Simrad CM60 ChartMapping System

This do-it-yourself 3-D mapmaker is a fascinating navigation tool.

October 4, 2007

The Simrad CM60 ChartMapping System is an $8,000 PC-based video game with incredibly fun practical applications.

Simrad developed this high-speed plotter for the commercial fishery, but anyone who loves the sea can use it to map sunken ships and archaeological ruins, seabeds and narrow channels. The unit uses depth data from your echosounder and latitude/longitude data from the GPS to generate instant topographic seabed maps as your boat moves along the surface. These maps, combined with the latest vector charts, form a powerful and complete three-dimensional navigation system.

The CM60 employs advanced mathematics to calculate the characteristics of the seabed and build dedicated topographic charts of the area over which your boat passes. As you steam over a given area, the echosounder’s transducer continuously pings the seabed. Each ping represents a box-shape segment of the seabed measuring 15 feet square.


From these boxes of data, the CPU interpolates 3/10 of a mile in each direction, giving you a trend in bottom shape outside the box. These calculations are automatic and do not require a specific steaming pattern. The topographic chart of the sea floor becomes more accurate with every pass because more real data (less interpolation) goes into forming the image.

Although the CM60 will produce a topographic chart using data from any NMEA echosounder, it won’t give you hardness values. This requires the optional HT SW module, and you have to interface the CM60 with the Simrad ES60 or the EQ60 echosounders. Depth and hardness data appear on the seabed map. The values of soft (or steep) and very hard (or flat) appear as percentages from 0 to 100 and in the colors built into the system.

The Simrad ES/EQ60 echogram appears in a window in the chart plotter, giving a one-screen presentation of the plotter and echosounder. Data accumulated over many hours stores in the system’s memory. The area covered in the echosounder also shows up on the chart, and you can scroll the whole trip forward and backward. This creates a connection between the 3-D sea floor map and historical data from the echosounder. The Simrad CM60 uses the original ES/EQ60 measurements, so range and gain can be changed for the historical data.


For surface navigation, the CM60 uses official S57 electronic charts or the CM-93 world coverage vector charts from C-Map. The map of the seabed generated by the CM60 appears on the screen integrated with the vector charts. The combination appears as one seamless chart, so you can relate your position on the surface to the contours of the seabed.

Although you began with a C-Map chart, after you start mapping the bottom, the chart you make becomes your own and is stored as a separate entity.

In the plotter mode, you may display the vector charts oriented north up, course up or by manual manipulation to an orientation of your choice. Route planning requires moving the cursor to a waypoint and initiating the navigation mode. When you do this, all the pertinent navigation data appear on the screen. You may plot your track in a variety of colors and select different styles for the event markers. The navigation lights on the screen are live and blinking, as they are in the real world outside the boat. After you have established your route, you may engage the autopilot and let the plotter steer.


In addition to the detailed chart for navigation, a movable overview chart on the screen gives you a view of a larger area. This chart simplifies route planning. You may make as many notations as you wish about any given mark; name waypoints on the chart or enter the lat/lon via the keyboard. You may also display the bottom profile along your route and use this feature as though it were attached to the boat, giving a virtual forward-looking echosounder to warn you about bottom contour ahead.

Connected to modern radar that incorporates ARPA target data output, all targets show on the chart, giving you course, speed and distance to each target. The track from each of these ARPA targets can be saved.

Many thanks to the commercial fishing industry for requesting this fabulous tool, and to Simrad for developing it. The CM60 is sure to add one more entertaining facet to our seafaring lives.


Contact: Simrad USA, (800) 426-5585;


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