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Furuno at MIBS 2013; CHIRP, FCV587/627, and NavPilot FPS8

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 12, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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When I was at the in-water powerboat portion of the Miami show before it opened one morning, I discovered Furuno marketing manager Jeff Kauzlaric and product manager Eric Kunz making video. Of course I interrupted them for a photo but I was also hoping to see their long-rumored CHIRP fishfinder in action. But while it turned out that the big sonar screen behind Eric was not showing CHIRP, Furuno did announce the new DFF1-UHD during the show and Eric showed me the nifty NavPilot Safe Helm and Power Assist modes just about ready for release...

The best place to learn about the DFF1-UHD is at NavNet.com, which makes sense at it joins the other three black box fishfinders that work exclusively with NN3D and TZTouch. You'll see that apparently Furuno is using CHIRP -- "The equivalent sound energy transmitted into the water can be up to 1,000 times greater than a conventional fish finder" -- for more than just the amazing fish arch detail seen on the TZT screen below...

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The DFF1-UHD also includes, and probably refines, a Furuno feature called Accu-Fish that can purportedly analyze individual fish sizes, as well as the Bottom Discrimination Display (BDS) that was once only seen in its highest-end sonar like the BBDS1. Accu-Fish and BDS have also come to the new FCV627 and FCV587 versions of the company's standalone fish finders, and the features are shown well in their product photography...

Furuno FCV587.jpg

So on the FCV587 screen above the Bottom Discrimination is in "graphic" mode and indicating a combination or alternation of gravel and mud bottom. I think I'd prefer the "probability" mode seen below, which trades the graphics for a chart of detected bottom material types. And if you don't like the goggle-eyed fish icons, I'm pretty sure you can eliminate them and have guesstimated fish lengths only or just the original sonar returns. Furuno almost invariably gives a user lots of flexibility.

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I certainly saw that maxim at work on the various Safe Helm and Power Assist set up screens that Eric Kunz showed me. The features will come as part of a Furuno NavPilot FPS8 hydraulic pump accessory that first previewed on Panbo in 2011. Once the new 700 series software is released, an owner or installer will be able to adjust just how much helm motion it takes to disengage the pilot and just how long before a steady helm reactivates Auto or Nav modes. We didn't actually get underway in that big triple-Yamaha Snake Dancer, but Eric demonstrated how the Power Assist could be adjusted to easily turn all that outboard weight with variable amounts of wheel turn, and much more. Furuno, incidentally, doesn't think that their FPS8 hydraulic sensing system violates the patent Garmin has on Shadow Drive, but has apparently gotten its own patent, so unfortunately we may not see Shadow Drive/Safe Helm features on other autopilot systems.

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