Selecting a Transducer

 

When trying to determine which transducer is best for you, you'll need to consider the following variables:

 

 

Transducer materials

 

Mounting options

   Display     Power   

Transducer Frequency

   Cone angles

Material

 

Mounting Options

 

Display

 

Power

 

Frequency

 

Cone Angles

     

 

 

Material  

 

The first step is to determine what material the transducer should be composed of.

  • Plastic housings are recommended for fiberglass or metal hulls.
  • Stainless Steel housings are recommended for steel or aluminium hulls.
  • Bronze housings are recommended for fiberglass or wood hulls.

 

Bronze is preferable to plastic for wooden hulls because the expansion of wood could damage a plastic transducer and cause a leak. Installation of a stainless steel housing in a metal hull requires an insulating fairing, available from your Raymarine dealer.

 

A metal housing should NOT be installed in a vessel with a positive ground system.

 

 

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Mounting Options  

 

How the transducer should be mounted on the boat is also important.

  • Through-hull with fairing blocks offer the best performance, especially at higher speeds.
  • Through-hull flush mounts are best for trailer boats where good performance is required and there are no protrusions from the hull.
  • In-hull transducers do not penetrate the hull, but do sacrifice some performance.

 

Read our extended guide about transducer mounting options

 

 

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Display  

 

Ensure that the transducer you select has the features that you want to see displayed: depth, speed, temperature, or a combination.

 

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Transducer Power  

 

Power refers to the strength with which the transducer sends the sonar "ping", expressed as watts RMS. Higher power increases your chances of getting a return echo in deep water or poor water conditions. It also lets you see better detail, such as bait fish and structure. Generally, the more power you have, the deeper you can reach and the easier it is to separate echoes returning from fish and bottom structure from all the other noises the transducer detects.

 

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Transducer Frequency  

 

The accuracy with which your fishfinder detects bottom and other objects is also determined by the frequency selected for the depth you are viewing. Raymarine depth transducers can be tuned to two different frequencies: 200 kHz (high) or 50kHz (low).

 

200 kHz (high)

 

200 kHz works best in water under 200 feet (60 meters) and when you need to get an accurate reading while moving at faster speeds. High frequencies give you greater detail to detect very small objects but over a smaller portion of water. High frequencies typically show less noise and fewer undesired echoes while showing better target definition.

 

50 kHz (low)

 

For deep water, 50 kHz is preferred. This is because water absorbs sound waves at a slower rate for low frequencies and the signal can travel farther before becoming too weak to use. The beam angle is wider at low frequencies, meaning the outgoing pulse is spread out more and is better suited for viewing a larger area under the boat. However, this also means less target definition and separation and increased susceptibility to noise. Although low frequencies can see deeper, they may not give you a clear picture of the bottom.

 

Mud, soft sand, and plant life on the bottom absorb and scatter sound waves, resulting in a thicker bottom image. Rock, coral and hard sand reflect the signal easily and produce a thinner bottom display. This is easier to see using the 50 kHz setting, where the bottom returns are wider.

 

A rule of thumb would be to use the 200 kHz setting for a detailed view to about 200 feet and then switch to 50 kHz when you want to look deeper. Better yet, display both views side-by-side on a split screen for both perspectives.

 

200khz example 

200 kHz Echo Sounder Display

in 50'(15m) of water.

 

50 kHz example 

50 kHz Echo Sounder Display

in 50' (15m) of water.

 

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Cone Angles  

 

The transducer concentrates the transmitted sound into a beam. In theory, the emitted pulse radiates out like a cone, widening as it travels deeper. In reality, beam shapes vary with the transducer type and typically exhibit "side lobe" patterns. The following figures give a graphic representation of the transducer's actual transmit radiation patterns.

Cone angles 2 

Low frequencies have wider beam angles than high frequencies.

 

For the scope of this discussion, however, the idea of a cone works just fine. The signal is strongest along the centerline of the cone and gradually diminishes as you move away from the center. Wider angles offer a larger view of the bottom, yet sacrifice resolution, since it spreads out the transmitter's power. The narrower cone concentrates the transmitter's power into a smaller viewable area. Cone angles are wider at low frequencies and narrower at high frequencies.

 

To sum up, a wide cone angle can detect fish around the boat and not just those directly under it while exhibiting less target separation. A narrow cone concentrates the sound output enabling it to better detect small details, such as fish or bottom structure, but only scans a small amount of water at a time.

Beam shapes 

In reality, beam shapes vary with the transducer type and typically exhibit "side lobe" patterns.