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Making personalized depth maps with fishfinders


Making personalized depth maps with fishfinders

Old 01-22-2016, 07:42 AM
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Default Making personalized depth maps with fishfinders


I have done quite a bit of online research (over the last month or so), and wanted to reach out, and see if you guys had an opinion.

I am in the market for a fish finder that has the ability to specifically make maps (of depth /contours) for me of lakes I want to fish. I fish a lot of lakes, ponds, and rivers which are not mapped at all, or not mapped with enough accuracy for my fishing needs.

Garmin has the Quickdraw Contour Program
Hummingbird has the Autochart Program
Lowrance has the Insight Genesis Program

All these programs allow users to make there own maps (of depth/contours) (and keep them private) by uploading information there fishfinder/gps combo units record while they are on the water.

My question is which of these programs/GPS interfaces is best for making your own maps on freshwater lakes,ponds, and rivers?
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Old 01-22-2016, 09:05 AM
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None of them.

The best alternative is Reefmaster.

+ Very easy to use
- Garmin only, what if you want to use another brand one day?
- You can not alter the map, ie correct bad depthreadings or change the layout like boundaries (land/water), nor use the collected data except on you unit.

+ Full controll of privacy, it`s all on your PC.
+ You have more controll over the data, as it can be converted.
+ You can alter the data and change layout
+ Combined with AC Live you get both "QuickDraw" and Autochart.
- The price is a bad joke.
- Has a learning-curve, made worse with the bugs.
- Can not use data from other then Humminbird, and can not make maps for other then Humminbird.

Insight Genesis
+ Easy to use, not as easy as Quickdraw but easier then AutoChart.
+ Social Map, if you do decide to share and offcourse when going somewhere new where someone has shared.
- Do you trust Navico to keep your data private? They might, and they might not.
- Yearly fee
- Can only be used on Lowrance/ Simrad. So keep your sonarlogs incase you switch brand.
- Can only use data from Lowrance/ Simrad
- You can not alter data.
- You can not alter boundaries, but depend on IGs.

+ Takes data from all brands of electronics, and then some.
+ Full controll of privacy, it`s all on your PC.
+ You have more controll over the data, as it can be converted.
+ You can alter the data and change layout.
+ You can make maps for Lowrance/ Simrad that look like you bought them, and maps for Humminbird that at least works well even though they don`t look that nice. With some skills you can make charts for Garmin as well.
+ You can make charts on paper, or for smartphones etc.
- Not free
- Has a learning-curve (if you have trouble importing images from your camera to a PC, Reefmaster is not for you, but neither is AutoChart.)

Reefmaster combined with Lowrance/ Simrad gives you (by far) the most options and the best quality maps.
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Old 01-22-2016, 02:07 PM
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Insight has a free option if you share everything for social maps. i.e. no keep private option.
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Old 01-23-2016, 10:40 AM
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I didn't see information on Reefmaster being able to work with Garmin.
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Old 01-23-2016, 10:58 AM
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Garmin has the Quickdraw Contour Program
TMK this is not available yet. Apparently should be soon though.

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Old 01-23-2016, 11:05 AM
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Garmin has done a lot to lock out 3. party maps. It can still be done, but it is not easy. Offcourse there is no way to be sure it can be done in the future, Garmin could lock out the IMG-format completely. But for now they have just locked out the versjon of IMG used by Navionics. With Reefmaster and some other software, and a bit of knowledge you can still get it done. But with Garmins attitude towards 3. party mapping, it is wise for Reefmaster not to step on their toes by advertizing how you do this. Look at the RM-forum and you will see that it can be done.

So if you are looking at both new electronics and new mapping-software I would not recommend Garmin. Both Humminbird and Lowrance/ Simrad are way ahead of Garmin on this. Garmin is a great product as long as you can use their maps, or is happy with the simple QuickDraw. (This is not a Garmin-rant, they have a lot of good things going, just not in this departement.)
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Old 01-23-2016, 11:16 AM
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I was really excited to hear about the Garmin QuickDraw - I just bought a Garmin setup. But.... I wonder how useful it will be in real applications?

Questions I havent been able to get answers to yet are if you will be able to merge scans done at different times and or by different people?

For example, what if I cant scan an entire lake at one shot? Can I do different parts on different trips and merge them into a single map or will I have to switch maps as I go to different areas I scanned in the past? If I scan the north end of a lake and someone else scans the south end and someone else scans the middle, can we all merge them into a single map?

Or will the plotter know that we are moving into an area that was scanned at a different time and automatically switch to the correct map file?

I like the sound of ReefMaster. If QuickDraw is crippled then I will probably try ReefMaster.
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Old 01-23-2016, 11:35 AM
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Don`t get me wrong. Quickdraw (Garmin) AutoChart Live (Humminbird) and SonarCharts Live (Navionics) are all great in that they offer a very easy and fast way to map areas. I use SonarCharts Live myself on my IPad next to my "real" equipment. It gives me what I need while out on unknown water. But I also record my sonar, in order to use it with both Insight Genesis and Reefmaster. (IG because I think the sharing-part of it is great.)

But like most things in life the "fast and easy" has flaws when you start to scratch the surface looking for quality and details.
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Old 01-23-2016, 06:55 PM
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I have a Lowrance HDS gen 3 12 and 9 inch

I made this of the Shark River Inlet in NJ in a couple of passes using sidescan and downscan. Very easy to use and I could care less if it won't work on another system because I plan on staying with Lowrance for a very long time. Their customer service is good and their product is great

If you pay 99 per year all your scans a re private and not shared. You can use the free app and get all shared scans.

The lakes you want to scan are probably already done and up for free. Tons of lakes are.

Capt Brian
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Old 01-25-2016, 08:45 AM
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Navionics has Sonar Chart and Sonar Charts Live. Found it most useful for me. Check out their website for more info. I've pasted the link for you below. You can also use your smart phone or tablet with the Navionics App, connecting it to your GPS/Sonar Unit to get live Sonar Chart updates right then and their. Really cool stuff. It's amazing how far tech. has come.

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Old 01-25-2016, 10:51 AM
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Still in the beta test stage...

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Old 01-25-2016, 05:26 PM
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I would highly suggest looking into Navionics for this need for multiple reasons:

1) Their SonarChart mapping works with all manufacturers (except Garmin).

2) They already have the biggest database of charted waters.

3) With a wifi enabled unit (Such as Lowrance HDS Gen3s) you can make, or update, maps in real time using the Navionics SonarCharts Live with their Navionics App.

4) The service of adding to SonarCharts is completely free, and after the sonar logs that you upload, whether through an SD card upload to their site, or the automatic upload from SonarChart Live, you will receive those maps in a few days…..and usually less.

I have a bass boat and a kayak, and on both vessels I have Lowrance Gen3 units. With these units I can very easily connect my phone to the built in GoFree wifi and use SonarCharts live on my Navionics Mobile App. This is a really cool feature that other companies don't have because it doesnt require you to upload sonar logs via a SD card and wait for maps to be created…….instead you can see the maps being generated in real time and when you get home and your phone connects to wifi, the maps are automatically downloaded to the Navionics server and the maps will be generated which you then can update your card in your unit to utilize the new maps on your unit.

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Last edited by CaptainSolo; 01-25-2016 at 05:42 PM.
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Old 01-25-2016, 07:29 PM
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i don't understand how the wifi sonarchart app works. it only uses a simple nmea 0183 depth signal yet produces detailed varying bottom contours radiating outward on either side of the boat. i can see how a program with full access to the sounder's sidescan or downscan signal could do that. to me sonarchart seems like it must be inferring contours from narrow linear signals.
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Old 01-26-2016, 05:09 AM
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First, this is early days for all this tech. It will get better in the next few years. One of the options here isn't even released yet. Can we really comment on the usability of unreleased software? Can we say what features it has and does not have? I think all these systems will be improving.

Second, you can access all of the Navionics sonarcharts that are publicly available on your smartphone for ten bucks. This is a great deal. https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...leAppUsa&hl=en

Personally, I spend a lot of time "Off the chart" on sonarcharts. The big green areas of shallow water are a lot more variable than they show. Many areas are also different than the chart shows. Perhaps as people upload charts it will get better, but for now it has put me off spending hundreds more on Navionics charts on top of a new GPS purchase. Also as a Floridian, it's annoying as heck that if I want charts of both coasts in my state I'd need two chips.

I think I will be buying the Echomap 94sv in a few months, depending on the reviews. it comes with a basic map and I'll make my own map of my home waters (both coasts). My big concern is how this system works with tides to find a true depth. It appears that there will be a way to enter an offset, but over the course of a few hours on the water, that offset will be a moving target.

There may be no shortcut to knowing your own waters.
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