Sunday, June 20, 2010

To RADAR or not to RADAR.

Radar has been on my 'wants' list for quite a while, but I managed to procrastinate until last week, when I finally got down to some serious research on the Internet.

After making a list of what I would need it for, I came to the conclusion that a low power (1.5 to 2kW) unit with a LCD display would be just fine.  After much reading I narrowed my choice down to a JRC 1000 MKII , a reasonably priced entry level model that would do all I needed it to.

The radome is only 12" in diameter, which makes it a nice compact size for mast mounting. (Being tall, I'm not happy with a radome on a pole behind me in the cockpit, beaming microwaves over, or maybe through, my head).

Unfortunately, this model seems to be no longer available :-(  .... so it was back to the drawing board!

My next candidate was the Furuno 1623 . The radome was 3" bigger (15") but I thought I could live with that, and it got a good review  by Practical Sailor magazine, always a positive sign.

While chatting with a dock mate the subject of radar came up, and he asked if I had heard of the new broadband units. I hadn't, but it sounded interesting, so off I went to spend more time searching the 'net for information.

It appears that Navico (sold under the Simrad, Lowrance, and Northstar labels) has developed a technology, already in use in the aircraft industry, that gives amazing results at closer ranges, which is exactly the area I am usually concerned with.
The unit has many desirable features, such as:
Instant on (no warm up).
Less radiation than a cell phone (mount the radome anywhere).
Targets visible within 10' of the boat.
Sea clutter rejection is up to 5 times better than normal radar.
Crystal clear image, making it easy to interpret the display (less of a learning curve).

After watching several videos, I've decided that "Broadband Radar" was the reason I was procrastinating. The technology has evolved to a more useful and user-friendly stage. Now all I have to do is find the right unit for the right price, which may mean another years wait, and ... more research :-)

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