Today's depth finders have so much technology packed into a small unit that it can become overwhelming to understand exactly your unit is up to. We have things like basic sonar, down imaging, side imaging, 360 imaging, and now we have chirp. Chirp is the technology that is taking over the depth finder market. When compared to basic sonar, chirp proves to have a major advantage. By reviewing the details of this technology it will help explain why chirp is superior. It will also be beneficial to learn some of the units that are currently using this technology. The more you know and understand boat electronics, you will increase your ability to choose the electronics that best fit your needs.
Basic sonar works though sound waves similar to how a bat navigates through the night. The transducer both sends and receives the signal for your unit to process and display. It will send a click sound down through the water and that sound will reflect off an object and ping back up to the transducer, and the unit will let you know the size and depth of the ping based on the return signal strength. This technology has been improved over the years but it still has its downsides. The transducer will send a longer ping down for deeper waters until it reaches something to bounce off of. The problem with this feature is that with long pings, you have the possibility of your readings blending together.
Chirp is not the same technology as basic sonar. It sends a ping down just like typical sonar except it does not focus on a frequency at a time. Basic sonar usually sends down a ping at a specific frequency per ping. This is where chirp is different. The ping that chirp sends down consists of multiple frequencies, and the end result is a much higher detailed and accurate sonar reading. It is much more complex when it comes to processing multiple frequencies from a single ping, so units capable of chirp typically cost a little more than basic sonar units.
Chirp is the latest in sonar technology and many units are starting to hit the market with chirp as a feature. The Raymarine Dragonfly is currently one of the hottest chirp units out with an affordable price tag. This unit offers both sonar and down imaging sonar with chirp technology. Combined with an easy interface and top notch Navionics mapping, the Dragonfly is a great place to start looking when researching chirp units.
Chirp technology is an improvement to sonar that is here to stay. I believe that in the near future most, if not all, units will have this technology, because it is proven and already in implementation by the top sonar brands. If you are looking for a little more detail in your sonar, chirp is the way to go. If you have any questions or would like to know more about what units have chirp technology please visit a local Bass Pro marine department.
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