CHIRP vs Traditional Transducers – Understanding the Difference

We all know how traditional marine fishfinders work. They operate at discrete frequencies – typically 50 and 200 kHz, they use relatively short-duration transmit pulses, and they work in conjunction with traditional narrow-band sonar transducers.

On the flip side, CHIRP (compressed high-intensity radar pulse) transducers offer a whole new world of finding fish. They are designed to automatically sweep through an entire range of frequencies with no adjustment necessary. It’s now possible for customers to install one transducer and have the ability to simultaneously fish the popular frequencies of 28, 38, 50 and 200kHz – as well as every frequency in-between. This results in unprecedented visibility of targets in the water column in both shallow and deep water. Improved target definition and clarity, as well as the ability to find targets within “noise” at high speeds, provide anglers with true game-changing fishfinder performance.

So now you’re wondering, how do CHIRP transducers “sweep” a frequency? CHIRP consists of a precise sweep pattern of many frequencies within a long-duration transmit pulse from a CHIRP enabled sounder, so the equivalent sound energy transmitted into the water is 10 to 1,000 times greater than a conventional marine fishfinder. The echo energy returning to the transducer, vastly superior to that generated by a conventional transducer, is then processed by the fishfinder’s DSP (digital signal processing) computer and displayed in ultra-sharp detail on the sounder display.

The combination of a CHIRP sounder, a Chirp Broadband transducer, and the fishfinder’s DSP technology results in:

  • Dramatically increased fish and bottom detection
  • Superior depth capability
  • Significantly enhanced performance at speed

Only CHIRP ready fishfinders using Airmar CHIRP Broadband transducers can operate as a CHIRP fishfinding system. CHIRP-ready fishfinders currently available include Garmin’s GSD 26 spread spectrum fishfinder and Simrad’s BSM-2 broadband sounder. By the end of 2012, it is estimated that all major marine electronics manufacturers will incorporate CHIRP technology into their products.

Featuring Unique Transducer ID® Technology

Included in all of Airmar’s CHIRP Broadband transducers is the unique Transducer ID® feature, which measures and stores the operating details for each transducer. This enables the fishfinder to automatically configure itself and communicate with the transducer that is attached. The embedded microcontroller continuously monitors operating temperatures inside the transducer, allowing the fishfinder to dynamically adjust its power to maintain maximum performance and transducer life. The transducer’s profile can be presented on the display showing beam width coverage as a function of frequency. Stored data also assists with troubleshooting, warranty or any required information about the transducer.

Airmar’s complete line of twenty-four (24) CHIRP Broadband transducers are available in seven (7) different mounting options to accommodate almost any hull design, which should be carefully observed to adhere to the manufacturer’s warranty.

Source:  Gemeco


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Marine Electronics FAQs

Here is just one of the many question-answers that we have on our Marine Electronics FAQ page.

Q:  I’ve been looking at a new VHF radio and noticed that the transmitter specifications say 25/1 watt power.  Why are there two power ratings, and are all radios the same?
A:   All fixed mount (non-portable) marine VHF radios have high and low power modes of 25 and 1 watt.  FCC regulations limit the maximum transmit power to 25 watts and restrict transmit power to 1 watt on certain channels.

View all of our marine electronics frequently asked questions here.

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Furuno Spring 2011 Rebate Event!

The Furuno Spring Rebate Event is on, with huge savings on the most popular Furuno products. Between March 1 and May 31, 2011, purchase a NavNet 3D Multi-Function Display and/or any of the eligible NavNet 3D accessories, and Furuno will send you a rebate check of up to $2,500! You’ll not only have peace of mind that you are navigating with the most feature-rich and reliable marine electronics suite you can buy, but you’ll be doing so with up to $2,500 IN YOUR POCKET!

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AIS Tracking

Wouldn’t it be handy to be able to do some AIS tracking from the comfort of your home or office?  Check out to use their great AIS tracking tool!  Its free!

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VHF Radio Troubleshooting

While less glamorous and expensive than most other boat electronics, the VHF radio can be critical to your safety and well being.  Having two units installed or at least a handheld backup is strongly recommended. 

Routine Checks:
It’s a good idea to verify the proper operation of your electronics prior to leaving the dock.  Weather channels can offer a quick check on your radio’s receiver and antenna.  Find a channel that normally comes in a little weak and scratchy and use that as your reference point.  Then go to a normal working frequency (i.e. 68) and transmit between your two units.  These quick tests don’t guarantee your unit is totally up to specifications but at least gives you verification of their basic operation.  Always turn your…. read on about VHF troubleshooting

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Test Your EPIRB and Check-in at Home.

For all the EPIRB and PLB users out there, have you ever pushed the test button and wondered if this potential life saving device was actually working?  Also, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to send a “thumbs up I’m OK” message from time to time?  A new service from a U.K. company that is marketed in the U.S. by ACR Electronics solves both of those problems. 

Check it out at and get all the details.  Once you get registered (a small annul fee applies) every time you test your EPIRB or PLB a SMS text message is sent to an email and/or phone automatically.  If your unit is equipped with GPS then your current position is also included in the “I’m OK” message.

Most recently manufactured EPIRBs and PLBs will work with the system but a list of compatible units can be found on their website.  No more messages in a bottle, worried family and friends, or uncertainty about the status of your emergency beacon once you get hooked up with  Check it out.

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NavShack Takes On Car Navigation by Garmin

Garmin makes an excellent line of nuvi vehicle navigation GPS units.  And although they’re not meant for use on boats, we just couldn’t resist adding them to our product line-up.  NavShack already sells marine GPS chart plotters made by Garmin as well as a couple of marine and land combo GPS units.  Adding the nuvi GPS units seemed natural to us.  Prices start at under $120, which is extremely competitive and reasonable, especially for the technology and features you’ll get for that bargain price.  With everything from basic voice prompts to voice prompts with street names to lifetime map updates, you’re sure to find a GPS for your car that suits you well.  And don’t forget that these car navigation systems make excellent gifts!

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