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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
Best Fish Finder/GPS Unit To Buy
|Author||Topic: Best Fish Finder/GPS Unit To Buy|
posted 07-20-2006 09:02 AM ET (US)
Hello. [Tell me a] good fish finder and GPS combination unit unit to buy. It has to be reliable, easy to install and middle of the road when it comes to price. I have been browsing on eBay recently. There are a lot of good fish finder/ gps combination units to buy out there. Which ones should I stay away from? Any and all suggestions appreciated! Thanks! --Paul
posted 07-20-2006 10:01 AM ET (US)
If you're thinking of spending $750-850 (online prices), consider the Garmin 498 with internal antenna. It comes with detailed chart information for the coastal USA no matter where you live and you may not need to buy $150 chip. I didn't. Its easy to install and a new model with tide and current information. I have one and the screen is bright in direct sunlight. JimL
posted 07-20-2006 11:07 AM ET (US)
Does Garmin 498 have Great Lakes chart data, water depth, etc? Phil
posted 07-20-2006 11:28 AM ET (US)
Go to Garmin.com and review the features of the different models. Some of the newer ones like the 498 have features built in that we used to have to buy firmware to get. I personally like the 178C for small boat use, but I like playing with Mapsource on my PC, transferring waypoints and so forth. That way I can still use waypoints that I plotted on my Garmin GPS 38 ten years ago. I use a 276C with auto navigation in both my vehicle and my boat. Once you have a list of models that appeal to you then go back to ebay and find out what they really cost vs. MSRP.
Red sky at night. . .
posted 07-20-2006 11:45 AM ET (US)
I outfitted my Outrage II with a Garmin 176cs that I bought on eBay. I interfaced it with a Raymarine fishfinder/deptsounder model DSX500. I am very satisfied with the arrangement and it was not difficult to install. There is a small problem with connecting the Garmin to the Raymarine, which was solved after a five minute conversation with a Raymarine technician. The problem was a simple wiring issue. The total cost was less than $700. The 176cs is programmable with digital charts from garmin. Because the unit memory is not sufficient to hold the entire chart and does not take a chip, the charts are downloaded from a computer; this takes a few moments; it also allows me to upload the track on the chart traveled into the computer for future use. It is a very versatile unit
posted 07-20-2006 02:10 PM ET (US)
In the mid range I like that new Humminbird 787c. Lot's of neat features, bright screen, high pixel count etc. I almost bought it before I decided to splurge on the Numminbird 987c--wow.
posted 07-20-2006 07:42 PM ET (US)
Do you boat in a lake or ocean? What water depth? This will affect the price of the unit you want and should affect what units are recommended to you.
posted 07-20-2006 07:50 PM ET (US)
Get a used Standard-Horizon CP-150 and a Lowrance X85 sounder. I may have a pair of these for sale soon.
posted 07-23-2006 12:14 AM ET (US)
Jim, speaking of the Standard Horizon CP150 chartplotter, my '95 Outrage had one on it which the previous owner apparently installed to add capabilities over the Lowrance LMS-350A. From what I could see of it, the LMS-350A appeared to me to be basically a sounder, but it also had a GPS and at least some basic charting capabilities).
The LMS-350A had some keys that stopped functioning, so I'm replacing it with a Lowrance LCX-17M. This unit appears to have quite a bit more in the way of charting capability. Once I get it going, do you see a benefit to also using the CP150 (apart from just keeping it on the boat for redundancy)?
posted 07-04-2007 01:16 PM ET (US)
I have a dead Eagle from the 1990s, it quit last week. What I want is a combo GPS plotter, fish finder, I like Garman but the Boat a 66 Nauset is drilled for fast stream transom transducer and slow paddle Laurence/eagle units. And ideas as to these brands?
posted 07-05-2007 02:23 PM ET (US)
Definately impressed with the Garmin 498C and the internal antenna, which keeps things a bit more tidy on the console. I installed it this spring which was very easy to do.
Do a Google search on it. I think I picked up mine for around $550.
posted 07-05-2007 10:48 PM ET (US)
We recently put a Garmin 545S on our 18' Outrage - great for coastal boating - not great if you intend to use it on the lakes or inland waters.
Have a Garmin 478 - does both boat and car - that's an awesome unit too.
posted 07-06-2007 09:40 AM ET (US)
Your Garmin 545 will be just as good for inland lakes if you buy the inland lakes card for your area. Cost is less than $100 from any of a number of online vendors.
posted 07-06-2007 03:47 PM ET (US)
That's what I thought - check other topics/posts that we chatted around a month ago. Garmin's software for inland lakes is sketchy. On their website they have a way to see what lakes are actually on the software chip by area. For the 10 lakes I am interested in cruising here in New England, I think only 1 or 2 are actually covered with any decent information.
posted 07-07-2007 08:50 AM ET (US)
I have been using the Lowrance LMS-334c for about a year and am very satisfied with its performance. The current model is the LMS-520c.
Lowrance has a product simulator that you can install and run to check out the features.
I use the Navionics hot maps chip in the unit because it has very good detail of inland lakes and color bottom contours. A list of lakes for your region is at the following link:
A word of caution about the Lowrance units with internal GPS antenna. I started with this and found that there was very poor reception in my mounting configuration. I ended up exchanging the unit for the external antenna version. The new units may have improved, but be sure to buy where you can exchange if you try the self contained model. I purchased at Bass Pro where they matched an internet price and were very accomodating. They demonstrated the unit with the Navionics chip so I could be certain the detail I wanted was there. It is a good place to compare brands.
|A Little Madness||
posted 07-09-2007 12:03 PM ET (US)
I recently purchased and installed the Lowrance LMS 527cDF iGPS Color Sonar/GPS. I originally was thinking of an in-dash installation but decided against it after a little research on the internal antenna feature, so it's on the top of the dash. It obtains signal w/i a few seconds at most, and w/the NauticPath USA Marine Electronic Charts you get fantastic and up-to-date details. I've never lost signal either, regardless of how fast I was going or that I had the bimini up (w/stainless frame). The actual color presentation of both GPS & Fish Finding is excellent. Probably the most impressive feature is the Dual frequency 200/50 kHz Skimmer®transducer...for the first time I can be on a plain anywhere from 20 to 40 mph and accurately read depth, as well as seeing fish. I realize that at that speed I'll hit it before I'll see it on the screen, but the point is the stability and accuracy of the transducer. If you're considering that price range (approx $600+ depending on where you get it) I highly recommend this unit!
posted 07-09-2007 04:57 PM ET (US)
I just installed a Lowrance LMS 522 on my Whaler and I'm very happy with the performance, It's the same as the 527 only single frequency (200 KHZ), if your fishing in less than 200' there is no need for dual. The screen is a little small on split screen mode, if you have plenty of room on your console I would go with a larger screen model,I put it on my Montauk because of limited space on the console. I went with the internal antenna model even after hearing some negative feedback from others, the only thing that I noticed is it takes a little longer to aquire position than the one on my other boat that has an external antenna, after the position is aquired I have not lost the signal. The Navionics chips give excellent detail with tides, currents, port services, etc. Mine just set me back about $800 including the chip and tax. Watch out for the online tricks, they have the units advertised w/o the transducer.
posted 07-09-2007 08:20 PM ET (US)
Even thought this topic has been revived after a long period or dormancy, I still think that the best SONAR and GPS units to buy are the Standard Horizon CP-150 and the Lowrance X87. I have these and am planning on offering them for sale soon if anyone wants to get the best available stuff.
posted 07-12-2007 01:15 PM ET (US)
I recently purchased a GPS for my car, a TomTom 510. Purchased at Circuit City for about $300. It has a 4" screen, 400 mhz processor, and a sirf 3 chipset. Compared to my Garmin 176 or my wife's 2004 Honda Accord, the TomTom is very fast, and interestingly, works in the garage with the door closed! It also works inside my home. I have never experienced this kind of sensitivity. If all GPS units were this sensitive, I think the external antenna would not be necessary. Look for the sirf 3 chipset in the event you purchase a new GPS.
posted 07-18-2007 05:57 PM ET (US)
I have a Lowrance 337c and I like it.
posted 07-18-2007 06:19 PM ET (US)
Our Garmin 545s works on the Outrage when it's tucked nicely in the garage. My Garmin 478 works in my Tahoe or little whaler, outside or in the garage. The internal antennas are fine - even with T-Tops or canvas covers - making external antennas not needed at all.
posted 07-18-2007 07:39 PM ET (US)
I still think that the best SONAR and GPS units to buy are the Standard Horizon CP-150 and the Lowrance X87. I have these and am planning on offering them for sale soon if anyone wants to get the best available stuff.
posted 07-18-2007 07:40 PM ET (US)
By the way, it has been a year since this discussion was begun and the person who began it has never responded.
However, I still feel compelled to tell him that I still think that the best SONAR and GPS units to buy are the Standard Horizon CP-150 and the Lowrance X87. I have these and am planning on offering them for sale soon if anyone wants to get the best available stuff.
posted 07-27-2007 02:49 PM ET (US)
Do you still think that the best SONAR and GPS units to buy are the Standard Horizon CP-150 and the Lowrance X87. and do you still have these and are you still planning on offering them for sale soon if anyone wants to get the best available stuff ?
posted 08-06-2007 11:09 AM ET (US)
My personal opinion is that Garmin is the most user friendly of them all...
posted 08-09-2007 10:41 PM ET (US)
Agree - Garmin is most user friendly. I am interested in trying their touch screen unit perhaps next year - even simpler than the new 545s that we have, which has the least amount of buttons of any chart plotter/fish finder I've ever seen.
posted 02-15-2008 11:30 PM ET (US)
Does anyone know of any SONAR and GPS units such as the Standard Horizon CP-150 and the Lowrance X87? I am looking for someone who has these and is planning on offering them for sale soon, because I want to get the best available stuff.;-]
posted 02-16-2008 09:35 AM ET (US)
Although this is an old thread there is something I believe is worth adding.
If you are going to buy marine electronics on E-bay be aware that not all manufacturers have the same policy in regards to warranty service. Raymarine comes to mind but others may have similar tough policies.
Before buying it could be helpful to query the manufacturer of the product under consideration to determine thier exact policy in regards to warranty work on equipment purchased from the source you are considering.
posted 02-17-2008 12:09 PM ET (US)
The standard CP-150 is at least six-year-old technology. I'm
sure there's better now.
posted 06-05-2008 12:51 AM ET (US)
I personally will never own another Lowrance product. I had an X85 that gave up the ghost after two years. Then I bought a X107c and after two years guess what, yep done too. I called Lowrance and after waiting 30 minutes had a very nice lady tell me to send it in with $212.42, and they would repair it. WHAT!!!! I will put that money toward a unit that may last longer than two years. My boat is dry and has a hard top. No reason for all the problems. I Hope Garmin makes a better product.
posted 06-05-2008 09:20 AM ET (US)
Garmin makes fine products. They only do poorly in one line and that is fish finders.
Recommend you consider Furuno if you do not want a Lowrance.
posted 06-05-2008 10:07 AM ET (US)
How to cause SONAR devices to fail prematurely:
--leave them ON all the time, even when the boat is not in the water, so transducer is pinging all the time;
--operate them from a supply voltage that is not well regulated, using same battery as used for engine cranking so that there are big voltage spikes;
--place control head in direct sunlight, causing temperature of LCD and internal electronics to become excessively hot;
--place control head as close as possible to VHF radio transmitting antenna so the SONAR electronics are bombarded with radio frequency energy.
How to cause GPS receivers to fail prematurely:
--operate them from a supply voltage that is not well regulated, using same battery as used for engine cranking so that there are big voltage spikes;
--place control head in direct sunlight, causing temperature of LCD and internal electronics to become excessively hot;
--place control head or remote antenna as close as possible to VHF radio transmitting antenna so the receiver electronics are bombarded with radio frequency energy.
Lowrance Customer Service
I have purchased and owned four Lowrance SONAR units. I have had no failures. As far as I know all of them are still working, as I have sold three of them, and the fourth is on my current boat.
I have contacted Lowrance by telephone once for advice or help. While trying to install a transducer I lost a small black specialty washer in the grass. I spent an hour looking for it, but could not find it. I called Lowrance the next day, explained what happened. They sent me for free an entire transducer mounting kit. A week later I found that tiny washer in the grass.
Moderately Priced Combo Units
Lowrance 500 Series GPS Receiver, Electronic Display, and SONAR
I also tested the Raymarine A60:
posted 06-05-2008 06:27 PM ET (US)
That is some great info Jim. I am glad you have had such great success with Lowrance. I do like their sonar pic better than all the other makers other than Furuno.
My first Lowrance was an X65 that I had for 5 years, and never had a problem with it. Got twofootitis and sold the boat. The units I have had problems with are dry, out of the sun, and under the hardtop 5 feet below the antenna. The voltage spike is a thought, but I don't turn on my sonar until after I start my main. When I am finished trolling for the day I usually start the main with the unit on? I troll for about four hours at a time with the sonar on the whole time.
The first unit I had problems with just died on day. This one still works, but wont turn off. When I turn the batteries on it turns on. The screens turns black at cruising speed, and any button you hit will adjust the screen light? I have tried a soft reset, no luck. I can't do a hard reset, because it wont turn off.
I guess it just bugs me to think they will hook it up to their computer make a couple of keystrokes for $212 bucks. That is food for my family for a couple of weeks.
posted 06-05-2008 10:32 PM ET (US)
Your problem brings to mind a recent situation at my workplace. A colleague contacted our department for help. The initial description was "having a problem logging onto network."
After a bit of investigation it was discovered that the user's workstation was unresponsive to the usual CTL-ALT-DEL keystroke press necessary to initiate the network log-in. Further research discovered that the keyboard was entirely unresponsive. In dialogue with the user she revealed that she had spilled a substantial volume of liquid into the keyboard not long prior to the onset of this network log-in problem. Replacing the keyboard restored her ability to log into the network.
The parable here is that the real problem was very simple: water had caused an electrical switch contact to become inoperative. At the risk of turning this discussion on the (now two year old) topic of what moderately priced combination GPS receiver, chart plotter, and SONAR is recommended for a boat of unknown size, for use in unknown waters, and in conjunction with unknown digital cartography preferences (for a user who has never responded to any of the advice offered) into a repair and diagnosis discussion of a particular Lowrance unit, I would offer the advice that perhaps the problem is something simple and repairable, like a bad ON/OFF switch contact, and not something much more difficult to repair such as stored software on the unit's circuit boat computers.
posted 06-06-2008 07:23 AM ET (US)
Jimh - question in response to your post regarding likely premature failure mode of GPS and SONAR units.
How do you avoid "operate them from a supply voltage that is not well regulated, using same battery as used for engine cranking so that there are big voltage spikes" on simple rigs like my Classic 13 that has a 12 volt battery for starting and accessories, battery leads to Yamaha 40, leads to a terminal block for lights, compass (light), bilge pump, depth finder and occasionally a trolling motor? Do I rig in some kind of voltage regulator? Is a battery switch indicated?
I would very much appreciate your thoughts on this.
posted 06-06-2008 09:24 AM ET (US)
Sorry, I haven't been around for awhile to respond to advice. I own a 13 sport, 17 katama, and the unit I am referring to is on my 24' Robalo. I live in Bellingham WA, and fish for salmon in depths around 120' and shrimp up to 400'.
You made my point by saying it might be something simple like a faulty on off switch. Why not look at the unit and give a more realistic cost for what might be a simple fix. Then again 212 bucks might not cover the fuel for shipping.
posted 06-06-2008 10:39 AM ET (US)
If this were my unit, and I wasn't keen to ship it to the manufacturer for the flat-rate repair deal, I would proceed as follows:
--if yes, disassemble case without damaging it;
--inspect interior for any obvious signs of damage;
--spray selected switch contacts with WD-40 and exercise switch mechanism;
--look for any on-board keep-alive battery in removeable socket which may have lost charge or have corroded contacts; repair contacts or replace battery;
--cross fingers, re-assemble unit, test for operation.
posted 06-06-2008 06:56 PM ET (US)
I'm glad this thread was revived. I'm contemplating a new unit as well. Maybe even for Father's Day. Jimh, I have an "issue" with direct sunlight. My Outrage 18 doesn't have a t-top and I don't fish with my bimini up. It will be exposed for hours in direct sunlight as it will be mounted on top of the console. Solution? My old Humminbird sounder has worked fine for 8+ years in this configuration.
posted 06-06-2008 07:18 PM ET (US)
The liquid crystal displays used in most SONAR devices or chart plotters have a limited temperature operating range. I have observed that when lit by direct sunlight the display temperature can increase. The display often become very dark and hard to read. Employing a sun shield or shade usually fixes the problem.
posted 06-07-2008 10:44 AM ET (US)
I thought your idea about pulling the back off and taking a look was worth a shot. It was real easy eight T8 torx screws and your in. The keypad was all contained inside a plastic strip. There was no sign of corrosion or damage of any kind. Could not find any sort of backup battery. I didn't want to completely destroy it. I am still on the fence about what to do with it.
Thanks for your time.
posted 06-09-2008 11:41 PM ET (US)
To hauptjm: Garmin 545s is not quite middle of the road price, but, a low price for upper end quality and features. Example: Dad bought a 2003 24-foot Seasport with 150 hours last year. The previous owner boasted he had $10k invested in Furuno electonics. Sigh. My comparative cheap little 545s kicks every aspect of Furuno's high dollar butt. The Furuno radar has been offset to the other side of the dash and the 545s sits dead center. hehe. I have Garmin mounts and transducers ($65 ea) mounted on three different boats including my Tug and 18 Guardian. I carry my 545s with me like a Salesman carries a PC notebook.
Happy Fathers Day guys.
posted 06-10-2008 08:31 AM ET (US)
That Garmin may be a good unit for your boat, but the best fish finder and GPS to buy is a Standard Horizon CP-150 and Lowrance X87. Even though those units are no longer in production, you can find them used. They are the best ones to buy. It is that simple. The fellow asked for the best ones to buy, and I think it is the Standard-Horizon CP-150 and Lowrance X87. Who can argue with that?
You might ask why I keep recommending those units as the best ones to buy. Well, it is simple, those are the ones I bought. If I recommended another unit, I would in effect be saying that I did not buy the best ones to buy. The reason I bought those units is because I thought they were the best ones to buy.
I believe that the unit that most people have purchased is the unit they though was the best one to buy. I don't know too many people who buy something that they think is not the best one to buy. It seems like human nature that people buy the one they think is best. So this question about which is the best one to buy more or less reduces to a question about which one did you buy.
We have been having this discussion for two years, and I don't see any sort of consensus forming on the recommendations. What I see is that each person recommends the one they bought.
posted 06-10-2008 01:27 PM ET (US)
After 35 years of running many tugs and recreational boats, I consider today's high resolution color GPS [receiver] and sounder units as cost effective as the boat and engines. Affordable forward-looking sonar is on the horizon. Sorry 'bout the pun.
posted 06-10-2008 11:03 PM ET (US)
I have reviewed the both articles, however due to conditions you did not test the sounder functionality. The Lowrance sounds great however their [customer service] has me concerned.
posted 06-11-2008 07:02 PM ET (US)
If [customer service] equals customer service I feel the [customer service] from Lowrance is very good. Of course my perspective is from a single event which was the in-warranty failure of the GPS antenna unit on my HD-111. I called the [customer service] toll free number and was on hold for perhaps four minutes. The tech said she would e-mail me a trouble shooting guide. I had the guide within two hours along with a return authorization number in case the antenna unit proved defective. After testing as instructed I removed the unit and mailed it to Lowrance. The repaired unit was back within a week properly repaired along with a chip with the latest HD-111 software updates.
Your mileage may vary but I've been pleased with the [customer service] treatment thus far.
posted 08-11-2008 08:34 AM ET (US)
I'm glad I found this thread. After doing the North Channel 2008 trip I realized that using a Lowrance H2O C as my primary GPS navigation unit wasn't the best tool for that kind of trip. I'm leaving toward a Lowrance LMS-527C DF iGPS and a Navionics XL9 14XG Great Lakes and Maritimes on SD card. A Little Madness likes the 527C, does anyone have the Navionics card and can comment on the quality of data?
posted 08-11-2008 09:37 AM ET (US)
Have you not yet made up your mind on the new GPS / Sonar unit to buy. My sonar transducer went bad last week on the Florida trip. As always, the Lowrance technicians were wonderful to deal with and provided step-by-step instructions on troubleshooting the problem. As I have said in the past they have great Customer Sevice and support.
posted 08-11-2008 01:43 PM ET (US)
I have really not found any convergence in my search for "the best fish finder GPS unit to buy." There are just too many variables and no unit seems to have any clear advantage. The choice is not clear to me. I think Paul (the initiator of the discussion), Outrage18, must not have either, as he has failed to reply or comment on the many recommendations which he has received in response.
In order to simplify the search I believe that it will be necessary to separate the "fish finder" from the "GPS unit" and consider them as individual and distinct devices. This will make it easier. Of course, the "GPS unit" really consists of several sub-units:
In the GPS realm I want:
--modern receiver with parallel satellite tracking
In the Chart Plotter display I want:
In the Chart Cartography I want:
In the Software I want compatibility with MacOS or Unix, not just a Windows OS executable.
In the Operating System of the device I want good design and easy operation. I don't want to have to read the manual all the time to make it perform simple tasks.
In the Digital Serial Communications I want both NMEA-0183 and NMEA-2000 ports. Also, the display has to be able to display a lot of NMEA-2000 parameter groups which will come from other networked devices such as an engine, a fuel flow sensor, or who knows what.
Now for the SONAR I want a few things, too:
--capture of sonograms on memory chip in standard file format with meta-data
I know that I could probably assemble a system like this using all of the top-of-the-line devices from Garmin or Raymarine, but such a system will cost many thousands of dollars. I just don't use the boat that often to justify having $5,000 in electronics sitting on it and not in use 99-percent of the time.
Now how you can take all of these options and choices and make a reasonable comparison among all the products out there and select "the best," I have no idea.
posted 08-11-2008 06:47 PM ET (US)
Turn your list of requirements into a spreadsheet listing the requirements in a vertical column, then set up columns across, and put candidate units, combined and separate sonar/gps, at the top of each column. Score them using your own weighted scoring system, say 1 to 5, for each feature based on how important that feature is to you. Total and see which one scores best, then go out and buy whatever you want.........(but you'll know which was "best for you")
For my needs it looks like the LowranceLMS-527C DF iGPS is optimum for fishing a lot and cruising occasionally. My Suzuki is NMEA-2000 enabled so I can get the added benefit of monitoring the engine on the display. I already have the Lakemaster Michigan SD card which is very good in Michigan waters. I'll need something else for Lake Superior or any Canadian waters.
posted 08-12-2008 09:20 AM ET (US)
David--I agree with your assessment regarding a Lowrance unit for use with your Suzuki motor. There is a very strong synergy with the NMEA-2000 network capability of the newer LOWRANCE units and a motor (such as your Suzuki four-cycle or an Evinrude E-TEC motor) that has NMEA-2000 facilities.
With regard to NMEA-2000 capabilities, LOWRANCE is very much a leader. The ability of the LOWRANCE units to display engine data (parameter groups) via NMEA-2000 networking makes them very attractive to use with NMEA-2000 engines.
posted 08-13-2008 09:43 AM ET (US)
I just came across this Lowrance "enhancement"
It looks like it turns a off the shelf unit into a HiDef one. I wonder how it would work in resolving the detail of a wreck?
posted 08-13-2008 09:59 AM ET (US)
David--DIgital SONAR devices deserve their own discussion. This discussion has been a completely random and generally unorganized study of unspecified devices for unspecified applications on unspecified boats. It hardly seems like the place and time for us to take on digital SONAR signal processing.
Since you have a lot of experience with SONAR, perhaps you can begin a new discussion on digital signal processing techniques. We need to let this whole thread die.
posted 08-13-2008 10:06 AM ET (US)
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