Garmin echoMAP 54dv
Garmin offers quite a number of units with DownVü imaging, but one of the highest rated is without a doubt, the echoMAP 54dv. Even though it’s a unit without CHIRP technology, it can still supply pretty clear results, both in 2D and DownVü. Also, it comes with a pretty decent charts pack and the ultra-fast Garmin GPS.
However, before we proceed with the full presentation of this product, the most important aspect to mention is the fact that this post refers to the 010-01384-01 model, the unit that also includes the HD-ID and DownVü transducer.
Technical Details and Specifications
- Screen: 5.0″ diagonal, 480H x 480V pixel resolution, WQVGA color, backlit
- Sonar: Dual Frequency HD-ID, DownVü
- Frequency and Coverage:
- 2D Sonar: 200 kHz / 10° and 77 kHz / 40°
- DownVü: 260 kHz 2° fore to aft / 51° side to side, 455 kHz 1.4° fore to aft / 29° side to side
- Depth Capability:
- 2D Sonar: 1,500 feet (457 m)
- DownVü: 1,000 feet (305 m)
- Transducer: GT21-TM (4-pin), for HD-ID and DownVü
- Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
- GPS: 5Hz, Internal
- Maps: BlueChart g2
- Routes, Waypoints, Tracklog: 100; 5,000; 50,000 points (50 saved tracks).
Sonar and transducer
One of the best aspects of this unit is that it comes with the deepwater transducer GT21-TM (4-pin). This particular transducer supports both DownVü and 2D sonar. For 2D standard sonar, it uses two conical beams, of 40° / 50 kHz and 10° / 200 kHz, for a wider and deeper view, and respectively for a narrower and more focused view. For DownVü it also uses two beams, at two different frequencies, but these are really thin in fore to aft, only up to 2°. The side-to-side angle of the dv breams is wide enough though, 51° / 260 kHz and 29° / 455 kHz.
Due to the powerful transducer, this fish finder has quite some depth capability. The traditional sonar can scan depths up to 1,500 ft. (457 m), while in DownVü is can scan up to 1,000 ft (305 m). It’s actually capable of 2,300 ft (701 m) in freshwater and perfect water and weather conditions.
The transducer includes a temperature sensor, and this unit also offers a temperature graph function, quite great to have when looking for water temperature variations, currents etc. The cable length of the transducer is 30 ft. (9.1 m). Also, an important aspect to add here, is that the transducer that comes with the unit has a 4-pin connector, while the GT21-TM transducer sold separately comes usually with an 8-pin. Therefore, in case you would need a new transducer, you will probably need a cable adapter from 8-pin to 4-pin. This actually stands for any other transducer with 8-pin, compatible with this unit, though.
There are several other sonar-related functions to mention regarding this Garmin unit. First of all, it has sonar recording and sonar rewind functions. Therefore, you can record your sonar feed on a microSD data card inserted within the control head, and also scroll back through it, mark waypoints on certain spots, or simply review a specific spot that you’ve passed over, without turning the boat around and scanning that particular place once more.
A-Scope, Bottom Lock, and Fish Symbol ID are three other functions to mention. These are actually functions that fish finder / GPS combos from other brands also have, but named differently. For example, the A-Scope is a vertical flasher function which can be viewed next to the standard sonar feed, a function that indicates the most recent sonar echo. In Lowrance units such as the Elite-5 CHIRP, this function is called Amplitude Scope. Bottom Lock is a type of sonar view that keeps close to the bottom, showing it somewhat flattened, in order to put into view better the fish close to the bottom. Fish Symbol ID is a sonar function that replaces the regular fish arches on the standard view, with fish icons. Of course, not all the returns that will be given a fish symbol will be fish, but most of them will. This function is called Selective Fish ID in Humminbird units, such as the HELIX 7 DI GPS for example.
GPS and navigation
The Garmin echoMAP 54dv is equipped with an extremely accurate and fast 5 Hz internal GPS. It actually refreshes 5 times per second, and via the GPS system, your control unit can also measure speed. The GPS system is also GLONASS capable.
BlueChart g2 Maps View
Just like the Garmin echoMAP 44dv, this unit comes with the BlueChart g2 maps, which cover the coastal waters of the U.S. and Bahamas, including West Coast, East Coast, the U.S. part of the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.
BlueChart g2 gives you access to several functions. For example, you can customize your screens via the Safety Shading option, determining a safe depth. The charts also include currents, tidal stations, IALA symbols, and depth contours, pretty much all information included by NOAA charts. Fishing charts next to the base charts also feature bathymetric contour with less visual clutter. Also, BlueChart g2 offers quite a smooth transitioning between zoom levels, and an excellent continuity across chart boundaries.
The unit’s memory can save up to 5,000 waypoints and 100 routes. It can also record your track, with the ability to save 50 tracks, up to 50,000 trackpoints each. Needless to say, your saved tracks can be turned into routes, and you can re-follow them whenever you want.
Control unit features
The echoMAP 54dv has a square display with a 480 x 480 pixel resolution and a 5-inch diagonal. Although it’s not an extremely wide display, it sure does offer more screen surface than the 44dv echomap model. In other words, split screen views offer more information. The screen is pretty bright, with adjustable LED backlight, offering quality images, with great readability even in direct bright light. The control unit is IPX7 waterproof, meaning that it can resists water splashes and drops, or even immersions up to 1 m.
The unit features an NMEA 0183 connector, for data transfer and extra connectivity options. It also features a microSD card slot for sonar recording, saving snapshots, and waypoints, and for software upgrades.
The box includes several accessories, such as transom mount for the transduces, protective cover, quick-release, and flush mount.
Like most echoMAP units, this particular one functions with various other transducers, such as the 010-10218-21 or the 010-10182-21 thru-hull models. Apart from the BlueChart g2 maps, the unit is also compatible with various other charts. LakeVü™ HD, LakeVü HD Ultra or BlueChart g2 Vision are some of them. LakeVü HD Ultra and BlueChart g2 Vision make available the Auto Guidance function.
Auto Guidance is able to automatically search through the existent charts in order to create a virtual safe pathway, allowing you to avoid obstacles and obstructions such as shallow water, low bridges etc. Auto Guidance routes can also be modified and waypoints can be inserted into them. It gives you the possibility to calculate the arrival time on any of the waypoints on route, depending on your speed. Evidently, Auto Guidance routes, or your own routes, along with waypoints and tracks, can be saved on a microSD card, for backup.
No NMEA 2000 port, but it appears that the newcomer units, echoMAP CHIRP, which will be released by the end of 2015 or early 2016 will have this feature. Also, since it has only one SD card, there’s the inconvenience of swapping cards in case you want to use a different charts card but also record sonar.
The echoMAP 54dv from Garmin is an inclusive small unit, offering two types of sonar, standard and down scanning, along with an accurate and quick GPS system. It also comes with the BlueChart g2 charts package, which makes available an impressive range of navigation functions. It’s a unit fit for just about any small boat or kayak, and even though it’s not exactly the most affordable out there, you do get what you pay for. This unit is currently rated 4.5 to 5 stars on various popular websites.