Lowrance Elite 5/7 cheap CHIRP, the sonar wars rage on

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

6 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Incidentally, a guy at The Hull Truth put up an deeply technical explanation of how CHIRP works here: http://goo.gl/1aVo9R
    And Bill Bishop recently wrestled with the issue of how much area is covered by a CHIRP transducer’s variable transmission cone: http://goo.gl/VjQ0cl
    I think that both articles were carefully researched but this stuff is hard!

  2. John Easton says:

    Hi Ben,
    I’m sure you will agree with me that the last decade has been very exciting when it comes to recreational marine electronics, sonar in particular. First was the amazing life like SideImaging by Humminbird, then Lowrance launched the mind blowing 800kHz True DownScan with their LSS-1, and then Garmin with their crystal clear True CHIRP. Unfortunately, along the way their have been some real disasters too, like DownImaging from SideImaging. These disasters are in my opinion created as a ‘quick fix’ to be competitive, and sometimes comes at a long term cost. I hope this is not what we can come to expect from our Big Brand Marine Electronics Houses. I would hate to see the word ‘CHIRP’ get exploited like what happened to ‘DownScan’. We won’t even discuss ‘all-round/forward’ sonar at this point.
    Here’s holding thumbs and putting faith in the engineers and marketers to do the right thing.

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I was wrong to qualify Raymarine’s DownVision as “purportedly” CHIRP assisted and I just crossed out the word. The Dragonfly really is broadcasting two ranges of frequencies from Ray’s own custom designed CHIRP transducer, though the specification are oddly vague about it: http://goo.gl/yo28ym
    However, I think Jim Hebert got the details right on Continuous Wave when the Dragonfly first came out:
    “The device employs two ranges of frequencies. A range of 320-kHz to 380-kHz is used, as well as a range from 170-kHz to 230-kHz.” http://goo.gl/2lS0BE
    Plus, Ray’s CP100 does list a spec of “Centre frequency DownVision 350 kHz” http://goo.gl/Tia5KY
    At any rate, when the inexpensive Dragonfly came out with vague specs and no user control over the frequencies used, some people (especially competitors) questioned if it was using “real” CHIRP.
    Today there’s plenty of evidence that Raymarine is using the CHIRP term properly, starting with the impressive user screen captures linked to above. Dragonfly doesn’t offer two DownVision frequencies and yet seems able to capture high frequency detail while also seeing deeper and at higher speed, all of which CHIRP could help with.
    Finally, while Dragonfly appeared when all other CHIRP was in big expensive devices, now Lowrance and Garmin also seem able to use CHIRP tech in smaller devices with modest transducers. “Cheap CHIRP” isn’t meant to sound dismissive; it’s a good thing.

  4. tom elliott says:

    Hi, boy its hard to keep it all straight. I have one question. If the Lowrance has nmea 200 can I use it to display radar or auto pilot from a existing unit? i know that this can not be done o n the Raymarine unit and is the reason I have held off buying it.

  5. I took a look at the Raymarine CP-100 (which I could add to my system easily) – when they can do a forward sweep like they do side-to-side, I’m interested! (assuming I don’t need some massive transducer underneath – the CPT-110/120 is OK).

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Wow, Lowrance is not messing around with this video comparison of its DownScan imaging versus the ClearVu Garmin offers now that it has had to modify its transducers due to the ongoing patent issue:

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