The cheap option is not doing it
If a fish finder is something that you use occasionally, consider this instead. Rather than getting the fish finder display on one of my units directly, you can get a cheap secondary separate unit. Why? Because the only option to have a fish finder on PC are high end commercial grade units. They cost around $1000 USD or more. Therefore, why not get one of the following for under $100 which include its own 4 inch screen and transducer:
- Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer CHIRP
- Lowrance HOOK² 4x with Bullet Skimmer Transducer
- Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4 Fish Finder
Navigation tablet fish finder
My tablet units can display fish finder info with the optional wireless transducers listed there. Once again, this only runs on the Android units – not on my Toughbooks. This is fine, but the 4 inch units with transducer above cost less money than the transducer alone! You also get redundancy this way.
CruzPro – fish finder on PC
CruzPro PcFF80 is an amazing kit which their dealers carry. It’s a high definition unit that works up to 3000 ft / 1 km depth, but doesn’t come cheap at around $1000. This will work with any of my Toughbook systems, and is suitable for commercial fishing operations. The included transducer also includes a temperature sensor, and requires no expensive software unlike the system below.
TimeZero (formerly MaxSea, Nobeltec) – fish finder on PC
If you own a TimeZero license, you can run it on one of my midrange (sufficient) or premium (recommended) Toughbook systems. With that software, you can also add fish finder functionality with these Furuno network sounder boxes: DFF1, DFF3, DFF1-UHD, BBDS1 which connect via an ethernet plug. Keep in mind that they also require one of the compatible transducers as follows:
|1 KW TRANSDUCER|
200B-5 (10 M)
|1 KW DUAL FREQUENCY TRANSDUCER|
|600 KW (8 M) TRANSDUCER|
The quality is great, but once again this is a high end commercial grade option which costs a fair bit of money. This system can also perform surveying, and actively upgrade your chart bottom detail. Great option? Yes. Cheap option? Heck no. Setting up the sounder is a bit tricky. Instructions on how to connect it can be found here by searching for “DFF1 & BBDS1 Sounder”. Please note that you cannot use the older analog boxes such as BBFF1 (ETR6/10N) and BBFF3 with TimeZero.
P-Sea Windplot with fish finder
Another option is P-Sea Windplot. The base cost of the software is $895. The fish finder software alone is $395, and the sounder module is $449. At $1739 total, that’s pretty expensive in my books.
To sum up, I’d like to reiterate that having an older stand alone chartplotter or fish finder is a much better bang for the buck, in my opinion. However, you do have a number of workable options for having fish finder on PC.
Why use a navigation laptop or tablet as a chart plotter alternative?
My navigation laptop or tablet systems can be much more affordable than Garmin, Lowrance, Simrad, B&G, Furuno, Humminbird, Raymarine, Si-Tex. I will also support my units forever! Furthermore, I believe that some of the commercial chart plotter brands gouge their customers. Large companies force their clients to upgrade by no longer supporting older units with chart and software updates. In addition, they charge outrageous fees for simple things like a larger screen size. I don’t do any of these things, and never will – guaranteed! In addition to these, please take a look at other advantages as well.