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Author Topic:   Lowrance HDS Update to v4.0
jimh posted 04-04-2011 11:49 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
I just picked up on some talk about a release of a new software update for the Navico Operating System (NOS) that runs the Lowrance HDS series of SONAR and chart plotter devices. If anyone has more information or further rumors, please jump in the conversation.
Lil Whaler Lover posted 04-06-2011 11:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for Lil Whaler Lover  Send Email to Lil Whaler Lover     
Had Lowrance Rep in store this morning He downloaded 3.5 on our demo unit and said that 4.0 will be out in the next 30 days. 3.5 focused on radar and the sonic hub. 4.0 will be a more general update.
jimh posted 04-06-2011 07:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
ROGER--30 day outlook for a new update. I'll stay tuned.
jimh posted 04-26-2011 07:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
LOWRANCE has released the v4.0 software patch for the HDS series. You can download the patch from HDS-Software-Update/

There may be a heavy load on the web server.

jimh posted 04-26-2011 08:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Details of the features and improvements added by the v4.0 patch are shown in HDS_4.0_release_notes.pdf

jimh posted 04-26-2011 08:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
By the way, the patch is a whopper. It is a 251-MB ZIP file. I am slowly downloading it.

One feature I think I will like already: the soft key labels can be set to auto-hide, releasing valuable screen real estate for better uses. The soft key labels will reappear as soon as you touch one of the physical keys for the soft keys.

jimh posted 04-27-2011 11:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The v4.0 patch has been installed on my HDS-8. I love the auto-hide soft key label feature already.

There were no problems in the installation. I moved the update files to a SD Memory Card on my Mac OS laptop. I performed the update on the HDS-8 according to the instructions on the Lowrance website. All went well.

SJUAE posted 04-28-2011 03:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

Auto hide soft key what a great update


jimh posted 04-30-2011 10:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Considering the wide variety of computer users, their computers, their skills, the variations in operating systems, and variations in SD Memory card reader-writers, there have been some problems reported in accomplishing the process of downloading and installing the Lowrance HDS Update v4.0. I will give some more details about the process for users of the MacOS.


MacOS users first download an archive file called This file is an archive or collection of the update files, and the archive is about 251-Megabytes. With a fast internet connection it only takes about four minutes to fetch this file from the Lowrance host website. At the conclusion of downloading the file, the typical result is the file immediate extracts itself, creating a folder (or directory) named HDS_4. This folder will be in the directory that is the target for downloads, typically a folder called DOWNLOADS in the user's home directory path.


The extracted HDS_4 folder will contain the following files and subdirectories:

--HDS-, a 243-MB Unix Executable File
--Sims, a Folder with 133.5-MB of content
--update.conf, an 852-byte text file (the file size listed varies with the particular volume minimum block file size)

These three files must be copied unto an SD Memory Card. The SD Memory Card should not contain any other files, especially not any other (older) versions of Lowrance software updates for the HDS device. Note that the folder is not copied to the SD Memory Card, only the contents of the folder, that is, the three items mentioned above.


The files to be written to the memory card require about 385-MB of space. Obviously the SD Memory Card must be at least that large and have at least that much free space. The memory card file structure must be in a format that the HDS can read. My memory card was formatted with an MS-DOS (Fat 16) file structure. To get information about the memory card, use the FINDER feature GET INFO from the FILE menu. This will reveal the format type.

At the root path of the memory card file structure, you should have the the two files shown above and one sub-directory shown above.


For the technically curious we examine more closely the files involved in the updater.

The small text file update.conf is a configuration file which directs the update process. You can view the contents of this file with a text editor, if you like, but do not make any changes.

The folder Sims contains new files to be used by the HDS in its simulation or demonstation modes. Many of these files are images in the portable network graphic (PNG) file form.

The large executable file HDS- contains the real guts of the code updates. This file is itself a compressed archive. Again, for the technically curious, you can peer into the contents of this archive. Do this with an extra copy of the original file.

To extract HDS- just change the file extension to .zip, and then extract it with the application ARCHIVE UTILITY. (This happens automatically if you just double-click on the .zip file.) You will create a new folder named HDS- Inside the folder will be all sorts of interesting files. Feel free to poke around inside, but be certain to only do this with an extra copy of the archive. Inside you will find more archives (as unix .gz files), and, of course, you can keep extracting them and looking inside them as you like. This has nothing to do with performing the update, but it may satisfy some of the more curious among us.

The files in the update archive include a directory called qtopia which refers to the Qt development environment. It has been variously mentioned that the NAVICO Operating System (NOS) for the HDS series employs the Qt development environment, and the presence of these qtopia files seems to confirm that.

jimh posted 04-30-2011 04:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Based on the comments on other websites, users attempting to install the update under various versions of Windows are having problems. The Windows users are aided by an installation wizard application which attempts to relive them of the burden of copying files from one volume to another, a task often beyond the skill level of some Windows users. Lowrance has posted further instructions which illustrate in minute detail the process of how to download and run the installation wizard application.
jimh posted 05-01-2011 03:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Following the update, my HDS-8 describes its firmware as follows:

PLATFORM = 4.0.11494-r9
LOADER = 2.1.4
NAVIONICS VERSION = 00.03.24_r2120
SONAR = 1.69
KEYPAD = 1.10

To find this data

--cursor to SYSTEM hit ENTER
--cursor to ABOUT hit ENTER

jimh posted 05-08-2011 09:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Lowrance HDS V4.0 PAGES Update

In the recent update of the Navico operating system (NOS) software used to operate the Lowrance HDS series of SONAR and chart plotter devices, a new feature was added to the presentation on the PAGES display, but no instructions were provided for its configuration. This article will remedy that omission.

Creating and Managing PAGES Shortcuts

At the bottom of the PAGES display on the Lowrance HDS-8 and HDS-10 there are now six small trapezoidal bounding areas (apparently designed to continue the 3D or perspective view of the overall PAGES theme) which appear across the bottom of the display and above the six hardware buttons below the display. The bounding areas are blank, and they are intended to be legends or identifiers for the hardware buttons below them.

Screen capture of HDS-8 showing blank trapezoidal bounding areas

If one pushes a hardware button below a blank trapezoid, and if the HDS's NOS is set for the HELP ballon feature to be ON, the following message will appear: "Hold to save the highlighted page"

Screen capture of HDS-8 showing balloon help message

Indeed, if one holds down the hardware button, the bounding area above it turns into an iconic representation of the page which was highlighted, and the hardware button below becomes a short cut which will jump the display to that page when pushed. By navigation with the cursor controls on the PAGES display and highlighting various pages, the six buttons across the bottom can be turned into six shortcut keys. Any of the available pages can then be reached by first pushing the PAGES key and then one of the shortcut keys. This reduces the number of key strokes needed to go to any shortcut page from any another page to just two key strokes.

Once a blank bounding area has been changed into an icon and its associated button has become a shortcut, the behavior of the hardware button changes. If the hardware button is pushed briefly, the display jumps to the shortcut's target page. If the hardware button is held down, a new shortcut will be created using as a target whatever destination is highlighted in the presentation above, and the HELP message will display "Saved."

Screen capture of HDS-8 showing help balloon

An existing shortcut can be replaced by a new one by first highlighting the target page and then holding down the shortcut button. The old shortcut is removed and the new shortcut replaces it.

Once the all six shortcuts have been created, the HELP message that explains the operation of the shortcuts will never be seen again, as it only appears when a bounding trapezoid area is blank. The settings for all six shortcuts can be deleted by accessing a hidden menu on the PAGES display, as follows:

Hit PAGES; screen jumps to PAGES display
Hit MENU; PAGES menu appears with following choices
--SHOW (jumps to the selected page)
--Adjust panel sizes... (grayed out)
--Edit data overlay... (jumps to the selected page and permits editing data overlay)
--Clear saved pages (clears all six shortcuts)

Screen capture from HDS-8 showing hidden menu on PAGES display

  --Cursor to CLEAR SAVED PAGES and hit ENTER
    --Clear saved pages dialogue box appears with prompt, "Do you want to clear all saved pages?" and soft key button choices "YES" and "NO."

Screen capture from HDS-8 showing clear all saved pages option

If the YES button is pushed, all six shortcut icons disappear and the blank bounding trapezoids return.

Turning HELP Balloons On or Off

The HELP ballons in the HDS are useful when first becoming familiar with the operation of the device, but after one has become acquainted their utility decreases. The NOS provides for the user to be able to control HELP balloon behavior, and they may be turned off with the following procedure:

--Hit MENU
--Cursor to SYSTEM
--Cursor to ADVANCED...
--Cursor to SHOW BALLON HELP; circle icon shows state
--Hit ENTER to toggle the state; a blue circle icon means the feature is active.

jimh posted 06-19-2011 10:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I just spent a week using my HDS-8 following the software update. I observed one previously unreported glitch, but failed to observe another glitch that has been cited as a side effect from the upgrade.

I made extensive use of the new PAGE hot-button keys. I did observe the following glitch. If you hold the PAGE hot-button key for more than just a momentary press, the mode shifts from the operational mode to the edit mode. If you don't notice this change--and this can easily happen when you are busy at the helm of the boat--the natural inclination is to push the button a second time. Unfortunately, the second button push will then alter the configuration of the hot-button key, making it a short cut to the page that happens to have been selected in the PAGE navigation screen. I did this once by accident. It took me a moment to figure out what happened.

The user-interface of the PAGE hot-button keys is hampered by the slow response to user input. When you push a PAGE hot-button key the HDS-8 does not immediately respond with any user feedback. The user is not provided with any response from the HDS that indicates the button has been pushed. It can take several seconds for the screen to change to the new page.

The user can easily be confused by the lack of response to the button push, and the natural reaction is to push the button more distinctly and hold it longer. This leads to the mode change described above. (Also note that if the HELP BALLOON feature is not active, there is little change in the display when the edit mode is entered.) When this happens, the user is again confused because. The change in display presentation may not be immediately noticeable. This leads to another button push, which then alters the programming of the PAGE hot-button that was pushed.

After some time using the feature, the user becomes trained to be patient for any change in the display to occur. The user also becomes trained to not push the PAGE hot-button too long and thus avoids the mode switch problem.

I had also read reports of problems with SONAR operation following the upgrade. I did not experience any problems, however, I did heed the advice to reset the transducer selection setting. On my HDS-8, following the upgrade, the transducer selection changed to UNKNOWN TRANSDUCER. I reset the transducer selection to match my transducer (HST-WSPL), and I did not observe any problems in SONAR operation. I recommend that the transducer selection be checked following any upgrade. Be certain the HDS device is set for the transducer in use.

RobP posted 06-19-2011 11:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for RobP  Send Email to RobP     
Installed the latest patch, again this is a big file to download.

Here are the improvements from the April 2011 "patch" -
* Corrected issue with Weather Watchbox not scrolling
* Corrected issue with Watchbox Alarms causing unit reboot under when in nonchart mode
* StructureScan range no longer restricted in Shallow Water mode
* StructureScan image restores properly after use of Zoom feature
* Times for Tides & Currents corrected
* Early production 5x units now upgradeable

Quite honestly I did not spend a lot of time playing with it.

Jim, I'm not sure what your saying is a glitch or a means to re-program the individual hot button key. The slow response is an issue with the HDS units on many features, but that can be corrected by moving the Simrad, just takes $.

I will take your advise and check the transducer setting next time I'm out.

jimh posted 06-19-2011 12:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Rob--Many thanks for the notice of the new patch. I was not aware of the newer version. I will have to check into the patch.

Re the hot-button re-programming, I am totally aware of the method for re-programming the PAGE hot-button, as you can see from my lengthy article (above) where I have described the method and illustrated it with several screen shots, which I did because Lowrance seemed to omit any mention of how to do it from their patch instructions and literature. The glitch is the time of the button hold to enter edit mode. It seems to me to be a little too short, and, as a result, a button push which is just momentarily longer than normal will inadvertently send the unit into edit mode.

Re the delays in jumps between pages, I wonder if they get longer as certain history files get longer. For example, if you have TRACK going, and the track is six days old and covers several hundred miles, switching to the CHART display might take longer because the TRACK file is filled with thousands of data points.

RobP posted 06-26-2011 06:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for RobP  Send Email to RobP     
Got out yesterday and found that the transducer was reset to unknown after the upgrade. Thanks for the recommendation to check it.

I really do like the hot button keys for switching between favorite settings. I have not run into the reset feature while using them but do get a confirmation beep when I push the button so maybe I don't hold it long enough. Thank you for documenting this feature.

jimh posted 06-26-2011 09:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I think the BEEP on button-push is a feature that can be turned on or off, and I may have it turned off, which would explain why I did not get any feedback for a button push on the new PAGES hot buttons.
RobP posted 06-26-2011 02:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for RobP  Send Email to RobP     
There is a Key Beep feature with a couple of different volume, I use the lowest setting. One thing I did notice on my HDS7, that is a year older than the HDS8, is that none of the beeps (key or fish) work for what ever reason. But it is work checking the settings.
jimh posted 07-12-2011 12:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have seen several comments posted on various on-line discussions regarding changes to the behavior of the SONAR portion of the HDS devices following the upgrade to the v4.0 operating system patch. I would characterize many of these comments as being phrased as warnings about declines in performance of the SONAR following the upgrade. However, most of the reports seem quite anecdotal in nature and are based on recollections of prior performance based on visual memory of the presentation of echograms by the HDS. Relying on memory is not a particularly rigorous method to make comparisons of things as interpretive as SONAR echograms. It seems unlikely that there are any truly well-documented and rigorous side-by-side comparisons of SONAR performance pre- and post patch, and most reports rely on fairly vague terms of comparison or imprecise descriptions. In this regard, it would be interesting to see any screen captures made with the same device, same transducer, and same location, with both the pre- and post-update software.

I also suspect that in some cases--perhaps a majority--that some of the change in performance could be due to the operator having failed to make note of the transducer selection setting. As mentioned already, the update appears to reset the transducer selection to a default or generic setting.

I also believe that another effect of the upgrade is to alter the nominal gain setting position or sensitivity. In might be true that all that has changed in the post-patch performance is a change in the default gain setting. I believe that with the v4.0 patch the nominal gain setting is now shown as "0" (zero) and gain is incremented up and down from there. The gain corresponding to "0" may also have been changed in some settings. This may be part of the confusion about performance changes.

It is also possible that some users who have developed their own customized settings for various parameters involved in the display, that is, users who do not use the AUTO function, may have found their custom settings are no longer producing the same results. Again, this may be due to a change in the reference or default setting of the nominal gain or other parameters.

I have not observed any profound change in the SONAR performance following the update to v4.0, but I don't have much of a basis to make a comparison. I have not operated the unit in the same location as previously used, and I have no stored screen captures to use as a comparison. I don't trust my memory to recall accurately how the HDS performed before the upgrade. My HDS SONAR seems to work the same for me now as it did at the previous patch level.

jimh posted 07-26-2011 04:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In the ongoing saga of users' reactions to the v4.0 upgrade, I have noticed that one or two savvy users have observed that the SONAR performance is generally quite good when using the supplied transducer that came with the HDS series units, which tends to be an 83/200-kHz transom mount model. Users who reported problems tended to be using older Lowrance transducers that had previously been installed with other Lowrance products.

Also, there was some discussion about physically isolating the transducer cable from other electrical cables so as to avoid interference.

Both of these observations are interesting to me because in my installation of the HDS-8 I followed both of those precepts: I removed my existing transducer, even though it appeared to be similar to the new transducer and had a matching connector on its cable, and I installed the new transducer that came with the HDS; I also ran the cable from the transducer to the HDS unit via a completely different cable path from ALL other electrical cables on the boat. The SONAR cable runs through the below deck rigging tunnel, and the only other items in that rigging tunnel are the hydraulic steering hoses. All electrical cables run under the gunwales of the boat and are nowhere near the SONAR cable. I have not noticed any substantive change or degradation in performance of the SONAR.

RobP posted 07-31-2011 05:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for RobP  Send Email to RobP     
Finally here is a video from Lowrance on some of the V4.0 updates.

Quick Keys:

Multi-panel View:

RobP posted 08-01-2011 06:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for RobP  Send Email to RobP     
Another thing to look out for when doing the update is the NMEA 0183 settings. I have the Standard Horizon GX 5100 which will send the AIS information to the HDS units but I noticed since upgrading to V4.0 I no longer was seeing vessels on the display. Not a bit deal in my neck of the woods since there are not a lot of boats that use AIS. After checking the setting I found it was set to the factory default, just using the COM1 setting, I need to reset to also use COM2.

After upgrading (which is worth doing) you will need to check any of the various settings which you previously had.

jimh posted 08-03-2011 10:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Rob--Thanks for the warning on the MNEA-0183 settings. I will have to double check mine.

I have been underway for a five days with the HDS-8 after the update. There were some problems with the SONAR, but I have been able to resolve them with some settings adjustments. I honestly don't know what the pre-update settings were, so I cannot say with certainty that anything changed.

jimh posted 08-07-2011 07:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
As a random data point, with the v4.0 update I was recently running the boat on plane at 32-MPH and getting good bottom echoes from 450-feet below with the 200-kHz transducer. I don't see anything wrong with that performance!
RobP posted 08-07-2011 08:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for RobP  Send Email to RobP     
43 MPH and reading bottom not problem.

jimh posted 08-15-2011 10:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
An end-user of Lowrance HDS SONAR reported today (on another website) that in a telephone conversation with Lowrance technical support people he was told that a new v4.0 update release is being prepared and may be available in approximately two weeks. That release would be the third v4.0 updater.

This new v4.0 patch would apparently be intended to remedy problems being reported with SONAR performance after updating to v4.0 from v3.5, a frequently heard complaint among serious fishermen using HDS units.

jimh posted 08-25-2011 01:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I called Lowrance customer service. I spoke to a very informed and friendly support person after I routed my call through the automated answering system. My call rang through immediately--no waiting.

I inquired about the rumored third v4.0 update patch, but I did not get any confirmation. Instead, I was told that a v5.0 patch would be more likely and will be coming in the first-quarter of 2012.

It was also recommended to apply the newest v4.0 patch, as it made some additions and corrections to the original patch.

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