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Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

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  • Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

    Guys,
    Has anyone seen/used a laptop as the fishfinder/gps? To me this is pretty cheap and simple -
    needed -
    - usb gps unit (seen those around 100 bucks)
    - usb transducer (i do not know if it exists)
    - software for the maps and to put everything together and maps (does it exist?)

    Benefits:
    - Price
    - Large screen

  • #2
    Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

    I haven't seen anyone doing it, but it does interest me as lot of the newer tablets etc are touch screen. That would be pretty cool, and would be interested in such software that would convert a laptop to a decent chart plotter.
    Liberator 211 - Recently Purchased
    Restoration Thread: 1978 Starcraft 16' SS

    1978 - 16ft Starcraft SuperSport
    1978 Evinrude 70HP

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    • #3
      Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

      I've seen a laptop used a GPS on large boats where there's room in the cockpit and low risk of the laptop being directly exposed to water. My concern would be the longevity and reliability of the laptop in a high-humidity environment. Make sure you have a backup navigation plan in case the laptop fails.

      (you should always have a backup navigation plan whenever you go out in a boat, regardless of you main navigation system.)
      1992 Four Winns Horizon 200 5.8L OMC Cobra. If you're looking for me on the water, watch for the striped bimini.
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      1983 Prindle 16 catamaran
      Old Town Penobscot 16 canoe
      Fanatic F100 Sailboard

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      • #4
        Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

        AS DB noted, the best application would be in a cabin. Based on my experience on small boats (and my laptop experience in the oilfield), I am not so sure the laptop would be a good fit unless it was in a relatively protected environment. There is a lot to be said for the durability and reliability of a purpose built system - particularly when the weather turns really ugly.
        Construction Photos At:
        https://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=306152

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        • #5
          Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

          How are you getting the 600-2,000 watts RMS needed to power a transducer?

          Where are you getting your Fish finder detection algorithm?
          ....

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          • #6
            Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

            In a small boat, the laptop is exposed (high risk high dollar) and in the way; you have power problems (short battery life) and a screen that is hard to read in the sunlight.
            In a large boat, you will invest in the right equipment to protect your investment.

            Think of a GPS fish finder as a laptop made for your boat, and go that way. It's the better mousetrap, already invented.

            Some people take laptops out in small boats, but they keep them weather proof, only use them in good conditions, generally not running around, and for short times. On large boats, a laptop or PC is typical, but not for GPS/fish.
            A man of constant boat tinkering.

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            • #7
              Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

              Navionics has an app for the iPad (and iPhone) that will do chart plotting with GPS very nicely. No fishfinder built-in though.
              Benjamin Krein
              Floats: 2008 Four Winns H200
              Restoration: 1980 19' Century 190 Restoration
              Tows: 2005 Nissan Titan SE

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              • #8
                Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

                Originally posted by dingbat View Post
                How are you getting the 600-2,000 watts RMS needed to power a transducer?

                Where are you getting your Fish finder detection algorithm?
                Looks like you know what you are talking about, I am not, but will try:

                1) USB for transducer can be for data transfer only and it may have separate 12v input
                2) I would think that somebody may have created/embedded these algorithms in the software.

                For everyone who mentioned durability, I agree. However there are weatherproof models (they cost a lot thought - 4-5k ). I have access to almost free older laptops that still work, so can change them every month if needed.

                Lets leave the fishfinder alone and concentrate the gps capabilities. Does anyone know the good software for chartplotting for PC?

                Here is interesting link:
                http://fishwrecked.com/forum/tutoria...-chart-plotter

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                • #9
                  Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

                  Lots of free software on the net to turn a laptop into a chart plotter. I believe the most popular software is called SeaClear??? All you need is a usb gps antenna. I got mine off the net for $7.00. I don't think there is any way possible to turn a laptop into a fishfinder. If you have constant internet connection you can use a laptop for weather radar which is very nice.

                  http://www.sping.com/seaclear/

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                  • #10
                    Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

                    Hi,

                    I started a very similar thread here about Mobile phones (including the iPhone and iPad) using Chartplotting software. Perhaps we can continue that thread and build a valid list to be used as some sort of a library.

                    http://forums.iboats.com/showpost.ph...4&postcount=20


                    Regards,

                    E-Man.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

                      One other downside to using a laptop in a small boat is the hard drive really doesn't like the pounding and vibrations typically found in a high speed planing hull.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

                        Originally posted by dingbat View Post
                        How are you getting the 600-2,000 watts RMS needed to power a transducer?

                        Where are you getting your Fish finder detection algorithm?
                        external power supply to the transducer, with a usb data interface. as far as the detection algorithm, you obviously would need OTS software to provide the interface to the transducer as well as display the results. The actual algorithm is pretty easy if you are the type that likes writing your own software. (i've done VERY similar research/software using high frequency echolocation in free-air. basically bat software!)

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                        • #13
                          Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

                          I have a Panasonic CF28 Toughbook I use as a plotter on occasion. There are sounder options out there to pipe into a PC based system, but they are big money. Like $2k money. At that price point you've got your pick of some pretty nice stand alone sonars that don't carry all the negatives of a PC.
                          1987 Blue Fin S170 Fish & Ski
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                          • #14
                            Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

                            If I was at work and had to design that system I would need the following (This is off the cuff so may not be as adequate as I think)

                            An analog to digital converter for the signal.

                            Software such as labview to turn the laptop into basically a scope.

                            An external power supply for the transducer.

                            At this point I would need to rewire the tranducer cable into the computer via the a/d converter.

                            Next I would need to understand how exactly a fishfinder works. What I mean is how does it interpret a signal? At this point I am thinking that the transducer sends out a series of pulses at a high frequency (add a signal generator to the list). So 1 pulse can give more than 1 return if it bounces off of more than one object--> (how does the fish finder show a fish and the bottom at the same time??)

                            As you can see this could be more complicated than it initially seems.

                            I'm sure that what I have posted so far is likely not the best way to do this but if it is the sort of thing required to make your own fish finder it would be WAYYY cheaper to just buy one.
                            Last edited by scipper77; December 15th, 2010, 06:36 PM.
                            Most people are going to do whatever they want. What I find entertaining is how people justify what they do!!

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                            • #15
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                              Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

                              Originally posted by scipper77 View Post
                              If I was at work and had to design that system I would need the following (This is off the cuff so may not be as adequate as I think)

                              An analog to digital converter for the signal.

                              Software such as labview to turn the laptop into basically a scope.

                              An external power supply for the transducer.

                              At this point I would need to rewire the tranducer cable into the computer via the a/d converter.

                              Next I would need to understand how exactly a fishfinder works. What I mean is how does it interpret a signal? At this point I am thinking that the transducer sends out a series of pulses at a high frequency (add a signal generator to the list). So 1 pulse can give more than 1 return if it bounces off of more than one object--> (how does the fish finder show a fish and the bottom at the same time??)

                              As you can see this could be more complicated than it initially seems.

                              I'm sure that what I have posted so far is likely not the best way to do this but if it is the sort of thing required to make your own fish finder it would be WAYYY cheaper to just buy one.
                              Find a way to power a transducer and connect it to your laptop, and people would find a way to emulate a fishfinder. Your laptop can be a playstation 3, a gameboy, a dvd player, you don't have the write the whole code.

                              Some programmer buff would crack the software, and get the laptop to emulate it.

                              You go to any torrent website and find software to make your laptop run highly protected games, dvds, that multibillion dollar industries have spent hundreds of millions on to try to make uncopyable, and unreadable by anything other than the correct platform. If the demand is there, people find a way. Lowrance wouldn't stand a chance.

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