FarSounder's Technology Blog

From time to time, FarSounder's development team likes to toot their own horn and tell the world about some of the cool things they are working on. We can't share all our secrets and development plans, but we can share some of the excitement that our engineers experience every day working for FarSounder.

March 10, 2015
FarSounder's New Color Scale
With the launch of SonaSoft 3.0, we’ve decided to make a paradigm shift in how we display our sonar data. Previously, our software always used a colormap based on jet (a.k.a “rainbow”) for both depth and signal level color mapping. Not only did this prevent displaying depth and signal level information in a single display, the colormap itself was not optimal. We now use two separate colormaps for depth and signal level. A multi-color, uniform luminance gradient colormap is used to indicate depth while an orange-copper colormap is used to indicate signal level.
January 10, 2015
FarSounder's Acoustic Test Tank
We’ve just completed the finishing touches on a brand new test tank facility in our main office. Our primary motivation for building this new facility was to increase our production productivity since every sonar unit we produce is tank tested and calibrated before shipment. Our previous tank was located in a warehouse about 3 miles (~5 km) from our offices. Compared to our old tank, the new one is larger, deeper, and WAY more convenient.
October 17, 2014
diver detection for yachts
As the size and complexity of large yachts has evolved, so has the level of sophistication of their security systems. Simply having door locks and a few cameras is no longer suitable for today’s largest super-yachts. Common security equipment includes: thermal and night vision cameras, motion sensors, deck pressure sensors, RFID based access controls, and high resolution radars. FarSounder’s Ship Protection System adds underwater surveillance to the suite of sensors available to a yacht’s security team. Such a large variety of data sources can easily overwhelm crew. In such cases, a well thought-out, integrated security solution is required.
June 6, 2014
FarSounder sonar installed properly - Image by Design Studio Spadolini

Last year we discussed issues to consider when installing FarSounder sonars on a high speed vessel. In that post, we examined various hydrodynamic effects as well as practical considerations when evaluating sonar domes. Sonar domes are often used to reduce the drag of large, low frequency military sonars. In short, sonar domes are expensive and complicated. Fortunately, with a well designed installation, FarSounder sonars have no need for a sonar dome. This blog posting summarizes why domes are sometimes used with other sonar technologies and why our products don’t require them.

April 25, 2014
FarSounder-500 Transducer Module

In September 2012 we launched our FarSounder-500 3D navigation sonar. This system replaced our FS-3DT product and offers longer range, wider field of view at long range, and better image quality than its predecessor. The FarSounder-500 has the same mechanical footprint as the FS-3DT. It uses the same transducer array and stainless steel pressure case which means existing FS-3DT users can easily upgrade their system to a FarSounder-500 for a fraction of the cost of a new FarSounder-500. Upgrading to our latest product allows existing customers to take advantage of the newest software features which offer a significantly improved user experience as compared to the FS-3DT. Let us walk you through the processes.

April 11, 2014
Chart Overlay of 3D sonar data

All winter we’ve been busy working on the next generation of our navigation sonar capabilities. Image quality and user experience have been our primary focus, and this fall we’re launching a major software update for our 3D forward looking sonar products. Though you’ll need to wait for SMM and the Monaco Yacht Show for the official launch to learn about all the new features, we gave a sneak peek of some of them at our recent customer demos and technical training class.

February 19, 2014
3D FLS navigating near shore

Forward-looking 3D navigation sonars have been available as an off-the-shelf tool for mariners since 2006. These products have a track record proving themselves as valuable navigation tools. These products have improved safety and operational efficiencies in a variety of marine environments. Historically, FLS technology has not been integrated into bridge systems and our products are often installed at the request of ship operators, captains and vessel owners as separate stand alone systems. The time is ripe for navigation sonar to become more recognized on the bridge and its use should be integrated into standard operating procedures.

February 14, 2014
Yacht with large antenna dome - used under creative commons license

The world is changing course in terms of how we communicate with each other, how we manage our working environment and how new information is generated. It is not difficult for any of us to imagine how we would achieve any of these without connecting with the Internet. For the maritime industry, it is fast becoming a case not of ‘if’ but ‘when’ and ‘how’ to join the Internet revolution. From the navigation point of view, “modern” connectivity will lead to improved situational awareness and better chart updates. As the gathering of accurate navigational data becomes more widespread and routine, this data can be passed on instantly to authorities and other mariners. Crowd sourced depth measurements will one day be incorporated into the chart updating process and ECDIS displays.

December 23, 2013
3D FLS for navigation

After a busy trade show season, we finally have the time to process what we've seen and learned over the past few months. One thing that is clear: unlike when we started over 11 years ago, we rarely get asked "What is forward looking sonar?". The marine industry now seems to accept forward looking sonar as an important part of the navigation systems on board modern vessels. One question we are now asked is "How is your sonar different than [fill in the blank]?". We believe that our products are the only products which generate a complete, easy to use navigation picture ahead of the vessel at navigationally significant ranges. Rather than trying to compare our apple to every other orange, we feel it's better to educate customers about the features, metrics and characteristics that we think they should be evaluating when considering a 3D FLS. For this blog posting, FarSounder's CEO has put together a short video explaining how forward looking sonar can be used for safe navigation.

June 17, 2013
3D FLS as chart overlay

Our navigation sonars have been designed for ease of operation on a variety of vessels, from small yachts to large commercial vessels. We've spent countless hours refining our user interface designs and improving the signal processing that enables our sonars to look ahead at navigationally significant ranges. Part of the power of our systems is that we don't force the user to conform to one particular mindset: users can operate with color mapped to depth or color mapped to signal strength; the 3D sonar display can be set to a top down orthographic projection or a rotatable 3D perspective; we offer a profile display which slices a vertical strip through the 3D data. The list goes on and on. Along the way, we try to make these displays natural and lead the user to their ideal configuration. We know that everyone visualizes the world around them differently and we continually solicit input from our users on how make our user interfaces work best for them. In this blog posting, we highlight some best practices that we recommend when using our software.