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post #1 of 34 Old 10-25-2014 Thread Starter
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Radar - what to look for

I've never used radar before, but am planning to install one before we head down the St. Lawrence River next So I ask you:
  • What features are important to those of you who use radar?
  • What technical specs should I key into?
  • What features should I ignore?
  • Are there some brands that are more (or less) reliable?
At this point my main priorities are:
  • Quality/reliability.
  • Good short and medium range effectiveness.
  • Low(ish) power consumption.
  • Ease of use.
  • Cost.
Some of the features which I think are important (but I might be wrong):
  • Chart overlay
  • Multi-speed RPM.
  • Colour.
  • Auto-tracking.
Obviously I'll be doing a lot of research on the various systems. There seems to be a lot of brand-specific verbiage (Broadband, HD, 3G, 4G xHD, digital...). Would appreciate the real-life experience from those of you who use radar.

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post #2 of 34 Old 10-25-2014
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Re: Radar - what to look for

This is a thread I will watch, but are you familiar with Panbo.com? I only fairly recently found it. He has some excellent reviews of different electronics. One thing is do you already have a chart plotter that you want to overlay on? That could be a major consideration.
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post #3 of 34 Old 10-25-2014
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Re: Radar - what to look for

Imagery analysis (looking at the display and understanding what you look at) is not entirely intuitive. There are a number of courses, some online, to give you a leg up.

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post #4 of 34 Old 10-25-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Radar - what to look for

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Originally Posted by miatapaul View Post
This is a thread I will watch, but are you familiar with Panbo.com? I only fairly recently found it. He has some excellent reviews of different electronics. One thing is do you already have a chart plotter that you want to overlay on? That could be a major consideration.
Thanks. I've been reading through the reviews on Panbo.com. Some are more informative than others. I also hate the blog approach ... terrible way to organize information. But I'm reading.

Good question about the plotter. We have a handheld, along with an iPad backup, so will be getting a new one with the radar system. I need a small display that I can house down at the chart table, but am also wondering if I can use a wifi connection to mirror the display on my iPad for cockpit use. There is a nice Garmin package that seems enticing.

SVAuspicious, do you have any specific recommendations for online courses? I'll probably need something like that to get going.

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post #5 of 34 Old 10-25-2014
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Re: Radar - what to look for

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Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
I've never used radar before, but am planning to install one before we head down the St. Lawrence River next So I ask you:
  • What features are important to those of you who use radar?
  • What technical specs should I key into?
  • What features should I ignore?
  • Are there some brands that are more (or less) reliable?
At this point my main priorities are:
  • Quality/reliability.
  • Good short and medium range effectiveness.
  • Low(ish) power consumption.
  • Ease of use.
  • Cost.
Some of the features which I think are important (but I might be wrong):
  • Chart overlay
  • Multi-speed RPM.
  • Colour.
  • Auto-tracking.
Obviously I'll be doing a lot of research on the various systems. There seems to be a lot of brand-specific verbiage (Broadband, HD, 3G, 4G xHD, digital...). Would appreciate the real-life experience from those of you who use radar.
I agree with your main priorities but I don't worry too much about power consumption because I use radar mostly under conditions where I also happen to be motoring. YMMV. That said, the Furuno solid state radar meshes well with your priorities and also has low power consumption. However, I wouldn't get it unless you have/will get a Furuno/Simrad/B&G MFD.

My boat came with an older Raymarine radar and a Garmin MFD. I can tell you that it's far easier to have an integrated system where you can at least view the radar and chart images side by side and, ideally, overlaid. Changing zoom and cursor settings on each, with similar but not identical scales is a PITA. This argues strongly for using the same brand radar as your MFD. I find that auto tracking is also very desireable but have never felt the need to change RPM. The value of color really comes down to how good the system's signal processing is. If the information being coded into color is unreliable or irrelevant, then color is of no use.

I would also suggest that you get either an AIS transponder or at least a receiver if you don't already have one. It's a great complement to radar and the incremental cost is pretty low these days.
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post #6 of 34 Old 10-25-2014
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Re: Radar - what to look for

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Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
Thanks. I've been reading through the reviews on Panbo.com. Some are more informative than others. I also hate the blog approach ... terrible way to organize information. But I'm reading.

Good question about the plotter. We have a handheld, along with an iPad backup, so will be getting a new one with the radar system. I need a small display that I can house down at the chart table, but am also wondering if I can use a wifi connection to mirror the display on my iPad for cockpit use. There is a nice Garmin package that seems enticing.
I believe most if not all the Raymarine MFDs come with the ability to mirror on an iPad via WiFi without any extra equipment. It's not just a display mirror, it lets you use the iPad as a full-fledged MFD. Also, I'd flip your use case and put the daylight-readable & waterproof MFD up in the cockpit and use the iPad down below.
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post #7 of 34 Old 10-25-2014
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Re: Radar - what to look for

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
Thanks. I've been reading through the reviews on Panbo.com. Some are more informative than others. I also hate the blog approach ... terrible way to organize information. But I'm reading.

Good question about the plotter. We have a handheld, along with an iPad backup, so will be getting a new one with the radar system. I need a small display that I can house down at the chart table, but am also wondering if I can use a wifi connection to mirror the display on my iPad for cockpit use. There is a nice Garmin package that seems enticing.

SVAuspicious, do you have any specific recommendations for online courses? I'll probably need something like that to get going.
Yea, the blog layout works well once you are caught up and want to read what is "latest" but it is not that helpful for research. I have not tried his site for searches, but most blogs search function is basically useless. Seems to make a nice "landing page" but further in it should be better organized.

I also agree that a true MFD is better suited to helm as it is sun light viewable, and water proof. iPad is great down below or as a second display that you can take under the dodger to get away from sun/rain.
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post #8 of 34 Old 10-25-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Radar - what to look for

Thanks guys (gals?). I'm definitely considering the Raymarine options. I've read some negative things about Ray's quality. Garmin seems to get good scores, as does Furuno. What about Sitex?

BTW, I'm not planning to mount a large display in the cockpit. No binnacle in our cockpit (tiller), and no obvious location on the cabin/bulkhead. I may do it in the future, but it's not a critical factor. The handheld does just fine. iPad is a backup, not a primary tool. I fully agree about the difficulty in seeing the damn thing in the sun.

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post #9 of 34 Old 10-25-2014
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Re: Radar - what to look for

Mike, if you are going to have AIS as well, it would be very nice to have a permanent, decent-sized display in the cockpit (under the dodger somewhere? remember you will not be steering most of the time). I am a bit of a Luddite but it is best to think of a system approach. We have an older Raymarine display and I was able to interface the AIS to that but could not get a radome to work with it since it everything is digital now. Also, the power consumption of the new digital units is much less than the older CRT ones.

Back home on Lake Ontario after something over 36,000 nm circumnavigator. Not surprisingly there is a lot of stuff I want to get done on Ainia both cosmetically and functionally. Getting an early start so it will be ready to go for next summer (Lake Superior?).
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Re: Radar - what to look for

Thanks Bruce. I have a Standard Horizon VHF/AIS receiver so could tie it into the radar display. I'll be purchasing an antenna and display from the same manufacturer to keep things simple. Agreed, the new systems are way more power efficient than the old. That's the main reason we haven't rushed into getting one before this.

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