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Old 04-01-2016, 12:30 PM   #1
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Gen 3 Radar

Hi Folks, I'm getting ready to by a budget radar. I am curious if the gen3 radar sets are worthwhile. These units are pretty much the bare bone basic units offered.
I live and plan to stay in the Great Lakes region and want the unit primarily for the rare fog conditions and occasional night time use. I really can't swing a larger unit and I'm not interested in whistles and bells. So, are these units worthwhile or are they a waste of money.
I'm considering Garmin, Furuno, Raymarine and Lowrance as they all make a gen3 unit. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks
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Old 04-01-2016, 01:33 PM   #2
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Only Simrad/Lowrance makes the "3G" radar which is the base unit of their broadband type radar. The others make basic versions of "standard" radar that has been used for years. If you have no ties to older equipment to match up, then go for the Simrad/Lowrance 3G.
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Old 04-01-2016, 01:50 PM   #3
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But now Garmin and Furuno also have come out with solid state radars:
Panbo: The Marine Electronics Hub: Furuno NXT & Garmin Fantom, Doppler marine radar is here!
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Old 04-01-2016, 02:28 PM   #4
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I have no personal experience with the 3 and 4G radars.


Some say they are great...some say they are about equal to the average digital radar in OVERALL performance. The big difference is close aboard...less than 100 feet or so they really shine and maybe out to 300 or so feet thay have a tiny edge. Past that ,the same till you get out 15 miles or so for the 3G where regular radar seems better and the 4G is good but not better out to 30 or so.


Again...this is from trusted friends and other professional captains...and far from scientific. Best to play with one till you are sold on it...
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Old 04-01-2016, 04:13 PM   #5
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Allegedly gen3 or 4 are supposed to see out to 48 miles... I sort of doubt that. My main interest is under 5 miles and up close in tight channels etc.. Any navigation I'd be doing with radar would be well within this range. It would be nice to see ugly storms though. Does anyone feel the gen 3 radars are a total waste of money?
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Old 04-01-2016, 04:37 PM   #6
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No...Gen 3 radars are not a waste of money.

Unless headed offshore these days...I just use a radar app on a smart phone that blows boat radar away...outside of cel range...well yes good radar is nice.

Gen 3 supposedly was pretty limited in range.... Gen 4 good out to 30-40 miles depending on who you believe.

In VERY close...yes the broadband radar is supreme...but plain old digital will allow you to cruise up tidal creeks 100 feet wide and if calm, pick up crab floats and birds.

The absolute most useful feature to me for radar is picking up small buoys in crappy conditions in rough inlets. Fog inshore...big deal I can always stop. But if I have to enter a breaking inlet in rough conditions in limited vis or night...I want to know where those buoys are.

And I can not say without a doubt which is better...and neither can my professional mariner friends with experience with them. So till I get my own hands on one...I went 24 inch, 4kw digital...works for me and was cheaper with the package I chose.
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Old 04-01-2016, 05:00 PM   #7
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The big new feature on the Furuno and Garmin radars is the use of doppler to ID moving targets automatically. That's a big deal at any range especially in close. I am not sure what I need to track at 48 miles unless I am trying to triangulate my position by radar bearings off of distant points of land. The radar horizon on most trawler installations for surface targets is far short of 48 miles.
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Old 04-01-2016, 05:06 PM   #8
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The big new feature on the Furuno and Garmin radars is the use of doppler to ID moving targets automatically. That's a big deal at any range especially in close. I am not sure what I need to track at 48 miles unless I am trying to triangulate my position by radar bearings off of distant points of land. The radar horizon on most trawler installations for surface targets is far short of 48 miles.
48 miles isn't the horizon for severe weather...even 72 miles was too short for me sometimes offshore.

ARPA has been around for awhile for tracking targets...how does the Doppler work differently? (only guessing it actually sees the movement rather than some abstract calculation ARPA probably used)....
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Old 04-01-2016, 06:07 PM   #9
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If you want to see out 30 miles you are going to have to mount your antenna pretty high. My radar is 19' above the waterline. Based on Furuno's radar horizon calculator (Radar Horizon Calculator) I can see a 10' high target at 9 miles and a 40' high target (ship) at 13 miles. So 30 miles range is of no value to me except that a 30 mile range capable radar will give better returns at my 9-10 mile maximum usable range.
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Old 04-01-2016, 06:12 PM   #10
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If you want to see out 30 miles you are going to have to mount your antenna pretty high. My radar is 19' above the waterline. Based on Furuno's radar horizon calculator (Radar Horizon Calculator) I can see a 10' high target at 9 miles and a 40' high target (ship) at 13 miles. So 30 miles range is of no value to me.
Cant see the beach...but you can see a 20,000 foot thunderhead quite a ways out...well over 72 miles...

And I have, and I have chosen a course through bad stuff long before the bases were visible.

Not everyone cares or uses this feature...but fish 60 miles offshore with summer buildups over land that cut you off...and it's pretty useful....maybe lifesaving knowing how many have been out there and those that never came back in similar situations.


Even my 24NM radar has saved my bacon numerous times in my sportfish and assistance towboat before smartphones.


I could see the same feature useful if you did a lot of alongshore travel out of cel phone range and those times coming back to Florida from the Bahamas....depending on your schedule.
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Old 04-01-2016, 07:52 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by tedted View Post
Allegedly gen3 or 4 are supposed to see out to 48 miles... I sort of doubt that. My main interest is under 5 miles and up close in tight channels etc.. Any navigation I'd be doing with radar would be well within this range. It would be nice to see ugly storms though. Does anyone feel the gen 3 radars are a total waste of money?
Lowrance 3G is a 24 mile radar. 4G is a 36 mile radar. You will still need a compatible display $1000+. So you are looking at least $2400 for 3G setup without installation.
Now you can buy an excellent Furuno 1715 stand alone radar and display complete for well under $2K. Its not 3G but it will do what you asked. You did say BUDGET radar.
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Old 04-01-2016, 08:07 PM   #12
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I just bought all new Lowrance Plotters and the 4G radar. I won't be trying it for myself for another 6 weeks or so, but I did a lot of research and the radar/chart overlay, close in capabilities and high level of target separation at closer distances are what appeal to me the most.

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Old 04-01-2016, 08:58 PM   #13
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I've owned both 4G and conventional 4KW, both 24" domes. I was really unimpressed with the 4G, and found nothing useful that it did better than the 4kw dome, and many things that it did worse.

In terms of nothing useful that it does better.... yes, 4G can detect the boat next to you in a slip, but who cares. Even in the worst fog you can see beyond the close-in blind spot on conventional radar (about 75'). To me it's much more important to see things from a distance and as they come closer. Having crystal clear vision as I hit them is not very useful. And from 75' and to about 1/2 mile, I have found the 4kw dome to be as good in all ways as the 4G.

In terms of things that it does worse, here's a blog entry with a video (and other info that might be relevant). It's a tug and barge about 2 miles away, and the 4G can't detect it. Part way through the video I switched to a conventional radar and it shows up right away.

Other issues are in the blog too. If there are racons in your area (there are in most major ports), the 4G won't trigger them. The 4G is also susceptible to interference from nearby conventional radars. The more powerful the radar, the more blinding the interference. So the bigger the boat (the bigger the radar), the more likely you are to become blinded as you get closer and need the radar the most to avoid getting run down.

The 4G looks and sounds great on paper, but in practice a small conventional digital radar performs much better. Since my experiment with the 4G I have outfitted two boats, and with both I went back to conventional digital radar.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:47 AM   #14
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The new Simrad Halo radar looks really good, expensive though...

Panbo: The Marine Electronics Hub: How Simrad Halo works, 12 radars in one!
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:48 PM   #15
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...

In terms of things that it does worse, here's a blog entry with a video (and other info that might be relevant). It's a tug and barge about 2 miles away, and the 4G can't detect it. Part way through the video I switched to a conventional radar and it shows up right away.
...
Peter, See that's your problem. Don't you know by now that digital is the new reality. If it doesn't see it, it doesn't exist.

My mother had the same problem: she'd call me on my cell and since she heard it ringing, If i did not answer, it meant I chose not to answer it.

And PS, you know that they tout that range not because people are curious what's happening at 20,000ft, but becasuse 95% of the buyers assume they are referring to the surface and don't even ask about the suspenion of the laws of physics.

Oh wait, I forgot, those Laws were suspended by the Digital Internet Act of 1998.
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Old 04-02-2016, 06:01 PM   #16
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Peter, See that's your problem. Don't you know by now that digital is the new reality. If it doesn't see it, it doesn't exist.

My mother had the same problem: she'd call me on my cell and since she heard it ringing, If i did not answer, it meant I chose not to answer it.

And PS, you know that they tout that range not because people are curious what's happening at 20,000ft, but becasuse 95% of the buyers assume they are referring to the surface and don't even ask about the suspenion of the laws of physics.

Oh wait, I forgot, those Laws were suspended by the Digital Internet Act of 1998.
Al Gore again?

Dang...how did some of us figure out all this stuff before the internet? So Al did some good?

Time to buy that cabin on a mountain lake and downsize to an Old Town canoe.
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Old 04-02-2016, 06:36 PM   #17
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Raymarine has a package out with the gen3 radar and 7" A78 multi function display. It's going for about 1800.00 including a transom transducer (I'd rather have a thru hull). I like the idea of the unit having wi fi and an app to tie your multi function to your phone or tablet. It would be nice for those times when the weather gets unruly and I'd like to retreat to the lower helm without buying another display.
I've had pretty good luck with the Raymarine equipment although it sometimes seems a bit more complicated than other manufacturers units. Does anyone have any experience with this model?
Didn't Al say the internet was an "Inconvenient Truth"?....
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:04 PM   #18
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The reality is, a 20 year old unit in the hands of some one who really knows how to use and interpret it is vastly more useful than a brand new latest greatest unit in the hands of some one who has little idea of what to do with it and little idea of what they are seeing on the screen.

Your ability to properly adjust and interpret a radar picture is far more important then if you have the latest unit.

Spend some of your money on education.
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:52 PM   #19
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Peter, See that's your problem. Don't you know by now that digital is the new reality. If it doesn't see it, it doesn't exist.

My mother had the same problem: she'd call me on my cell and since she heard it ringing, If i did not answer, it meant I chose not to answer it.

And PS, you know that they tout that range not because people are curious what's happening at 20,000ft, but becasuse 95% of the buyers assume they are referring to the surface and don't even ask about the suspenion of the laws of physics.

Oh wait, I forgot, those Laws were suspended by the Digital Internet Act of 1998.
And it's 3G, so it must be better. But wait, now there's 4G which must be even better. Oh, and how could Halo be anything but divine.

I think a big part of the issue is that most recreational boaters will use only 1 radar, or maybe 2 in their whole lives, so have little to nothing to compare against. If little dots show up on the screen, success is declared. It's nobody's fault as people aren't born knowing about radars. I just got lucky and the first one I really used extensively happened to be a good one, so when I started using the Simrad radars including the 4G, they stood out, and not in a good way.
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:59 PM   #20
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Oh, and it's not that I'm a total Luddite. I actually really like technology and made a career out of building the stuff. I just have very little patience for stuff that doesn't work.
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