Daily Archives: January 29, 2014

Chartplotter/DSI installation

I’ve been running the Defined Benefit without a sonar (depth finder) since I bought it in September. I’d been waiting to get myself one for a Christmas present 😉 . It’s possible to spend big sums of cash on these things, depending on screen size and feature set (such as touch screen interface). I wanted something with GPS, stored waypoints and routes, the ability to use a NMEA 0183 interface to send position data to a VHF radio, a set of base charts, and, of course, good sonar function. I decided that screen size was a place for some savings, so I looked for the 4 and 5 inch screen units. I found a Lowrance Elite-4 DSI for $319, with a $100 rebate on top of that (Lowrance has just come out with new 4 and 5 inch models, and is flogging the stock of old ones).

I spent some time on a couple days this month getting it installed. Running the transducer wire to the console was a pain, as the pull cord in the conduit must have been wrapped around a wore or stuck on a cable tie. I ended up having to get a vinyl-coated flexible wire and pushing it thru the conduit. Then there was the question of whether to mount it on the console or in the T-top box (where a fused power connection was easily available; the console dashboard hookup on the DB is both quite full of wires and hard to access). I mounted it on the console, as a) the transducer cable, at 20 feet, wouldn’t reach the T, and b) my wife couldn’t see the display in the T! I realized that I needed to order an NMEA 0183 interface cable ($30), and pick up a spool of wire to connect to the power bus in the T, and to extend the NMEA interface cable, since it was only 6 feet long. Getting the wires to the T for the NMEA 0183 and power was more difficult than I’d hoped…I couldn’t get it pulled up from the bottom, so I had to switch and pull from top to bottom, and I to pull the wires one at a time, as the bundle wouldn’t make the turn in the frame otherwise.

With the wires in place, I could connect to the VHF and power. It powered up, and got a GPS fix and set the time/time zone. I powered up the radio, and there was the lat/lon on the display! I can tell the transducer is connected, as the temperature sensor was working, but until I put the DB into the water, I can’t test the sonar. Hope the transducer is positioned well.

I’m sure that saved myself at least a couple hundred bucks in installation fees, and likely more.