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Old 03-07-2013, 03:53 AM   #1
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Question choosing the right radar

Last weekend my >30 yo radar died (of course in the middel of te Issellake in moderate fog - but thats a different story...). Was already thinking al for a while to replace it (and clearly should have done so !). However, it was a 10kw professional scanner and it was robust and worked fine for me. I ve seen the bills from the previous owner and it was at that time more expensive than the main engine and still working fine - although you had to do the plotting and CPA calculations by hand.

However, now its time for sth new and I think that many of you fellow boaters have alread gone through the decision making proces and I am interested in you lines of thought. Especially; did you opt for the somewhat cheaper 'broadband' with according to the advertisements has the short range resolution of much bigger conventional scanners - or did you opt for the timeproven conventinal technology with probably less short range resolution but longer ranges? Which brands did you choose? and why? and which features (digital, overlay, MARPA ... ? - and how do the perform in dayly routine?)
Just intersted how you solved the puzzle and your advice on what to do

tx a lot
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:41 AM   #2
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Hey- I can do manual CPA calculations and time/speed/distance problems with a radar, warch, and moboard! Thank you US Navy!

We went thru this late last year after we acquired Pau Hana. The boat had 1989 vintage electronics; the radar was fine, but the GPS was rudimentary, as was the sounder and VHF.

We looked at broadband radar. It is a nice system, to be sure- great short range resolution and clarity. I found that an HD open array could gain nearly the same target separation at short ranges, and retain the capability od better long range usability. Also, I didn't want to be limited to Navico/Lowrance to have broadband capability.

Radar overlay is fantastic- being able to quickly and accurately discern whether positional data relative to land on a high resolution display is an enhanced safety factor. Add AIs to your system and the guesswork of figuring course and speed for a given target is greatly reduced.

What is excellent is that marine electronics have benifitted from the march of technology- better quality and less expensive. You'll be able to refit with an integrated radar system that has MARPA, AIS, fully automatic tuning, and a host of other features. We had a 2kw Furuno radar, Echotec plotter, and inoperative Furuno GPS unit (data only that fed the Echotec). We opted for a full Raymarine setup- e125 and e127 youch screen head units and 4kw HD digital open array. We also added the StNdard Horizon GX-2150 radio with integrated AIS receiver (sends AIS data to the head units).

All this for about $10k. Performance has been impeccable.
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:25 AM   #3
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Furuno.
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:18 AM   #4
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I would love radar, but can't really justify it for now, but I think I'd go for Simrad 4G broadband. It has a range of 12 nm, how far out do you want to see..? With the newer HD screens you can still overlay AIS, GPS etc, and it won't cook your brains (or other parts), no matter how close you have to mount it.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:02 AM   #5
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It really depends on where and how you boat. I like a longer range as I find it very helpful for tracking storms and seeing fast moving targets early. Some guy scooting along at 35 knots is only 20 minutes away at 12nm. I have a 7 year old full Furuno system, 6kw, 4 ft open array. From being on other boats with newer radars from Garmin (I think, but don't know, they outsource that from either Koden or JRC), Simrad and Raymarine, that the world has more than caught up with Furuno, if not to the admittedly well earned conventional wisdom that they are "it" radar-wise. Kind of like when the old mantra of IT guys was "IBM". It has become trite to say, "well go down any dock with a lot of commercial guys and see what they have"...well, almost all those guys bought those radars a long time ago, not yesterday. That said, I have no compelling reason to switch mine out yet.

If all you are doing is boating in confined waters, then yeah, the new "broadband" stuff is really neat, and the way I'd go personally if we didn't need longer range, open water capability. My strong opinion is to buy the best radar you can afford that suits your current and anticipated cruising grounds.
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:07 PM   #6
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I just replaced mine with the garmin 740s combo package. 18 NM high def. radar. Radar is line of sight so depends how high you are mounting it.
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:53 PM   #7
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Furuno.
Carefully check user satisfaction with current model Furuno gear before jumping to this conclusion. I jumped without checking on my current boat, and it cost me a lot of $$. Here's the current state of Furuno as I see it:

VX2 System: Owners of this setup seem to be universally happy with it, but it's 2 generations out of date now. Furuno keeps selling it because people aren't happy with the newer stuff. I know of a brand new Nordhavn that was just outfitting with VX2. Just understand it's old technology and doesn't support a lot of the features that are standard fair for everything else. Plus, it hasn't been evolved/updated in years.

NavNet 3D, aka NN3D: This too is past technology. It's now 5 years old, and they haven't updated it in over 2 years despite a long list of bugs. Go to Furuno USA Forum and read about the issues people have been having, none of which are getting resolved. I've had crashes and a variety of other issues with mine, and I'm happy compared to a lot of others.

TZTouch: This is the current product, and the only one getting any current development or bug fixes. Version 1 was considered beta at best by many, Version 2 just came out. To me, the problem with TZ is that it's all touch screen - there are no keypad models. Touch screen is great in calm water and in show rooms, but when you start getting tossed around I find it very difficult. Also read the support forum to see how people like it and what problems they are having.

It's very sad, but it appears to me that ever since they switched to using embedded Windows and PC software (MaxSea), the quality went down the tubes.

I'm in the process of planning the electronics on a new boat build and have written a bit about it starting here Adventures of Tanglewood: Electronic Plotters It's for an ocean-going passage maker so the requirements are geared to that, but much is applicable to any kind of boating. The long and short is that I'm switching to Simrad.
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Old 03-07-2013, 01:02 PM   #8
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Oh, and about radar....

If you want something that is tried and proven, stick with pulse radar.

If you do strictly coastal cruising where it's all close range, AND you are tolerant of new technology that might go out of date quickly, then I'd go with the Simrad 4G.

I think everyone supports MARPA and chart overlay, both of which I think are worth their weight in gold.

Regardless you will have to pick one vendor for the chart plotter, radar, fish finder (if you want one), and perhaps AIS since their communications, even though it's over Ethernet, is proprietary. If you want to mix vendors for AIS over NMEA 2000 then just check to be sure the combination you want is known to work. Some combinations don't.

Have fun with the new outfitting....
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:10 PM   #9
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Everyone has their preference for various reasons but the single biggest concern is power. Any 1.5 or 2kw unit will pick up a seagull sitting in very calm water at 1/4 mile. When the weather turns nasty those low power units will lose many of the targets that a 5 or 10kw will keep showing. Regardless of brand or features, buy the most powerful unit you can afford because it is sheer power that is required to push a signal through rain, hail, spray, fog etc.
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:50 PM   #10
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We installed a Furuno NavNet VX2 several years ago and are 100 percent satisfied with it. Furuno radar is like the energizer bunny- it just goes and goes and goes.

Add to this one of the best factory service centers in the industry, which happens to be in this state, and for reliability and customer support I don't think Furuno can be beat.

That said, there are newer radar technologies on the market now and based on their claims they are definitely worth investigating if one is in the market for a new radar.

Our priority when it comes to marine electronics is not technology. Our needs for GPS plotting, radar, and communications are pretty basic in terms of capability. We aren't trying to fly to Saturn here or take a boat through the Northwest Passage to Greenland. We're simply cruising the inside waters between Bellingham and (eventually) SE Alaska.

So the latest golly-gee technical features, while very clever, are not what we need. What we need and want is to be as close to 100 percent reliable as it's possible to get. We want fairly intuitive operation, relative simplicity, and clutter-free displays. We get all this with Furuno for radar and plotting and Icom for communications. (We also have a large, older-generation, commercial-grade Echotec CRT GPS plotter that continues to function flawlessly.)

The CEO of a European airline we did some work with a few years ago described to me in an interview his airline's view of the 737. "We call it 'fly and forget,'" he said. I feel the same way about Furuno and Icom.
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:16 PM   #11
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I'm probably going to replace my non-working radar next summer so I'm considering the same things you are. I have a Raymarine GPS/plotter and I definitely want to be able to overlay the radar image on top of the GPS image. With that in mind I probably will get a Raymarine radar antenna.

I probably won't go with the new broadband radar because I want a longer range than what they provide. We're planning a couple of trips in the next few years where we'll be offshore about 15-25 miles for part of that trip. I definitely want to be able to "see" things that far away. I also realize the ability to pick up distant targets depends on the height of your radar antenna above sea level and the height of the target.

My radar is mounted about 20' above the water line. With a 250' tall coastline I would be able to see that from about ~28.5 miles offshore.
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twistedtree View Post
Carefully check user satisfaction with current model Furuno gear before jumping to this conclusion. I jumped without checking on my current boat, and it cost me a lot of $$. Here's the current state of Furuno as I see it:

VX2 System: Owners of this setup seem to be universally happy with it, but it's 2 generations out of date now. Furuno keeps selling it because people aren't happy with the newer stuff. I know of a brand new Nordhavn that was just outfitting with VX2. Just understand it's old technology and doesn't support a lot of the features that are standard fair for everything else. Plus, it hasn't been evolved/updated in years.

NavNet 3D, aka NN3D: This too is past technology. It's now 5 years old, and they haven't updated it in over 2 years despite a long list of bugs. Go to Furuno USA Forum and read about the issues people have been having, none of which are getting resolved. I've had crashes and a variety of other issues with mine, and I'm happy compared to a lot of others.

TZTouch: This is the current product, and the only one getting any current development or bug fixes. Version 1 was considered beta at best by many, Version 2 just came out. To me, the problem with TZ is that it's all touch screen - there are no keypad models. Touch screen is great in calm water and in show rooms, but when you start getting tossed around I find it very difficult. Also read the support forum to see how people like it and what problems they are having.

It's very sad, but it appears to me that ever since they switched to using embedded Windows and PC software (MaxSea), the quality went down the tubes.

I'm in the process of planning the electronics on a new boat build and have written a bit about it starting here Adventures of Tanglewood: Electronic Plotters It's for an ocean-going passage maker so the requirements are geared to that, but much is applicable to any kind of boating. The long and short is that I'm switching to Simrad.
Great post. I am a VX2 user and agree 100% with everything you say. VX2 is Furuno's version of Microsoft's Windows XP. Now, certainly, true to the thread, one must confine the conversation to the radar function. I am a fairly avid radar user and I don't even like going out at night or limited visibility.

Frankly, I don't think my 1944 radar "is all that" nor leaps and bounds better than the Raymarine and Simrads even of similar vintage that I have seen in use on other people's boats. It takes a lot of tuning (the Auto function doesn't cut it) to eliminate sea clutter in choppy condition and will still give you false targets all day long, even under the tutelage of Furuno techs and seasoned Furuno users. That's why I run it a lot in perfect visibility, to better get a grasp on what a real target is and what's bogus and get it tuned as best as possible. If you only turn it on when you "need" it, you might as well go ahead and float test it or sell it.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:11 PM   #13
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I'm probably going to replace my non-working radar next summer so I'm considering the same things you are. I have a Raymarine GPS/plotter and I definitely want to be able to overlay the radar image on top of the GPS image. With that in mind I probably will get a Raymarine radar antenna.

I probably won't go with the new broadband radar because I want a longer range than what they provide. We're planning a couple of trips in the next few years where we'll be offshore about 15-25 miles for part of that trip. I definitely want to be able to "see" things that far away. I also realize the ability to pick up distant targets depends on the height of your radar antenna above sea level and the height of the target.

My radar is mounted about 20' above the water line. With a 250' tall coastline I would be able to see that from about ~28.5 miles offshore.
I've heard the Broadbang 4G will pick up the coastline further than 30 miles...also large ships, etc.....

When it REALLY counts to have RADAR...it's better to have one that has great target returns under a mile.

Power is king...sorta....different ways of sending and recieving power with filters, etc are just as important...but ultimately power on pulsed RADAR will make the difference. For the longest time the Pathfinder Raymarine series blew everything else in it's class off the water...now 10 years later...most have caught up and even Raymarine has moved on to bigger and better tech.

Whie Furuno has great support...doesn't do you much good when you have to come back through that dark and stormy inlet and the cheap plastic gear drive band just broke....Furuno products have similar failure rates depending on what model you have....Furuno generally does have better and longer customer service though.

I have a lot of background in small marine RADARs and I still am in a quandry for who and what to pick...most all will do the job...to a degree...just have to finally pick what suits my fancy at the time.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:28 PM   #14
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My recent choice for a new Garmin 7212 MFD, broadband 36 mile radar and was driven by my Admiral's desire to have something more I-pad-ish with all the zillions of colors and touch screen and overlay and on and on, mostly because it's the only way I'll capture her interest in getting involved. Knowing her ineptitude with a keyboard compared to her enthusiastic pursuit of I-Pad skills was enough evidence to point the way to a full upgrade of electronics. I agree that it all is very nice when it's all working well, but I'll also have my faithful Furuno black & white readout purched up there as a back-up, just in case.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:46 PM   #15
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Carefully check user satisfaction with current model Furuno gear before jumping to this conclusion........

VX2 System: Owners of this setup seem to be universally happy with it, but it's 2 generations out of date now. .....

NavNet 3D, aka NN3D: This too is past technology. It's now 5 years old, and they haven't updated it in over 2 years despite a long list of bugs....

To me, the problem with TZ is that it's all touch screen - there are no keypad models.

It's very sad, but it appears to me that ever since they switched to using embedded Windows and PC software (MaxSea), the quality went down the tubes.

Simrad.
As I've posted in the past, one of my favorite things to do is playing with all the various electronic widgets at West Marine. I agree with everything twistedtree has posted. Years ago, when someone ask which is the best radar, the answer was always Furuno! Not so today. Like many other old famous brands, Furuno (IMO) has fallen behind. I also agree that Simrad is one damn good radar but I must confess to being a Simrad fan. For auto pilots, It was always Robertson for me & NorthStar plotters. Simrad has since bought both these companies and has continued to use their (NorthStar & Robertson) best technology.
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:45 PM   #16
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I'm into my into my 3rd season with Furuno NN3 - 2 MFD 12s, one at each helm. No problems whatsoever. The 2 units via a NMEA 2000 Maretron backbone have AIS and DFFI inputs. I use Nobeltec on a laptop for primary chart plotting. The NN3 units are very stout (AL case) with the hard drive well supported for the pounding they were designed for in offsfhoe work. If the commercial fishermen are to be believed Furuno is the choice in the PNW.

To me, it all comes down to the integrity/experience/capability of the installers, in the Seattle area there are some great ones.

On a new build for long passages, I'd have broadband in addition to a "standard" radar.
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Old 03-07-2013, 09:22 PM   #17
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Thumbs down Broadband and Energy

I went with the Simrad 4G and couldn't be happier. The close-in range is unbelievable. Frankly, I spend way more time concerned about things that close to the boat than I do about things which are 30 miles away. That said, I haven't yet seen a problem with range, but I haven't tested it under a lot of conditions. I'm still amazed to see things that are only 10-20 feet from the boat.

Regarding power, you guys need to be careful you don't fall into the trap of confusing power with energy. The pulsed radars have to have very high peak powers because the pulse has to be very short if you're going to see anything close to the boat. Target detection is all about energy which, for these signals, is the product of power and time. The broadband radars are indeed much lower power, but they also transmit for significantly longer time periods. For example a 1 kW radar with a 1 usec pulse has the same energy as a 100mW radar with a 10 msec pulse all other things being equal.

The biggest problem I've had with the broadband radar is that they're susceptible to interference from other radars. When it happens you see radial lines come and go. So far, it's always been one of the state ferries getting close. While that's my biggest problem. It's really not much of a problem. Having had both types of radars, I much prefer the broadband for the type of boating I do.
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Old 03-07-2013, 09:29 PM   #18
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I went with the Simrad 4G and couldn't be happier. The close-in range is unbelievable. Frankly, I spend way more time concerned about things that close to the boat than I do about things which are 30 miles away. That said, I haven't yet seen a problem with range, but I haven't tested it under a lot of conditions. I'm still amazed to see things that are only 10-20 feet from the boat.

Regarding power, you guys need to be careful you don't fall into the trap of confusing power with energy. The pulsed radars have to have very high peak powers because the pulse has to be very short if you're going to see anything close to the boat. Target detection is all about energy which, for these signals, is the product of power and time. The broadband radars are indeed much lower power, but they also transmit for significantly longer time periods. For example a 1 kW radar with a 1 usec pulse has the same energy as a 100mW radar with a 10 msec pulse all other things being equal.

The biggest problem I've had with the broadband radar is that they're susceptible to interference from other radars. When it happens you see radial lines come and go. So far, it's always been one of the state ferries getting close. While that's my biggest problem. It's really not much of a problem. Having had both types of radars, I much prefer the broadband for the type of boating I do.
Thanks great feedback - thanks
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Old 03-07-2013, 09:33 PM   #19
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I'm into my into my 3rd season with Furuno NN3 - 2 MFD 12s, one at each helm. No problems whatsoever. The 2 units via a NMEA 2000 Maretron backbone have AIS and DFFI inputs.
Doesn't the AIS (assuming you have the Furuno AIS) and DFF connect via Ethernet, not N2K? One of the bugs reported for the NN3D systems is that it doesn't support AIS coming in over N2K - just the proprietary Furuno AIS over Ethernet (what I have too) and over 0183.

Which AIS device do you have? Mine is the FA-50
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Old 03-07-2013, 11:55 PM   #20
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Which AIS device do you have?
AIS is Simrad. I do not have the black box but the Furuno hub - you are likely correct the DFFI is via ethernet.
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