- New gear today talks to us in new ways that make finding fish and trying to catch them more fun
- You can connect your phone, your radio, your drone…to your sonar
- Installation is easy, it’s all pictorial…even I could do it
By Mike Schoonveld
As the people point to the sonar unit on my boat, I’m often asked, “Can you see fish on that?” My pat answer is, “Yes, but if I had to see a fish on the screen to catch it, I’d be in trouble. And, if I could catch every fish showing on the screen, we’d fill the boat.” You might have to read that twice.
I stand by that statement, but when I get better at using my Raymarine AXIOM Multi-Function Display (MFD), I may have to change my answer. It will certainly mark more fish in the average trip than will fit in my boat, but it comes much closer to giving me (or any fisherman) the ability to “see a fish and catch a fish.”
The AXIOM is called an MFD because it is more than just a sonar, chart or GPS. Think of it as a computer monitor capable of showing screens associated with whatever program the computer is running. You can call up displays from other Raymarine devices, such as radar or autopilot. It will interface with some phone apps, Sirius Radio, weather channels, and with a wifi connection (such as your cell phone’s mobile hotspot), you can even watch Netflix or connect to other entertainment.
You can use it to control your drone! Gearheads may want to connect the MFD to their motor’s computer to monitor engine performance on the display.
I’ll run through a few of the features as well. If you like technical jargon like “quad-four processor” and other exacting specs, go to http://www.raymarine.com. The website lists enough details, techno-words, and numbers with Greek letters attached to keep any tech-geek happy and most fisherman confused.
For instance, the AXIOM has CHIRP technology in the main sonar. I don’t understand all I know about CHIRP, and I understand more than I need. I do understand when in use, the sonar picture on the screen is better. I see more fish, things on the bottom and other details.
It has two other “real-time” sonar modes which, depending on where and how you fish, may be all-important or of little importance to you. The way I picture SIDEVISION is turning a sonar transducer 90 degrees, so instead of viewing straight down, it sends and receives pings and echos to the side (or both sides) of the boat. It will show nearby reefs, bridge pilings, rocks on the bottom, and the fish lurking near these things.
It’s harder to explain DOWNVISION. It’s similar to the regular sonar, except it’s a sort of HD version. Even with CHIRP, as you motor across a sunken tree, a sunken boat, or a pile of rubble, each will look like “something” lying on the bottom. With DOWNVISION, the something looks like a tree, boat or rock pile.
Mr. Cool of the four sonar modes is the 3-D vision. The computer brain in the AXIOM uses the information gathered from the sidevision and downvision sonar returns to create a computer-generated three-dimensional picture on the screen showing the underwater world you just passed. You’ll see the bottom of the channel, the sunken boat on the bottom, fish suspended above the wreck along with the bridge piling the boat hit to cause it to sink.
The unit comes with a Navionics charting chip, so when you switch the unit to charting mode, you can set waypoints and use the GPS to navigate to them and back. I’m sure it will do other things I’ve yet to discover. There are multiple choices of overlays to customize the screens to personal needs.
One of the first things I noticed, different from all the other sonar/chart/GPS units I’ve previously used: I don’t have to take off my polarized glasses or tilt my head to a specific angle to look at the screen and be able to see it! Not only will it see the fish better, but I can also see the screen better! In my mind, that’s the most underrated selling point of the Axiom.
It’s expensive, but expect many years of use from the unit just as it comes out of the box. Add that Raymarine offers free software and operating system upgrades, so the Axiom you buy today will be nearly similar in power and features to the models they sell three, four, or more years from now.
I’m not a trained professional marine electronics installer, but I easily installed my MFD, the transducer, and connected it to the boat’s wiring system. Believing a picture is worth a thousand words as the installation guide is mostly pictorial, the wires and connections are color-coded, and anyone capable of changing the batteries in a flashlight will have few problems installing their Axiom.
The above picture shows the Mr. Cool 3D picture on my 9-inch version. Notice the boat motoring to the upper left and the fish (in blue); I’d passed trailing behind the boat. It comes in both seven, nine and 12-inch screens depending on your available space, desire or pricepoint.
The latest versions are all touch-screen, no knobs.