Lowrance Elite-7 CHIRP
If you want a 7-inch fishfinder / GPS combo with down view sonar, but don’t want to spend extra on maps, the Elite-7 CHIRP is definitely one to put on your list. As its name suggests, it also offers CHIRP sonar technology, which is much better than the traditional sonar, as it modulates the pulse over a spectrum of frequencies, providing a better definition of each target. This unit is pretty similar to the Elite-5 CHIRP, but does come with several pluses over this smaller unit, including a larger screen.
There’s a lot to be mentioned regarding this unit, but the most important aspect that we ought to start with to avoid any confusion is its model number. This is the 000-11665-001 model, the one that comes with the HDI Skimmer transducer, GPS and basemap.
Details and Specs
- Screen: 7″ diagonal, 16:9, 800H x 480V pixel matrix, 16-bit color TFT, with adjustable backlight
- Sonar: 2D CHIRP and DownScan
- Depth Capability: 1,000 ft (305 m) for the CHIRP sonar, 300 ft. (91 m) for DownScan
- Frequency and Coverage:
- 200 kHz (11°) / 83 kHz (60°) for standard CHIRP
- 455 kHz for DownScan, fore to aft. 2.8°, port to starboard 56°
- 800 kHz for DownScan fore to Aft 1.6°, port to starboard 32°
- Transducer: Transom, number 000-10976-001
- Power Output: Max 500 Watts (RMS)
- Power Input: 10-17 VDC
- GPS: 10 kHz, 16-channels, Internal
- Maps: BaseMap
- Routes, Waypoints, Tracks: 100, 3,000, 100 (10,000 points each)
Needless to say, this unit features a 256 color TFT display, with LED backlight, offering quality imaging for both sonar and maps. With a pixel matrix of 800 x 480, it offers plenty of screen space for split-screen views. You can actually view up to 4 applications on the screen, such as the returns from both 2D sonar beams, the DownScan sonar and your charts. The control unit features IPX7 waterproofing, which means it can resist water drops and splashes, and even immersions up to 1 m, and up to 30 minutes.
As opposed to the Elite-5 CHIRP, this Garmin fish finder also features an NMEA 2000 port, not just the one for NMEA 0183, offering superior connectivity options. It has one microSD card slot for data transfer, map upgrades or saving screenshots and sonar, being able to accept microSD cards of maximum 32GB.
The unit works with just about any 12V battery.
GPS and navigation
Similar to the other elite units, the Elite-7 CHIRP features a precise internal GPS antenna, with 16-channels, providing pretty quick and accurate locks and positioning. It actually refreshes every second. Via GPS, the unit also indicates the boat’s speed.
When it comes to GPS, there is the possibility of an upgrade with an external antenna. And since the control unit features an NMEA 2000 port, it can share GPS with a different unit, or with an antenna connected to the NMEA 2000 grid. The unit is also AIS capable, and an AIS module can also be connected in this manner.
Waypoints and routes functions are also included. In fact, this Lowrance unit can store up to 3,000 waypoints and up to 100 routes, with 100 waypoints per each route. There’s also a trail function which allows you to record your course in a breadcrumb manner, with a capability of 10,000 points per trail. The unit can store up to 100 retraceable trails. Evidently, waypoints, routes, and trails can be shared between units connected via NMEA 2000 or NMEA 0183.
In any combo unit charts are pretty important as they can make a lot of difference regarding your situational awareness. Unfortunately, this unit only features the basemap charts, which cover more than 3,000 enhanced lake maps indicating depth contours and coastal depth contours up to 1,000 ft. The detail on these maps isn’t great, however, the good news is that its charts can be upgraded. There’s quite a selection of charts packages compatible with the Elite-7 units, including Navionics Gold/HotMaps, Nautic Insight PRO and HD, Fishing HotSpots Pro, and CMAP Max-N by Jeppessen. The Elite-7 CHIRP Gold actually comes with the Navionics Gold charts.
There’s also the possibility to use maps created via Insight Genesis. This online software allows you to create your own custom maps with overlayed sonar, to always have a good picture of what’s under the water surface in a certain spot. You can also download maps shared by other users via Insight Genesis.
Sonar and transducer
Lowrance Elite DownScan Mode
The Lowrance Elite-7 CHIRP has two types of sonar: 2D CHIRP and StructureScan. But to make it clear, this unit is only capable of DownScan, and not SideScan. For 2D CHIRP, it’s capable to operate at 50/83/200 kHz, in 3 distinctive sonar modes: Low CHIRP, Med CHIRP, and High CHIRP. The CHIRP sonar is actually much better than standard frequency sonar, as it offers a better target separation and a much better distinction between targets. In other words, it will help you spot out fish with a higher accuracy.
The DownScan sonar built-in this unit is also a great sonar technology to have. This type of sonar is excellent to determine the shape of the structure and the constitution of the bottom. It’s not as good as CHIRP at pointing out fish. But nonetheless, fish will also show on the DownScan view as white dots. Overall, DownScan offers photo-like clarity giving you the possibility to understand better what’s under the boat.
One of the best aspects regarding the Elite-7 units is that they use Advanced Signal Processing to monitor noise such as engine ignition systems, boat pumps or water condition, filtering out unnecessary signals. This way, whether you’re using the 2D mode or DownScan, undesired clutter will be eliminated.
The transducer supplied with this unit is the Lowrance HDI Skimmer, or to be more specific, the 000-10976-001 transducer model. This particular transducer is capable of 4 distinctive frequencies: 83/200/455/800 kHz. In other words, it offers the possibility to use two sonar beams for each type of sonar, 2D CHIRP, and DownScan.
83/200/455/800 kHz Transducer for Lowrance Elite Series
For CHIRP, it uses 2 conical beams. The one for 200 kHz is really narrow, with an angle of 11°, meant for shallow water use and for more focused results. The one for 83 kHz is wider, with an angle of 60°, for a superior coverage, and for higher depths. Now, since this transducer does not supply a 50 kHz frequency, you will not be able to use the Low CHIRP mode, just the Med CHIRP, and High CHIRP.
For DownScan, the transducer also uses two beams for 455 kHz and 800 kHz, but they’re thin fore to aft, being shaped more like a fan. For 455 kHz, the beam has an angle of 56°, while for 800 kHz the beam is narrower, with an angle of 32°.
With the supplied transducer, this unit is capable of a maximum depth of 1000 ft. for 2D, and cca 300 ft. for DownScan. But if equipped with a 50 kHz transducer, the unit’s depth capability can reach 3,000 ft. However, keep in mind that depth capability is influenced by various factors.
The transducer supplied with the unit features a built-in temperature sensor so that the unit can track water temperature. It comes with transom mount and 20 ft. (6 m) of cable.
Apart from what we’ve mentioned so far regarding sonar and transducer, there are also several sonar functions that should be put into view. First of all, this unit has the TrackBack function which gives you the possibility to record sonar or scroll back through the sonar feed to see a specific spot that you’ve just passed. You can also assign waypoints on recorded sonar, in case you want to revisit that particular spot.
DownScan Overlay is also a function that you might find useful. Via this function, you can actually blend the 2D and DownScan views together. And since the 2D sonar is better at distinguishing fish, while DownScan is better for understanding structure, you can get a better picture of the fish positioning in relation to vegetation, bottom, rocks etc.
Split-Zoom, Split-Flasher, Amplitude Scope, Fish ID are also functions that this unit has. Split-Zoom allows you to view sonar in split screen, at different zoom levels. The Circular Flasher view presents the sonar feed into an abstract, circular mode, best to use when stationary. Amplitude Scope is a vertical flasher that indicates the most recent sonar echo, while Fish ID is a function that replaces the fish arches on the 2D sonar, with fish icons, also pointing out their depth.
If so far we’ve pretty much put into view what’s best about this unit, there also are a few drawbacks to be mentioned. The first one regards the unit’s processor, which is a bit slow. Even though it’s specified that this unit can be used at 70 mph, even at lower speeds map tracking may not keep up. This is not an issue for the HELIX 7 DI GPS from Humminbird for example, however, this unit does not have CHIRP sonar.
Also, the learning curve is pretty steep. It may take a while to master this unit.
The Lowrance Elite-7 CHIRP is quite an inclusive, medium-sized unit. If you want DownScan and CHIRP sonar, with the possibility of multiple split-screen modes, this unit is pretty much it. Even if it doesn’t include advanced charts, it still gives you the possibility to upgrade them. All in all, is quite a decent unit, for a price less than $500.