3D sonar mapping

Hey guys, I'm looking to start on my second apm project of a using the apm to create 3D photo realistic sonar imaging, not just general 3d topography of structures. I know a bit about the data logging for the pseudo 3d image mapping for aerial photography and the programs used, but I have no base line knowledge of anybody doing this with more advanced sonar equipment like the Hummingbird side imaging units.  Any help getting started on gathering research material would be much appreciated.

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  • I am no expert but take a look at http://www.mbari.org/data/mbsystem/

    I understand that it can accept sidescan data but doesn't do a great job of overlapping imagery but you can use http://www.osgeo.org/ossim to do this.

    • Moderator

      My Elite 5 Chirp arrives tomorrow so I shall follow this thread with interest

    • Admin


      Does the Elite 5 come with two sonar transducers like the Elite 4 HDI to create 3D image?


      Tom C AVD 

    • Moderator

      I believe it does Thomas but to be very honest this is my first find out how it all works and play unit. The CHIRP way is there new way I think...

  • Ben, I am looking to do the same. So for I have only found the structure scan fishing types like Lowrance or Humminbird and the professional ones that cost a lot. The fishing ones look to connect back to the display via ethernet. I am looking at using wlan for the boat to shore. I am still looking for options and design, plus getting the money to buy everything. The Lowrance setup it about $1200 and up.

    What are your plans / goals of this boat?


    • Something in the range of this is what I was planing to use.


      The ultimate goal is create a 3D map with high detail for the purposes of my fishing videos. I will go back out and collect location data after the fishing to demonstrate exactly how the competitors where fishing in a particular spot, and what kind of cover was in the directly in that area. I've put a link to above that illustrates the kind of software I'm looking for, but it's kind of lacking in detail right now. I need to down load the trial and plug some of my existing data into it to see how good the resolution actual can be.

      Thank you for response

  • I think the first step is to define what you mean by "3D photo realistic sonar imaging".  Do you mean high resolution depth / bathy data?  Side / multi scan imaging?  Photographic imagery?  Or a combination of the three?  

    • I would like to know of any software that will render data from a sidescan data as 3D object, like a submerged tree or building would naturally stand up perpendicularly to the relatively flat bottom. I would like that data to be rendered as such in a 3D environment. Like compiling 2 or 3 sets of overlapping paths to interpolate a rising feature in a high enough detail that it becomes a recognizable feature.

      Side imaging example from Humminbird SI
      Most relevent software found.

      The Reefmaster software looks promising, but looks to be lacking in the vertical interpolating qualification. I could use this to make the 3D map, but doesn't create that vertical object detailing.

      Thank you for the response

    • Hi Ben, I am also looking at building a system. I contacted Reefmaster for any hardware tips and they suggested the Lowrance Elite 4 HDI. I must admit the water side of APM is new to me but I thought I would throw that out there as it seems to be a lower cost solution. I'm probably missing some features of higher priced systems but I'm a cheap skate! 


    • Admin


      Like my Garmin Intelliducer depth finder, the Lowrance Elite sonar seems to use a NMEA 0183 Tx/Rx communication protocol which can be easily processed and recorded by an Arduino Uno.

      Also the output of the transducer can be wirelessly transmitted to the display on shore.

      The only problem is that this model of the Lowrance Elite does not have a built-in GPS.

      It would be interesting to figure out how to decode the NMEA 0183 sentences from the sonar transducer and create a ground station on shore to display the data as it was captured. A GPS could be easily added to mix like I did with my Pontoon RSV Project.


      TCIII AVD 

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