Marine Electronics Guide for 2020

Today’s technology is better and more affordable.

By Bill Jennings

It’s hard to remember a time when a boat didn’t have radar, chart plotters or sonar. Navigation consisted of maps, a compass and a great deal of local knowledge. Thankfully those days are well behind us and the electronics on the market continues to get better and more affordable.

Hundreds of new marine electronics are introduced every year to make life on the water safer and more enjoyable. Our editors looked at the new marine electronic products and picked some of our favorites. 

Location, Location, Location

Garmin electronics recently introduced a new line of mid-sized keyed andtouchscreen units that combine high-quality sonar and marine chart plotting for boaters who want to see what’s located on both sides of the boat.

These electronics include integrated Navionics mapping data and anglers will benefit from the latest and most detail-rich cartography built-in and ready to go out of the box. This ultra-high definition scanning sonar has a range of up to 100 feet.

The ECHOMAP UHD series offer 6-, 7-, or 9-inch displays, all with a quick-release bail mount for easy set up and removal. Garmin has done a great job of integrating their world renowned technical prowess into smaller, more affordable display options. MSRPs range $500 to $1,200.

Bottom Vision

The new Airmar TM165HW transducer features a 30-degree wide beam coverage area for triple the usual under-boat coverage. Chirp frequency range spans 150 to 250 kHz at 600 watts for fishing depths up to 500 feet. For inshore anglers looking to enhance their fishfinder’s performance, this Airman transducer makes for an easy install-it-yourself replacement upgrade, for your existing unit. Designed for fishing boats up to 25 feet, it is compatible with most sonar manufacturer’s products. Anglers can expect a more detailed return of fish and baitfish targets over a greater area under their boat. Around $500.

What’s Lurking?

Simrad’s new Halo 20 radar uses solid-state pulse compression technology for superior target resolution of up to 72 nautical miles. It powers up in seconds and will detect objects much closer than conventional pulse radars.  With the Halo sweeping 360 degrees every 60 seconds, in short-, mid-, or long-range modes, this Simrad radar provides the ultimate in collision avoidance for both stationary and moving targets, Thanks to solid state electronics, brushless motor and a sealed gearbox, the unit requires virtually no maintenance, even in tough marine environments. The Halo 20 sells for just north of $3,000.

Heavy duty 

A new edition to the TACO range of sport fishing outrigger mounts, the heavy duty Pro Series GS-400 is ideal for boats up to 50 feet long. It is designed to handle the additional pressure from torque and whip the longer outrigger poles generate.

The GS-400 pairs with 1-1/2-inch diameter outrigger poles up to 24-feet long. A strong, locking head allows for perfect positioning and the rotation handle is offset by 30 degrees, which provides convenient hand clearance on a variety of top designs.

Arrive at your destination and keep going

One of the fastest growing bicycle types in the market and now becoming popular with boaters, is the electric folding bicycle. It’s easy to understand why. These folding vehicles unfold and fold in under a minute for excellent convenience and accessibility yet provide transportation at your destination for between 25 and 40 miles on a single charge. Of course, when folded, these bikes take up surprisingly little space in your boat. 

A good example of folding electric bikes is the Rad Mini 4 that sells for under $1,500. It includes full fenders, multiterrain tires and halo headlights for optimal side visibility.

Talk to me

Horizon’s new Explorer Series GX1850 25W Fixed Mount VHF is bound to get boaters talking. The menu system is easy to operate with a reduced number of input steps including programming and DSC calls. When connected to a GPS, it provides compass and waypoints. 

The slim 3.3” deep case saves helm space and the unit has plug and play connectivity to the NMEA bus. An optional second station can connect and operate using all of the main radio’s features. Night display mode reduces nighttime glare at the helm. You can store up to 10 favorite channels and program priority scan. Explorer VHF radios come with a hassle-free full 3-year warranty and the original owner’s warranty after that continues for lifetime, with a Horizon flat rate, cost saving program. The GX1850 sells for under $200.

I can see you

Looking through a SiOnyx, Aurora monocular scope, your night vision is greatly enhanced. That alone makes it a valuable boating tool. But this SiOnyx is also a camera, capable of capturing stills and video in either monochrome or color.

Boaters can view and record their surroundings in 720 HD anytime, with true day and night imaging. The water-resistant Aurora is 4.6” long and weighs only 8 ounces, so it fits easily in a jacket pocket. It has settings for day, twilight and night. At night, the Aurora camera captures light at wavelengths way beyond what the human eye can see. Specifically, while the human eye can see up to an infrared wavelength of 700 nm, the Aurora can see to 1,100 nm. Around $400.

Who’s There?

When you are away from your boat, Siren Marine gives you the power to know that your boat is safe, secure and ready to enjoy. Affordable, easy to install and simple to use, Siren Marine is the perfect solution for connecting you with your boat. Not only can you track what’s going on in your boat, you can operate specific functions.

Once you install the SirenSat MTC device and connect it to the electronics that you choose to be monitored, download the iOS or Android App to your cell phone, tablet or PC.  You are then ready to monitor unauthorized use, entry and theft, as well as control specific functions on your boat, such as a bilge pump. Around $600.

Charging ahead

Almost every boater can appreciate an on-board, hard-wired, waterproof, marine battery charger. The ProSport 12 Amp, charger from ProMariner delivers  fast, efficient, 3-bank charging in a lightweight design. Troubleshooting is eliminated thanks to a digital LED display that tells you if connections are good or if a fault is present on a specific battery bank. Once you choose your battery type, the ProSport will begin its five-stage performance charging, using the latest in digital pulse charging technology. Between charges, ProSport automatically reconditions all batteries on board once a month for maximum battery life and performance. The warranty is 3 years and the MSRP is around $170.

Did you miss me?

Did you know that falling overboard is the number one cause of boating deaths?A simple man overboard scenario can turn tragic if it goes unnoticed or the water is choppy. There are several products on the market to mitigate this concern, but a new one has surfaced. It is a joint effort by Mercury Marine and Fell technologies to integrate a MOB system into Mercury’s SmartCraft suite of digital systems. The helm unit is combined with remote units worn on your wrist or attached to your clothing. Up to four remotes can be connected to the hub at the same time. The system immediately notifies all those on board and in some cases will shut down the engines. Restart for the motors is allowed in six seconds. Individual fobs sell for around $40 each and the Fell central unit for around $160. Check with your Mercury dealer for information on the SmartCraft suite version.

A Real Turn-On 

The bigger the boat, the more equipment switches you will find. Now you can install a switch that will eliminate the salt corrosion that builds on metal parts found in switches. Most switches are based on mechanical feedback systems that depend on rotary or lifting movements. New F31K2 switches use two inductive elements to separate mechanical movement and position, thus eliminating salt contact. Since no physical contact is necessary, the sensor can be hermetically sealed from the actuator. With the module encased in rugged translucent plastic, the sensor and components are protected from moisture, vibration, impact and UV light. Cable and plug accessories complete the product range. You can specify F31K2 switches whenever you replace switches on your boat.

TEEZER TD-2000 2-Spool Electric Teaser-Dredge Reel

Electric Fishing Reel Systems Inc., which has been producing high-quality, American-made Elec-Tra-Mate electric fishing reels for 50 years, started making high-end, electronically-governed teaser reels back in 2003. These reel systems, designed to be installed into the overhead in fly bridge hard tops, let out and retrieve lines through the outriggers via motor-driven reels that pull lines with hookless topwater teaser lures or sub-surface dredges designed to bring billfish, tuna, and other pelagic species into the trolling spread behind the boat.

The company’s standard electric “pancake” TEEZER reels are designed for larger sportfishing vessels. Their newer TD-4000 TEEZER-DREDGE reel took three electrical engineers, two mechanical engineers, a million dollars in development costs, and two years of ocean testing to design and produce. This four-reel unit, too, is designed for larger boats, and it’s a way to intelligently set, pull, and retrieve teasers and heavy dredges at the same time with one simple keypad. Once into memory, the unit “remembers” exactly where you want to set your dredges and teasers the next time you deploy them.

Although the TD-4000 is small for its capabilities, it must be installed when a new boat is built.

“So, we received requests from boat owners for a smaller version that could be retrofitted into existing hardtops,” explained Carl Huffman, the company’s long-time president. “We worked on it, and this past November, at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, we introduced the TEEZER TD-2000, the world’s most powerful and advanced two-spool electric teaser/dredge reel. And because of its compactness, it’s ideal for installation under the T-tops of the larger center console outboards, giving them the same high-tech benefit as a 60- to 90-foot sportfisherman outfitted with a TD-4000.”

The new TD-2000 is just 20” wide by 16” long and 7.5” high, and will run on 12 or 24 volts. Each spool holds 679 feet of 400-pound mono, or 422 feet pf 600-pound mono. Retrieve speed is 393 feet per minute, and patented Spool Guards help prevent line from coming off the spools. The spools can be programmed independently for Home and Fishing Position stops, and the Prospect Memory Feature allows the operator to set into memory two or more distances and then toggle back and forth between locations. A digital readout for each spool displays the position of each lure or teaser being pulled, and the Variable Speed Control allows for adjustment to sea conditions. Finally, there’s a loud alarm that indicates when a fish grabs the teaser or dredge.

“All of our products are manufactured in Greensboro, North Carolina,” said Huffman, “not China or anywhere else. We have a full CNC shop where all the parts are machined. We do it all here.” 

For more information on the TEEZER TD-2000 and Elec-Tra-Mate reels visit