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Old 02-08-2014
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Re: Radar and AIS

One consideration that may be often overlooked is the issue of power consumption. I don't know about modern RADAR systems, but traditionally RADAR has had pretty high power demands (e.g. on my Dad's old boat, granted with limited battery capacity, if you wanted to run the RADAR you pretty much had to have the engine running as well).

Now some of you may think this is no big deal, everyone is loading their boats up with so much power-hungry gadgetry that adding RADAR to the mix has little impact. But there is a cascade of consequences to consider: bigger battery banks to power it all, bigger alternator to charge the battery banks, maybe even re-powering the boat too, in order to drive that alternator, and you will need more fuel (additional tankage, perhaps), and your engine will require more maintenance, spare parts, oil changes, etc... or hydro generators, solar panels, windmills, etc....

Then you have the whole added problem of how best to support your Radome....

Would I like to have RADAR on my boat? Yes, I sure would. But I'm just not there yet.

In contrast, a decent AIS/transmit system with standalone "watchmate" really does use a miniscule amount of power. The required supporting infrastructure (e.g. finding a place for a VHF antenna and a GPS mushroom) is much less daunting than for the radome. So the overall cost is much less. Thus I do have one of these, and it has proven to be quite useful. AIS does not replace RADAR; they complement each other. But you can't always get what you want, although you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.
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