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So I'm in the shopping process for a boat. The boat's intended purpose is coastal with a trip to the Caribbean. My price range for the boat puts me in typically an 80s boat. Listings that I am seeing sometimes have radar units in varying vintages. Some look like they could have been installed in the 80s and early 90s. Obviously technology improves, but does an old radar that still works provide usefulness? My current valuation of radars is that it would be nice to have even if old, but I won't discount a potential boat if it doesn't have one.
 

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Bluescruiser
Hinckley Bermuda 40
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If it’s working, sure. The problem is that the technology has advanced so much since that time that a 35 year old radar is a dinosaur. Mine is 10 years old and already classed as “ ancient.” Support will be non-existent. Parts- the magnetron especially- will only be possible from scavenged units. It will be a power hog. It will take up an inordinate amount of space compared to current models. The screen will most likely be phosphor green instead of multi-color flatscreen.
But if it’s on the boat of your dreams and your budget doesn’t allow for a new one, don’t rip it out. Just be aware that a piece of gear of such advanced age could go toast at any time, and if you rely on it, Murphy’s Law hasn’t been repealed.
 

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Master Mariner
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Our Furuno 48 radar may be 25 years old or older and works like a charm. Has all kinds of features the newer radars have automated, so I have much more control of my display.
However, as mentioned above, it is big and a power hog, and unfortunately mounted at the chart table, so it's not very useful, except as a weather radar. Therefore, I added a Garmin that runs to the chartplotter at the helm, and it is much more useful. I really have no need for the Furuno, but it would cost more to remove it than it is worth.
Unless you can find an older unit still mounted and in use, I'd pass, because you'd have to mount it before you knew if it was really good, and you have no idea how long it will last. The newer radars are getting so inexpensive I can't imagine anyone cruising wouldn't want one. Much more useful than AIS and safer.
 

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Ok r small boat Furuno is a 1985 model. Works a champ. Pretty much everything Capta said above.

The PO had made a mount so he could move it to under the dodger or mount it on either pilot berth moulding. I moved one of those mounts so I can place it on the lower wash board. Its kinda in the way there but I can squeeze around it. But its is very protected as I can close the companion way cover over it.

Thats the advantage if a stand alone unit, it keeps ticking if the Chart plotter fails.

If it goes I will replace it with another Furuno dedicated unit.

Big boat has a RM unit that shows in the chart plotter. When the plotter craps out, and it has, I also loose the radar.

Sailing in Canadian waters radar is more of a necessity. But I am finding I am using it more and more in the Caribbean as well.
 

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If it works, it works. I have a Raymarine unit that if it burps for whatever reason, it's probably done. With a large screen MFD that's about 10 years old. Software changes are a total pain.
 

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Ok r small boat Furuno is a 1985 model. Works a champ. Pretty much everything Capta said above.

The PO had made a mount so he could move it to under the dodger or mount it on either pilot berth moulding. I moved one of those mounts so I can place it on the lower wash board. Its kinda in the way there but I can squeeze around it. But its is very protected as I can close the companion way cover over it.

Thats the advantage if a stand alone unit, it keeps ticking if the Chart plotter fails.

If it goes I will replace it with another Furuno dedicated unit.

Big boat has a RM unit that shows in the chart plotter. When the plotter craps out, and it has, I also loose the radar.

Sailing in Canadian waters radar is more of a necessity. But I am finding I am using it more and more in the Caribbean as well.
On an earlier boat I had a separate Furuno unit on a swing out mount in the companionway and a chart plotter at the helm and found that to be a great arrangement. There are advantages to use split screen or overlay but I found it to be pretty nice to have separate displays. The problem with having a combo chartplotter and radar at the helm is that when offshore I spend little time at the helm and instead prefer to be in the more sheltered forward part of the cockpit. So a radar and AIS display near the companionway are really nice. With a more modern setup this can be accomplished by a combo chartplotter/radar display back at the helm with an iPod that repeats that info via the chartplotters associated app.

I was faced with your same situation 6 years ago when I bought my current boat. There was a 20+ year old Simrad chartplotter that was still working and has continued to work just fine with the exception of the internal battery that is necessary for it to remember its last location when first turned on. This meant it took about ten minutes to realize it wasn’t in Denmark every time I turned it on but after that it was fine. But this winter, I have the mast out of the boat so it’s a good time to upgrade and I’m doing that with a Raytheon Axiom Pro. So, I did just what you’re considering and got along just fine for 5+ years. So if the unit is working on boats you are considering i wouldn’t consider it to be a problem.

Earlier someone mentioned that older units are energy hogs compared with newer radars and that’s certainly true. But usually (not always) when there’s a need for having the radar turned on, you are motoring so plenty of energy is available, the notable exception being a dark night with good winds for sailing.
 

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Dirt Free
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Current radars are like I-phones ... hundreds of feautures you will never use and you have to scroll through dozens of them to find the one you need right now !

The older CRT radars are far more discriminatory and one can adjust the the critical elements like FTC, STC, gain, tune and range from dedicated knobs, you don't even have to look at them just feel them.

Entering a tight, unfamiliar harbour in heavy rain in the dead of night give me a CRT, knob control anytime.

PS. I am ARPA, MARPA, RADAR certified and have crrent radar. If I had room an old CRT unit would be at my helm.
 

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Current radars are like I-phones ... hundreds of feautures you will never use and you have to scroll through dozens of them to find the one you need right now !
I’ve noticed that too. After owning and using a plotter for a couple of years you realize that you’re never going to use most of its features and don’t even know how to access them without first getting out the manual. But that’s ok because you ARE using and are familiar with the basic features you actually need. I wonder why they are made this way...
I’m an old manual control radar guy too starting back when I operated the radar and ran intercepts from the back seat of an F-4 and the marine radar I’ve been most comfortable with and found the most useful was the Furuno radar I installed back in 1997. Most recently, with my Simrad plotter/radar combo I occasionally found it pretty cumbersome to have to go searching through a menu for an adjustment that used to be on a clearly labeled knob, especially since while searching through the menus for the adjustment I wanted to make I couldn’t see all the navigation or radar info. But it did a good job painting traffic and buoys and occasionally even picked up lobster buoys at short range which I found quite impressive. So other than all the menus, no real complaints with the Simrad. Now that I’m moving on to the Axiom Pro I wonder if it’ll seem like things have been simplified or made more complex from a users perspective but I plan to give it a year or so before making that judgment because it seems to take me about that long to really get comfortable.
I contrast that with the radars on commercial airliners that I used regularly that were even simpler than my old Furuno and had only a few adjustments such as range, gain, tilt, and brightness, each with a dedicated knob to control it. Then they added TCAS (AIS for airplanes) that could be overlaid on radar screen but that didn’t have any complicated controls or menus either.

WHY are modern marine electronics so packed full of features we never use, and the controls we’d like to have so difficult to access? I guess the idea is that they are smart enough to automatically make necessary adjustments themselves so we don’t need to?
 

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WHY are modern marine electronics so packed full of features we never use
It's because no two people are alike. They may have 100 features and we only use a dozen of them. My dozen and your dozen may not be the same. That's the power of modern tech, someone else isn't choosing for you.

I don't really agree with the pushback, other than on initial setup. I find my current Raymarine tech to be outstanding and it took a few cruises to get it set up the way I like, now its really simple to use. I don't follow what is so complicated about modern radar. My 16 year old radar was monochrome and not very detailed. Now I have color and can see lobster pots, in some cases. I've mostly used radar overlay, in the past. Having a dedicated radar screen shows far more information and you can split screens now.

What I find worse is learning about a great feature I never knew it had, even though I'm fully satisfied with what I know I have. Always learning. Good thing.
 

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It's because no two people are alike. They may have 100 features and we only use a dozen of them. My dozen and your dozen may not be the same. That's the power of modern tech, someone else isn't choosing for you.

I don't really agree with the pushback, other than on initial setup. I find my current Raymarine tech to be outstanding and it took a few cruises to get it set up the way I like, now its really simple to use. I don't follow what is so complicated about modern radar. My 16 year old radar was monochrome and not very detailed. Now I have color and can see lobster pots, in some cases. I've mostly used radar overlay, in the past. Having a dedicated radar screen shows far more information and you can split screens now.

What I find worse is learning about a great feature I never knew it had, even though I'm fully satisfied with what I know I have. Always learning. Good thing.
My new Raymarine plotter/radar is in the process of being installed so Im optimistic that I will feel as you do a year from now.
 

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I don't really agree with the pushback, other than on initial setup. I find my current Raymarine tech to be outstanding and it took a few cruises to get it set up the way I like, now its really simple to use.
This exactly where I find fault with the newer radars. They have been dumbed down to "automatic" for the average boat toy buyer. I've found that the "automatic" settings are really good in fair weather and very poor when things get stinky. None of these units adjust for weather or wave conditions. My radar course was 11 weeks and including simulator time to understand the vagaries of FTC, STC, tune and gain and how they all interact with each other and are infinitely adjustable. To manually adjust these aspects of a newer radar in bad conditions in a tight harbour entrance is virtually impossible and the newer radar won't do it for you. RADAR is not a set and forget tool. Most purchasers of marine radar don't know what FTC,STC, tune and gain actually are let alone adjust them. Easier is not always better.
So I admit it, I'm a luddite :)
 

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This exactly where I find fault with the newer radars. They have been dumbed down to "automatic" for the average boat toy buyer.
There are automatic harbor and, I forget the term the use for open water, but it’s not hard to access gain, etc. I’m not sure many boaters would be comfortable picking around a harbor in zero viz, with any tool. However, even a few hundred feet of viz feels like zero. I too understand the use and have been actively using (weather) radar in aircraft for 30 years, where tilt becomes another variable. I do agree, you need to know how to use a tool, for it to be useful. Here’s my fav folk tale in that regard.......

Roger had been sawing logs for firewood, by hand, and finally broke down to buy a chain saw. He goes to the store, buys what they recommend and brings it home. He finds it’s actually slower than sawing by hand, so he brings it back and tells the store owner it didn’t help. The store owner, finding that hard to believe, asks if he could check the saw for any defect. Roger agrees and they take the saw in the back. He checks the fuel, which is full, then pulls the cord and it fires right up. Rogers says “what’s that noise?”
 
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This exactly where I find fault with the newer radars. They have been dumbed down to "automatic" for the average boat toy buyer. I've found that the "automatic" settings are really good in fair weather and very poor when things get stinky. None of these units adjust for weather or wave conditions. My radar course was 11 weeks and including simulator time to understand the vagaries of FTC, STC, tune and gain and how they all interact with each other and are infinitely adjustable. To manually adjust these aspects of a newer radar in bad conditions in a tight harbour entrance is virtually impossible and the newer radar won't do it for you. RADAR is not a set and forget tool. Most purchasers of marine radar don't know what FTC,STC, tune and gain actually are let alone adjust them. Easier is not always better.
So I admit it, I'm a luddite :)
You definitely belong over on this thread: Why Do We Make It Sound So Hard?

Mark
 

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Some of you say you are experienced with, and even own, current modern radars, but your comments betray that. All current recreational radars are now broadband doppler units. Even many of the large array units are such. Most of the tuning stuff you describe doing isn't even relevant to these radars. It's like you are saying you prefer to file and gap the points, manually advance the distributer, adjust the tappets, and tune the carb every time you drive your brand new car. Brand new Tesla, even. It is nonsensical.

It is also ironic for someone to complain about all the features on new radars, while complaining that they don't have enough features. I don't know what features are in people's way, but I appreciate echo averaging, echo trails, true/relative motion, ARPA, etc. I also like plotter overlay and dual screens. To get to these features, I don't have to scroll through anything, or hunt through byzantine menus - everything is context sensitive and available with one touch or swipe. The only thing I had to "learn" was which side of the screen to swipe out.

Even on many of the previous generation magnetron radomes, all the manual tuning controls are there, and they are easy to access. I can change the power, timing, swept gain, etc on our 2yr old Furuno recreational dome connected to our chartplotter. It's all there in a neat little side bar while showing the results immediately in the large window - also gain, sea state, rain suppression, rotation speed, sector blanking, and many more.

But anyone who has actually used one of these newer units would realize that it is very rare to need to do any of this - these units are very advanced at automatically adjusting themselves to conditions. Many (all?) now most certainly do automatically and continually adjust themselves for weather and wave conditions. Perhaps some of you bought the wrong units, or don't really have experience with newer units? I'm experienced with radar and its adjustments, and I can rarely do better than automatic outside of intentionally finding a small return that I know exists in a lot of noise - and that typically destroys the rest of the picture for the sake of the targeted return. Ours even has a "bird mode" that can tune itself onto a flock of birds, and I can't adjust any better once it has found them.

It seems like the only real complaint is some people want a bunch of knobs.

Mark

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Many (all?) now most certainly do automatically and continually adjust themselves for weather and wave conditions.
Please provide detail on any recreational radar available to the public that automatically adjust to weather and wave conditions and where it get it's data from to base those adjustments on.
 

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I just told you our Furuno DRS4D is one. I'm not sure why you think it needs any actual weather data source to do so. The radar continually adjusts its tuning parameters to sea state and precipitation. It does so at each range, and for each rotation speed. This is in addition to the manual sea state and rain attenuation controls. The "data" are contained in the returns it receives on each sweep, which are processed by the on-board computer in the dome to adjust the next sweep. It will even automatically filter interference from other sources in the same way.

Mark
 

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I just told you our Furuno DRS4D is one. I'm not sure why you think it needs any actual weather data source to do so. The radar continually adjusts its tuning parameters to sea state and precipitation. It does so at each range, and for each rotation speed. This is in addition to the manual sea state and rain attenuation controls. The "data" are contained in the returns it receives on each sweep, which are processed by the on-board computer in the dome to adjust the next sweep. It will even automatically filter interference from other sources in the same way.

Mark
How does it adjust to weather and wave conditions if it does not know what they are ?
 

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Sure it does. Every sweep gives it information it can use to determine if the waves are large or small, or if there is a lot of precipitation, or there is another strong radar interfering, etc. It is just like you turning your knobs to get the best picture for the conditions. You don't use specific weather or wave information to do that on your set by turning a knob to "4' waves and light rain" - you just adjust the return picture accordingly.

The broadband doppler units have even more information on each sweep they can use - speed, direction, size, etc.

Which current radar unit do you have?

Mark
 
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