T R I P L E T H R E AT

Yachting - - INSIGHTS ELECTRONICS -

If you’re seek­ing the lat­est sonar for depths ex­ceed­ing 150 feet, Sim­rad’s S5100 High-Per­for­mance Chirp Sonar Mod­ule of­fers three in­de­pen­dent sonar chan­nels in one black-box hous­ing. Own­ers of com­pat­i­ble Sim­rad equip­ment — in­clud­ing NSS evo2 and NSS evo3 MFDs, NSO evo2 glass-bridge sys­tems and S2000se­ries fish find­ers — can mon­i­tor sonar im­agery from mul­ti­ple depths si­mul­ta­ne­ously. The S5100 ($1,999) is com­pat­i­ble with 600 W to 3 kW trans­duc­ers and can be con­fig­ured us­ing three sin­gle-chan­nel trans­duc­ers, or one sin­gle-chan­nel trans­ducer and one dual-chan­nel trans­ducer. Im­agery is sent via Eth­er­net to three in­de­pen­dent MFDs/screens, or to one MFD that’s op­er­at­ing in split-screen mode plus a sec­ond sin­gle-screen dis­play. Users can se­lect chirp fre­quen­cies from 28 to 250 kHz, and they can ad­just the power out­put de­pend­ing on their in­tended tar­gets. dis­play (MFD). Higher-fre­quency sonar waves pro­vide higher-res­o­lu­tion im­agery, while lower-fre­quency waves pro­vide bet­ter range (think AM and FM radio, where FM sig­nals pro­vide su­pe­rior sound qual­ity but can’t prop­a­gate as far as their AM brethren).

In all cases, the qual­ity of re­turned sonar in­for­ma­tion de­pends greatly on the power and fre­quency of the trans­mit­ted pulse. Re­cent years have seen the rise of chirp sonars that si­mul­ta­ne­ously broad­cast trans­mis­sions over a sweep of pre­de­ter­mined fre­quen­cies at a power out­put rang­ing be­tween 300 W and 3 kW, de­liv­er­ing bet­ter im­age res­o­lu­tion and tar­get sep­a­ra­tion. These trans­mis­sions are broad­cast as siren-like shrills that are in­audi­ble to hu­man ears but that let the sounder “peer” through tar­gets, such as tightly packed bait schools, by com­par­ing the orig­i­nal trans­mis­sion (and its time stamp) with the re­turned sonar en­ergy.

Re­al­iz­ing that chirp sonars’ sig­nif­i­cantly higher-fre­quency sig­nals yield sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter short-range sonar im­agery, Hum­min­bird’s en­gi­neers cre­ated Mega Imag­ing, which comes bun­dled on se­lect Helix and Solix MFDs. Cus­tomers can choose be­tween MFDs that of­fer just Mega Down Imag­ing (DI) or ones that of­fer both Down Imag­ing and Side Imag­ing (SI). “With Mega Imag­ing, we went from ‘it looks like a roadbed’ to ‘it looks like a roadbed with a cin­der block or a two-by-four ly­ing there,’” says Hum­min­bird’s brand man­ager, Ray Schaf­fart. He likened the jump from tra­di­tional sonar to Mega Imag­ing to the sea-change leap from con­sole TVs to high-def­i­ni­tion flatscreen TVs. “In 30 feet of wa­ter, you can see the sand rip­ples,” he says.

By har­ness­ing fre­quen­cies be­tween 1.125 MHz and 1.3 MHz, Mega Imag­ing de­liv­ers eye-pop­ping im­agery 125 feet be­low the trans­ducer and 125 feet to each side. The sys­tem re­quires at least one spe­cial, multi-element trans­ducer that

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