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Vigil radar v Garmin GMR 18HD
What was better about the old radar compared to the new Garmin? Quite a lot, actually.
1. The old Vigil RX could give 2 simultaneous ranges and bearings, whereas the new one won't give any unless you use its MARPA plotting, which is a pain.
2. The Vigil RX had much better side-lobe characteristics.
3. The Vigil RX had an infinitely adjustable Guard Zone, any size anywhere. Whereas the Garmin has a fixed non-adjustable circular zone which is far too close to the boat. Useless, completely useless in the real world.
4. The Vigil RX was far easier to use. The Garmin is an absurd series of menu choices for everything.
5. Leading on from that, the one thing that any experienced radar user does is continually adjust the Gain to suit the particular target he is looking at. From the moment I first went to sea decades ago I was taught to keep my fingers on the Gain control. The Vigil RX keypad was simple, a toggle bar, + at one end & - at the other. Perfect continuous control. But changing the Gain on the Garmin requires leaving the picture, then pushing at least half a dozen buttons before returning to the picture to discover that you need to do it all over again. Garmin will say "Ah, but we have Automatic Gain", which is true, but it's NOT as good as a human making intelligent choices about each target, and in some places the Automatic Gain is a complete pain.
There is more, but you get the idea. On the Plus side, the Garmin uses less than 2 amps, which is amazing (5 for the Vigil RX). The Garmin integrates with other stuff which is nice for some, and is part of a Plotter, which lots of people like. The Garmin has a very sensitive receiver, which is good, but that also means it picks up returns from even a weak side-lobe, which is bad.
The Garmin is 36 mile, as opposed to the Vigil RX 32, but really, that doesn't amount to anything in the real world.
The MARPA is nice, and works OK by itself if you don't mind pushing lots of buttons while NOT having the screen alive. It should be connected to a compass to give better reports. I'm in the process of cross-connecting the Autopilot NMEA into the radar, which will help MARPA (and enable the navigator to get ranges and bearings to a point, which should be the FIRST thing a radar does).
The Garmin is small, and the wires are small. The data is transmitted via Ethernet cable which is VERY good.
I am deeply disappointed that the Garmin doesn't allow accurate ranges, ie the only scrolling range is part of the MARPA.
What really pisses me off about the Garmin GMR18 HD is that it crashes !! Yes, I've discovered a few things which crash it.The first was when I attempted to change the Transmit/Standby times, which the manual says is possible. Crash! Every time!
The Brightness control is a pain, and is supposed to have an Auto Day/Night function. Doesn't work.
All in all, the Garmin could have been a good radar. It's as if it was brought onto the market a year to soon. I'd like to fire the programmers and hire some who have actually been to sea.
Enough - Kantala