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TOPIC: Best sounder/plotter for mapping?

Best sounder/plotter for mapping? 5 years 5 months ago #7095

  • NAIA Fiji
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I was excited to discover Reefmaster recently. For 23 years I’ve operated a liveaboard diveboat in Fiji using increasingly complex hand-drawn maps of our divesites. With Reefmaster I can finally make accurate and detailed images. My goal is to create divesite maps that I can export in high resolution, annotate using a different program (Photoshop?), and print reasonably large. I would also like to reimport the maps into the sounder/chartplotter to help the skiff driver drop divers in exactly the right place. My question is: which low-end sounder/chartplotter is good enough? I understand that the Lowrance units are better for displaying a map and that CHIRP technology is not necessary for mapping alone. Do I need a unit bigger than 5” to see the map clearly? Are there particular features to look for to assure the best possible map that Reefmaster can make? Anything else I haven't considered? Thanks and best fishes, Rob
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Best sounder/plotter for mapping? 5 years 5 months ago #7096

  • Matt
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Hi Rob,
As far as exporting map images is concerned, it doesn't really matter where the data comes from - ReefMaster uses depth and position data to create a bathymetric map, and this data can come from Lowrance of Humminbird sonar log files, or other sources.
If you want to display maps on your unit, then Lowrance is the best option. We can make use of the Navico Insight Map Creator application to produce full colour maps directly from ReefMaster. It is also possible to export images such as sidescan mosaics so that they can be displayed on the unit.
I think 5" units are fine for viewing maps, although of course bigger is always better. ReefMaster produces vector maps, which allow you to zoom in and out without loss of quality, and because you can customise your maps within ReefMaster you can produce simplified maps that are very easy to read on the water, that still provide all of the information you require (e.g. you could have a simple polygon describing the shape of your dive site).
If you are in the market for a low(ish) cost sounder to use for data collection, it's worth looking at the new Lowrance Elite Ti units (5 and 7 inch so far). These include chirp and sidescan for very reasonable cost.
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Best sounder/plotter for mapping? 5 years 5 months ago #7097

  • Team Colibri
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Simrad and Lowrance will display RM-charts equally well. As for screensize that is a personal mather, not to mention a financial mather. :) I have Lowrance units at 4,3"-5"-7"-8,4" and have used 9" and 12" as well. If you look at screnisize vs resolution vs prize there is not much beating a HDS 8 Gen 2, now discontinued and can be bought on ebay etc. The m-models are chartplotter only, and all you need to view maps in your boat. For logging sonar in order to make the maps, you need the version with both sonar and chartplotter, as well as a ducer.

CHIRP relates to the sonar. What sort of depths are you looking at for the diving?
In most cases scanning sonar like downscan and sidescan will be better for finding pieces of structure, but it has limited depth-capability. For collecting the data needed to make maps in RM, the 2D-sounder (CHIRP or not) is your most valuable tool as this gives the needed depth-data to the sonarlog in a stable manner.

Depending on what you want, HDS/ Elite 7 Ti and Hook might all be good. Pricewise there is not much beating the Elite Ti of the current units if you want downscan and sidescan as part of the package. I would not recommend Elite 5 Ti to anyone, the screen is way to narrow due to its format.
Last Edit: 5 years 5 months ago by Team Colibri.
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Best sounder/plotter for mapping? 5 years 5 months ago #7098

  • NAIA Fiji
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Matt and Team Colibri, thanks for the timely and detailed answers. I'll be on Australia's Gold Coast (for my daughter's tennis tournament) next week, where there are lots of marine stores, and I'll look at what's available. From their websites, the best deal from these stores seems to be the Lowrance Hook 7. Thanks and best fishes, Rob
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