Electronics • Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Sounders, Shark Shields, and other electronics

Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby Squidley » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:33 pm

I got myself a Lowrance Mark 4 gps/finder recently, taken it out eight times so far.  I had an X-4 Pro before, which was a hardy little unit that lived up to its water resistance rating on many occasions.  Handy thing about these two models is the transducers are the same, which could be useful for fishers with their trannies glued in.

One difference though is the Mark 4's transducer comes with a plastic nut on the back of the plug which is used to lock the plug into the head.  This made the plug too big for me to pass through the bung (I use a wet mount and pack away my transducer) so I'm using the X4-Pro's tranny which works fine, though I'm yet to take a full wave over the bow and find out if it's any less water resistant.

The big feature that led me to this model was what they call Trackback.  In the past with a separate gps and finder I'd notice structure after I'd pass it, and getting an accurate mark on it was pretty spotty.  Maybe I'd look away from the finder and miss a little reef completely.

What the Mark 4 does is cache several screens of sounder readout, and embed the coordinates in the sounder readings.  So I can scroll back in the sounder display a few screens to a dropoff, put the cursor over it and get a waypoint to it.  This made the penny drop for me in understanding the utility of a combo unit; it makes it more than the sum of its parts.  Today I marked a bunch of lumps and bumps at my local spot.

I might just sum the rest up

  • $120 more than an X4 Pro
  • Had trouble finding it in shops, maybe because it's monochrome and less eye-grabbing.  Got mine here: http://www.chsmith.com.au/Products/Lowrance-Mark-4-Fishfinder-Plotter.html
  • Power consumption apparently about 0.25 amps.  7 amp hour SLA, 3.5 amp hours to be realistic so ~14 hours runtime?
  • When I let my old SLA die, the sounder was still running at six volts before it turned itself off
  • Resolution on the sounder is way better, I guess the tranny is better than the X4 Pro could show on its screen.  I can confidently tell weed from sand now, and fish schools are clearer.
  • Screen backlight is super bright, I need to find a setting to wind it down a bit actually.  It's an evenly distributed white light rather than a little yellow highlight at the bottom
  • Extra port (NMEA) doesn't come with a cap so I gummed mine up to keep the salt off
  • You can customise the info overlaid on the sounder display and how it's arranged; for instance add a steering arrow so you can navigate to a waypoint without switching away from the sounder display mode.
  • I wish waypoint naming was done with a grid of letters rather than scrolling each character alphabetically but the buttons are easy on the fingers
  • Saying this thing has a base map is being generous, markings disappear once you zoom in any closer than "all of Australia".  Out of the box with no Navionics data, it's really a chartless GPS.
  • Split screen GPS/finder mode is a bit cluttered on a screen no bigger than an X4s.  Nav arrow over the finder display a good compromise.
  • Same IPX rating as the X4 but I don't like the look of the rubber lid on the SD slot so I have a strip of gaffa tape over it for now.  Haven't got around to playing with importing and exporting waypoints and such yet; that should make naming much less hassle.

In short, the extra clarity and GPS features make this, to me, worth the extra $120 over the X4-pro, but it definitely seems a bit more delicate.  There have been some reports of moisture entering units in the Lowrance 4 range, though I don't have the impression it's wide spread.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who's got a Navionics silver chart for a Lowrance about how much detail is in the depth map.  It's funny how the charts cost more than the hardware you stick them in :)
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby jhbc123 » Tue Jun 11, 2013 8:55 pm

I recently purchased a Lowrance -Elite 4 M to go with my Elite 4 DSI, which I used in my Ocean Kayak, but decided to use it more on Stinky, ( 424 Anglapro customised with all sorts of stuff for inshore fishing & chasing flatties & bream in the estuaries ) Yes......I know I should only fish from the kayak, but I like using both.

anyway, I was rather disappointed with the Elite 4 M ,plotter because basically it's like buying a printer with no ink! The Navionics Gold edition micro SD card cost more than the f.......plotter!

I was never really sold on the idea of a plotter, until I went fishing with a mate of mine, who also comp-fishes and saw how he used his Hummingbird to keep track of his catches & locations etc. ( inshore & in the estuaries ) We've been out fishing a few times, and whilst learning some really great techniques and other things that have helped me learn more about fishing ( particularly plastics ) I came to appreciate the use of a GPS. But I think the Hummingbird is much more user-friendly than the Lowrance. It's only early days as I've only been tinkering with this thing for a few weeks or so. But I have since installed the card, but unfortunately not had any time to go out & test with Navionics card.

I was certainly impressed with my Elite DSI, I hope the GPS will do the same......$ 800 worth!

Anyone out there with a Lowrance Elite 4M GPS, that can give me some tips?
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby Squidley » Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:14 pm

Hey thanks for your post jhbc. One thing about the Mark 4 (yours should have a very similar interface) is the menu button is used in some ways you might not expect; for example to go to a waypoint you have it highlighted in the list (or under the crosshair in the chart) and you press Menu then select Goto. This had me scratching my head but I got used to it. Another thing I only found out by checking the manual was you adjust the screen brightness from a menu that appears after a short press of the power button. Other than that my other tip's just that the steer arrow is a handy thing to have on your overlay data if you want to use the sounder full screen while steering toward a waypoint.

If you have an opportunity I'd love to see a picture of your plotter with the Navionics Gold chart to get a sense of the detail it has.
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby Plasman » Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:13 pm

I love my Mark 4.
To change your brightness, just press the power button and it will automatically go from 10 to 6 to 3 and back to 10 brightness with each press. To get out of that screen just hit menu then enter.
With a 7ah battery I get about 6hrs at full brightness.
To mark a waypoint, just hit enter twice irrespective of which screen you are on but the scroll back is great if you are a little slow.
I have navionics silver and the detail is great, but like you said, the base map is useless for AUS.
All in all no issues so far touch wood in over a year of use.
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby Squidley » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:02 am

Thanks for the shortcuts Mick. Is there a way, when entering waypoint names, to get it to show a grid of letters instead of scrolling through the alphabet? I suspect it's only the five series that has that but I hope I'm wrong. By the way, has the silver chart helped you find reefs and such or is it more for basic depth info?

This is a screenshot of the Coffin Bay township in SA from the Navionics iPhone app:
Image
I'm curious to know how much more detailed silver would be
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby nad97 » Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:26 am

Squidly I think there will be more detail in the app than on the silver card. The silver card will only give you conture line to 10m and affter that Zip plus all the marke bouys. To check just scroll off shore and see where the depth lines stop on the app and that should give you a good idea
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby Plasman » Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:41 pm

Nick is bang on about the silver maps. In saying that I've found the closer to contour lines you usually have structure dropoffs etc.
As far as naming I'm pretty lazy and don't name any of my marks because they are pretty self explanatory when using the maps. I really should back them up though.
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby jhbc123 » Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:47 pm

Squidley wrote:Hey thanks for your post jhbc. One thing about the Mark 4 (yours should have a very similar interface) is the menu button is used in some ways you might not expect; for example to go to a waypoint you have it highlighted in the list (or under the crosshair in the chart) and you press Menu then select Goto. This had me scratching my head but I got used to it. Another thing I only found out by checking the manual was you adjust the screen brightness from a menu that appears after a short press of the power button. Other than that my other tip's just that the steer arrow is a handy thing to have on your overlay data if you want to use the sounder full screen while steering toward a waypoint.

If you have an opportunity I'd love to see a picture of your plotter with the Navionics Gold chart to get a sense of the detail it has.


No worries, mate. As soon as I have an opportunity to work this technology out, I will show you some pics! hope the weather gets a bit friendlier soon. Cheers John
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby jhbc123 » Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:58 pm

It's great to see this forum working, because I'm learning from all your experiences, by reading all your comments. I too have the Navionics app on my Iphone, which I think is really worthwhile, although my biggest problem is reading it, as I'm blind as a bat without my goggles. And on most fishing trips I just don't seem to have the patience to fiddle with the phone....and I don't tend to wear my readers.
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby Squidley » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:00 pm

Just ordered a 2gb microSD card from officeworks so I can back up and import. It's worth noting it can't be a microSDHC card, and non HC (high capacity) cards are not the first things you'll see at a shop.
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby Squidley » Sat Jun 22, 2013 1:02 pm

I peeled off the precautionary gaffa tape and popped in a 2gb Verbatim microSD card...can't save to it, browse files. Tried FAT and FAT32 formatting, restarting the finder, no dice. Found a 128 mb microSD in an old mobile, still no luck. Saw a bit of blue-green dust at the SD opening...contacts inside look OK. I hope I'm doing something wrong here and my SD slot isn't stuffed. Copying coords down by hand sucks!
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby Squidley » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:33 pm

I guess my SD slot's stuffed; tried the same microSD cards on Drewboy's new finder and it detected them just fine :(
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby TheFishinMusician » Sun Jun 23, 2013 9:32 am

Occy wrote:The Lowrance guys at the sounder master class today (arranged by KFDU) were talking about how important it is to really ensure that cover is properly in place. Use of a screw driver/back of scissor blade was the preferred method as it's almost impossible to do with your fingers alone. Just a thought re your corrosion problem Squidley. Jaycar sell a special pen (the tip is made of compressed strands of fiberglass) for removing vertigris/corrosion from electrical connections. I reckon it's one of the handiest little tools I've ever bought, especially for shifting that bloody whitish green powder you get if you leave the alkaline batteries in things like torches or remote controls too long. And it's really handy for removing salt water corrosion on the metal parts of fishing reels, along with jig heads, hooks, and metal lures.

Top tip Paul!
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby Squidley » Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:40 pm

Thanks Occy! I'll give it a crack :)
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Re: Lowrance Mark 4 experience

Postby BrendoM » Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:38 pm

Occy,
Is the 'Corrosion Buster Pen' what you are talking about from Jaycar? (Only about $18.00)
I need to clean up the plug on my sounder on my Outback
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