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Author Topic:   Lowrance HDS-5X Problems
FISHNFF posted 02-25-2011 01:39 AM ET (US)   Profile for FISHNFF   Send Email to FISHNFF  
I have a 1988 Outrage 18 with a Yamaha F115.The boat originally came with a RayMarine L470 FF [using a SONAR transducer] mounted on the starboard [side of the transom]. [Performance] was good, but [the display] screen [was not good]. [I] added a Lowrance X15MT and a 200-kHz and 50-kHz transducer transom mounted on port. [Performance was] fine. Sold Raymarine, then had Lowrance go out. Rats! Scramble cuz I'm leaving on a trip pronto. Decide to get the HDS-5X stand-alone unit, as I already have two Garmin plotters. The [existing] transducer [from the previous Lowrance echo sounder appeared to] fit [the connector on the new echo sounder], so off on a trip I went. [The new HDS-5X was able to] barely [produce SONAR echoes] at [boat speeds when the engine speed was at] idle. Grr. Up on the North Coast for three days.

Back home, put on the new 200-kHz and 50-kHz transom mount transducer. Lowrance tech said new digital unit needs digital transducer. [SONAR echoes] were fair. Interference. Moved transducer to where the L470 was on the starboard. [SONAR echoes became] worse. Moved it back to port, where manual says, and adjusted height several times. Had to run it a bit low for fair [SONAR echoes]. The hull is clear forward of the transducer. So here is what it does (or doesn't).

[SONAR echoes] OK at idle. Not great. No difference with motor or other electronics on or off.

Accelerating or slowing gives a [SONAR echoes] like a loose ball of bait. Maybe bubbles, but would show "cloud" 0-20' in 40' of water.

At sub planing speed I get vertical dashes all around (electrical interference?).

When running at speed (of 20-MPH) [SONAR echoes] would change and show a solid black line as the bottom contour with almost nothing showing in between.

The Lowrance tech told me to adjust this, that, and all sorts of things. I asked him why the unit won't function well in automatic mode? I've owned six different Lowrance units, and they all worked fine without much fiddling. The three Furuno's worked great right out of the box.

I am kicking myself for not spending a little ( actually a lot) more and buying the new Furuno FCV-620. Anyone have a solution or help?


jimh posted 02-25-2011 09:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I do not think there is anything "digital" about the SONAR signal or the transducer in the Lowrance HDS series. There might be some difference in the transducer elements being used in the newer transducers compared to older, pre-broadband models. The Q-factor (which is a measure of resonant frequency bandwidth) of the transducer elements might be lower in the newer model--I have not seen any specific mention of that from Lowrance or anywhere else--to make the transducers work better with broadband detectors.

I installed an HDS-8 and mounted its transducer in the same location as the previous transducer was. The results were good, and I did not make any further adjustments. I run it in the automatic mode.

Electrical interference could be coming from some coupling of the interfering signal into the cable between the transducer and the HDS-8 display head. In my installation that cable runs all alone in the rigging tunnel; there are no other electrical cables in the rigging tunnel. The transducer cable is not bundled with other cables at any point except for a short passage through the rigging hose at the transom.

SJUAE posted 02-25-2011 04:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

I would download the latest software update and reflash the memory/data to see if this clears it. If the your unit does not have an SD slot your dealer should be able to do this for you.

If not my guess would be a duff unit or transducer


FISHNFF posted 02-25-2011 05:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for FISHNFF  Send Email to FISHNFF     
The salesman explained that the old temp gauge would not work with the new unit due to the non-digital signal. He said the transducer should work. It did but very poorly.

The Lowrance tech cited different part [numbers] for the new and old 200-50hz transducers, and the new digital nature of the HDS.

I have an LCX110C on the Grady which the tech said I could switch out and see if [the cause of the poor performance is] the unit, transducer, or rigging. Guess that's my next step.


jimh posted 02-26-2011 09:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You might want to review the many articles in the thread

HDS-8 Install

There are some screen captures of SONAR echoes, pictures of transducer mounting, and many details of the installation. If you are not getting SONAR echoes similar to the ones shown, the particular Lowrance HDS-5 unit you have may be defective.

So far I have been pleased with my HDS-8 Lowrance SONAR. It was able to give good bottom echoes in 800-feet of water while running on-plane at 25-MPH using the 200-kHz transducer. I thought this performance was exceptional. Previously with a 200-kHz transducer I would lose the bottom at 300-feet even when stationary.

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