My dislikes for using the swing arm became very apparent as I often found myself not wanting to take it along, only to find myself afloat wishing I had Structure Scan available to use. It was a bit of a love hate relationship to be honest. I loved using it, but I rather disliked the way I'd been forced to rig it. However, with the recent release of the Lowrance TotalScan LSS2 transducer I was presented with the option to re-rig the kayaks and lose the swing arm assembly!. I'm sponsored by Lowrance and they very kindly sent me a new TotalScan transducer to upgrade my system to the latest specification.
So what is the TotalScan transducer?. It's exactly what it says on the tin as they say. Its one transducer that integrates broadband sonar (83/200Khz, CHIRP (Med/High), DownScan and StructureScan. This sounded perfect for me, though we all know that nothing is perfect!. It's a rather large transducer measuring in a 10" (L), 1.5" (H) and 2.5" (H), very similar in size to the LSS2. Though one thing was for sure, it was not going to fit into the Lowrance ready scupper hole that was currently occupied by the current 83/200Khz transducer in my Hobie Outback, it was just way too long.
I'd recently seen a some photos on Facebook where a couple of kayak anglers had mounted the TotalScan transducer to the removable cover of the Hobie Lowrance ready scupper. They'd also fitted a guard just ahead of the transducer to protect again impact damage when underway. I really liked the look of this setup and decided that I'd follow the same route.
Firstly its worth having a quick look at the current setup on my Outback, with the Lowance HDS Gen3, swing arm, electrical connections and cabling that live outside of the hull. The current configuration has 3 connections to the head unit (Power supply, Broadband Sonar and StructureScan). Then there's the swing arm, LSS2 transducer, coils of cable that reside beneath the seat and the cable that runs forward from the seat to the head unit.
Fitting the TotalScan transducer would result in the loss off the swing arm assembly, LSS2 transducer plus its cabling and the 83/200Khz Broadband Sonar plus its associated cabling. Clearly the upper deck of the Outback was going to get a lot tidier and that's a great thing.
First thing was to gain access to the inside of the kayak in order to remove the old Broadband transducer as well as to route the cable for the replacement TotalScan unit. The right hand rubber side pocket was removed, the rectangular centre hatch and centre storage bag and Lowrance scupper cover.
The old Broadband transducer was easily removed, though it was interesting to note that the Hobie cable gland in the right hand pocket had loosened off slightly. Probably due to compression of the rubber seal over time?. I checked the others and they had also loosened slightly. A quick tighten and all was good, though it's worthy of a mention.
It didn't long at all to gain the access and remove the old transducer and cable. The swing arm was already off the kayak, though the mounting post will always remain, perhaps it may be utilised in the future. When I designed the mounting post I ensured that the positioning of the four bolts were in the exact same pattern of a RAM ball, so that may re-appear in due course. With a pile of removed items now sitting on the ground it was time to progress with the upgrade.
The first job was to look closely at the new TotalScan transducer and to sit it against the scupper transducer cover to see how it lay against the hull of the kayak. I was pleased to see that rear portion of the transducer that passed over the rear edge of the scupper cover lay flat and tight against the hull of the kayak. So at a glance I only had to fit the transducer to the scupper cover and that part was done. There was of course the issue the sonar cable that emerges from the front edge of the transducer.
I'd decided to utilise screw that secures the front edge of the scupper cover to fix the guard that would protect the transducer from frontal impact as well as permitting the hull to rest on the ground whilst not placing the hull weight directly onto the transducer. I therefore needed to route the cable through the cover before the guard itself. Simple enough and this is what I did.
The scupper cover has two vertical mounting arms that secured the old transducer into position, these weren't required so I removed these as well as their strengthening webs at the base. I used a hacksaw to remove the bulk and a Dremel tool to remove the webbing as required.
Time needs to be taken to decide on the exact placement of the cable hole and the transducer mounting holes that are to be drilled into the cover. Get it wrong and you'll be buying a replacement cover. It's placement is going to be central looking fore to aft, though were it's placed along the length of the cover is dependent upon the design on the guard. Here's a couple of photos of the modified cover and cable access hole.
As it happens the cable hole was slightly smaller than I'd anticipated and actually sat within the plastic support arms that I'd chopped off, so they could have stayed. Though it's unlikely that I'll ever revert to a standard transducer, plus the hole would permit dirt to enter and gather around an internally mounted transducer. I'd just buy another cover if I ever reverted to a basic setup.
Here's the transducer mounted to the scupper cover. I used a little medium strength thread lock when securing the transducer to the cover. Note, only 4 out of the six transducer securing bolts were used. This still provides a very strong connection.
With the transducer mounted to the scupper cover, checked for alignment and secured into place, it was time to produce a suitable guard to protect the transducer. I had a few pieces of thick and thin HDPE lying about in the garage so I decided to utilise these. The front edge of the scupper cover was recessed beneath the hull so I required the guard to be stepped, permitting it to sit flush against the hull whilst sitting correctly against the cover to permit effective attachment with the single screw.
After checking my stock of HDPE and comparing thicknesses, I decided to use a thin section to fill in the recessed area and the thicker material for the main guard itself. I hacksawed the thick material to the overall size I wanted and then sawed sloped edges to the front and sides.
With the main guard cut to a suitable profile, I rounded off the edges a little before fitting the thinner HDPE spacer to take up the space between the scupper cover and the main hull profile. I did originally use Mitre Glue, and as much as it appeared highly effective, it wasn't!. The last thing I needed was to return from a trip to find the guard missing!. I decided to use 4 stainless self tappers and Marine Goop to secure the spacer to the main guard. It's certainly not going to detach anytime soon!.
An access hole is clearly visible to allow a screw to be fitted to permit the guard to be attached to the hull of the kayak. The original screw for the scupper cover is not long enough, regardless of how deep that holes is drilled, so a longer screw was required. I found something suitable in my spares box and that dictated how deep I drilled into the guard block. The upper hole is large to permit the screw head to be recessed into the guard, though this then reduced to the diameter of the screw thread itself.
Note the notch at the rear of the guard. This it to allow the transducer cable to pass through the rear edge of the guard block whilst permitting the guard to be positioned close to the front edge of the transducer itself.
It was now time to fit the transducer and guard assembly to the hull. The scupper cover assembly was attached using the rear two screws only as the guard was to utilise the front screw.
With the cover assembly secured, the guard was attached next as previously mentioned, utilising a screw that picked up on the front thread for the scupper cover. I did a trial fit and it secured tightly against the hull with a good amount of effort required to cause any rotation to the guard. Though, to ensure that the guard remained in place regardless of knocks, I applied a liberal amount of Marine Goop to the base of the guard prior to fitting it.
The guard was then fitted, again with a small amount of medium thread lock being applied to the screw. Any excess Goop was wiped away, producing a neat fillet along the edges of the guard.
That was basically it, here's a few photos from different angles.
Looking from the front of the kayak, the guard provided excellent protection to the transducer and should hopefully prevent long term damage. A little caution and thought will always be required.
As mentioned earlier I had noticed that the Hobie cable glands had loosened slightly over time. I'd noticed small amounts of water in the hull after trips in choppy water and I feel that' there's a chance that water had entered the kayak via the transducer cable gland. To ensure that this couldn't happen I applied some Marine Goop around the rear cable gland.
All that was left to do was to route the transducer out through the front pocket. Easy right?... wrong!
I was unable to pass both the existing power lead and the new TotalScan plugs through the locking ring for the rear of the Hobie cable gland. I quickly realised that there was no quick fix and that another gland was going to be required. The next problem was the base of the right hand pocket was shaped to permit the fitment of only one factory cable gland. The profile of the remainder of the pocket just wasn't quite right, close, but not quite suitable.
The thickness of the material in this area was good, so I found a large socket that matched the diameter of the cable gland and heated it up.... hot!. I gently pressed this into the area of the pocket where I wanted the additional cable gland to sit and CAREFULLY pushed to the hot socket into the hull. The radius edges on the hull pocket base were pushed flat forming the perfect recess for the cable gland. Job done!. With an additional cable gland fitted, the power and TotalScan cables were routed from inside the kayak, via the pocket cable glands to the head unit. The rubber pocket was re-attached later.
With the upgrade completed it's important to ensure that the software on the head unit is updated to the latest version. This is especially important in this case as the TotalScan transducer will not show when re-installing the sonar. I connected the HDS via WIFI and the unit was fully updated within a couple of minutes.
With this update completed it's simply a case of going into the main settings, then sonar settings and configuring the installation. The transducer type can be changed from the drop down menu and TotalScan can be selected, it's a bizarrely good feeling!. With the settings saved, that's it!. I also added a keel offset of +0.1m to ensure the most accurate depth reading (not shown).
With the installation completed what are the benefits?. Well firstly for me, the transducer swing arm and the LSS2 transducer are history. That results in a notable weight saving and the upper hull of the kayak is now much less cluttered. The parts below are now history... GOODBYE swing arm!!!
The connections to the head unit itself are now simplified. It's now possible to leave the head unit permanently attached without any additional electrical connections to be made (I always removed the swing arm after each trip).
Below is the older setup with the swing arm, LSS1 transducer and three connections to the head unit.
Below is the updated setup with the TotalScan transducer installed. The swing arm and StructureScan LSS2 transducer are gone, the Broadband 83/200Khz transducer is gone, the excess transducer cable cluttering the upper deck is gone... it really is GREATnews.
Downsides?, well the cost of upgrading to the TotalScan transducer isn't cheap and a little additional thought as to handling the kayak is now required. However, to me, these are TINY disadvantages, with the gains FAR outweighing them.
My understanding is that the TotalScan transducer also has upgraded ceramics that should provide improved performance. I'll find out very shortly as I've trips planned for the next month already, I just need the weather to be kind and I'll be able to report back very shortly.