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Author Topic:   Lowrance ELITE 7 HDI
jimh posted 01-07-2013 10:39 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
Lowrance has introduced a chart plotter and SONAR instrument, the ELITE 7. The ELITE is positioned as a less expensive alternative to the HDS series. The HDS is considered to be Lowrance's top line series. The ELITE offers some of the same features, but at a reduced price point. And, curiously, the ELITE adds some features not available in the HDS series basic units.

The ELITE 7 model comes in many variations. All models are based on a 7-inch diagonal, wide-screen, LED-backlight, bright color display with 800 x 480 pixels (16:10 aspect). The feature set includes:

--NMEA-2000 networking
--built-in GPS receiver
--embedded digital cartography for U.S. coastal and inland lakes
--ability to use premium cartography MicroSD memory cards for Insight Pro charts, and Navionics Gold and Premium charts

ELITE models differ most in their SONAR capabilities. ELITE models offer two SONAR technologies:

--SONAR using frequencies from 50-kHz to 200-kHz, which Lowrance calls their Broadband Sounder (or sometimes conventional SONAR). The frequency choice is made by selection of the transducer; and,

--SONAR using frequencies from 400-kHz to 800-kHz, which Lowrance calls their DownScan Imaging or DSI, with the specialized transducer being built into the standard transducer assembly with the other frequency devices.

To understand how the ELITE differs from the HDS, we must look at both. Among the many HDS models, the 400-kHz and 800-kHz SONAR technology is not always included in the main HDS units, but is sometimes obtained from the added StructureScan HD module. That device provides what Lowrance calls Structure Scan HD imaging technology.

StructureScan HD imaging technology includes a feature that Lowrance calls DownScan Imaging. This is the high-frequency SONAR that looks directly down at the bottom below the boat. StructureScan HD imaging also provides a side-scan Sonar, that sends signals outward from each side of the boat, giving a side-scan image. The StructureScan HD module uses special transducers calls LSS (perhaps for Lowrance StructureScan) models. To add to the confusion, Lowrance sometimes calls the Structure Scan HD module the LSS Module. Usually, LSS is associated with the transducers.

It may be easier to understand the Lowrance product line and its features by charting them:

Lowrance HDS

--has Broadband Sounder

--has option for StructureScan HD imaging

StructureScan HD imaging

--adds StructureScan via black-box module, variously called Structure Scan HD module or LSS module

--needs a skimmer imaging transducer called the LSS transducer

--includes Down Scan Imaging or DSI. This is a high-frequency SONAR that looks directly under the boat giving great detail.


--some models have Hybrid Dual Imaging (HDI) which means they have some part of the Broadband Sounder technology of the HDS and some part of the StructureScan HD technology, particularly the Down Scan Imaging or DSI portion

--some models use a dual-function transducer which provide for both the Broadband Sounder and the DownScan Imaging signals.

--models with Hybrid Dual Imaging (HDI) also feature a DownScan Imaging (DSI) Overlay feature that allows the simultaneous display and overlapping of the sonagrams from the Broadband Sounder and the DownScan Imaging sounder to be presented, with varying amounts of density or contrast of the two signals being mixed to allow for best presentation.

Confused? Yes, it is very confusing.

Now some other features of the ELITE. The chart plotter and SONAR are nicely integrated so that details in the historical display of SONAR images can be geo-located and marked on the chart plotter. This feature is called Trackback.

These features are arranged in a number of different ELITE models. The Gold package is provided on a memory card in Micro-SD format which contains Navionics cartography:

--ELITE 7 HDI (all features), with a variety of options for transducers and charts:

--no transducer $599
--83/200 and 455/800 transducer $699
--82/200 and 455/800 transducer and Gold package $769
--50/200 and 455/800 transducer $799
--50/200 and 455/800 transducer and Gold package $869

--ELITE 7 BROADBAND is DSI ready, but includes only the 83/200-kHz transducer; also includes chart plotter, charts, and GPS receiver, $599

--ELITE 7X HDI (fish finder with HDI features, no GPS receiver, no chart plotter, no charts), $549

--ELITE 7M GOLD (chart plotter only with Gold package, no sounder) $669

Menemsha69 posted 01-07-2013 05:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Menemsha69  Send Email to Menemsha69     
Thanks for the break down Jim! I could have used this article last week, and saved some time. I ordered mine (Elite-7) today after studying Basspro catalogs and the Lowrance website for about 2 weeks!

You're right, it is confusing! I went back and forth between the Elite 7 and the HDS 7, and decided I didn't need the side scan option, nor would I need radar. I also like the idea of one transducer for both sonar frequencies (broadband and downscan).

I believe that the NMEA interface with engines may be limited as well, but now that I have an Optimax, I couldn't interface anyway.

The biggest selling point aside from the price was the screen size-tired of squinting at a 5" screen! Thanks for the info!-k

jimh posted 01-07-2013 10:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Let me know what you find with the NMEA-2000 engine display function. The documentation on these new ELITE models is a bit sparse.

I can't figure out what the ELITE 7 BROADBAND model is for. It does not make sense in the configuration or price. Perhaps Lowrance has a plan for it.

Which ELITE 7 did you order? The ELITE 7 HDI? If so, which transducer?

I think the high-frequency DownScan Imaging with nice detail will be very cool. I'd like to go over a few large ship wrecks with that unit.

Menemsha69 posted 01-08-2013 08:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for Menemsha69  Send Email to Menemsha69     
I ordered the Lowrance® Elite-7 Hybrid Dual Imaging™ Fishfinder/Chartplotter Combo - 83/200 & 455/800 kHz with the dual imaging transducer. I don't think I need the 50/200 transducer as I won't be fishing in water over 1000 feet!

I think the "broadband only" Elite 7 would be used as a bow-mounted second fishfinder for bass fishing. A lot of the pros have a sounder on the bow in addition to one at the helm, and both of these can be interfaced with each other.

The other advantage to the broadband only unit would be if you already have an Airmar transducer, and don't want downscan, this unit is compatible meaning you don't have to install a new transducer, just plug and play.

I guess if the helm unit has a dual imaging transducer and is tied in to the bow mounted display it could display down imaging without the extra cost.

Interestingly enough the new Humminbird units can tie into Minn Kota trolling motors as well (through the NMEA system). Not sure of the advantage of this? Not sure if the Lowrance systems will tie into Minn Kota trolling motors as well.

I think the biggest advantage to this unit over my older 527c (aside from screen size) is the trackback feature which allows you to scroll back to an interesting target on the display, and mark that location as a waypoint. Don't know how many times I've rolled over structure and wanted to mark it without having to turn around to hunt for it again.-k

jimh posted 01-08-2013 05:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Thanks for the information. When you get the new sounder installed, record some screen shots if you get good images of interesting structure. They'd be fun to see.
Dick E posted 02-07-2013 03:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick E  Send Email to Dick E     
[The Lowrance ELITE 7] is in the market now. To those who have purchased the Lowrance Elite HDI, what are your first thoughts on the unit?
jimh posted 03-02-2013 08:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The display of the HDS-7 Gen2 is 640 x480 pixels, a 4:3 aspect ratio, on a 6.4-inch diagonal with LED backlighting.

The display of the Elite 7 HDI is 800 x 480 pixels, a 15:9 aspect ratio, on a 7-inch diagonal with LED backlighting.

We compute the screen area (A) from the diagonal (d) and aspect ratio (r) as

A = d^2/(r+1/r)

and find

HDS-7 Gen2 screen Area = 19.66-inch^2
ELITE 7 HDI screen Area = 21.68-inch^2

Dividing the screen area by the number of pixels gives the pixel density

HDS-7 Gen2 pixel density = 307200/19.66 = 15,625-pixel/inch^2
ELITE 7 HDI pixel density = 384000/21.68 = 17,712-pixel/inch^2

The ELITE 7 HDI has more screen area and has higher pixel density than an HDS-7 Gen2.

jimh posted 03-02-2013 02:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
It is also my understanding that the ELITE 7 HDI cannot make use of AIS target data and will not be able to display AIS targets on its chart plotter.

Source: http:/ / forums. iboats. com/ electrical-electronics-audio-trolling-moto rs/ need-feedback-lowrance-elite-7-hdi-compatible-w-sh-gx2150-ais-vhf-59 1315. html#post4101336

Commander Coo1 posted 03-03-2013 05:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Commander Coo1  Send Email to Commander Coo1     
The biggest disappointment about the Elite 7 HDI in my opinion is this: "NMEA2000® networking (for external GPS and waypoint sharing only), NMEA0183® networking, does not have an Ethernet port" - from the Elite 7 FAQ on Lowrance's website.

It really is too bad that it does not have full NMEA2000 capability. Even if it did not have the virtual gauges it would still be great to have digital overlay data. I guess Lowrance wants you toupgrade to the HDI series if you want full NMEA2000 capabilities.

jimh posted 03-24-2013 08:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Lowrance now has posted more information about the ELITE-7 devices than was available when this discussion began. From the FAQ on the ELITE-7:

What networking capabilities does Elite-7 have?

The Lowrance Elite-7 does come with a NMEA2000® port that can be found on the back with the Power and Sonar connectors. Currently, the Elite-7 will allow for external GPS data input and waypoint sharing via a NMEA2000® connection.


This seems to suggest that there is a limited capability in the ELITE-7 to act as a multi-function display device, compared to other Lowrance devices of this type such as the HDS series.

The ELITE-7 FAQ is a good document to gain further understanding of the feature set of the ELITE-7 compared to the feature set of the HDS series. The FAQ has a nice side-by-side comparison chart.

The Operating Manual for the ELITE-7 is available now online from: ELITE-7_HDI_OM_EN_988-10423-001_w.pdf

I found information about NMEA-0183 sentences in the manual. On NMEA-0183, the ELITE-7 can send the following datagrams:


The ELITE-7 apparently cannot receive any communication via NMEA-0183. This means that if you connect it to a VHF Marine Band radio with DSC, the radio will not be able to send information to the ELITE-7. Typically, when a modern chart plotter is integrated with a modern radio, the radio can send data to the chart plotter to cause the chart plotter to display the located on other vessels, including vessels sending a distress alert. Without an NMEA-0183 input, this cannot be done with the ELITE-7.

On NMEA-2000 the manual is silent regarding precisely what protocol group numbers (PGNs) it can send or receive. This is an unfortunate omission. Generally modern NMEA 2000 devices are well documented and list the PGNs they can send or receive. The manual contains this paragraph:

With the unit connected to a NMEA 2000 network, you can select a GPS antenna [sic] on the network as your GPS [sic] source, and share newly created waypoints with other display units on the network.

You will not be able to share existing waypoints, Only waypoints created while the unit is connected to a NMEA 2000 network can be shared, and only with units on that network.

The ELITE-7 provides a menu option for selecting data sources on the network for providing GNSS data. There is also a menu option for viewing a list of devices on the NMEA-2000 network.

Hoosier posted 03-24-2013 02:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
In looking over the 2013 Lowrance chartplotter line it's apparent that they've gone to two levels, hight end and low end, with nothing in the middle. Well, I guess now the HDS Gen2 would be considered the middle. The screens on the Elite 7 and Gen2 Touch are a big step up in resolution, but the Gen2 Touch has a huge premium. From what I gathered from wandering around Lowrance's website, the Gen2 Touch gets you not only the touch screen, all the Gen2 features, but Structure Scan built-in. Maybe they'll come out with an Elite 7 Plus, that has the missing networking capabilities: NMEA 2K, Ethernet, NMEA 0183, but not the StructureScan.
RogG posted 06-25-2014 03:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for RogG  Send Email to RogG     
The latest firmware update (v3.0) for the Elite series (5/5M and 7/7M) includes "AIS features".

However, although on the Elite 7 installation guide sheet the NMEA 0183 shows alternative RS-232 wiring that has two Com ports there seems to be nothing within settings to select different Baud rates for the two ports.

Lowrance suggest that is the case and perhaps if I wish to use the AIS information from the Standard Horizon 2150 I could install a switch that changes from DSC output to the radio to AIS input from the radio. Would also have to change the Baud rate.

All very Heath-Robinson, the last thing you would want to do when, god forbid, you want to use the distress button on the radio would be to have to start switching outputs/inputs and changing MNEA settings just to allow the Lowrance to output the GPS position to the radio.

The support team at Standard Horizon agreed with me but came up with an answer. The new Standard Horizon GX2200E has AIS/GPS built in such that it doesn't need an external GPS input.

The single port on the Lowrance in theory can be setup just to receive DSC and AIS info from the radio. That's the plan, just got to sort out the wiring, the first attempt with AIS information displayed on the new radio produced nothing on the Lowrance HDI.

RogG posted 07-07-2014 04:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for RogG  Send Email to RogG     
All up and running!

AIS info on the Lowrance!!!

jimh posted 07-08-2014 09:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Thanks for the update on the new feature added to the Lowrance ELITE 7 chart plotter when updated with the latest firmware. It is nice to see they added support for AIS target display.
RogG posted 07-09-2014 05:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for RogG  Send Email to RogG     
That was the 3.0 firmware update. I now see there is a (just released) version 4.0, will be interested in what that offers.
RogG posted 10-01-2014 01:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for RogG  Send Email to RogG     
Had a problem with the Elite not willing to power up. Lowrance suggest there is a "new" version of the 4.0 firmware. Rather strange that it is not classified as V5.0, after all most users that have uploaded V4.0 would not consider checking the file that they have installed is actually the latest.
Pfmtrumpy posted 10-06-2014 07:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Pfmtrumpy  Send Email to Pfmtrumpy     
I don't suppose you might share your wiring and config RogG?
I cannot get my Elite 7 HDI to display AIS from my Link-8.
Navico sent me a diagram which does not work (and I don't see how their diagram could work).

How about NMEA2000 - can one get full functionality (GPS to radio, DSC/AIS to Elite 7) if I was to invest in an NMEA2000 backbone ?


RogG posted 10-10-2014 02:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for RogG  Send Email to RogG     
Lowrance Elite 7------------------Standard Horizon GX 2200

Orange (RX+)----------------------------Yellow (AIS data +)
Green (RX-)---------------------------White (AIS data -)

Baud rate needs to be set to correct speed.

jimh posted 10-10-2014 02:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Pfmtrumpy--The advice RogG has kindly shared is not for a LINK-8 radio.

Re the LINK-8 VHF Marine Band radio with AIS receiver:

I have tested a LINK-8 with an HDS chart plotter, connecting it via NMEA-0183 and also NMEA-2000. I tested the radio with digital selective calling messages and some AIS reception.

Connecting the LINK-8 via NMEA-0183 is rather difficult. It took me quite a while to study the documentation for the LINK-8 and deduce the connection. The data connections on the LINK-8 are quite strange, in my opinion. They are a mish-mash of protocols and wiring.

I have written a separate article that goes into the NMEA-0183 interface of the LINK-8 in great detail. Pfmtrumpy--I recommend you consult that article for advice on interfacing the LINK-8. Please see

LINK-8 NMEA-0183 Interface; DSC and AIS Datagrams

Pfmtrumpy--if you need further help, post a follow-up to that article in the thread for that article.

Connecting the LINK-8 via NMEA-2000 is very simple. The cost of building a NMEA-2000 network is less than $100, and that investment will repay you many times over in saved frustration and tinkering with the NMEA-0183 connection.

Pfmtrumpy--forward the information you received from Lowrance about the interconnection to me, if you would be so kind. I would like to see what method they proposed for interface of the LINK-8 via NMEA-0183.

I do not know for certain--without investigating this further, which I am not particularly inclined to do--what the present day capability of the Lowrance ELITE 7 chart plotter will be regarding display of AIS targets. That topic is already discussed in some detail in this thread. See above, particularly the comments from HOOSIER about recent firmware updates for the ELITE 7. I would be guided by those comments and also by your own investigation. In any case, I would be surprised to learn that the chart plotter could display AIS targets only if the data arrived via NMEA-0183. My guess would be, if the chart plotter can display AIS targets, it can display them no matter how the data arrives. But you should check that with Lowrance or verify it with some reputable source.

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