Panbo

Furuno FLS, a category stimulated

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 25, 2005

Furuno FL7000

I first researched forward looking sonar (FLS) back in 2002, and later tested an EchoPilot Bronze on my 25' Ralph. I really, really like the idea of being able to see underwater ahead of the boat (I like exploring, and Maine is ledge city), but so far have to agree with the general consensus that the available gear--from Interphase as well as EchoPilot--can't see very far or with much detail. But now Furuno has introduced the FL-7000 FLS purportedly capable of seeing "up to" 1,600' ahead of your boat (though the image above, bigger here, only shows a breakwater, or similarly easy target, about 15 meters ahead). Just putting its name on FLS will bring new attention to the category, and I imagine there's some truth to Furuno's claim that it's spent years developing the "best FLS on the market". It's also the most expensive at something like $4,000 (though I haven't seen that in print, and there's nothing about it at Furuno's site yet). The unit also has something called "Baitscope Mode" that I don't comprehend yet, and is capable of using pitch and roll information to stabilize targets. And I'm told that the phased-array transducer, from Airmar, has tested successfully at speeds of 40 knots. Could the FL7000 protect a fast boat from, say, just-awash shipping containers? That would be something! Hopefully, I'll learn more at Fort Lauderdale, still on as best I can tell.

PS 9:30 am: Fort Lauderdale not opening on Sat., maybe not at all. 

Comments

I would hope that an alarm is included so that the skipper, who is probably paying attention to more than just the FLS, could be made aware of impending danger.

Posted by: Eli at October 25, 2005 6:32 PM | Reply

The FL7000 has a "variety of alarms and warnings" but the issue will be if it's good enough to alarm an dangerous object in time, but not alarm clumps of seaweed, etc.

Posted by: Ben at October 25, 2005 7:29 PM | Reply

There is an article about the FL-7000 in Boating, April 06 issue stating the price is twice what you have said. $8,000.00!!!!

I would really like to have an FLS on my boat, but not at that price. Even $4,000 is 4x's too much for me and probably for most other people for that matter.

The Interphase color models are really hyped up on their website and ebay and the color screen and what they state the units can do for $1200 is appealing, but is it really worth it? do they work? I would like to know before buying one.

Please advise...........

Posted by: David F at April 30, 2006 7:56 PM | Reply

David, I'm surprised to hear about the Boating article as a while back Furuno said that introduction of the FL-7000 had been postphoned and asked many of us not to write about it. I'm pretty sure its price and specs are "up in the air".

The FLS machines made by Interphase, and others, do work; it's a question of how well. Boaters with high expectations seem to get dissappointed but others are happy. I don't think much has changed since I asked around in 2002:
http://www.powerandmotoryacht.com/electronics/0702sonar/index.html#

Posted by: Ben at April 30, 2006 8:38 PM | Reply

any one heard any news on this lately?

Posted by: Anonymous at March 15, 2008 6:14 AM | Reply

I had heard from somebody at Furuno (I can't remember who) that they had scrapped it, but were now looking at it again.

The problem they were facing was inconsistent performance.

I put an Echopilot on my trawler last year, as my research showed it to be the best of what was available in my price range. The Interphase looked better, feature wise, but the transducer was really slow.

Posted by: Cameron at March 15, 2008 10:56 AM | Reply

I haven't heard a peep about the Furuno FLS, but keep hoping that someone can use the much improved fishfinder technologies to make it work better.

Cameron, which model Echopilot are you using, and how is it working out?

Posted by: Ben at March 15, 2008 1:03 PM | Reply

I've got the FLS Platinum black box version.

I like it and would probably put in on another boat, but I do understand it's limits.

I use it for collision avoidance when going into unfamiliar anchorages or channels. My boat is 47' and the transducer is mounted about midway to the aft (say about 20-25' from the bow). It seems to be good in the shallower waters that I use it in for about 200 feet ahead at best. So when I think there may be a danger, I go dead slow and have my hands on the shifters.
I had a close call last summer that the FLS saved me from. A large prop and boat killing rock. The FLS found it just in time. I had to throw it in reverse and give it throttle, but I did avoid it.

These units are good in situations like that only. They don't see far enough ahead to be used at anything but idle speeds.
They don't work well as fishfinders at all.

The Interphase unit I was able to try worked a bit better as far as the display output was concerned. The problem I found with them was the delay in displaying the output. By the time it showed something, I'd almost be over it.

The Echopilot transducer isn't too big either.

Bottom line: It works well enough for what I want it for, but it isn't like radar underwater.

Posted by: Cameron at March 15, 2008 9:02 PM | Reply

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