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.

One thought on “Chartplotter/DSI installation

  1. joel Post author

    Took the boat out today and the sonar/depth finder works well, giving good images up to about 20 mph. Above that and the turbulence around the stern interferes with the transducer’s pickup. Given the relatively flat bottom at the stern, with the tunnel in front of the lower unit and the smart tabs on each side, that’s probably as good as I can expect.

    The GPS works well, and the position “sprite” is very responsive to direction of travel.

    This is a lot more functionality than I expected to get for the after-rebate price of $260 (including the extra cables for NMEA 0183 and extension for power hookup).


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