It's been a month since I've been back out on the water and I've been itching to get back out. Every time I tried to schedule a trip, something got in the way... whether it was work, family, weather, etc. It's just been one of those months. Anyhow, on the little spare time I did get, I was able to do some research on some upgrades for my Hobie Sport.
Here's Project Fishfinder/GPS.
After a couple of deeper water adventures near the Galveston Ship Channel (~35-40 ft), I wanted something to help me out with reading the structure on the bottom and measuring water depth. At the same time I wanted something to help me mark those structures so that I would be able to remember them for future trips. First, I went online to do some research for Fishfinders and GPS handhelds. Afterwards, I spent some time at my local Bass Pro Shops and Academy to play with a few of these device to get a better feel for them.
My selection criteria included the following:
1. Ease of Use
- I am accustomed to using Garmin GPS products since I have a Garmin Nuvi for my car and also a simple hiking GPS. I find them very intuitive and easy to use. Also, on my dad's boat, he's got an Eagle Cuda 168 Fishfinder. I've used it on several fishing trips and it was quite simple to use and understand. So, I used these experiences as my baseline from a usability standpoint. Overall, I wanted something simple to use with the basic function.
- Since I am on a kayak, I wanted something that was going to take the abuse of being out on the water and exposed to the elements. Also, I'm inherently on the clumsy side so I definitely wanted something that wouldn't break after a couple of drops... or at least with a great warranty.
- Due to the state of the economy these days, my wife put me on a "fishing budget". So, therefore, I wanted to keep this project within $200. I'm not complaining... I know many can't even afford to go fishing right now.
- Space is limited on my kayak. So, I can't afford to have something too big. Also, I had to consider how any devices may affect my view, casting, paddling, or pedaling.
5. Mounting Options
- I wanted something that was removable since I would not always need to have it on. Also, I imagined scenarios where I would be returning back from a BTB trip and the chances of flipping increases by 1000%! I'd want to prepare for my surf back in and hide my electronic devices below deck with ease.
By then end of it all, I decided to get an Eagle Cuda 250 S/MAP GPS Fishfinder. With this device, I had a basic fishfinder and GPS together in one simple package. The cost of the device was $150 on sale at Academy since it was the 2008 model. This meant that I had $50 bucks to spare to mount this thing. I found a fishfinder installation kit from Hobie for $50. This did not include the Ram Mount and nuts/bolts I needed, so that would have put me over my budget by about $40 - $50 bucks. So, after some further research, I decided to try to get the components myself, using the Hobie kit as a guide of course.
When all was said and done, I spent about $215. BUT, I did spend a whole lot of time hunting things down and quite a bit of trial and error. In retrospect, I wouldn't have minded the extra money to save some time. But, I learned a ton and I guess that's what's important... Overall I think I did a pretty snappy job for a guy that sits behind a desk all day. I also did get some help from some YouTube installation help for the DIY-types...
I couldn't find a Grommet large enough to handle the wires and a 5/8" hole I drilled. I found an old electric motor mount for an A/C fan in my Dad's Garage and it had some rubber mounts used to keep it from vibrating. These happen to be meant for a 5/8" hole as well. So, I made a slit down one side to wrap around the transducer wires and voila, one custom rubber grommet!
The transducer is mounted near the front of the kayak. It's held onto the bottom with a foam cut-out I made from some foam I bought at Hobby Lobby and lots of Marine Goop. I didn't want to epoxy it since I wanted the option to remove it or adjust it at a later point in time.
The batter harness was purchased at Fry's electronics. It holds 8 AA batteries to make the 12V needed to power the Fishfinder/GPS. I'm using some Energizer rechargeable batteries (2500 mAmps). I've read on some reviews that this is supposed to keep the device charged for at least a couple of days of fishing. The dry sack is used to prevent the wiring and battery harness from getting wet inside the hull.
Now, I'm just waiting for the next opportunity to hit the coast to try out my new gadget.
For my next project, I plan on upgrading to a new set of ST Turbo Fins to give my kayak a much needed boost in speed to cover those long distances. I have a shorter kayak and, while it is extremely stable and easier to maneuver, it is quite a bit slower. I'm also considering on upgrading to the larger sailing rudder to improve the steering capabilities.
OK... Back to WORK!