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One of the various calamities a vessel could have is grounding. When the ship’s bottom contacts the ocean floor, something occurs. The damage can be minor or lead to a severe oil spill. To avoid this, bridge officers use Echo sounders to measure the depth and sound of the water. While the boat is in port, the ship’s crew may use a sounding lead to measure the depth of water.

What Is An Echo Sounder?


Officers on watch utilize Echo sounders to obtain precise information. It gauges the under-keel clearance in addition to the water depth. The Echo sounder transmits sound waves from the ship’s bottom to the ocean floor. The primary parts are the transmitter, transducer, receiver, and display unit. Electrostrictive or magnetostrictive transducers are both possible.

What Are Its Uses?

Iron, cobalt, and nickel are used in magnetostrictive transducers. Because it changes dramatically when exposed to a magnetic field, nickel is frequently employed in the industry. When an alternating current is applied, nickel contracts. It makes up for the technique by using a permanent magnet. For frequencies up to a few hundred kilohertz, magnetostriction is effective.

The Echo sounder operates on compressive or tensional pressures and employs various lead materials for electrostriction. These pressures cause the fabric to alter in length or size. Up to a frequency of 1 megahertz, it works. The display device might be a digital info display, a video kind, or a paper recorder.

Distance=speed x time / 2 is the formula used by the Echo sounder.

The transmitter generates an electrical pulse and then transmits it to the transducer. The transducer transforms it into sound waves situated at the ship’s bottom. The sound waves might strike the sea floor or anything in between.

It is used by fishing boats to locate underwater schools of fish. Trawlers may find fishing areas using these pulses, which are reflected in the transducer by the fish’s scales. The transducer first transforms the sound waves into the current, after which they are reflected on a digital or video display and, in certain situations, written on a paper recorder-style Echo sounder.

How To Use Echo Sounder?

The navigation mode will be the default setting. The Echo sounder gauges the water depth from the transducer position to the seafloor when in navigation mode. It is also known as the under-keel clearance at times.

The following selectable mode is DBS (draft below the surface). This is the water depth, taking the vessel’s draft into account. Just multiply the ship’s known draft by the navigation mode reading for the depth below the surface. To input, the ship’s draft, use the draft button. The officers can view prior ship readings and Echo sounder data captured using the history and log data mode.

The watch officer ensures that the equipment is operational and set up before employing the Echo sounder. To start, familiarize yourself with the Echo sounder‘s mode settings to minimize confusion and potential grounding.

Echo sounders are essential for ships to navigate safely in open waters. They use sound waves to measure water depth and detect obstacles in their path. Echo sounders are also used for fish-finding and oceanographic research. The Echo sounder works by sending a short pulse of sound waves into the water and then listening for the return of the echoes from objects or features beneath the surface. The distance from the ship to these items or sections is calculated using the time it takes for these echoes to return. This knowledge can help captains and navigators avoid dangers, locate fish, or carry out oceanographic research.


Using Echo sounders on ships requires knowledge of how they work and the safety protocols that must be followed when operating them. This includes understanding how different types of Echo sounders work and how they should be calibrated correctly before use. Additionally, operators must understand how changing sea conditions can affect Echo-sounding readings and what procedures should be followed when using Echo sounders. Echo sounders have been used for centuries to measure the depth of water. They emit a beam of sound that is bounced off the bottom and returned to the device, where it is recorded using a microphone. The depth of the water can then be*0+/determined by measuring how long it takes for this Echo to bounce back. 

The first commercial use of an Echo sounder was on the “Elco” in 1910, primarily to detect oil deposits. Today, Echo sounders (also called sonar devices) are typically mounted on ships, power boats, or aircraft and used to measure the depth and shape of the seafloor. Military and commercial fishermen also use these devices to locate fish, environmental scientists to map underwater terrain, and seismologists to detect landslides. Most Echo sounders consist of several transducers that emit a signal reflected off the bottom and returned to the device. The movement is then amplified and sent into a computerized or analog-based system where it can be recorded or processed for display purposes.

How To Troubleshoot The Echo Sounders?

The performance and dependability of depth sounders have substantially increased thanks to modern electronics, although occasionally, they still malfunction. A depth sounder’s power output is crucial for the unit’s range and resolution. The depth range and signal return increase with increasing output power. The crystal, or a piezoelectric element, used in in-depth transducers, is often made of a variety of components and is what transforms an electrical input into an acoustic signal. Never shake the transducer or hit it; doing so might break the crystal.

Operating at a frequency of 200 kHz, depth sounders are the bulk of them. Seawater, bottom formations, biological material (algae and plankton), suspended particulates (silt, dissolved minerals, and salts), water density, salinity, and temperature all impact acoustic waves. Read the user handbook for the product before beginning troubleshooting. As wandering fingers are a common issue, ensure the settings are proper. Make sure that auto or factory default setting are chosen for the scenes. If everything else fails, attempt a hard factory reset for each issue listed below.


Electrical system examinations

Check to see if the battery supply voltage is normal, typically 12 volts. An alternator regulator issue may exist if it is too high when the engine is running. If the sounder is linked to an engine start battery, displays frequently go black. When you start the engine, the voltage may rise or fall. Voltage dips are commonly caused by connection issues, which can occur at the battery or the distribution panel. With the engine on and off, use a multimeter to measure the voltage at the depth sounder plug. There is likely a connection issue if the voltage level at the battery is significantly greater than at the sounder. Verify that the plug’s pins are straight and free from corrosion and that all power supply connections are correctly coupled, tight, and secure. Look for any rust on the fuse and the fuse holder. Check the terminations at the circuit breaker and run it numerous times if the unit is powered by one.

Electrical interference tests

All other electrical devices must first be turned off to check for interference. The engine, especially the outboard motors’ charging and ignition systems, frequently causes interference. Turn off all other systems before gradually starting the engine and turning on each piece of equipment one at a time to identify the source of the interference. When all other methods are turned off, interference may still be present, which indicates that the depth sounder’s automated noise rejection feature isn’t working properly. When all potential sources of interference have been eliminated, you might occasionally need to run the power supply via a noise suppression device. Make careful you always put cables far enough away from strong current-carrying wires. Never place sounder cables near to speed log wires since there may be serious interference issues. Cavitation may also be the cause of interference (see below).

Checks for cavitation

Water turbulence traveling over a sounder transducer head causes cavitation, which can significantly impact transducer performance. Water moves relatively smoothly while moving slowly. Air bubbles form on the transducer’s face when the boat moves quickly. The noise and masking of the acoustic signals result from the reflected signals from the air bubbles. The shape of the boat’s hull or underwater obstacles, the actual water flow over the transducer, and from propulsion all contribute to underwater turbulence.

Transom-mounted transducer devices need to be placed and sited appropriately to prevent turbulence. Installation of the transducer is essential, and it must be done well away from the significant hull flow zones or in locations with less turbulence.

Check for rust when inspecting the transducer and display unit’s pins and connections

Please be sure your sounder is not attempting to read a depth outside its capability. A zone without a marine bottom might be selected for the upper and lower limit settings. For information on the sensitivity specifications of the device, see your operator’s handbook and double-check your settings. Returns are tuned in or out using the sensitivity setting. The team won’t be able to identify bottom details if its sensitivity level is set to low. High-sensitivity settings clog the screen and return signals everywhere. Most sounders and fish finders offer automated sensitivity adjustments that account for the depth and surrounding water conditions. Examine the propellers for excessive cavitation. Also, high-speed boats with damaged or bent propellers may worsen this situation. Each transducer should be unplugged and plugged into the sounder if the boat has a transducer switch. Controls might need to be fixed.

Best Echo Sounder In The Market


NASA Boat Echo Sounder Stingray

The NASA Stingray Echo Sounders include a small body and a 4-inch dial with an extremely bright LED display that is simple to see. They are both straightforward to use and have two audio sirens for shallow and deep water that can be configured to offer a range of 1–25 meters or 1–100 meters. They need to be connected to the ship’s 12v power source because they already include a transducer and a mounting bracket for stirrups.

Furuno Boat Echo Sounder DFF3

The DFF3 from Furuno is a network sounder with Furuno Digital Filter (FDF) Technology intended for NavNet series gadgets. Any NavNet display may be transformed into a powerful, dual-frequency digital fish finder with this digital network sounder. The small network sounder device may be easily connected to a NavNet display or an Ethernet hub with just one Ethernet connection. Every attached presentation that is linked to an Ethernet hub that is connected to it will have access to the Network Sounder.

JRC JFE-400 Ship Echo Sounder

The JRC Echo sounder has the following features:


      • Performs depth measurement with great reliability and accuracy

      • Complies with IMO Resolution MSC.74 (69) 

      • Function for preventing interference from other ships

      • Utilize a color touch panel with excellent visibility. LCD

      • Memory and read-out of depth data for up to 48 hours

    The improved depth technology is carried on with the JFE-400 and JFE-700 Echo sounders, which are both highly accurate and dependable.

    Contact us to learn more.

    Related FAQs

    By monitoring the amount of time it takes for the acoustic signal to go to the bottom and for the Echo to return to the ship, Echo sounders can determine the depth of the sea—image courtesy of DEPOSITS. The Echo sounder is the most popular technique for assessing the depth of the water and avoiding collisions with invisible undersea rocks, reefs, etc.

    Single-Beam Echo Sounder (SBES) and Multi-beam Echo sounders are the two types of Echo sounders (MBES). The terms “single” and “multi-stem” refer to the quantity of depth point measurements gathered concurrently.

    The idea behind Echo sounding is that sound waves travel very well in water and that a sound pulse would bounce off a reflecting layer before returning to its source as an echo.

    When a sound pulse from an Echo sounder strikes a solid item in the water, such as fish, plants, or other objects, the signal is reflected on the surface.



    The distinction between an Echo sounder and a fish finder is, Fish finders may find echoes beneath the ship, but Echo sounders can find schools of fish all around the ship, making it one of the most effective fish-finding methods.

    Hydrographic surveyors frequently use a multi-beam Echo sounder to determine the seabed’s properties and the water’s depth.

    The process of Echo sounding involves sending sound waves from a ship’s sonar equipment and timing how long it takes for those waves to bounce back off the seabed and return to the ship.

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