more zoom at the depths you are talking about. Even big fish anywhere in the water column are tiny dots when the screen is at that scale. A screen showing 1800' water column a 10' fish would be 10/1800 or 1/180 'th of your screen . You can zoom the bottom so that the left screen side will show maybe bottom 300 or so feet. When you say low/lowest, I wonder if you are selecting a single frequency at the low end of your low chirp band, if so, then you are not using chirp. The chirp has higher resolution at all depths, giving more target detail, but my comments are that the high resolution in some fishing situations is not really that useful, especially given the cost of chirp as it is priced now.
You are correct about zoom functions, some even work on the second echo because gain can be increased and they zoom in on that. However transducers get too little credit when connected to a poor resolution screen that prevents proper discrimination. Insufficient screen pixels can't give a clear picture and discriminate fish 1 inch off the bottom. So the argument to get the best transducer and connect it to mediocre sounder is flawed.
Old 10-18-2015, 04:04 AM
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Originally Posted by ClassicGuy View Post
That's a very good point. One thing that a lot of folks do not realize is just how much license some of the electronics manufacturers take in their signal processing to have a screen that makes the recreational consumer think it has a better sounder than than another brand. Without working for the companies and knowing their proprietary processing code, I would bet that Simrad and Garmin in particular have become much more sophisticated in getting their sounders to paint nice arches even though the actual detection of targets is no better than for example some of the pre-Navico Simrad sounders or a Furuno 527. Some of the screen shots I have seen people post are just too perfect. If Furuno can put those silly blue fish on your screen when you turn on "Accu-fish", Simrad can put a cleaner arch on your screen.
Keep in mind that Simrad is still owned by Kongsberg in Norway. they have been producing CHIRP and broadband products originally for military use such as torpedos.
Simrad Horten are leaders in hydro acoustics. When Kongsberg sold off their leisure arm to Altor in 2007 and called it Simrad Yachting they inherited a lot of know how. I guess the technology has been licensed to other sounder manufacturers because they all sort of 'adopted' CHIRP at the same time.
For the benefit of this thread...
The standard single frequency transducer may be advertised as say 200kHz which describes it's resonant frequency. In actual fact, the resonant frequency can be between 190 to 210kHz as a consequence of the element dimensions tolerance, housing type and acoustic window material plastic or urethane etc. I have suffered over many hours on the older sounders tuning the transmitter to match the resonant frequency of the transducer then tuning the receiver to suit. This is to get the best possible signal to present to the digital signal processor.
This is why some people have better performance than others of a particular model transducer.
Old 10-18-2015, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by isitstuffed View Post
Keep in mind that Simrad is still owned by Kongsberg in Norway. they have been producing CHIRP and broadband products originally for military use such as torpedos.
Simrad Horten are leaders in hydro acoustics. When Kongsberg sold off their leisure arm to Altor in 2007 and called it Simrad Yachting they inherited a lot of know how. I guess the technology has been licensed to other sounder manufacturers because they all sort of 'adopted' CHIRP at the same time.
For the benefit of this thread...
The standard single frequency transducer may be advertised as say 200kHz which describes it's resonant frequency. In actual fact, the resonant frequency can be between 190 to 210kHz as a consequence of the element dimensions tolerance, housing type and acoustic window material plastic or urethane etc. I have suffered over many hours on the older sounders tuning the transmitter to match the resonant frequency of the transducer then tuning the receiver to suit. This is to get the best possible signal to present to the digital signal processor.
This is why some people have better performance than others of a particular model transducer.
That is not the same company any more. Simrad based on Norway that makes the commercial and scientific sonars sold the consumer brand and rights to Simrad name for recreational/small commercial electronics. The Navico-Simrad products such as the BSM-2 are not built by the Norwegian company.
Old 10-18-2015, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by ClassicGuy View Post
That is not the same company any more. Simrad based on Norway that makes the commercial and scientific sonars sold the consumer brand and rights to Simrad name for recreational/small commercial electronics. The Navico-Simrad products such as the BSM-2 are not built by the Norwegian company.
Customer service is not the same as the "old" Simrad either. In the past I had a warranty repair on a display, it was around 2004. I called Lynwood WA and they were knowledgeable, friendly and got my head unit repaired and shipped back to me in less than two weeks. I bought an NSS and it was missing the power cord new when the box was opened. I called Navico totally different experience, talked to two different rude arogant C.S. reps. I ended up hanging up returning the NSS to west marine and they swapped it out for another boxed unit.

I will never call Navico again for anything, I did email them with an install question they never got back to me. Very unprofessional shame on them.

Last edited by jayyy; 10-18-2015 at 03:19 PM.
Old 10-18-2015, 04:14 PM
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QUOTE

..."My take is pretty much the same with a twist. I don't care what freq your using, a bait-ball is a bait ball. But if you don't have the larger cone, you ain't seeing shit.

I have been preaching the merits of the B60 to so many people, I sound like a broken record!..." UNQUOTE

Wow, great timing to read this thread...just bought a boat that came with an installed B60. I was thinking of tearing it out and replacing with a B175HW (I had that CHIRP transducer in another boat I just sold and thought it was an excellent add-on)

So this is my first experience with a "pre-industrial revolution" B60---- I didn't know what to expect. I took the boat out yesterday and my oh my, that B60 is a nice solid transducer -------it provided a good clear picture with impressive target resolution.

I could clearly track my gear and bait in 125 feet of water

I took the boat out again today to see if the B60 would hold bottom at speed---it did, not quite as well as my B175HW used to in the other boat but I think that was a result of the difference in hull design of the two boats and mounting position of the transducers

The B60 is good, no doubt. And yes, I agree---a baitball is a baitball, although there are guys on this forum who continually insist that with their CHIRP units, they can consistently differentiate the predators from the bait balls

I haven't cracked that secret code yet, and until I do, I tend to agree that perhaps there's a bit more hype involved then a real-life situation out on the water warrants with the CHIRP units, at least for the guys who fish shallow to moderate depths
Old 10-18-2015, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ClassicGuy View Post
That is not the same company any more. Simrad based on Norway that makes the commercial and scientific sonars sold the consumer brand and rights to Simrad name for recreational/small commercial electronics. The Navico-Simrad products such as the BSM-2 are not built by the Norwegian company.
Simrad was split into 2 and the Simrad Yachting company was sold off to Altor by Kongsberg in 2005. Simrad did not sell anything. Kongsberg still owns Simrad which they purchased in 1996. The new company was renamed Simrad Yachting and took over the recreational products. Much the same as Raytheon did when they formed Raymarine.

My reference to the Horten factory which makes the transducers for the military and commercial industries was in relation to 'know how' not were stuff is made. The same product managers went from Simrad to Simrad Yachting. My point, in the context of the thread is that those product managers took their knowledge with them to the newly formed company and some left. These people also had close ties with Horten, were the advancements in sonar technology is made. I think the problem is that the products are now built to a price, not quality. If quality was the criteria Navico would not have moved the Simrad production to the Mexican Lowrance factory. In fact the VHF radios could not be manufactured to meet standards in Mexico so were returned back to Margate in the UK. Two of the Simrad product managers for radio, yacht instrumentation, Simrad Corus wheel and tiller pilots Alan Wrigly and David Sheeky went on to form Ocean Signal in Margate UK which is a discussion elsewhere on THT in relation to PLBs.
Similarly there is an avid member of THT called abbor, he advised me he was an electronic engineer in Horten, Norway you don't leave your knowledge at the gate when you leave or retire. I was also an electronics engineer here in Australia and was the Simrad Service Manager for all of Australia 1994 2008 until Simrad who bought Lowrance B&G and renamed the whole circus with old original Navico brand name and the cost cutting has resulted in a fiasco here in Australia. The APAC Service centre for Simrad Yachting is in Aukland New Zealand...figure that one out.
Old 10-18-2015, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by marketic View Post
QUOTE

..."My take is pretty much the same with a twist. I don't care what freq your using, a bait-ball is a bait ball. But if you don't have the larger cone, you ain't seeing shit.

I have been preaching the merits of the B60 to so many people, I sound like a broken record!..." UNQUOTE

Wow, great timing to read this thread...just bought a boat that came with an installed B60. I was thinking of tearing it out and replacing with a B175HW (I had that CHIRP transducer in another boat I just sold and thought it was an excellent add-on)

So this is my first experience with a "pre-industrial revolution" B60---- I didn't know what to expect. I took the boat out yesterday and my oh my, that B60 is a nice solid transducer -------it provided a good clear picture with impressive target resolution.

I could clearly track my gear and bait in 125 feet of water

I took the boat out again today to see if the B60 would hold bottom at speed---it did, not quite as well as my B175HW used to in the other boat but I think that was a result of the difference in hull design of the two boats and mounting position of the transducers

The B60 is good, no doubt. And yes, I agree---a baitball is a baitball, although there are guys on this forum who continually insist that with their CHIRP units, they can consistently differentiate the predators from the bait balls

I haven't cracked that secret code yet, and until I do, I tend to agree that perhaps there's a bit more hype involved then a real-life situation out on the water warrants with the CHIRP units, at least for the guys who fish shallow to moderate depths
In understanding the B60 or P66 transducers, you need to understand the cone as it pertains to reading fish. Most on THT recommend the high frequency mode (200kHz) because it is more sensitive. However the cone at 200kHz with a B60 is only like 12 degrees. The low frequency (50kHz) offers a 45 degree cone.



Because of this, I run my Furuno GP1870F in a slit screen mode. I use the narrow beam of the 200kHz for seeing things like bottom density changes, thermocline, bottom fish, etc. However when trolling and/or looking for suspended fish around bait, I rely on the wide cone of the 50kHz. Because of the wider cone of the 50kHz larger game fish will show up as "arches" as the fish passes through signal. The bait fish will show up as smaller arches or dots. On the narrow cone 200kHz side, it is less likely to show an arch because the fish is not in the cone of the signal as long.

See here for how it helps differentiate bait from game (striped bass are my target and they are feeding on menhaden -- auto gain is 0 on 50kHz and +2 on the 200kHz side which fills in the targets but allows me to see breaks in the water column)




Here are a couple of others showing that you can get some good fish separation with a B60/P66




Last edited by iFishMD; 10-18-2015 at 07:20 PM.
Old 10-18-2015, 08:57 PM
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Nice pix, iFish. I 'm thinking well defined arches seem to be associated with physoclistous fish. In my neighborhood, the physostomous fish I chase don't seem to produce those picture perfect arches in a consistent manner, especially as they move up and down through the water column sometimes in 100 foot increments, depending on the time of day

I'm usually in travel mode at 30 to 60 feet of depth so I rarely get the luxury of screen shots like that

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