Transducer Options

Hi folks,
I’m hoping to join a long list of people who have build a bathymetrics mapping boat and I’m having a little trouble deciding on a transducer. I’d like something that is fairly accurate but also easy to work with and not too crazy money. (Good, easy and cheap, isn’t that what we all want with everything?)

Options I’ve found:

Echosounder ECT400: Really nice, has the specs I want, just a little pricey at over $2000 CAD.

Lowrance HST…: Price is right, but I can’t find accuracy specs on it and I need something I can rely on. I do like that it’s almost plug and play with the DS2 Digitizer.

Airmar UST800: I’ve read a post on here regarding it. But I haven’t figured out exactly how I get it to work with a pixhawk and whether I can get the same simplicity from the ECT400. The specs will work.

So, any recommendations? Hints? Links that might help?

I’d prefer to keep it under $800 USD, accurate to at least ±2" and good down to 100m.

Thanks for any help,


Any thoughts on how well an Echorange 200 from Airmar HERE would integrate with the Pixhawk?

I am in the same boat (pun intended) as you. I left a message just now at Mapping a lake with ArduPilot with a similar question. Looking forward to feedback.

I use a Lowrance transducer and they seem to be accurate. I don’t know about ±2" though. The boat moves up and down in the water more than that. I’m not using the digitizer yet but giving it some thought.

The Airmar UST800 is a very good option as it is quite cheap and doesn’t require much power (~200mA).
It uses NMEA2000 standard so the already developed NMEA parser can be adapted to read this sensor messages. Interfacing requires a 12V source for the alimentation (and CAN bus backbone if you plan to plug in other NMEA-based devices) and a can board, but further testing is needed.

@ktrussell Keep me posted if you make any decisions, just fyi current price for an ECT 400 with cable is $1250 usd with $125 shipping to well above the 60th parallel.

@David_Boulanger I actually have that transducer from an old fish finder that I might chop up, I’m hoping to do this on contract so I need to be able to be confident in my specs. I haven’t been able to find a reliable info sheet or else I might be able to use it.

@Anelito Why did you decide on the UST 800 vs any of the other Airmar transducers?

Thanks for the comments folks, misery sure loves company…(or at least confused)

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simply because I could find it used for a very reasonable price and in the future I plan to add other NMEA-based sensors

It looks like the Airmar Echorange 200 outputs NMEA 0183 so it should work in much the same way as the ECT400. I don’t know how well the sensor itself works but I think it should be able to feed data to the flight controller.

It looks like the Airmar UST800 can be configured (somehow) to output NMEA 0183 so it should also work. By the way, NMEA 2000 is really CAN so that is a completely different protocol that we don’t have a driver for in AP (yet). We support 3 other different types of CAN (UAVCAN, KDECAN, ToshibaCAN) but not NMEA 2000 (CAN).

Ah, by the way, another to add to the list is the BlueRobotics Ping sensor. I plan to write a driver for this sensor hopefully within a few weeks (it’s still being delivered). This one only has a 30m range though which might not be enough for some applications.

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@Anelito That makes a lot of sense.

@rmackay9 Thanks for chiming in. All your input on everything on the forum is super appreciated. Just to confirm I could use an Echorange 200 combined with a Sparkfun RS232-to-Serial converter to talk directly with a Pixhawk?

Just fyi folks, best deal I’ve found is HERE for $470 USD. I haven’t ordered one yet, but if it should work I think it’s going to be the way I go…

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The linked Airmar SS510-200 is an analog sensor so that won’t work. The same website sells the NMEA version here but it’s $773. I think this should work with the Sparkfun RS232-to-Serial converter you’ve linked to.

Well that’s a bit more…oh well thanks for the catch!

Hello Randy

Did you manage to write a driver for the Ping sensor yet?

I have access to one so wouldn’t mind giving it a go.