Broadband Radar, A New Way Of Seeing?

Fog bank, Islas Cies 1  036 Two Moons 6 45

Sailing down the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal is generally pretty easy going– reliable northerlies make for steady downwind progress. The only concerns are the swell (which can close some ports), and the fog, which can be a real pain. Along the northern part of this coast, on most days we could see a bank of fog out to sea, and far too often it drifted in and covered the coast with an almost impenetrable blanket (sometimes for days), making onward progress unpleasant, to say the least.

I don’t know of anyone who actually enjoys sailing in fog – it demands constant vigilance, and is fraught with genuine risks such as collision or entanglement in fishing gear – a real concern along this coast, where there are fishing marks everywhere. But with our combination of AIS (brilliant!) and radar it needn’t be more than a nuisance, and as long as we felt the fog was likely to burn off, as soon as it began to lift we’d be on our way. As a result we’ve used our radar far more this year than is usual.

Pèlerin’s Current Radar

When we kitted Pèlerin out with her electronics package we opted for a Simrad NX45 plotter, with radar input, mounted at the wheel. It has worked well, although I still find it clumsy to operate after using stand-alone radar units, and we don’t think it has the best definition we’ve seen. It hasn’t let us down, but we feel it could be much better.

A New Option

But within the last year or so Simrad introduced their Broadband radar, that works on a completely different principle from conventional radar sets, and is available in a scanner that it is compatible with our plotter. And having finally managed to speak to a few people who have used them, we’re very tempted to make the change to this new technology.

The Advantages

Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) radar (to give it it’s correct name) has been used for military purposes for many years, and has, potentially, many advantages to offer small craft sailors. It has virtually no warm up time, lower power consumption than conventional radar, and has very low wave emissions – attractive to us with our radome mounted on our OVNI arch. And it has what appears to be staggeringly good close range definition. Talking to a powerboat owner in Portugal, he reckoned to be able to spot pot buoys and flags at distances of around 1 M in moderate seas, and claimed remarkable target acquisition and stability at speeds of up to 45 knots. And I’d imagine that given that it doesn’t rely on conventional technology within the scanner, it ought to be the case that performance won’t degrade as the magnetron ages (and eventually fails).

The Trade Offs

Reading through various reports, what it seems to boil down to is that the Broadband radar has vastly improved short range definition, but the range is limited to around 8 -10 M, whereas conventional radar technology is still far better at longer range.

A Change in Radar Usage on Pèlerin

So it struck me that in order to decide whether it is for us, we had to review how we now use our radar. In the past before plotters we often used our radar for landfalls, and to spot shipping at greater distances. I’d very much doubt that we have used our radar at over 6 M range this year, except occasionally for spotting squalls at night. Where it has been used extensively has been in entering or leaving port at night or in thick weather, mostly at short ranges, where we’ve used the overlay facility with the plotter. We now rely largely on our AIS for shipping, and rely on the plotter for distance and landfall, so the way we use radar has fundamentally changed.

Anybody Out There Using Broadband Radar?

This is (in yacht terms) new technology, and I’m reluctant to be a guinea pig, but so far what I’ve learned leads me to think that this new approach has real advantages, especially given that our use and expectations from our radar have changed. But it would still be good to hear from anyone out there who has more experience first-hand before we part with more hard earned cash! Please leave a comment.

{ 32 comments… add one }

  • John September 26, 2010, 4:20 am

    Hi Colin,

    Interesting post and very useful for us since we will be looking at replacing our aging Furuno radar (on its third magnatron) some time soon.

    One thing I did hear about broadband radar is that, as would stand to reason, they do not trigger Racons or even show the signal from them.

    Reply
  • Jay September 26, 2010, 8:21 am

    Very interesting as we too are considering a change of radars and integration with our plotter. One thing that has occured to me is that radar is one of the few important pieces of equipment aboard for which we have no redundancy. We’re in Newfoundland now where radar is a must and yet we have only one. Do we bite the bullet and add a second unit? Four anchors, 7 sails, 3 GPS, 2 depth sounders, paper and electronic charts, etc, etc…what is a safe sailor to do?

    Reply
    • Darren September 26, 2010, 9:55 am

      On our Ovni 445 we have a BR24 radar, with Lowrance HDS displays located at the chart table and cockpit. Taking the minimalist approach, the displays are 5 inch and while small, are functional for radar use.

      After two seasons of sailing with broadband radar, we have been satisfied with its performance and found it invaluable during our passage along the Atlantic coast of Spain, Portugal and through Gibraltar in just the type of fog you have described and through many dark departures.

      The excellent short range detail is as reported and when overlaid with chart data, is invaluable for navigating at close quarters. We find the range out to 20 miles useful for verifying ranges and landfall and with its good target acquisition, use it as our primary means of collision avoidance with AIS as a backup. While not as suited to long range weather detection, we have detected localized squalls up to 6 mile range.

      Our dome is mounted on a fixed support port side of the arch, 4 meters above water level. Low emissions were an important factor in selection. Although not gimballed, performance is adequate at normal angles of heel. There is minimal ghosting from the mast with the default adjustment parameters. Power consumption is low and the essentially “instant on” of the unit allows it to be used as needed.

      Other advantages of the BR24:
      • Part of the larger Navico family so good cross platform support and compatibility.
      • Newer generation of hardware facilitate updates. The HDS initially did not have a guard zone, a feature added in a subsequent firmware update and we have yet to install the latest BR24 update which adjusts rotational speed at closer ranges.
      • Radar data is transmitted via Ethernet which allows sharing the data between multiple displays and PC charting applications. Our radar is connected via an industrialized smart Ethernet switch which allows for data sharing.

      While there are differences between traditional and FMCW radar and each has its respective benefits, what the BR24 is designed to do, it does well.

      As early adopters of the technology, we have not been disappointed.

      Reply
  • Matt Marsh September 26, 2010, 10:44 am

    Darren, thanks for chiming in with your experience- these “early adopter” reports are invaluable to the rest of us.

    I haven’t had my hands on a BR24 yet, although I’ve heard from some friends who have installed them. John is correct, FMCW does not trigger racons (the power output is far too low for the racon’s transceiver to detect). This low power output, of course, means that we don’t have to worry about arches, etc. as the thing’s “human-safe distance” is smaller than the radome. The real-world reports on its performance vary a bit, but what I’m mostly hearing is “incredible resolution below a mile” and “can’t hold a candle to Furuno beyond two or three miles”. Friends and reviewers have shown screenshots of the thing picking up individual pilings and buoys ten or twenty metres away, and even the tips of a fishing boat’s own outriggers.

    It is of course a “black box” installation that requires a Navico MFD for control and display. And some electrical engineers who have looked into the inner workings of the thing report that it’s really a $500 radar with a $500 signal processing algorithm and a large R&D/distribution/profit markup; the actual electronics aren’t much different from a cellphone radio. Still, it’s something like 6% of the price of a nice Furuno set, and some people are installing FMCW (with a dedicated Simrad MFD) as a secondary close-range radar to supplement a high-end long range set. On a boat large enough to make use of a 10+ mile radar, this is how I’d use the BR24- as a short range secondary. On coastal or canal cruisers that don’t need long range radar, it should do very well on its own.

    Reply
  • Colin Speedie September 26, 2010, 2:23 pm

    Darren, thanks very much for such a comprehensive and useful review, which helped to answer many of the queries we have ourselves.

    Interesting points, Matt, especially the cost breakdown – maybe this might mean a reduction in the cost of future sets if other manufacturers take up this technology (ever the optimist!)?

    The guys I’ve spoken to suggest great resolution up to 2-3 M, but agree there’s a trade-off after that. And the lower output is attractive to us, especially (as with Darren’s 445) our radome is on the arch aft. And I’d have to say I haven’t used Racon since I don’t remember when – not being in any way dismissive of such a useful system, but I wonder how much more useful life Racon has, in these days of economic cuts and rationalisation?

    Best wishes

    Colin

    Reply
    • Matt Marsh September 27, 2010, 12:01 am

      I’m sure Navico would dispute my friend’s cost guesses- but I think it’s fair to say that much more money went into signal processing and software development than into hardware. This bodes well for consumer radars 5-10 years down the road; I would expect that at least a couple of competing manufacturers are already working on FMCW or related technologies. Code can evolve much faster and cheaper than hardware, and you can get gigahertz transceivers for under fifty bucks in phones and such. I’m not sure if anyone’s willing to start a price war, though.

      Reply
  • Rick September 26, 2010, 6:45 pm

    Darren I would love to hear some feedback on the Ovni 445 and I suspect that others that read this would too.

    Reply
  • David Nutt September 27, 2010, 6:43 pm

    We have 2 conventional radars on Danza and have benefited from the redundancy when the new one failed out of the box. I am very interested in the new FMCW radar but I really, really like the long range reports of squalls and rain with the old system. Maybe I will upgrade the antique Raytheon 40X with the new technology in a few years and leave the Raytheon 70 nailed to the mizzen. Redundancy and the best of both systems.

    Reply
  • pete October 9, 2010, 8:11 am

    I really love this site as you all seem to have each other’s interests in mind. On the Radar theme I have a Furuno and love it. We use it quite alot as in Brittany we get alot of fog and it comes in quickly. One point I would like to make is that we should all be TRAINED to read radar properly. As I used to teach sailing and nav I used to take people out on a clear day and show them marks they could see with the mk1 eyeball and then show them what it looked like on the radar. Alot of the students were surprised that they didn’t see the same thing on the screen that they saw with the mk1 EB. With the new radar some one said that the top range was about 8 miles and was worried about the time you have to respond. Well if you are traveling at 5 knots and a ship is traveling at 25 knots you have an approach speed of 30 knots. That’s 1 mile in 2 mins therefore giving you 16 mins to respond. This should be enough time to put yourself in a safe position to miss the ship. I have also used the C.A.R.D system and have had alot of success with it. It draws very low power and has a very good alarm that will wake you if you are sleeping. I have always found it to give me plenty of time to take avoiding maneuvers. I am afraid I am of the old school of the less electric you have on board the better as even with wind generators and solar panels you will struggle to keep up with the needs. Another thing we believe in is IF you can’t fix it don’t have it or it will cost you a fortune to get it fixed and probably keep you in port at great expense while you wait for the part you need to arrive, but this is only my personal view. As our friend says sailing on the Atlantic coast of Portugal and Spain is quite dangerous but we have found that if you sail about 80 miles off the coast the fishing boat and gear problems are missed.
    Pete

    Reply
  • Ross October 21, 2010, 5:36 am

    Hi Colin
    I fitted a Simrad NX45 Plotter, Sounder and Radar to my Beneteau 40cc about 1 year ago. I have just returned from a trip of 780nm from Brisbane to North Qld and back. On the trip we had everything from Gales to Fog to night running. It’s true what they say, the Broadband radar does not have the legs of normal radar and about 10nm is about it unless it is a coast line. With the plotter and sounder right at the wheel it works great. Used as anti collision or close in Nav work it’s great (I can send you a pic if you want).
    I have found the plotter a bit slow at regen and wish I didn’t have to use C-Map charts but when I add AIS it will be ideal for a yacht, I come from Charter Boat background. The other small drama I had was when I installed the latest up date it blew up my scanner. Simrad replaced it straight away but I did have to do the install. A mate is about to install the new Raymarine HD radar unit so you might want to check it out as well.
    Hope this will help
    Regards
    Ross

    Reply
  • Ross October 21, 2010, 5:45 am

    Colin I almost forgot!
    If you use EBLs and VRMs alot like I do for target plotting then you might be a bit ticked off at the NX45, it’s not that easy to use!
    And you can’t fit MARPA. Try the NSE for that !
    Ross

    Reply
  • Colin Speedie October 21, 2010, 7:46 am

    Hi David

    Sorry for the delay in replying – somehow these responses passed me by. I, too, want the ability to pick up squalls, and it’s not clear to me how well the new system does this – if anyone out there can enlighten us all it would be a blessing.

    Pete, totally support your point about training, something that gets far too often overlooked, as does setting up the radar to perform at its best in the first place. Modern radar sets are far easier in that latter regard, but as we found with our own set it can take time – and I have to admit I’m still a little mystified why ours is now so much better! And I’d agree about too much complexity – I don’t think it helps at all.

    Ross, thanks for the first hand experience with the Broadband – seems like the consensus is as suggested, i.e. brilliant at close range, less so at a distance – re the point about spotting squalls, or rain, have you any further comment on that?

    Like you, we have the NX45 at the wheel, and it works well as a display. However, as you say, it’s not the most intuitive or easy to use machine (drives me mad sometimes), and the C-Map charts are not my favourites – I believe that the NSE uses different charts. But the AIS works really well, and when used in anger with the radar and plotter makes even really busy nights less nerve-wracking.

    It would be good to hear how the Raymarine HD performs, once your friend has used it in anger.

    Best wishes

    Colin

    Reply
  • Ross October 21, 2010, 9:25 pm

    Hi Colin
    You should have no drama with Rain Squalls I just had plenty! There is a fair few settings you can muck about with to get what you want, and also if you run your split screens with the radar in 1 half and the plotter in the other you can run North up on the plotter and H/U on the Radar and the NX 45 will figure it out, that is 1 of my favourite set ups. Also if you are in doubt of a target put the overlay on and that will help a bit !
    I have about 4 Favourites:
    1 Plotter 3/4 screen, sounder the other
    2 Plotter 1/2, Radar and the sounder in the DATA field
    3 Plotter 1/,2 Radar /Sounder
    4 Radar
    I have 1 hint extra when you do your DATA fields make them all the same between the screens so when you change Favourites everything is in the same place. I didn’t and it is a pain I will have to fix it. Also I don’t think C-map is very accurate. Also check you are in Chart mode not Plotter mode.
    Just a thought for you !
    Ross

    Reply
  • pete October 23, 2010, 4:07 pm

    Hi Richard,
    You want to sail with me and Sally I get her knickers in a knot most days we are out as I like to use the old fashion nav Like a watch and a compass. You know timed runs tidal vectors and the good old nose. We have been in some pretty nasty fog and my neck has warned me before the radar has and it doesn’t cost as much. Still when we bought the yacht it had all the gizmos on and so we left them there. I think they have a purpose in as much as when we get older and the old brain slows down a bit they will help it but NEVER replace it.
    Happy sailing and fair winds to all.

    Reply
  • Colin Speedie October 24, 2010, 1:19 pm

    Hi Ross

    That’s very helpful, thanks – I’ll have a go at the settings as you suggest – or maybe I’ll ask Louise to do it as she’s far smarter with the thing than me!

    Best wishes

    Colin

    Reply
  • Rainer November 18, 2010, 3:51 pm

    I am just on the way to buy for my new boat navigation equipment. One part is the radar, Broadband or a HD radar from Raymarine.
    Questions:
    Do you see squalls with the broadband and does rain hinder the clear view very much?
    Rainer

    Reply
    • Rayel October 6, 2012, 9:13 pm

      Just saw this thread, but as an owner using a Lowrance BR24 Broadband RADAR for a few summers, I just wanted to provide actual user input, as opposed to so much speculation about what might happen. Those situations that have not come up naturally, I purposely go to the boat and experience even when I wouldn’t have been boating. I test and experiment A/B/A in numerous conditions to understand and prove the performance of my Broadband RADAR.

      Yes, rain squalls can be seen on Broadband RADAR. I have screenshots I can share of an area without the rain and then with heavy storms coming through. Now, that said, I don’t think it picked them up as well as a previous 4kw Magnetron RADAR, but I supposed if you had no idea about the rain and didn’t have satelite then it would warn you. I think I get the storms 6-12 miles out. I don’t really care or get why people even need this much range for weather or anything else, but clearly that’s because I pay for Satelite weather and thus I know exactly what’s coming for weather.

      I use my unit ever single minute of every day out and absolutely love it. I don’t have RACONS in my area, I don’t need RADAR for navigaton, at least as long as all the GPS are working and even if I did, 6-8 miles is enough to handle my 25 mile wide section of Great Lakes water. What I did need was extremely good colision avoidance, and in rain the Broadband see’s object so well, as if the rain weren’t there. I am constantly amazed at all the little objects it finds and alerts me to, even in daylight. Nevermind the dark and foggy times that I’ve had to trust it completely and never been surprised or let down. I never really run with more than a 1 mile range, but to check at a distance every once in a while. It saves my bacon on 1/4 mile to 1 mile range all the time.

      Anybody, not worried at all about rain storm finding with RADAR will absolutely love Broadband RADAR. Those who need weather finding, it’s does OK, but maybe you really need a 10kw Open Array or just pay $20/month for satelite weather for perfect accuracy.

      Reply
  • Beverly Rae Feiges November 19, 2010, 12:19 pm

    We have had radar aboard our cruising boats, sail and power, and anyone who prefers to live without radar is a masochist. They may be sailing around in the fog thinking they are avoiding everyone with their skills at listening, and not giving credit to all the boats our there avoiding them, because these boats have radar. Our closest call in the past years was a target on our screen that kept coming at us, no matter how many degrees off course we turned. We were putting out our loud fog signal, but he kept coming at a fast speed. When he finally emerged, close up and personal, it was a small, fast boat with no radar, obviously pursuing us because he must have thought we were a sound emitting buoy. He did a quick turn and disappeared back into the fog.

    I have been disappointed with our present radar because of its lack of ability to pick up signals, or losing signals when objects are close, which is when it is most important to me. I want one of these new wonders that do just that; it’s just a question of which brand. So more input from those who have worked with the different choices, or professionals who have had to install and maintain them would be helpful. I also am interested in why the EBL’s and VRM’s are difficult to use, a feature I rely on, even to anchor.

    Reply
    • john November 19, 2010, 5:30 pm

      Hi Bev (I looked at your site and hope you don’t mind the familiarity.)

      We agree that cruising without Radar is for masochists. The closest I have ever come on a boat to a date with the grim reaper was on an ocean racer in Block Island Sound in thick fog when we nearly got creamed by a barge on a long tow. This was in the years before cost effective yacht radars. If we had been equipped with radar it would have been a complete non-event. In fact, if I had to make a choice between radar and GPS, I would choose radar every time.

      On your conventional radar losing targets up close: One thing you can do is to be very sure to bring the range in as the target gets closer and also regularly step down the ranges all the way to half a mile to make sure nothing has sneaked in close. The reason is that most radars change their pulse width on closer ranges. So a target at say half a mile that will be lost in the clutter on the three mile range will show fine on the one mile.

      Reply
  • john November 19, 2010, 5:33 pm

    Does anyone out there with a broadband radar have answers to Bev and Rainer’s questions?

    Reply
  • Ross November 22, 2010, 1:03 am

    Hi John /Bev
    I don’t have a drama using EBL/VRM in fact I love them (old School) but I have found that if you get a NX45 Simrad unit you will be not so happy with their access in fact if I had have known then more about the NX45 I would not have bought one instead I would have the got the NSE or the Lowrance units. I believe that the NX45 was not designed for what I want out of my Nav unit (my guess maybe a bass fisherman) and it falls short in a few areas. I think the NSE uses a different chart than C-map as well, why in this day and age we can’t get that designed to be interchangeable. I find the broad band is good as anti collision up to 10nm. BUT it is great up close down to 50metres. The new upgrade has the Scanner speed increasing the closer the range so that like as John said if you drop your range and leave the settings on auto there would be less chance to miss a target.
    Regards
    Ross

    Reply
  • Jeff A. March 23, 2011, 9:57 pm

    Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – FUD! We too are very interested in adopting broadband radar, but have been told by the non-broadband reps at the boat show that broadband simply doesn’t work effectively in pea soup or any other form of fog – WHEN YOU NEED IT MOST. I’m not sure that is true and would like to hear from someone who has used broadband radar in such conditions…did it work? And how far out was it reliable when the vessel was enveloped in fog?

    Thanks in advance for the replies!!
    Jeff

    Reply
    • Rayel October 6, 2012, 9:18 pm

      Broadband not working in thick fog is a LIE and in fact doesn’t even make much sense in theory.

      I’ve used my BR24 in 50ft visibility fog and “can’t see the bow lights” heavy rain. Perfectly clear presentation, no different from when it was dry, without even much STC compensation.

      No problem at all. What a joke !!!! They’re trying to scare you folks with old wives tales about how high power is a requirement. As someone intimated, it’s average power than matters, not the peak of 4kw for a billionth of a second. Broadband continuously transmits, so it actually paints targets with microwave energy all the time, not just a fraction of each second. Both can work just fine in rain and do, I have the testing and pics to prove it.

      Reply
      • John October 7, 2012, 7:54 am

        Hi Rayel,

        Thanks very much for the real world information on Broadband radar.

        I would ask one favour though: Please refrain from combative language like “LIE” and “What a joke!!!” I know that is the way it is done on many forums, but this is not a forum. This is our site. Think of it as if you have been invited into our living room. You are free to disagree with anything we say, but please keep the tone friendly.

        Thanks

        Reply
  • Ray October 2, 2011, 9:10 pm

    I haven’t read all the posts just the last one about FOG.

    I am a powerboater, but unlike most people conjecturing about Navico Broadband RADAR, I own and used my Lowrance BR24 nearly every day this summer and surely on every single trip out.

    Yes, the range is limited out past 12 or even 6 mile but, who cares? Granted I have Satellite weather, so I don’t need RADAR for that, but for collision avoidance and even navigation its well defined range is more than I found need for.

    Yes, in close range, where I use it for collision avoidance, 6 miles and under, it is absolutely awesome for the cost and size. Truthfully, I run it on under 1 mile range to avoid boats actually close enough to actually pose a collision concern. I can ‘t imagine what else one could want or need. At 200ft range, I can clearly back in my slip in blanketing fog, and not miss a bird or piling. Your (<6ft) Magnetron unit probably can’t do that and those cost more than my whole boat.

    Yes, it works the same in FOG or RAIN, once adjusted for STC/FTC, like any other RADAR. What makes people think it’s so different from normal Pulse/Magnetron RADARs? The average output power is the same if you understand that the peak power you brag about is only transmitted in short pulses with a low duty cycle and thus averages out to about the same fraction of a watt as Broadband.

    Personally, as I studied towards the purchase of the RADAR, I could not and still don’t understand the average boater’s concern with range past 6 miles or so? Those of you in a super busy port like San Fransisco may need to track a lot of targets, but most people just don’t have the actual needs that they are told they have to shop for in RADAR.

    The well documented advantages are numerous and the only downside is the weaker long range pickup of targets I don’t even care about and weather that’s already too close for comfort anyway. Why people hold out in fear of the “new” I just don’t get, but you’re missing out.

    For the average boater, having GPS for navigation on a small to 40+ft boat, having other ways to get weather, Broadband is absolutely awesome. I love it and see no reason that I’ve missed anything by not having a Magnetron.

    Reply
  • Colin Speedie October 3, 2011, 11:07 am

    Hi Ray

    Thanks for giving us your views as an owner with considerable experience of broadband radar. Your experience certainly chimes with most reports, but it’s good to hear about the performance in rain.

    As I mentioned in the original piece, much of what you say I’d agree with, as in general I now feel that close range radar performance is more valuable for small craft.

    However, I wouldn’t discount the value of being able to pick up approaching squalls with radar. Many readers here will be used to ocean passage making in sailing vessels, where regular scanning at night or in squally conditions can provide a valuable early warning mechanism for a short handed crew to start reefing.

    And if anyone can definitively convince me that broadband radar will identify approaching squalls at say 12M range, then I think I might just buy one.

    Best wishes

    Colin

    Reply
  • B.R. Feiges October 3, 2011, 7:35 pm

    We now have experience with two broadband radars, both by Simrad, which we bought to replace our old one (eleven years which is really old by our fast developing technology), which so often did not show small boats close up. The first version was a big disappointment, and Simrad very quickly offered to replace it with their newer version, an example of how fast technology moves. It is definitely an improvement over the first version, but if power is not an issue with you, and you have the room for an open antenna array, then no broadband is likely to be as satisfactory as the larger versions. If you are a sailboat with limited power, and limited space for the antenna, then by all means look into this new technology. Because it is displayed on a compatible chart plotter, you don’t need the extra space for both displays. If your nav station has plenty of room, then I prefer separate pieces of equipment, and would probably check out the hi-def version. Anyone wanting more details, may contact me.

    Reply
  • Dennis October 27, 2011, 3:17 pm

    It looks like the range problem has been addressed with the new 4G Radar (+ other goodies):

    http://www.lowrance.com/Products/Marine/Broadband-Radar/Broadband-4G-Radar/

    Reply
    • Colin October 28, 2011, 7:02 am

      Hi Dennis

      Thanks very much for the heads-up on this – looks very interesting, and if it really is as good as they say, then it answers many of the weaknesses of small radome conventional radar. To me this seems like a very attractive and positive development.

      But – once again – maybe it also demonstrates the old adage that you should never buy the first version of anything!

      Best wishes

      Colin

      Reply
  • Beverly Feiges October 8, 2012, 1:07 pm

    I am still not happy with our broadband radar. Scared me again the other day when we were coming down Chesapeake Bay and a nice sized Grand Banks came by very close to us, probably within a quarter mile, throwing a nice enough wake that it alone should have made a target and our broad band showed no target. It finally showed a tiny off again on again target when we took it down to one mile and a better one at half a mile, but I need to look more than one mile ahead when I have boats with speeds of 17 to 40 miles an hour coming at me. Since it is overlaid on our chartplotter, I want to know what shallows lie ahead, and not just a half mile ahead.

    The only real use I put it to use when anchoring to verify no boat is close than say 25o feet, so I know there is no danger of our knocking together, no matter which way each boat swings. Otherwise, unless we are in very tight quarters, I use our open array 12 year old radar. Even in those close quarters, I often turn it off since the smears it makes, instead of giving me a precise image, can blot out things I need to see.

    Dave and Bev Feiges
    Aboard Cloverleaf
    Southbound

    Reply
  • Dave Cooper January 14, 2014, 4:35 am

    I just bought a new boat and the salesman set me up with his favorite electronics guy. I have done a lot of research on broadband technology and it sounds like a slam-dunk to me. But the electronics guy is pushing the Raymarine Digital Raydome over broadband. I asked him why and he said that they were about the same with the digital having a farther range. He sells both brands so why is he pushing the Raymarine over the Simrad? He knows that I’m going to be using it in the San Francisco Bay so I’m going to need close range capability. Do these guys get factory incentives by pushing one brand over another? I would be very surprised if he believes the Raymarine Raydome is better. By the way – this is a great site!

    DRC
    Carver C34

    Reply
    • John January 14, 2014, 1:36 pm

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m afraid I’m not conversant enough with the choice you are faced with to add anything useful. Anyone else?

      I would say that, in my experience, very few people who sell marine electronics are really qualified to advise us sailors and generally we are better off to do our own research and make our own decisions–sad but true.

      One other thought, I am repeatedly hearing that since Simrad was bought by a group that their service and support has really slipped badly, so that might be part of his reasoning.

      Reply

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