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Old 27-12-2017, 08:41   #1
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Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

Hi there

I am searching for a forward sonar, that can output a video signal to the raymarine plotter.

There was a company called Interphase with a product on the market 5 years ago, however they got swallowed by Garmin and the product seems to be discontinued. (Interphase SE-200C 180° or SE-200B for 90° lateral scan).

They had a range up to 1000ft ahead. The newer 3d stuff is all proprietary for a specific manufacturer and more fishing related - so shorter range and mostly down / side scan.

Is there a 3rd party vendor that delivers low frequency - long range forward sonars with universal interfaces or a WiFi connectivity to tablets?

I need it to navigate narrow atoll cuts or finding anchoring spots and to prevent to hit underwater objects.

Thank you very much.
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Old 27-12-2017, 14:13   #2
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

https://echopilot.com
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Old 28-12-2017, 01:59   #3
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

Hi, thank you.

I have already stumbled upon the Echopilot products.

The 2D system looks promising and the price with a head unit is ok (1.4k€), the black box (platiunum 2D) is aroung 1.8k€, but the 3D is way out of any reasonable price point (13.8k€) and it seems to be very slow (I saw some youtube videos) and unreliable with drop outs for several seconds. For 14k€ you can change all your electronics on board including GPS chart plotters, sounders, Radar, sonar, satellite instruments, VHF and AIS - this is a ridiculous price point...

Echopilot was acquired by a Danish company called Daniamant in September, I doubt they will continue to develop the product range. Very likely they will end up like Interphase at Garmin.

I will try to check them out at the next boat show in Germany in January, if they will be present there.
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Old 28-12-2017, 02:23   #4
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

How do you expect to use the FLS? You aren't going to find anything that has a 1000ft forward view for any acceptable price. The Echopilot 2d is decent for poking around a potential anchorage slowly. If you expect much more then you will be disappointed.

We had one on our boat when we bought it. Always had it on when we were anchoring but never gave it much thought. That was until it eventually died and we figured out we really missed having the info. We bought a replacement from Echopilot.
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Old 28-12-2017, 02:31   #5
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

The Interphase products have had the double range for the same price point, the 3D with 180° look ahead was around 3.2k€ and 90° around 2.8K

The 3D from Echopilot has half the range and only 60° ahead view for 4 times the price.

Probably the entry-level 2D with display is the best bang for the buck. but then you have to point the bow around to scan and find the channel entry / cut through the coral reef.
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Old 28-12-2017, 03:37   #6
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

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Originally Posted by CatNewBee View Post
The Interphase products have had the double range for the same price point, the 3D with 180° look ahead was around 3.2k€ and 90° around 2.8K

The 3D from Echopilot has half the range and only 60° ahead view for 4 times the price.

Probably the entry-level 2D with display is the best bang for the buck. but then you have to point the bow around to scan and find the channel entry / cut through the coral reef.
In coral areas the water is clear. You do your entries with good light. It is in murky, shallow waters that they are most useful. The distance they see ahead is dependent on the depth of the water. At the typically shallow depths that a cruiser uses these, they really don't see that far ahead. So slow speeds are needed.
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Old 28-12-2017, 08:42   #7
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

I have the InterPhase forward/ side looking sonar unit on our 46’ cruising ketch. Side to side scan comes in handy creeping into uncharted/ moving sandbar channel at night/ stormy wx, but forward looking has real limitations. At lease at this price range the transducer ‘steers’ the (audio) beam by changing the phase of the several internal transducers (hence their name). But this non-mechanical approach has huge limitations on how much you can cause the beam to ‘tilt’. The result is maybe a max of 70-80 degree/ I.e 10 to 20 degrees down from horizon/ water surface. Do the math... a floating/ partially submerged object doesn’t have to be too far ahead to not be detected until it’s too late to stop/ turn away. Second limitation is that sonar is audio, not radio waves, and travels by comparison... very slowly. To get a scan profile the unit sends an audio pulse, AND HAS TO WAIT FOR THE RETURN before incrementing the angle to repeat the process. At 500’ to 1000’ feet out the echo time takes longer than most non- technical people usually appreciate. And their can be 20+ angle increments to paint the image. So slow that even in a medium detail scanning mode... it can that over a minute to complete one full up or down scan (or side to side scan). While you can opt to give up a lot more resolution and set to it to ‘fast scan’ but the scan still takes too long if traveling at even normal sailboat speeds to react to what is on the screen. As some one else said, you have to just creep along to have enough time to see/ react in time. Still we found, still occasional find it, even with these significant limitations in useful in certain situations... but in hindsight, there are a lot of other nav/ cruising items I’d put way above the real scanning sonar usefulness.
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Old 28-12-2017, 09:11   #8
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

Never even considered this myself but would second the point about angles. The sesor angle will be key not the max range.
One thought that may be nonsense but may be worth a try. What about gettin side sacan sonar and mounting the sensor across the boat instead of in-line. That would give a sidescan immage ahead and aft instead of port & starboard.
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Old 28-12-2017, 10:13   #9
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

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Originally Posted by roland stockham View Post
Never even considered this myself but would second the point about angles. The sesor angle will be key not the max range.
One thought that may be nonsense but may be worth a try. What about gettin side sacan sonar and mounting the sensor across the boat instead of in-line. That would give a sidescan immage ahead and aft instead of port & starboard.
This is what I have often wondered also, would it work??
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Old 28-12-2017, 10:29   #10
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

"this is a ridiculous price point..."
Let's see now. Only one? vendor is willing and able to make the equipment, and there's been no mass market for it, and one other has actually gone off the market after unimpressive sales....
If there's only one party willing to try making and selling the stuff, I might think "reasonable" means amortizing ten million dollars worth of R&D costs over the first thousand units. Does that change your opinion of what "reasonable" is?

Just because we want something, doesn't mean a charity should come into existence to produce and support it. Yes, it would be a nice product if it could be made at all, and even better if it only cost half of what a smartphone does. If you think that is possible, seek funding partners, and you've got a great business opportunity.
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Old 28-12-2017, 10:50   #11
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

I have fwd looking sonar on my boat.
Pretty useless.
Cannot "see" anything on the surface ,,,, logs etc.
Does not see far enough ahead to avoid collision at speeds above 1.5 knots.
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Old 28-12-2017, 12:17   #12
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

I've posted about this several times before...

W3GAC is spot on in his analysis. The Interphase line of FLS were the best available to the cruising market, but had the limitations that he describes. They were not useful for avoiding debris whilst cruising at sea. We don't even turn ours on at sea... but they are very useful when inshore, and are exploring a spot, looking for an anchorage.

Many of those who decry these units never sail in poorly or uncharted waters as we do. When the charts don't show detail, the FLS is your friend, and will keep you off the putty as you creep around.

It also takes some experience to interpret the image on the screen, much as radar screens need interpretation. Lots of folks are not willing to take the time to learn how to properly use the FLS and then criticize the product. Plug and play mentality...

At any rate, we've had an Interphase Probe now for over twenty years and would feel naked without it or a similar product on board. Would I like a better one? Sure, one with a clearer image and a brighter screen (that could be turned down at night) would be great. Longer range, as shown above, isn't ever going to be available with fast scan rates and wave scatter is likely always going to mean that detecting floating stuff is unreliable. On the whole, GArmin's decision to squash Interphase is yet another reason to hate those guys!

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Old 28-12-2017, 12:23   #13
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

There was at one time a program sponsored by the local radio station to flag deadheads and logs that you encountered and could not pick up on a sonar. Flags were about 6”X6” plastic on an 18” wire spike, but like all good things, it was under supported and is no longer!!
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Old 28-12-2017, 12:32   #14
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

Traditionally the ships boat was sent ahead with a lead-line. These days there are some good cheap hand held depth sounders. Crew in the dingy with a radio could be a viable alternative in many cases and give as much range as you want.
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Old 28-12-2017, 14:11   #15
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Re: Long range Forward Sonar for raymarine e-series plotter?

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Traditionally the ships boat was sent ahead with a lead-line. These days there are some good cheap hand held depth sounders. Crew in the dingy with a radio could be a viable alternative in many cases and give as much range as you want.
Crews were a lot larger in those days
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