Sonar pushes the limits, part 2
6/14/2021

A few years back advancements in marine radar took center stage for boaters, led by the application of Doppler technology to increase situational awareness by tagging nearby vessels that pose a risk. Sonar, too, has also come on strong with innovations allowing greater reach, flexibility and target display. Below is Part 2 of an article we started last week that appeared initially in Marine Electronics Journal. If you missed Part 1, click HERE.

By Zuzana Prochazka

What’s driving advancements?
Along the lines of rising customer demand are shifting dash expectations. Smaller boats want big-boy systems in the ever-growing "vessel creep” where compact boats are loaded with mind-blowing technology. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see sophisticated systems like Furuno’s DFF-3D multibeam sonar find their way down the food chain sooner rather than later.

Also, miniaturization has made it possible for a technology transfer to trickle down from commercial fishing and/or military systems. "The trick is taking something that’s built for large ships and huge budgets and scaling it down into something that will a) still be an amazing technology for a recreational user, b) fit into their budget and c) fit on their boat,” says Navico’s Jeremiah Clark.

Raymarine’s Jim McGowan adds, "Some commercial transducers are so big they actually change the draft of the vessel, so making them smaller and cheaper is a real challenge, but if we can offer 75% of the capabilities at 25% of the cost, that’s a great tradeoff.”

Finally, as we all know, a boat is a combination of complex systems and the development and accessibility of complementary technologies like gyrostabilization have enabled improved sonar. "Electronic beam stabilization is a part of what’s made sonar better, but overall boat stabilization is important too,” says Furuno’s Matt Wood. "Now boats down to 30 feet can get a Seakeeper and that’s a game changer for sonar.”

Recently, advances in all kinds of boat systems have come together to push sonar farther and faster than either cartography or radar. "I think that we have had more new sonar technology innovations in the past 10 years than we had in the previous decades of recreational sonar combined,” says Clark.

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