Sonar & GPS Integration to generate depth charts

Discussion in 'OnBoard Electronics & Controls' started by Michaelp, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. Michaelp
    Joined: Apr 2011
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    Michaelp Junior Member

    ... Just something that I have been thinking about for the last few years.

    Is there currently any manufacturers that integrate GPS and Sonar units to make depth charts? The idea would be that the unit would constantly track location and depth, and store the data at preset intervals (ie. every 10 yards). This unit would then slowly generate a map based on this data. The more time you spent navigating a certain area, the more accurate the map would become.

    One shortfall that I see using this method would be the effect of waves and tide on the data.

    If this is not currently available, it sounds like a project for an electronics guru...
     
  2. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    There is a fair amount of OTS stuff, including custom plug-ins to ArcGIS to read raw data. Pick up any good underwater tech rag or check out tech websites like Sea Technology's or Questor Tangent's.
     
  3. Michaelp
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    Michaelp Junior Member

    looks like I have some reading to do, thanks for the info.
     
  4. Michaelp
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    Michaelp Junior Member

    The products from Sea Technology and Questor Tangent seem to only target the large commercial audience.
    I am looking for (preferably open source/free/cheap - butI may be just dreaming) something that could take a nmea2000 output from my current GPS/Sonar System and using a nmea2000 to USB convertor hook up to a laptop, collect data consisting of latitude/longitude and depth, and output it (does not have to be fancy) onto a chart.
    At the very least, the data should be collected in a tab delimited file, and I could deal with it from there.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011
  5. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    Scott Farver was doing this for the navy in the late seventies but it did not filter down to us at a reasonable cost until a few years ago.
    I do this with a digital depth finder and Nobeltec 3D bathymetrics. Waves are a factor but so is the attitude of the boat (idling or on step, listing or people moving about a small boat), tides and variances between what you plot and the artist/programmer interpretation of bathymetric charts and averaging of slopes. Difficult to explain when I don't even understand all of the causes of anomolies but rest assured it is simple to chart near every pebble in a given area with Nobeltec and a cheap digital depth finder - it will just not quilt well with their 3D representations but if you are a fisher and you want to chart minutia of a wreck or other specific structure, it is great. If you think you are just going to run around everywhere collecting data and slowly get more and more information until it is perfect, you will have a mess on your hands. There is open source I have heard people talk about but I don't know more than that it exists.
     
  6. Michaelp
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    Michaelp Junior Member

    ahh... this is starting to sound better. I will have to look into that. Thanks for the info.
     
  7. Michaelp
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    Michaelp Junior Member

  8. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    Well, mine cost A LOT more because it is older and I practically had to buy each line of programming! Also, the guy in the video has colored his structures differently than how I do - I make them look more realistic and his charts are either in low resolution or in large scale - mine looks more like you would imagine the bottom to look and literally, a rock the size of a Beatle is differentiated from the one next to it - the only limiting factor is your cone angle. Also, he trolls along and plots structure and blends it with standard Nobeltec bathy charts (they take, on average, one sounding of nine from NOAA bathy charts and render a 3D view). I would only concentrate on one area, say a football field size, grid it, plot it with your trackline on, say five meter intervals, and only on a glass calm day. Also don't trust anyone's tidal info beyond referencing a station - no program knows the eddies and subtleties. On some of my more important spots, I can let another boat drop his hook first, knowing he is setting on the backside of a slippery shale or that he will skip through a patch of grapefruit-sized round rocks (the worst holding bottom) and drop my hook on the one specific boulder large enough to hold my boat.
    I have had problems with the programming, though, and it crashes every year when I don't use it for a few months and I have to start from scratch because I have been too lazy to make discs of an area (which you can do - and I recommend it).
     
  9. Michaelp
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    Michaelp Junior Member

    I'm getting more and more interested in this setup.

    What cone angle do you use? Do you have any screenshots of what your setup looks like?

    I will be using his primarily on lakes, so this will be a lot less of an issue.
     
  10. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

  11. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    I will look into that Humminbird thing, thanks, although I had a friend try an older side scan Humminbird and was dissatified.
    No, I do not have a screen shot but every spring, if I have not been using my boat (low battery problem? - I don't know...), it looks like this low resolution shot (I got on line) and I have to reintroduce the high-res disc.
    NAVIGATION_SOFTWARE_NOBELTECH_VNS_REVIEW_VISUAL_NAVIGATION_SUITE_101207_EE_P3.jpg

    No big deal, I just have to do it and it seems my local dealer sold everyone the same disc (Jeppeson would be thrilled to hear that!) so I have to get it from him (I bought it, dang-it but I still have to borrow the disc from him then return it!).

    Once I follow the prompts (just a few minutes) I have high resolution and depending on the ambient light, I leave that color combo or something more like this.
    bathy2.jpg

    You have the option of the grid or not or a sea surface grid or chart overlay (I do not recommend as it is confusing). I always use Raster chart view as I grew up before fancy plotters. Most guys use the Vector charts like this so they can edit more, I think. I quickly overwhelm my computer with plot lines, guard zones and waypoints. I would use a seperate computer for watching movies, going online, etc.. About twice a year I get into violent enough water that my computer spazzes. I am installing two solid state Mac Minis (one for internet, movies, etc., one dedicated to navigation) but Windows loaded. I believe they will work better than PCs and certainly take up less space (two processors now take up a sizable part of my closet and I worry about their generated heat thus leave the closet door open).
    Sorry I can't give you any actual personal screen shots - wait a month as there is an area I intend to grid and disc.
     
  12. Michaelp
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    Michaelp Junior Member

    Mark, what version of the software are you using?
     
  13. Michaelp
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    Michaelp Junior Member

    Mark775, I have been looking for a digital depth finder that can be hooked up to a computer, but the only one I can find is this one: Cruzpro. Is this what you had in mind, or can other depth sounders be adapted for this purpose?
     

  14. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    The funny thing about mapping is that even shortly after mapping it, it can change suddenly, out-dating all your work. We mapped Mt. St. Helens for the National Wetlands Inventory and 6 months later in May, 1980 the top blew off the mountain. :)
     
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