Forward Looking Sonars (FLS) are aimed to enhance the vessel’s safety in uncharted waters and remote areas by scanning and displaying the seabed in front of the vessel. EchoPilot patented the world’s first real time FLS in 1992. In 2012, EchoPilot developed and patented the 3D forward sonar product. Over its 40-year history, EchoPilot has designed 45 different marine instruments and manufactured 140,000+ units which have been sold worldwide. Now owned by Daniamant, the long-term intention is to design and develop new forward-looking sonars to ensure the most competitive FLS products are offered to enhance a vessel’s voyage.
FORWARD LOOKING SONAR:
Traditional fish finders and depth gauges show depth with a slight delay which means you are always viewing historical data. At idle speed the displayed depth is the depth some distance behind the boat and at speed may be many meters.
EchoPilot believes that most boat owners would prefer to see hazardous obstructions in front of them. Several years of intensive research at EchoPilot led to the technical breakthrough which became the Forward Looking Sonar (FLS).
Once available only to military and commercial vessels this achievement finally brought Forward Looking Sonar capability within the reach of the recreational boat owner. The first model, the FLS 1, was launched in 1992; there are now thousands of FLS’s in use worldwide.
Real-time forward looking sonar is unique to EchoPilot’s patented design. Real-time means that the FLS does not gradually build up the picture like a phased array sonar. Instead the FLS scans the whole forward view and updates the screen several times a second. An obstruction ahead of the boat will show on the screen immediately. Likewise, if the boat turns to another heading with no target ahead then the FLS screen will immediately show clear water ahead. The sonar display is not historical; it is real-time.
FLS scans through 90 degrees from straight ahead to straight down In the vertical plane. Think of the FLS like underwater radar turned on its side, and scanning in the vertical plane instead of the horizontal. In the horizontal plane (port-to-starboard) the beam is 30 degrees on 2D models and 60 degrees on the 3D system.
The FLS is a collision avoidance device. It is not designed to be a fish finder although it may pick up larger fish and sometimes shoals of smaller fish. It also may not detect floating or slightly submerged objects like waterlogged timber, shipping containers or whales. What it will do is accurately and immediately show seabed trends and underwater obstructions.
FLS 2D models are supplied with their larger professional transducer. Its flush mount, through hull bronze housing has 3” of usable thread space. The 3D model is supplied with a pair of 5” bronze through hull transducers standard. A 10 inch version for larger vessels with thicker hulls is optional.
There are different FLS instruments to cover the needs of a variety of boat owners. From the low cost FLS 2D Color stand-alone model to the top-of-the-line FLS-3D any boater can now have the safety of knowing what lies ahead!
The FLS shows a two dimensional profile of the sea bed beneath and ahead of the vessel on either its high resolution LCD display or a separate MFD or monitor, depending on the model.
The forward range of an FLS is variable, typically about 10 – 20 times the water depth. For example, in 10 meters of water the FLS displays 100 – 200 meters forward. This ratio increases as the depth decreases or if a large target appears. Rocky bottoms give especially strong reflections and hard vertical surfaces like sea walls or coral reefs will often be seen at 500 feet or more.
EchoPilot Forward Looking Sonars operate at 200 kHz which will interfere / be interfered with other sounders operation at the same frequency. Ensure other equipment e.g., Chartplotter / Fishfinder combos. Can be disabled while operating the EchoPilot.
The forward range of the FLS 2D and Platinum Engine is typically 10 times the water depth, e.g., in 10 meters of water the FLS displays about 100 meters forward. The FLS 3D is typically 20 times the water depth, e.g., in 10 meters of water the FLS displays about 200 meters forward.
FLS produce accurate readings with water depths down to 1 foot.
Optimal performance of the EchoPilot is at speeds up to about 20 knots.
FLS transducers are supplied with flush mount, bronze through-hull fittings. FLS-3D and 2D transducer installation may require site fabrication of fairing blocks to properly mount the transducer.
FLS 3D – 3D FORWARD LOOKING SONAR:
This latest development of the well proven patented Echopilot Forward Looking Sonar, displays a 3 dimensional representation of the underwater scene ahead of the boat. The seabed terrain and potential hazards are shown, for the first time, with unparalleled realism. This is a real time sonar image of what is actually ahead of the boat, not a chart rendered into 3D.
Twin retractable transducers ensure complete forward coverage whatever the hull form. The view ahead is 60 degrees in the horizontal plane, over 90 degrees in the vertical plane and the forward range is up to 200 m. The screen updates every 1 second depending on the range setting. The black-box FLS-3D outputs HDMI and VGA for a full color picture on a wide range of compatible displays.
A basic EchoPilot 3D is supplied with two 5” transducers with bronze housings. Optional housing lengths and materials available for metal or very thick hulls.
2-meter transducer cable, 10 meter extension cable and 10 meter data cable (from Transducer Interface box to Visual Processor).
FLS 2D – 2D FORWARD LOOKING SONAR:
The EchoPilot 2D offers all the best features of the EchoPilot forward looking sonar displayed on a full color, 7 inch TFT LCD display.
The benefits of color, apart from just being visually more pleasing, include being able to gain much more information about the nature of the seabed. Stronger echos produce colors at the red end of the spectrum where as weaker echos are at the blue end of the spectrum. This gives the user more information about the nature of the seabed. Stronger echos will result from a hard seabed such as rock. Weak echos will be received from softer materials such as sand or mud. Different fields or types of information are shown in contrasting colors, enabling the navigator to assimilate information much faster.
Simple digital sounders show historical data, they may show a depth which is 10 to 15 seconds out of date. If moving at speed this depth could easily be hundreds of meters behind you. The digital depth on the EchoPilot 2D is an average of the first one third of the screen ahead, updated twice every second for true real time information. If you are moving this gives you a far more accurate representation of what is actually beneath your boat right now.
The FLS 2D comes in three variations: The FLS 2D Standard, the FLS 2D Professional and the FLS 2D Repeater. The FLS 2D Standard come with EchoPilot’s standard through hull transducer and the FLS 2D Professional comes with EchoPilot’s Professional through hull transducer. The professional transducer has a bronze through hull housing with 3 inches of usable thread, and requires a 2.37 inch diameter mounting hole. 2m transducer cable is standard, with 10m extension cable. The transducer must be mounted vertically.
The FLS 2D repeater gives you the option for multiple FLS 2D Displays if more than one display is required.
EchoPilot’s Platinum Engine is a “Black Box” system which enables any Chartplotter, Multifunction Display, or PC with a video input to become a fully functional 2D color Forward Looking Sonar (FLS).
FLS provides the skipper entering strange harbors or difficult anchorages the extra safety of the seabed view and underwater obstructions ahead. Piloting unfamiliar or poorly charted waters, especially at night, becomes less stressful.
EchoPilot’s patented Realtime FLS uses an electronically controlled array to scan the seabed from straight ahead through 90° to straight down, like an underwater radar; the whole screen updates continuously. If the boat turn towards an obstruction or bank this will appear almost immediately on the screen, and will disappear as quickly when the boat turns towards safer waters, unlike steered transmit phased array system offered by some other manufacturers which may take a considerable time to update a full 90° sector.
Owners have the option of having EchoPilot FLS Platinum’s output displayed at the helm only, or additional EchoPilot Video Interface Boxes may be ‘daisy chained’ to run 2 displays at different locations, each with its own keypad.
Easy installation involves a single, retractable transducer and a short cable leading to a transmitter box. The proximity of the transmitter box enhances performance and reduces noise. A simple Ethernet type cable, which may be extended from the standard 12m up to 100m, takes the display signal to a ‘Video Box’ with a remote keypad.
The keypad operates the sonar part of the display without the need to use the plotter or radar controls of the display. Composite Video and S-Video output are provided, along with all cables needed to attach to most video displays, marine or domestic.
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