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reidLinden

X-85 acting flakey, or just user error?

15 posts in this topic

Hi all.

I've recently come into possession of a Lowrance X-85. Unfortunately for me, I can't really make heads or tails of it, which I find surprising, because I'm good with gadgets, generally speaking. There are two chief problems with the device, and I'll detaily them below.

#1 - even anchored, on calm water, I can't consistently get a bottom reading. Early on I chalked it up to weeds confusing the computer, but I've gotten the problems where I didn't think there should BE a problem with weeds too. It happens when the boat is moving fast (could be cavitation), or when still, and also while trolling (forward and/or backwards). Unfortunately, there are also other times where it seems to work perfectly. The basics that I seem to be seeing are that it appears to work pretty well in water over 20 feet. Between 10 and 20 feet, it seems to come and go about evenly. Below 1o feet of water, it hardly ever seems to work at all (it will occasionally return some kind of information, for a brief moment, but rarely more -- though even thats not a hard and fast rule)

#2 - Unless I have 'FishTrack' set to 'on', I see no fish. I can be parked on top of a school of fish, with maybe 50 fish icons on my screen. If I switch fishtrack to 'off' no new fishes are located. I just get a blank screen with some bottom readings. I don't see the arcs and arches that the documentation says I should see. As soon and I revert to fishtrack 'on', then I start getting readings again. Also, the types of things that I see on the screen in fishtrak on/off modes are totally different (thats probably by design, though).

I've tried a number of times to re-set the system to factory defaults, but the basics are always the same. Unless I have fishtrack on, I wont see any fish at all, and I may or may not see the bottom at any given moment.

All of this causes me to doubt the systems functionality. It also has created the joke that I am always running the finder in demo mode, and that the fish it reports aren't really there (which probably explains why I'm not catching anything either, at least in their eyes...) .

I'm not 100% convinced that something is wrong with the system. I could be user error, but I'm doubting it. Mostly. Also, in my opinion, the transducer could probably be placed better. It seems a bit too close to the engine (though that doesn't appear to me to be causing the interference the documentations suggest MIGHT happen if the engine were running and you were getting a problem), and I think it might get better readings while moving if it were mounted a bit lower (cavitation issues, perhaps). But, when in still water, its completely submerged, and I'm still not getting readings, SOMETHING is wrong.

Any advice? Is the transducer in need of replacement? Is the X-85 itself faulty and in need of replacement?

Thanks for the suggestions, its deeply appreciated.

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I am having similar problems with an x-51 mounted on my pontoon. Seems to only find bottom consistently when under 4 ft, otherwise doesn't seem find bottom. Fish locating is non-existant. I'll have to play with the fish tracking option to see if that exhibits simalar behavior

I am assuming that the transducer is the most likely issue, but not sure. I'm hoping the advice you get will also solve my problem.

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I would make a guess and say the transducer.

But with that unit you will have to ask yourself if it's worth putting in the money for a new transducer (and hope that fixes it) or just purchasing a new finder.

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Sounds to me like a transducer problem. And given the age of the x85 that would not be surprising at all.

dtro makea an excellent point about considering whether or not it's worth it to buy a replacement transducer for that unit. You may be better off going new, things have come a long ways since the x85 was new to the market.

I'd suggest leaving the Fish Track off (this is the setting that displays fish symbols, correct)? Most users would rather see what the screen is showing and make their own interpretations of fish, baitfish, bugs, weeds, etc. rather than rely on their unit to display a large, medium or small fish symbol.

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did you change the sensitivity on the screen? And if your not seeing arches its because thier are no fish around you. when you have the little fishy symbols the locator thinks weeds are fish. when you see lots of little blips turn up the sensitivity and see if it turns into a filled arch thats baitfish. you prolly wont see full archs but half arches are usually fish. it takes getting used to but reading archs is a lot tougher than fishy symbols. if you have a clean lake (10' visibility) its really fun to find fish with your locator. its fun when you can find baitfish and then see arhs close by. thats taking full advantage of your electronics. fishing with archs is like fishing with a flasher sort of. good luck I hope I helped you

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My main concern is that I have NEVER seen a single arch when not in fishtrack mode. Granted, I am new at this, but at the same time, I'm seeing fish where I think I should be seeing fish.

So, how could I test definitively whether this is malfunctioning. Can I just hook it up in my garage, and roll a ball in the cone and see the change (if any) on the screen? I seem to remember that the transducer should work in the air, but that it'd report the wrong depth, which would be okay by me. I just want to know if it functions one way or the other.

Ideas?

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What is your sensitivity set at?

If its really low, it's not going to read much if anything at all.

If you set it to 50%, you should at least see something. The higher you go with sensitivity, the more it will pick up. You should get to a point where it will be tough to read because you will be picking up the smallest of things.

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I've pretty much tried out everything that made sense to me to try.

I most definately played with sensitivities from 0 to 100% and while I did see a lot more screen clutter, I didn't see any arches.

So, I'd like to come up with a test I can run in the garage, and see what I can do to get an arch in that setting, and then go on from there.

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You might have a hard time getting those perfect little arches you see in “Demo” mode or advertised. Sometimes a fish will appear as only a large blob.

What makes me think you have a transducer issue (or a bigger problem) is that you are losing contact with the bottom, especially at low speeds.

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Here's a video I took last year of what I interpreted as fish along a steep breakline.

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Yeah. I should take some pictures. My display is nowhere NEAR that clear as to what the bottom looks like. And I've seen pictures on the net that show good clear output from an X-85, so I know its possible.

I'm with you, I'm sure the transducer is bad. What I'm wondering is if I can set up a test where I get something on the screen in fishtrack (off) mode, so I can say, ok, the units good, just replace the transducer, or, say, ahh, that whole thing is bad, even in perfect test settings it doesn't display an arch (or whatever)

I'm just trying to narrow the scope and deal with the one issue. If I have to buy a whole new unit, I'd rather not have already bought a new transducer for an older malfunctioning model.

Thanks!

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I hear ya on that.

One of the reasons I posted that video is to show you what a $100-$129 unit can do.

Not sure what the going rate is for a new trandsducer for the X-85.

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Ah, I see your point now. Makes a lot of sense now that I see it spelled out for me smile

HS-WSBK Skimmer™ Transducer @ cabellas = $45

A sample of X-85 output can be found a the lowrance HSOforum, under support, under Tips & Tutorials, under Sonar Tutorial. The last two images in the tutorial are from an X-85.

Thats much more clear than my output. I'm not getting near that quality.

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Your transducer angle, the size of the fish, the resolution (pixel count) of your screen and even the depth of the water will make a difference in how your fish arches look. It's not at all uncommon for them to look more like horizontal lines or "blobs" than text-book arches.

IMO, what you need to do first is see if you can get good and consistent bottom readings (worry about fish arches later). If youi can't get bottom readings there's no way you'll get fish arches. Your transducer mouunting or electrical interference could be causing problems with your readings IF your transducer is good.

Lowrance units work well in the automatic setting for both sensitivity and grayline. I'd leave your unit set on automatic and and move around slowly, in deeper water away from weeds. And try tweaking your transducer angle and maybe the wiring to see if you can get rid of any intereference.

But I'd still guess that a bad transducer is your biggest problem.

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Well, I finally managed to do some testing on Saturday. I wasn't able to get a hard bottom reading off of concrete OR a full 5 gallon pail. Needless to say, I was also unable to test if the fish track bit was working with a ball. So, I'm going to try replacing the transducer sometime soon.

Thanks for all your advice, everyone.

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