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Author Topic:   Garmin 441S SONAR; Transducer Choice
jstarzy posted 08-30-2013 10:07 PM ET (US)   Profile for jstarzy   Send Email to jstarzy  
Hi all. I have a Garmin 441s sounder and chart plotter connected to a Garmin dual frequency 50/200 transducer. It is a Garmin transducer, not an Airmar.

The 441s will not hold bottom and once it looses lock will not restore until a reboot of the unit.

Considering them to be experts, I phoned Airmar for general advice, mentioning that I could not hear ticking at the Garmin transducer, asking if they thought the problem was the 441s or the transducer. They said presence or absence of ticking is not a valid troubleshooting technique. They recommended trying a different transducer by hanging it over the boat in the water temporarily. They also indicated the 441s is most likely at fault.

When I informed Garmin of the problem, Garmin took the unit in for a warranty swap. A replacement is back ordered and due to ship in a week or so.

I have a Garmin 400C fish finder ( the 441s replaced it and I'm selling it soon) that plugs up to exactly the same wiring and transducer. I used it on the boat today. It immedialty locked to bottom when powered up but it too, lost bottom at about 20-MPH and did not restore readings until rebooted.

All of this seems to indicate the transducer is the problem, but both Garmin and Airmar seem to point to the 441s.

[Give me] comments on characteristics of a correctly working transducer and recommend if I should replace this Garmin unit with an Airmar P32 or P66 which seem to be well suited for this set up and my Montauk, or a different model? The P66 is about $30 more than the P32 on Amazon.

Thanks so much.--Jim.

Jefecinco posted 09-01-2013 10:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     

Is this a new problem or has it been going on since you started using the transducer?

The reason for the question is that imperfect transducer mounting is often at fault given the symptoms you mention. If a transducer works perfectly with two different sounders at non-planing speeds it should also work well when planing.

I believe there is an article in the Reference Section on this site that provides excellent guidance on transducer mounting. If you can't find the article check the Garmin site and those of Lowrance, Furuno, Raymarine, and Airmar for guidance.

Recently, I had similar problems with my sounder and discovered that my transducer had "kicked up" while my boat was on plane. When I pushed it down to it's previous position the symptoms ceased. After putting the boat on the trailer I snugged up the bolt that secures the transducer to the mounting bracket. No more problem, so far.


jstarzy posted 09-01-2013 03:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for jstarzy  Send Email to jstarzy     
Butch...thanks for the reply....

The transducer seemed fine with the 400c when I first installed it about 3 seasons ago. It started with inaccurate readings and loss of lock when I replaced the 400c with the 441s last summer.

Transducer Mounting was double-checked this spring before launch and the unit is always in the correct position when it will not re-establish lock.

The more I think about this, the more I think the Garmin transducer is faulty. Regardless of what Airmar mentioned, it does not tick when operating and both the 400c and the 441s are reacting identically.

The only other commonality is the wiring from the head unit to the transducer disconnect inside the center console. I doubt it's at fault.

So, once Garmin replaces the 441s, if the trouble persists, process of elimination will lead me to replacing the Garmin transducer with an Airmar P66 before launch next spring. If that doesn't fix things, then I'll replace the wiring harness. If the problem persists after that, I will have replaced everything with nothing left to try.


jstarzy posted 09-03-2013 05:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for jstarzy  Send Email to jstarzy     
Can anyone comment on the Airmar p66 and P32, not only for sonar performance but also for mounting and shallow bottom release?

I was ready to order a P66 but just read from a user that the release mechanism is a very poor design. I had a P32 with an Apelco unit and mounting and release on the p32 were ok. It's possible I could even reuse the holes.

The P66 is about $30 more than the P32. Is performance on the P66 noticeably better and worth it?


kwik_wurk posted 09-03-2013 05:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for kwik_wurk  Send Email to kwik_wurk     
First culprit is flow over the transducer while on plane. If you swear this isn't your issue, then...

They do go bad, I have a transducer where the 50kHz is going bad. Going to upgrade to new spread spectrum ducer and compatible head unit.

And one thing I noticed about Garmin units is that if you have manually adjusted the sonar settings, this will affect the bottom lock features. -- Specifically ramping up the gain, or setting the depth to far on way.

But another transducer or head unit to compare against is the best thing.

jstarzy posted 09-09-2013 10:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for jstarzy  Send Email to jstarzy     
I received the refurbed Garmin 441s and tried It on the Montauk yesterday with the same Garmin transom mount transducer. I got the same results as the original problem. The unit acquired bottom then lost bottom lock at about 20 mph and would not re-acquire bottom lock until a reboot.

Prior to trying out the refurbed 441s, I purchased an Airmar P66 and brought it with me for the trial above. I disconnected the Garmin transducer and connected the P66 and dropped it in the water, face down on the port side of the boat. It acquired immediate bottom lock. I lifted it out of the water and it lost lock as expected. However.... almost immedialty after placing back in the water after losing lock, it reacquired bottom lock. This, to me, seems to be normal operation. The Garmin transducer will not reestablish bottom lock after losing bottom whatsoever, and by this, I assume it's defective.

Though I won't be able to mount the P66 until next spring, I'm now optimistic that the refurbed 441s and the new P66 will work correctly. I happen to have a small piece of 3/4" black Starboard and will use it as a mounting platform for the P66 to minimize having to drill more holes in the transom of the Montauk if the P66 requires mounting adjustments.

Thanks to those who helped....Jim.

Peter posted 09-10-2013 07:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
I use an Airmar P66 connected to a Garmin 740s. I used a small piece of Starboard attached to the hull and then mounted the P66 transducer to that (there was a P52 Airmar transducer previously mounted directly to the hull). It works great. Holds bottom at 30 MPH.
padrefigure posted 09-18-2013 01:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for padrefigure  Send Email to padrefigure     
I agree with others that have suggested that your transducer mounting is probably the source of your breakdown. Try lowering the transducer so that it runs in clean water. Also be sure that there is not a through-hull fitting or other obstruction upstream of the transducer that could cause turbulence to flow across the transducer face. One more thing to check--carefully inspect the wire bundle going to the transducer. On my Outrage 22, I ran the lead across the transom. Somehow the outer jacket wore through, exposing one of the conductors in the bundle. I could hear ticking like you describe, but it was not the transducer pinging--it was arcing in the cable.

Good luck

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