Improving my Simrad Sidescan – Part 1 (Background)

This will be the first in a several part series of blog posts documenting my journey to improving my side-scan sonar, based on what I learned from Capt Ben Powers at our Eye Strike Artificial Army Seminar on the subject of Setup and Interpretation of Sonar.  If you missed it, you can watch it in its entirety here (Note that there are 4 separate videos covering the seminar).  


So, I took delivery of my Sportsman Masters 207 in June of 2018.  I knew I wanted side scan technology so I just asked for a side-scan transducer.  What I got was a Simrad StructureScanHD transducer.  It was mounted on the side in the general location where transducers typically are, up near the right trim tab.  I could see all kinds of cool stuff with it and was generally pleased with it.  I knew I had a pretty good understanding of what I was looking at, but really felt Iike there was a lot more to it than I was understanding.  

Original location of my Simrad StructureScanHD transducer from the factory

With this in mind, and having had many conversations with friends and customers on the subject, I felt like this was a great first seminar where we could go in depth on the subject and learn a lot from it.  Having gotten to know Ben Powers through the course of business and hearing about what he was seeing on his side-scan, he became the natural choice to deliver our seminar.  

Ahead of our seminar, I didn’t want it to seem like an advertisement for a particular brand of sonar, so we discussed bringing my boat down to Folly and getting some comparison images between our units.  He is running a Humminbird Solix.  Honestly, I was feeling like I would get very similar results to his….Wrong!  

The difference in images was very significant.  His were crisp and high contrast.  Mine were blurry and low contrast.  He could identify individual fish under a dock, I could hardly see anything of interest.  

Simrad StructureScanHD (Left) and Humminbird Solix (Right) passing by the same structure. Not so great for me!

If you know me, you know I couldn’t let this rest!  I figured that competition being what it is, that Simrad probably had an improved sonar available to compete with Humminbird.  I did some googling and had a few interactions on social media and discovered that, yes, this was true.  There is a better transducer called ActiveImaging 2 in 1 or (3 in 1) available and that it was relatively inexpensive (under $300) and a bolt-on upgrade.  You simply mount the new one, pull the old transducer cable and route the new one and simply plug into your NSS-EVO3 unit.  It automagically recognizes the new unit.  

I went ahead and placed an order for the new unit.  I got the 3 in 1 because it also allows Med and High Chirp echo which my current thru-hull transducer does not have.  

Sportsman does a good job allowing cable runs to the console and pre-inserted pull cords, plus, of course the all-access bilge which is A-MAZING.  I am able to fold my entire 6 ft tall body inside the bilge to work on stuff.  So, once the transducer came in, pulling and routing the transducer cables was relatively easy with a couple hours and a little bit (OK, a lot!) of sweating.   

Before I got a chance to try the new transducer, we had the seminar and I learned that how and where the transducer is mounted is almost as important as anything.  

The next posts will discuss initial results, how I repositioned my transducer, and what results I am getting now.

Stay tuned and I hope someone finds all this of interest!  

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