Hot new electronics are coming

Manufacturers lining up to give us reasons to upgrade

Here is a look at a cross section of the new electronics coming our way:

• Furuno — The popular NavPilot 700 autopilot is being replaced with the NavPilot 711C, a version with a color display and updated controls. While the control head is completely new, Furuno matched it with the field-proven NavPilot processor unit (FAP7002), so the new unit still delivers unique Furuno features including Fantum Feedback, SafeHelm and Furuno Power-assisted Steering.

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• Garmin — This company introduced new units earlier this year with photo-like screen pictures (we covered it here in the column “Garmin Catches Up,” which can be found at

Garmin just announced a software upgrade that will bring these new capabilities and more to its GPSMAP 8000 Glass Helm series, new GPSMAP xs and non-xs series and echoMAP series.

The download is free from Garmin’s website.

The upgrade lets the 8000 series use Garmin’s GCV 10 black-box sonar module to display DownVu and SideVu scanning sonar and, at the same time, use the GSD 26 black box module for a more-traditional CHIRP sonar picture.

They can now work happily together with multiple displays on the same NMEA 2000 network.

Garmin Helm, the mobile app that allows you to control Garmin multi-function displays from your mobile device, also is now available for Android devices.

Garmin is also introducing two new through-hull sonar transducer systems designed for DownVu and SideVu scanning. Both feature built-in water temperature sensors and have a power rating of 500 watts per element (1,500W total) for a maximum DownVu depth reach of 750 feet and SideVu reach of 500 feet left and 500 feet right.

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• Humminbird — Humminbird won its fourth-in-a-row Best of Electronics award at the ICAST trade show this year for its new ONIX series of multi-function units.

As we reported previously, ONIX series units can do virtually anything other units can do, and get it done with both a touch-screen and a keypad thanks to Humminbird’s Cross Touch control system. Weather, water, fishing conditions or just plain personal preference can make one control method faster or more efficient than the other.

Humminbird’s new SmartStrike software is a virtual guide that shows you where to fish. This SD card-based cartography product is available for nine North American regions and combines virtual predictive fish patterning with HD LakeMaster maps.

You simply enter search criteria like fish species, season, time of day, water conditions, cloud cover, wind, depth, structure, slope, aspect, and sun and current exposure, and SmartStrike highlights areas on your map where fish are most likely to be found right now.

Humminbird’s AutoChart Live is perhaps the simplest of all custom map-making features.

“There is a lot of water in the world, and not all of it is mapped or charted accurately,” said Humminbird Brand Manager Jeff Kolodzinski, “AutoChart Live is the only tool that lets you create your own 100-percent accurate digital contour maps. It works instantly, too, so you literally watch the contour lines populate the screen while you fish or drive the boat.”

No extra processing of the data on a PC or sending an SD card to a third party is required, and you can keep your custom maps private, or you can pass them on to fishing buddies. This is a free software upgrade for ONIX and ION units.

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• Lowrance — The recently announced Outboard Pilot is an autopilot that lets you steer your outboard or a new MotorGuide Xi5 Pinpoint trolling motor from an HDS Gen2 or HDS Gen2 Touch multi-function unit.

Outboard Pilot is designed for boats up to 30 feet long and comes in versions for outboards with either cable or hydraulic steering. Using GPS, Outboard pilot can steer to a selected heading or waypoint, follow a route or execute a selected turn pattern. A touch of a button turns a saved trail into a safe route back to the dock through dicey waters.

If you have a new MotorGuide Xi5 Pinpoint electric trolling motor, you can switch between controlling it or your outboard with the touch of a button. Make sure your HDS Gen2 unit has the latest version (V3.5) of free software from the Lowrance website.

Lowrance also has introduced the industry’s first color fish finder priced under $100. The Elite 3x ($99) is a dual frequency (83/200 kHz) sounder with a 240×360 pixel color display. It comes with a Skimmer transducer with built-in water temperature sensor.

An Elite-3x All Season fish finder pack ($249) is a portable version that adds two integrated mounts, a suction cup transducer mount, an ice fishing transducer and a 12-volt battery and charger all in a compact case that also holds two Stowaway tackle boxes. This pack is great for canoes, kayaks, rental boats and other craft not equipped with permanent sonar.

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• Minn Kota — Minn Kota’s new trolling motor, the Ulterra, deploys and stows itself and can adjust its running depth with power trim.

The Ulterra accomplishes these feats at the direction of its iPilot or iPilot LinkT remote control or right from the motor’s foot pedal. The power trim function causes the motor to slide up or down in its bracket housing rather than tilting like your gas outboard.

Ulterras include all of the popular Terrova motor and iPilot features, and its corded foot pedals include dedicated Spot Lock buttons to virtually anchor your boat as you fish.

A new iPilot Micro Remote that works right alongside your current remotes is coming this fall. Its smaller size and standard neck lanyard should make it a popular accessory.

A free software update available this fall from Humminbird’s website is bringing new features to iPilot LinkT, the system that lets you control some Minn Kota motors from select Humminbird GPS navigation units.

iTrack Offset lets anglers adjust the location and position of saved tracks to fit the way they fish. iTrack Labeling lets you name iTracks for better organization on the screen.

BackTrack Select lets you choose a BackTrack distance in 0.1 mile increments, making it more versatile for different fishing situations.

Prop Auto-on can set the motor to turn on when a go-to function is executed so it doesn’t have to be started manually with an extra step.

Route Select shows recorded routes on the map screen of a Humminbird unit so you don’t have to work your way through the Waypoint Management menu to see them. High-Speed Bypass lets you go instantly to top speed and then instantly return to your previous speed setting.

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• MotorGuide — The Xi5 wireless electric-steer trolling motors equipped with Pinpoint GPS can be connected to a Lowrance HDS Gen2 or HDS Gen2 Touch fishfinder/chart plotter via an NMEA 2000 network and be controlled right from the HDS unit’s screen (see the Lowrance autopilot section).

The Xi5 also incorporates a quiet, ball-bearing steering transmission and quiet steering motor, extra-rigid composite shaft with rigid support, pro-style heel-and-toe steering wireless foot pedal and full-function handheld remote.

Even without the Lowrance link the motor can hold the boat on a fixed GPS position (stores up to eight positions), steer to any compass heading, record and follow eight routes (each up to four miles long), and hold the boat at a constant GPS speed while following a route or navigating on a heading.

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• Raymarine — Just announced are two modules for its LightHouse II-powered multifunction displays. The CP200 SideVision sonar module provides side-scanning sonar with a difference: It provides photo-like imagery of underwater terrain, man-made objects, fish and baitfish up to 600 feet to either side of the boat.

The unusually long range comes from Raymarine’s use of CHIRP technology and two independent sonar channels. The CP200 also employs a transducer that can be preset at three angles so you can optimize it for shallow or deep scanning.

A CAM200IP HD video camera module employs a marinized camera that can record on-deck fishing action or serve as a back-up or docking camera. It has a low-light mode with built-in infrared LED array. It is waterproof to IP67 standards, and can be wired to a 12-volt power supply or used with Power over Ethernet (PoE) as a power source.

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