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Author Topic:   HUMMINBIRD Sounder Problem
blueoval posted 05-14-2011 09:30 AM ET (US)   Profile for blueoval   Send Email to blueoval  
I have a [HUMMINBIRD] fishfinder that at [engine idle of the c.1980 Johnson 90-HP engine] works perfectly. As I am accelerating, the [fishfinder] will shut off. I can turn it back on once I slow down. It seems to be when I reach a certain point of throttle, it shuts off. Humminbird said it might be an over-voltage condition shutting it down. I tried hooking a voltmeter to the battey and took measurements, but starting at 12.51-Volts it just kept slowly climbing until at 14.75-Volts I gave up, not knowing when it would max out. Could this [behavior be due to a malfunction of] a voltage regulator? How can I do a proper test? Should the voltage just steadily rise with [engine speed]? Or should it just reach whatever limit it happens to be? Guess I need a [service manual for the c.1980 Johnson 90-HP.] Any help would be great. Thanks!
jharrell posted 05-15-2011 12:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for jharrell    
Your motor may not have a voltage regulator, just a rectifier. Many 80's vintage motors did not. This would cause voltage to rise with rpm up to 18v on some motors.

I thought this was the problem with my humminbird too, as it was cutting out while on a plane, but it ended up being the power pins in the quick release base not making good contact and breaking contact. I guess this is a common problem with humminbirds the can be remedied for a time by bend the pins slightly to make better contact.

Check the pins first, otherwise you may be able to find a after market voltage regulator for your engine, if that is in fact the issue.

blueoval posted 05-15-2011 12:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for blueoval  Send Email to blueoval     
Thanks, didn't think of that, makes sense since it just started out of the blue. Will check this weekend and update. Again, thanks!!!
an86carrera posted 05-17-2011 11:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for an86carrera  Send Email to an86carrera     
I have had the same problem with my Humminbird 97 due to over voltage also. I know my response is no help just confirmation.


jharrell posted 05-17-2011 12:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for jharrell    
I am pretty sure my 86 merc inline 6 does not have a voltage regulator, but I can get a after market one from CDI: .

I was nearly sure this was the issue, but what tipped me off to it being the quick release base power pins was that the voltage reading on the Humminbird was generally reading low with the engine off. That is even with a full battery charge it would sometimes only read in the 11 volt range. I then pressed and pulled on the unit slightly while in the base while on and the voltage reading would jump up to the proper 13+ volt reading of a fully charged battery.

I did some Google searches and came up with many post around the internet regarding the quick release power pins on Humminbirds, which of course their support does not seem to acknowledge since it is basically a design flaw, thier typical response is over/under voltage from the boats electrical system.

Most other brands of chartplotter/mfd/fishfinder do not have quick release bases and the power connection seem to have more robust connectors.

However over voltage could very well be an issue if your motor has no regulator as older ones did not. It would be interesting to hear from owner of other brands such a Lowrance of how they respond to over voltage conditions.

blueoval posted 05-20-2011 08:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for blueoval  Send Email to blueoval     
Great info, I took off the base and noticed a small amount of corrosion on just one pin, cleaned with alcohol and tried bending pins, will try it out Sunday on Lake Seminole. Also, was looking at it and was wondering could I just feed the wire thru the base and take the wire from the unit and just hardwire it together, since I never remove it off the boat anyway. Has anyone ever tried to do that?
jharrell posted 05-21-2011 07:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for jharrell    
I looked at trying to make a permanent power connection, taking apart the quick release base on the unit.

I didn't see any easy way to do it without drilling and maybe some soldering which I didn't feel like doing to my unit.

From what I gather bending the pins is a temporary fix after a while the jostling on the boat will eventually loosen them up again, it probably has to be redone every year.

Next time it occurs I may get more aggressive and break out the soldering iron, or perhaps just move up to a Garmin, Lowrance or Simrad ;).

jimh posted 05-22-2011 08:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There are several elements of your narrative that are common:

--charging voltage will increase with engine speed

--older outboard engines often do not have voltage regulators

--marine electronic devices can be sensitive to over-voltage

This might imply that the cause of the shut-down was due to over-voltage as the engine speed increased. However, when engine speed increases, so does boat speed. Increased boat speed means vibration. The vibration could cause the power connection to become intermittent. This explanation would also fit your narrative of symptoms.

blueoval posted 06-03-2011 06:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for blueoval  Send Email to blueoval     
Well, back from trip. One thing I tried due to the discussion was on the unit I set the voltage alarm to 10 volts, and with a fully charged battery, the unit said" Low Voltage", I then bent pins a little and unit worked great at high spped, then it started acting up again, so I guess bending pins is a necessary evil, my last try will be a little dab of dielectric grease on the pins, might help?
jharrell posted 06-03-2011 09:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for jharrell    
Dielectric grease is an insulator not a conductor, it would probably make the problem worse.

You can try cleaning the pins, there could be some oxidation buildup, use sand paper or a small wire brush.

I have have considered stuffing foil in the female pins, or maybe a little solder but it would be difficult to not put too much in and make them to tight.

This is a very frustrating problem stemming from a poor design choice of an otherwise good unit.

blueoval posted 06-11-2011 01:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for blueoval  Send Email to blueoval     
Glad I checked back in, will remove the dielectric grease I smeared on, I like the foil idea, also I noticed the whole plastic pin holder in the base has play in it and moves up and down, gonna try securing it better, looks like when you press the unit down, the whole pin base moves down in the base.
jimh posted 06-11-2011 05:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Consider contacting the manufacturer to see if they will offer any support. If the power connector is a frequently occurring problem with these units, the manufacturer may be able to provide a better remedy. If the manufacturer refuses to help, you may have to provide your own remedy.

If a connector is causing the power to be intermittent, you can replace the connector. Open the unit's case. Unsolder the bad connector. Solder wires directly to the circuit board pads. Run the wires out the hole where the connector was installed. Seal the hole with electrician's putty. Connect the power wires to your branch circuit power distribution.

blueoval posted 06-12-2011 10:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for blueoval  Send Email to blueoval     
Great feedback, will investigate further, it is indeed a poor design, guess you get what you pay for. Thanks!!!

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