DeepVision DE680D sidescan "review"/experiences


This is a quick version of my review. I will probably add to is as I remember things and spend more time with it.
I recently got the DeepVision DE680D (DeepEye) Side scan system. The delivered price to me was $11,263.08‬, so I think it has a decent value for the money when you consider what the “professional” units cost. It was shipped very fast from Sweeden and actually spend more time in Customs than it spent getting to America. The system is extremely portable and I only need the Pelican case, Spool, and a laptop to run the system.

I even took it out in my inflatable boat with my dad once

It didn’t come with a GPS unit so I bought a generic NMEA USB one that is compatible. The GPS is only required for recording the GPS positions on the sidescan waterfall and for the chartplotter. The Deep View sidescan software came on a cool metal USB drive that has an o-ring sealed cap. I took a picture but can’t find it now.
Here’s a quick video I took. I was trying to show the curve of the tether. It didn’t work since there’s not enough tether out and visibility isn’t good enough to see it when it’s down farther.

The software supports scanning at either 1.5 or 3 knots. It can even be relaxing or even very boring to watch the waterfall show nothing interesting while we cruise around at 3 knots at a constant bearing. Unfortunately, the boat that I used has a minimum speed of slightly under 3 knots and a loose steering linkage so I wasn’t able to get optimal image quality from it. I had a hard time getting the towfish below the big 60’ thermocline. I think i would need to be going 1.5 knots for deeper exploration.

Overall the sidescan is very efficient for exploring since I can cover a large area quickly. I found a bunch of new shipwrecks and other interesting looking targets for ROV exploration next summer. I added the lengths of all of my scan files and it looks like I scanned 405,730 feet (76.8 miles) linearly. With a swath of 656’ means the rough square area of 266,158,880‬ square feet (50,408.8 miles), but that sounds wrong. I do believe that I scanned 76.9 miles.

Area scanned in the north half of the lake:

Area scanned in the south half of the lake:


It’s a Pelican 1700 case with a handles on both sides and wheels on the long end which makes it easy to move around. It’s also Pelican branded so it’s absurdly overpriced. DeepVision requires it to ship the sonar. I think that DeepVision did a great job with it and it looks very nice on the inside. They have the company name engraved about 1/4" deep in the lower corner and there’s pockets to fit all of the different parts.


I chose the 680 KHz version since I wanted the image quality and didn’t want to spend the extra money for the dual frequency version. I read somewhere that it’s 10% CHIRP (symmetrical 5%), but I don’t remember where I saw that. It has 4 pin Subconn connectors and came with a set of ‘blanks’ to protect the connections when it’s not in use. My only complaint is that the TIG welds on the shackle mount look a little undersized. For the visual style I think the towfish also looks great.


My first complaint is that the shackle on the end of the tether had a burr from the manufacturing process. I though that I could bend it to knock it off, but it just sliced my finger. It’s obviously isn’t DeepVision’s fault since it’s a purchase part.

The Subconn connector on the tether has a rubber strap that holds the connection securely to the towfish, and my other complaint is that it doesn’t look like it’s easily replaceable if the rubber starts cracking or gets a cut somehow.

The spool is Schill brand and made in Germany. It’s made of somewhat cheap feeling plastic, but otherwise fulfills it’s propose. What doesn’t work great is the spool resistance system. It’s a plastic screw with a rubber foot. The problem with it is that the resistance screw turns itself as it rubs against the spool and tightens itself when I just want a little resistance. So either the spool is locked and I can’t pull more tether out or it’s free spinning and makes a mess. There is no in-between. I’m thinking about replacing it and adding a jam nut to solve this problem.

The tether feels strong and durable. I remember reading that it’s Kevlar reinforced. A thing to consider is that the towfish is hard to pull in when it is 14.8 pounds negatively buoyant and there’s several hundred feet of the tether dragging in the water with the boat moving at 3 knots. I could pull it in at maybe 2 feet per second, but it makes the muscles in my arms hurt and I almost got blisters on my fingers. I was planning on trying to wear gloves but I kept forgetting to bring them. It uses a double prusik knot to secure the tether and it holds great, but it’s hard to pull the tether in with 2 hands since it keeps self tightening on me. It would be a lot easier with 3 hands, but I think I stated to figure out a workable technique.

An important consideration is that there were a few times where there was an underwater ridge that suddenly changed the bottom depth from about 120 to less than 60, so it might not be possible to pull the towfish up in time to avoid a collision if you aren’t careful. Here’s a time when the bottom was reasonably flat and a ridge caught me by surprise. The only way that the towfish was saved was because we hit the throttle on the boat and used the drag to lift the towfish up. The downsides are that any impacts would have been much worse since I had to accelerate the towfish to 15+ knots.

GPS tracked Mosaic view of that event. We cleared the first ridge but the second one was coming up a lot faster.

Here’s a good view of the bottom coming up as we went into a bay:


The Surface Unit has a threaded Bulgin Buccaneer brand IP68 rated Mini-USB connector. The matching USB cable is ChingLung branded. The other connector of the Surface Unit is a 4 pin Fischer branded connection. It’s easy to connect and remove and I just need to line up the red dots on each side. The male-male cable that goes between the surface unit and the spool looks and feels like it’s made of the same cable as the main tether.


The software was expensive, but it just has a lifetime license so I won’t need to renew it and it sounds like the license will transfer to my future computers as I upgrade my laptop. It also can show a low quality mosaic of my scans on Google Earth, with is great for visualizing how much that I scanned.
The worst thing that I can say about it is that the usability feels clunky like it’s a 20 year old software. For example, There isn’t any shortcut button on the toolbar to add markers. I need to right click on the waterfall and then choose “Set Markers”. Then I click where I want the markers. Then to rename the marker I need to scroll down on the Project navigator and then Right click on the marker name to go to properties. I then can rename the marker. This whole process can take 20 or 30 seconds and during that whole time I’m not watching the waterfall.

The chartplotter is nice since it automatically makes a mosaic and shows the range of my scan while I’m scanning which helps line up following passes so I know if I’m overlapping my scan area or not. Previous tracks are green and the current track that I’m recording is red.

Interesting Targets Mega Montage

Not sure what that is

Probably a shipwreck. 60’ thermocline washed out the image.

Idaho shipwreck

Interesting bottom texture

Going past a marina. There was some waves bouncing my boat and distorting the image

3 Shipwrecks. The big one in the middle is the Seeweewana

Another marina

Sand Star wreck

I-90 highway bridge

Watch out when you go around a point since the bottom comes up in a hurry. I had to pull the towfish out of the water just to be safe.

Water pump?

Harrison wreck

There’s that pickup truck from one of my Beauty Bay videos

Anchor drag marks?

Square thing


These round things showed up a few times. There’s always a few in a line. I will investigate next summer.





Underwater hill. I though it looks interesting





You can barely see some shadows caused by the dock pilings

Small boat?

Might be a tree


This is what buoys look like

2 Shipwrecks I already posted about

Above the thermocline


Nice scans of various parts of the river…I was going to DeepVision but decided on StarFish 990F instead…
Try to keep the scan on a narrow beam for better detail…or close to the bottom like 30 or so feet off from the bottom…you might try a side pole mount for shallow water,easy to build one
I use my to find oyster beds on a project at MIT and locate shipwrecks…they like the quality of the scans, then lower away a drop camera (two) system video/stills to record…easy to build one…
I have over 200 scans which are given to local government/non-profits …valuable info

Interesting review @btrue!

There’s a lot to unpack, but it seems like all up the system works quite well, and the interface is a bit clunky to use but has the functions you want/need from it. The map overlay definitely seems useful for tracking the scanned region, and same for the green/red recording tracks while you’re operating :slight_smile:

I feel like the scan mosaic would be extra useful if it tried to do some kind of meaningful blending of the data rather than just having the most recent scan on top (e.g. convert all the scan data to a point cloud which gets projected back onto the map view), but that’s something for the developers to potentially work on, so is somewhat unrelated to you.

Great Presentation Brian, The weld caught my eye to., Under cut and Cold looking, Not very professional ,Should hold ok though. Would probably be hard to re weld, with the Electronics inside because of the Heat required. I havent heard back from DeepVision yet, Sent them another Message yesterday, but no reply yet. Hopefully some time this week.

The 990F was my first choice, but it only works for shallow water and the salesperson went on a vacation for a month and didn’t reply to me. I was in a hurry to get something before summer ended and I think this DeepVision is the best value in this under $15,000 price category.

I do know about how the altitude should be 10-15% of the range. The problem is that it’s hard to get the towfish that deep at 3 knots, and it’s even harder to pull it back up. It seemed like every time I would let out a bunch of tether, and then to towfish would go right back to the same altitude that it was going before. I think the extra drag on the tether balances the extra length. This is my very first experience with sidescan so I still have a lot to learn.

I would be interested in looking at some of your scan files if you want to share them. I saw the demo files on the product website and am curious about seeing what “real world” scans look like.

Underwater Director of Archaeology pointed out areas of the scans indicated possiable debris of a French warship in 30 feet depth. He was impressed with the quality…I have it mounted on a side pole midship on my 28 foot downeast boat.
Using the tether line is a art in itself…have not mastered it yet… maybe next year

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Various scan shipwrecks, day marker, docks etc I like the detail on the small objects…use the system to locate oyster beds and determine the population…
these scans are just about the right height from the floor for best detail in this case about 30 feet of water depth

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These scan show real good detail of rock contour or sand waves

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The images look great, but you are also super shallow at only 30 feet. I need to have the ability to scan 100-250’ depths with very strong thermoclines at least at 30’ and 60’, so that makes the starfish not a good choice for me.

I’m planning on starting to scan the Columbia River soon and maybe I can drop the range down to a comparable value so we can see a comparable image from my DE680D. Mine is definitely a lot more capable overall, but yours is half the cost and should theoretically have better resolution. It will be interesting to see where the best value is.

Also: Here’s the response I got back for adding weight to the starfish:
“The best way that we have found to attach weight to the cable is, at approximately 1-2m up from the StarFish head, wrap the cable with rubber tape to protect it. Over the rubber tape wrap bubble wrap, again to protect the cable. Over the bubble wrap, wrap a length of roofing Lead. Finally, attach a large cable tie around the cable above and below the weight to stop if from moving up or down the cable. Only ever add approximately 2-5kg in addition to the cable. We must stress however, please be very careful when adding weight to the cable that you do not damage the cable in any way. We would also like to make you aware that adding too much to the cable could potentially cause it to snap resulting in the loss of the StarFish. This would be done at your own risk.”

I suspect that all of the electronics are in that black tail section. That’s where the plug and transducers are. I think the rest of it is just the solid nose weight and a silver housing. I’m slightly worried about those small welds shearing off if I accidentally ram it into the side of a rock cliff. I could easily add more TIG welds myself, but I don’t want to modify it.

I wish that the towfish design was like some of the competitors where there is a solid connection to the tail and a break away connection on the front. That way it effectively works the same as this, but if it hits something the front point breaks and then it flips around and gets dragged backwards. This prevents the towfish from getting snagged on something like suspended cables or branches.

Have you heard back from them yet?

Hi Brian

I contacted A fella named Jim Kennard who has a web sight named and he got ahold of them for me. 2 weeks ago. I finally got a Email back from Uffe 2 days ago telling me to get a
hold of Him, so i sent him a email and said , I was looking for Prices on all three of their tow fish and info on some other things, Have not heard a word from anybody since. Nobody at Deepvision seems to want to communicate with me, going on a month now.Good thing i am not in a hurry, cant do much here now anyway, weather is real bad. So i will wait it out a little
longer and see what happens
There is a place in Fall City Wa. That Rents Kongsberg Sonars out and i have been thinking about that also.
You should check out Jim Kennards Web page, He is a noted Wreck Diver in the Great Lakes Region
has also appeared on several Youtube Videos. He is a DeepVision Fan and a real personable guy. He uses the DE 340 He is a Electrical Engineer and built his own sonar from scratch years ago… He seems to be in contact with Deepvision quite often. He never said if through email or phone.
Sounds like you had good luck communicating. Did you use Phone or Email??
I would contact Uffe before welding on it, To Make sure there is nothing inside.
Also on one of your posts i saw where you were having trouble making it dive deeper, Have you tried moving the Shackle on the Pad Eye to the back hole, so that would change the balance and make it want to dive more so.That would put more pull on the Tether though and maybe slow down.

The photo below shows a DeepVision tow fish, similar to what you have and the Welds seem to be the same as yours. These guys have been towing sonar for a long time,so that might ease your mind.

Two Lost Civil War Era Sailing Ships Discovered in Lake Huron

The schooner Augustus Handy and Nightingale Discovered

by Brendon BaillodDecember 11, 2020

  • Share

Mark and Joe with their sidescan sonar and ROV
Mark Gammage


Thanks for the suggestion.
Yes, moving the shackle back does make the towfish pull down a lot harder, but as a result it also makes it very hard to pull in. As I show in a couple screenshots, there are a few places where the bottom comes up very fast with no warning, and pulling it in was very slow, tiring, and hard on my body after a few minutes. I was changing how much tether I has out fairly often as the water depth changed so pulling it back in was a constant concern.
My philosophy was to do an initial scan at a higher altitude to identify the hazards, then come back later with a low altitude for better images.

I communicated with them by e-mailing Uffe and he always replied within a day or 2. I can send you a copy of the price list if you want to see the prices.

I’m not super worried about the welds. I was just surprised at how small they are and I think there’s a chance that they could shear off in a serious impact. I also don’t know how thick the body tube is. It’s probably thin enough that bigger weld won’t matter.

I bought the Starfish 990F for shallow water and it’s narrow horz beam of .3 degrees and high frequency 1MHZ …it’s rated up to 160 feet which is fine for my operation. There is a offshore bank 86 to 120 feet which drops off to 200 plus feet…Try to keep the Starfish 30 to 50 feet off the bank for best results. Then drop the ROV for a close up inspection is the plan…

have tried the tether but my boat speed was too high then. New Engine/trans with trooling value speed around 1.5 knots is the plan for next year.

First I travel over the target area with the bathometric producing a 3D view only 1.5 meter resolution to record how the bottom profile is

Launch the Starfish keeping it 30 up to 50 feet from the floor for recording

Find something interesting, use the drop camera rig or ROV close inspection…Usually, the bottom is good visibility 20 to 30 feet and maybe the 4K video and 21MB photos will be good to fair…If the photos are real real goood maybe the photogrammetry will be decent…

But my point is keep the sonar close to the floor to advoid issues like you outlined…I like you weight idea…was thinking about adding weights too but maybe two to three spaced, maybe, 4 feet apart??? That’s a experiment finding what will work…

Hi All:

This is certainly an interesting conversation. Here’s my two cents to add.

I bought a DE680 about a 5-6 years ago. I already owned a Starfish 452, but wanted something with better resolution that would also go deeper. The DeepVision unit seemed like a good choice, kind of a “prosumer” sidescan that was much more affordable than a Klein or Edgetech unit.

Looking at the photos in the thread, the design of the DE680 appears to have evolved a bit over the years. Mine has a Fischer connector on the sonar body, as opposed to the SeaCon that they use now. Looking at mine, I can’t really see how the connector seals out water, but it doesn’t appear to have leaked yet either.

The DE680 is significantly heavier than the Starfish, though it’s still difficult to get it to fly deep at speeds greater than 2 knots or so. I generally put some heavy clump weights on the cable, one maybe 20m above the fish and another maybe 30-40m above the fish.

I too find the DeepVision software to be clunky, though I’ve sort of grown used to it now. I’ve never been able to get the layback correction to work correctly, though I can’t say I’ve exhaustively tested it either. One of these days I need to E-mail DeepVision and figure out why it doesn’t seem to be working.

When I bought the DE680, I wanted a sidescan with a range and resolution appropriate for finding things like airplanes and cars. It works pretty well for those kinds of targets. As an example, here’s an airplane that John Clauss and I found in Lake Tahoe in 2018. Here was the initial detection pass:

This second pass was on the same line, but a reciprocal heading, to determine the exact layback:

And this is a cross-axis pass to verify the target and further refine the coordinates. The detail from this angle is really good. There’s no doubt that this is the aircraft that we were looking for.

If you want to see what this target looks like from an ROV, this is the same sunken airplane that we at Mission Robotics used in our recent video to demonstrate target marking in ROV recording. Apologies for the marketing pitch, but this video shows well what the sonar target actually was:

I would love to try a Starfish 990 sometime, as it appears to be the only low-cost sidescan on the market for short-range/high-resolution scanning. Another option might be to build your own towfish with a transducer from a Humminbird Solix/Helix unit that has Mega+ imaging. I’ve used one of them before (with the transducer hull-mounted), and the detail is very impressive for a low-cost sonar. About the only complaint I have with the Humminbird is that the user interface is very clumsy- not all that surprising since it’s meant to be a fishfinder, not a sidescan for surveying. A side-by-side comparison of the Starfish 990 and a Humminbird Mega+ setup would be really, really interesting.



The first thing to remember no single piece of equipment will do it all (High frequency great images but no real range so not good for large area searching / low frequency poor images but great swath / light weight easy to deploy and travel with shallow water (SAR) / Heavy weight nightmare to travel with (100kg+ air freight) but great swath) but runs deep

I have been running a number of Klein Side scan units for 10 years (+ mags and Muiltibeam)

(My 2cents) The side scan is the go to if you want to scan large areas and discover something and other technology once you have defined a smaller region to study or document

Our Klein units are using a frequency of 100/500 kHz. I would say we get an effective scan swath of 150m on the 500 kHz and around 500m on the 100 kHz in the real world, I can push the ranges out further but you lose the details at the edges (@btrue if you go back to several of the images you have attached and look at them you are not really getting and decent results out beyond the 175-200 odd foot mark in the images which is not surprising for the frequency your unit is operating at)

I am regularly scanning with the fish running at around the 120m mark at 3-4 knots (speed through water not speed over ground as you need to allow for currents), we always aim to have the fish running about 10-12% of the side scan range off the seabed (eg a 250m range [500m swath] then we would aim to fly the fish 25-30m off the seabed) to give good results

To get the unit that deep we typically run with about a 2:1 or 2.5:1 cable to depth ratio (eg running the unit at 100m would require 200-250m of cable out)

As @wholm indicates weight and depressors are the way to go our fish and the fish mounted Depressor wing have a weight of near 40kg and from a quick look

  • Deepvision Fish 850 mm long / 60 mm diameter / 9 kg

  • Klein Fish 1500 mm long / 100 mm diameter / 27.7kg

  • Fish mounted Depressor wing 600mm wide / 450mm long/ weighs 12kg

Software as Walt also indicates they are ALL clunky (I’ve used 4 so far and none do it all really well) and they are either too simplified with no good control over initial gains and TVG or so complex because they are trying to do everything (route planning/lane planning/MB/SBP/Mag). If I was saying what was ideal I would suggest split software what you need on the boat collecting data is very different from what you need back data processing (really just good tuning, with good waterfall displays and indication of swath coverage), Route planning and Lane navigation is handled by the boats Nav systems so only something basic is needed on the SSS software to ensure you get coverage, whist the boat is rolling around and you are actively collecting raw data you are not trying to piece together the perfect mosaic with well balanced tones and matched laybacks

Most of all, keep going, get on the water and have fun and hope you find something great


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