Radar reflector usage - Page 2 - SailNet Community
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #11 of 14 Old 11-04-2012
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: New Orleans Louisiana
Posts: 3,236
Thanks: 10
Thanked 137 Times in 131 Posts
Rep Power: 6
Re: Radar reflector usage

Originally Posted by Flybyknight View Post
So, what is an effective radar reflector in all conditions?
The best are active transponders that read when they have been painted with a radar beam and then transmit back to that radar. They start around $600 and draw a very minimal amount of power in monitor ode.

There are a number of passive transponders that do a good job, but to my knowledge the only one that has been proven to work at all angles of heel is the tri-lens system that starts around $300. The others tend to fail at or around 15 degrees of heel, which is well shy of what many sailboats routinely sail at.

In testing the catch rain position does help, but the trapezoidal reflectors have poor to fair returns under the best of situations and being on edge weakens that return. Though it does reduce the tolerance for heel angle from about 15 degrees to 10.

See http://www.theradarreflectorsite.org...PassiveRTE.pdf for an in depth survey and test of different types of reflectors.

Stumble is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
Sponsored Links
post #12 of 14 Old 11-05-2012
Senior Member
Maine Sail's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Maine Coast
Posts: 6,428
Thanks: 22
Thanked 310 Times in 240 Posts
Rep Power: 18
Re: Radar reflector usage

Originally Posted by Frogwatch View Post
I assume that larger boats normally have permanently installed radar reflectors but for those of us with smaller boats, having one permanently installed is problematic as they take up too much room even aloft. All of them are also problematic to stow too. My Davis one I keep permanently assembled but it is fragile and takes up a lot of space.
So, why not a radar reflector that stows flat in a bag and then pops open when pulled out for use? When you want to stow it, it collapses back into the bag.
No, it is not inflatable as I thought of that and I would worry about getting holes in it and I hate blowing things up.
Being collapsible, it could also be made with a larger area than most others.
It would be one of the Octahedral types and mounted so that when hung it would be in the correct "catch rain" position and weighted so it would always hang that way even when heeled.
Now, for the catch. Cost. Unless I find some dollar/hour foreign workers, it isnt going to be less than $100, probably $150.

Assembled, it is very lightweight and robust. I have it hung from a light fixture at home and when my neighbors come over, they walk around it for a few minutes before they finally ask what it is. Then we toss it around a bit for fun.

Cannot post any pics due to possible patent issues.

Our reflector, like many along the Maine and Canadian Maritimes is up pretty much all the time. It does not get in the way, it works and is an "aid" like many other tools we use on-board.

For years, since reading the studies that say "reflectors work poorly", I have studied the returns I get from boats with an without reflectors. I use my radar in clear weather a lot and this allows me to see clear delineations between boats with an without reflectors. For the most part boats with reflectors yield a larger and more clear echo, especially sail boats..

I have monitored this with virtually all brands of radar and what I see, in real life is very different, from what the "useless" contingent professes.. I find they do and can make your boat show up or not show up on radar. Are they perfect? No, but they are an AID..... They can often mean the difference between a blip that looks like sea clutter and one that looks like a good solid target.

The chatter I read on forums of how reflectors don't work, and are "useless" based on a couple of "scientific" studies, flies in the face of the reality of seeing them work, in real life when cruising a very fog prone coast. I would not be without one despite being told they are "useless" because I see them work, for myself.....

I have also weighed the decision to install an active reflector but then have had the ability to monitor my own vessel from another one and she show's up large as life.

Even the poorest performing styles, (Mobri or Plastimo) often yield a decent return and most often better than nothing at all. We get lots of fog up here and as such take seeing and being seen as good common sense. Some sailboats are very tough targets especially without a reflector.

I was once sailing off shore with a friend and I mentioned to him that his radar return was very poor. Within a few minutes he was returning a very strong echo. When I spoke with him again he told me he had forgotten to raise his reflector. We were both under sail at the time and the difference was night and day.

I work on lots of boats and have but only two customers with an "active" reflectors. I keep looking to see how "popular" they are becoming but they are few and far between.. These work better than passive types but when I have no trouble spotting the average boat, on the coast of Maine with a reflector, and often can't see one without, I have to boil it all down to what I see work in real life vs. what I read on the net.

What you read on the net these days is a few folks saying passive reflectors are "useless". This could not be further from the the truth. Remember these are AIDS to help you be seen. They are not "useless".. They cost all of $45.00 and take up so little space aloft I simply leave ours up all the time..

I invite anyone who feels they are "useless" to spend a day on the coast of Maine where folks leave them hoisted, even in clear conditions.. The results are clear to see.

-Maine Sail / CS-36T

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Images In Posts Property of Compass Marine Inc.

Maine Sail is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #13 of 14 Old 11-06-2012
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: British Columbia
Posts: 3,113
Thanks: 20
Thanked 48 Times in 46 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Re: Radar reflector usage

A British magazine did tests on radar reflectors, and found the old ,traditional, passive radar reflectors were far more effective than the high priced ,high teck active ones, by a wide margin. They concluded that active ones were a scam.
Brent Swain is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #14 of 14 Old 11-06-2012
Senior Member
Geoff54's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: New England
Posts: 735
Thanks: 6
Thanked 12 Times in 11 Posts
Rep Power: 6
Re: Radar reflector usage

Originally Posted by Brent Swain View Post
A British magazine did tests on radar reflectors, and found the old ,traditional, passive radar reflectors were far more effective than the high priced ,high teck active ones, by a wide margin. They concluded that active ones were a scam.
I'd like to read that - any idea when and where it was published?

The last U.K. test that I know of was conducted on behalf of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, published in 2007 and widely reported in the magazines. If I recall correctly, none of the reflectors passed the proposed ISO 20 degree heel test and only the SeaMe active reflector passed the 10 degree heel test although several of the passive reflectors came close. Obviously they didn't test the dual band Echomax active as it wasn't available then. It makes interesting reading especially in conjunction with the test that Stumble pointed out.

To me and as the biggest advantage of an active reflector is that it also warns you if it picks up a signal.

I just dug up the link to the MAIB report. http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources...s%20report.pdf
Geoff54 is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook

Quick Reply

By choosing to post the reply above you agree to the rules you agreed to when joining Sailnet.
Click Here to view those rules.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the SailNet Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
Please note: After entering 3 characters a list of Usernames already in use will appear and the list will disappear once a valid Username is entered.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Should i use a radar reflector Captain milos General Discussion (sailing related) 26 09-27-2012 01:07 AM
Radar reflector brokesailor Gear & Maintenance 9 08-14-2011 07:52 AM
Another radar reflector? T37Chef General Discussion (sailing related) 13 03-15-2010 08:01 PM
Do I need a radar reflector? Patbarbeau Gear & Maintenance 61 07-24-2009 04:49 PM
Do I need radar reflector in my situation? FrankLanger Seamanship & Navigation 43 02-25-2007 04:09 AM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome