SIMRAD is one of the big players of global marine electronics, and has been at the forefront of integrated navigation systems for quite some time. The company was originally founded back in 1946 in Norway, and is now part of the Navico group of companies when Simrad and Lowrance merged about a decade ago.
I've been running a Simrad NSE8 on my 5.8 m Formosa since I bought my boat five years ago. The NSE8 has been a fantastic unit – reliable and accurate - but as happens with electronics in general, yesterday’s technology is quickly updated and improved. I had the opportunity this year to upgrade my old NSE8 for the new model NSS Evo3. The Evo3 supersedes the Evo2 which was released in 2014. If you’re familiar with the Evo2 you’ll know they’re a fantastic unit, so I was interested to see how the unit could possibly be improved.
The Evo3 was released in Australia in April 2017, and I had a 12” unit fitted to my Formosa in June, so I’ve had 3 months of use so far. I’ll offer a brief rundown on the unit to date, but I’ll also follow up with a more detailed piece after extended use.
The Evo3 is a touchscreen unit integrating broadband sounder, structure scan technology and navigation into an easy to use package. My previous NSE was only rotary knob and button pad, so the step up to touchscreen has been awesome. And while there is a rotary knob dial on the Evo3, pretty well all of the scrolling and navigating of the screen and through the pages is done via the touchscreen.
The screen is a 12” SolarMAX high definition display, and offers crisp images and high resolution, even in full-lighting when the sun is high overhead. I had my previous unit on a bracket mount on the dash, and I’ve managed to re-use the existing bracket for the new Evo3.
I also managed to keep my existing 106-77 echo transducer from my previous unit, which is a 50-200kHz transducer mounted on the starboard side of the transom. The soundings of the seafloor, even at high speed, is super-crisp and the resolution and detail has been remarkable. I was scooting across the bay the other week at around 60km/h and the unit didn’t look like distorting or dropping the reading. The soundings of our inshore reefs has been really clear, and easy to differentiate our hard bottom from weed beds and sand. The new Evo3 has dual channel CHIRP capabilities, but because my transducer isn’t dedicated CHIRP, the head unit will CHIRP through a narrower band of frequency.
I upgraded my structure scan transducer to an LSS skimmer, and this has improved the resolution of side scan readings. I used the side scan in our local area recently to look for an old wooden vessel that was reportedly sunk in the past 12 months. I started sounding in around 16 m of water over a large featureless bed, and I extended the range to 40 m either side. I eventually picked up a reading right out on the 40 m range, and managed to pass back over the wreck to get some really good soundings. There were no snapper holding on the wreck, but we’ll keep checking now we know where the wreck lies.
I loaded Navionics as the chartography, which offers detailed maps of our coastline. Transferring all of my marks from my old unit to the new Evo3 was super-easy, and being able to zoom into the chart using your fingers is so much quicker and easier than zooming in with the rotary knob as on my previous unit. I have a number of screen displays saved on the unit, but I use a split-screen with chart of the left and echo on the right as my default display.
The Evo3 has NMEA 2000 connectivity, so while we had the floor up, we ran wiring to my Suzuki to integrate the motor through the Simrad. I’m still waiting to install the interface on the Suzuki to relay the fuel burn and efficiency through to the unit, but this will be valuable information once connected, and I’ll be able to rearrange the screen further to accommodate digital gauges and instruments. The unit allows you to customise the display to suit your needs. The Evo3 is also compatible with radar and auto pilot as further plug-in options.
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