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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I built an ice unit for my fishfinder off of my boat http://www.coloradofisherman.com/forum/15-tackle-garage/115666-found-me-inexpensive-solution-needing-new-vex.html

I wanted to give a full review of how it works and some tips on what you may consider if you want to try doing the same.

First the build... I have used the unit a few times now and I have no big issues with the design of my build. The battery I chose lasted 16+ hours on one charge and was still going strong when we stopped yesterday. I would highly recommend going with the smallest deep cycle battery vs. the typical 12v battery used in ice fishing units.

The only other thing I should mention about the build is the white wire (old ipod cable) is too rigid and gets in the way. I am on the fence about what to do.. do I just use the wire to the ducer or add a different assisting wire/string to it... Not sure what I will do, but the issue is rather minor.

The performance is outstanding for certain types of fishing. I used this video to set my unit up and it is outstanding information.

The best benefit of this unit is being able to see the fish's behavior. It is far easier to visualize what the fish is doing with the full screen, vs. the vex style sonar. Next, being able to see your exact jigging action and then how the fish reacts to it is big. You can record data and review what happens when fish come in... and you learn a ton from watching this. I def do the same things with a vex, but the full screen really is better.

Now to the negatives. False bottoms are tough... a bit tougher than with vex's. The way it views major bottom structure is a bit worse, but not terrible. It's tough to really see fish with either when there is a lot of false bottom, but the vex seems to be able to subtly show fish in the false bottom and the lights "flutter" a bit more... you can still see fish in the false bottom on the fishfinder, but it's more subtle and there is a bit less separation.

The battery life on a vex is still superior and the ducer on my vex had 2 degrees of cones, which the other does not.. not sure I really care but I may find a situation where it makes a difference.

Over all, for big fish, the lowrance is superior. Watching them move and having the recording or memory of what they did is something that helps a lot with big fish... especially finicky ones that bight sooo light. Having GPS and setting waypoints is a wonderful thing too! I highly recommend learning to use the unit to it's fullest. Watching that video had me dialed in so I could adjust quickly and keep settings ideal for different areas/depths. Getting the settings set up just right help with the false bottom issues a bit too... so learn your unit.

For smaller fish, I think the vex might have the edge but I'm not certain. Either is great, but if I had to have only one, it would be the lowrance. I forgot to take pics of the screen to show how fish look but you can check it out on this video

For $150 in parts, I'm extremely happy.
 

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My "Build'...

Used an "older" Eagle Z-61 portable box I had sitting around...
You can still find similar units on E-bay...
Used the older portable "ice transducer bracket" that came with it..
I am using a 12V 9 amp battery...
Usually can get about 10-12 hours with it between charging..
Gonna try My HDS 8 this Summer in Canada...
BUT.... I will have access to a 12 V MARINE starting battery for that....
 

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Oyey, What battery are you using? I dont get anywhere near that amount of time with mine that came with the lowrance ice pack. I use my HDS 5 and it its awesome. I got the overlays from being able to scan my spots in the boat. And best of all, having the chart graph like Oyey says helps alot.
In this situation in the pic below, there is now way I could keep track that fish on the bottom with the vex it would be so lit up you cant see the detail, because of the history, you could almost count how many fish the sonar is picking up.


 

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Discussion Starter #4
Fordo, I will try and find out what the battery is... I got it at Batteries Plus and it is the smallest deep cycle battery they sell. It is larger than the standard vex batter (which I am sure that is what came with the ice pack) but is not huge (as you can see in my pictures). It cost $48 I believe... Kinda pricey but only about $18 more than the vex battery they sell.
 

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I need to order a new transducer on mine, I suspect I burned it up running it dry while running around in my Ranger using the gps. The wire is tied in to the power plug so you can't unplug it and just use the gps. Need to call Lowrance tech and see what they say about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8

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I need to order a new transducer on mine, I suspect I burned it up running it dry while running around in my Ranger using the gps. The wire is tied in to the power plug so you can't unplug it and just use the gps. Need to call Lowrance tech and see what they say about it.
Can you turn the sonar off in the menus? I know on my birds, its just a couple buttons to turn sonar off and leave GPS on, works great just for this reason.

That's the one... I remember the 14 part... again, it's a bit larger, and probably weighed about 2-3 lbs more than the other, but well worth it IMO. The whole thing with the HDS7 weighs about 2lbs more than my vex
Sweet battery!
 

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http://www.amazon.com/VMAX857-Battery-Performance-minnkota-trolling/dp/B008974VFG/ref=sr_1_1?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1449243893&sr=1-1&keywords=35ah+vmax

thats the battery i was recommended from the kayak fb group for my Lowrance 7. once i can afford the ice ducer kit ill be posting pics about it as well. i dont feel like steeling the ducer from the kayak. it was pia to reach the spot it goes. no more wondering around in the pre sun up dark looking for the honey hole. although i think the vex will probably be preferred for early ice shallow fishing or thin ice.

i tested that battery out with my min kota on the canoe since the reviews rave about it being good for that. i got about 2 or 3 hrs with motor on half full to 2/3 speed.

the batteries last way longer if you turn the screen brightness down if you guys didn't already know that.
 

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I have this one I run my Lowrance Elite with on my yak. It runs well over a day on full power with no problem. (I actually left it on overnight accidentally on a few trips this season:eek::eek: and it ran for another half day). I have fit it to work with my vex, but after reading this thread I may just use my lowrance this season and upgrade the one on the yak for next year as the transducer set-up I have is on a flexible rod kit from Austin Kayak.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Everstart-ES-TZ7S-Powersport-Battery/36415397

Good thread BTW Oyey!!
 

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Hey Oyey, I wish I saw this post a month ago when I was putting my HDS-7 together. I ended up buying a Genz pack, iceducer and mounting it with the RAM. I had it out on 11 Mile on Monday. I didn't fish deep water, just looked at how it would perform compared to the Vex. Having the head mounted on a RAM was nice for optimum viewing - I'm glad I did that. Makes storage easy too.

I bought this 12V 15AH battery from Amazon. My Vex battery is 9 AH so I hope this one lasts all day when laker fishing. We'll see.




On Monday I was able to have my FL-22 in one hole and the Lowrance in the other. I was able to change frequencies and filter settings and block out interference. Pretty cool to work both side by side.

Thanks for all the tips!
 

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So I don't have the HDS-5, nor the 7, but from what I've seen on my LMS480 (an older GPS/sonar combination), you can turn off the sonar input by choosing the navigation menu from the pages button. This is in response to the gentleman that asked the question.

Another poster mentioned something about a 2 deg cone and not seeing advantages of a larger cone angle. As far as transducer cone angle, there are definitely plusses and minuses for both. Larger cone angles are great for seeing fish off to the sides that haven't yet made it to directly under the hole. You get a bit of visual warning before the bite. Great if you have a beer in your hand, wandering around to warm your feet, etc. With a large enough cone angle and deep enough water, you can watch baits in more than one hole at a time. It's many splendored.

Minuses for a wide cone angle are fishing structure. The transducer is going to read the shallowest solid structure within the beam width (this is likely the depth you'll have displayed on your screen), so if you're fishing ~30 ft with a 20 deg transducer (typical for the skimmer style transducers for Lowrance/Eagle boxes), you'll see about 6 ft of width on the bottom. If you're fishing a steep ledge or dropoff, say at a 45 deg angle from the horizontal, then the deepest part of the visible cone is about 6 ft deeper than the shallowest part. So when you drop your lines down, you may have to lift the line up 3 ft off the bottom to be able to see your jig on the sonar. A smaller transducer cone angle will see less of the bottom, so you'll not have to lift as far to see the jig and are more likely to see fish near the bottom (but they have to be closer to your baits to see them)

Best regards,
Dogwood
 
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