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Old 08-31-2014, 07:25 PM   #1
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Simrad 4G Radar

After having the new Simrad 4G radar installed in January, and having just wrapped up the summer's cruising, I thought I would give a quick review of its capability.

The close-in definition of targets seems to continue to be excellent, and out to 15 miles also seems to be very good. Beyond that may be good as well, but we never really checked that out.

But...it fails badly on some very fundamental capabilities.

There are options to run the radar on course up, north up, or heading up. Normally on most systems once you have set the orientation you want, it stays in place. On this system, when I set it to north up, my preference, it reverts back to heading up as soon as it is powered down. Very frustrating when you want to do the occasional side to side (Chart/radar) and have to reconfigure the orientation. My previous Furuno did that flawlessly.

Also, on radar overlay (of the chart) there is no capability for trails, which for me is a huge issue, since that is very helpful when navigating busy waters. There are trails available but only when using the radar by itself. Again, my previous Furuno did that flawlessly.

There is also an issue with the radar overlay not aligning with the chart; again a huge issue although that may be resolved with a new heading sensor.

But overall I would be hesitant to recommend the Simrad 4G given it its lack of basic functionality.
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Old 08-31-2014, 09:37 PM   #2
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Are basic functions like adjustment to gain and range menu driven? It drives me insane with newer units that you have to drill thru multi levels of menus to do tasks that used to be one button or turning a knob! "Are you sure you want to transmit? Yes or No?" Of course it defaults to No so that you have to cursor over to Yes and push the Enter button. Adjust the display back lighting? Get the manual out.
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Old 08-31-2014, 10:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conrad View Post
After having the new Simrad 4G radar installed in January, and having just wrapped up the summer's cruising, I thought I would give a quick review of its capability.

The close-in definition of targets seems to continue to be excellent, and out to 15 miles also seems to be very good. Beyond that may be good as well, but we never really checked that out.

But...it fails badly on some very fundamental capabilities.

There are options to run the radar on course up, north up, or heading up. Normally on most systems once you have set the orientation you want, it stays in place. On this system, when I set it to north up, my preference, it reverts back to heading up as soon as it is powered down. Very frustrating when you want to do the occasional side to side (Chart/radar) and have to reconfigure the orientation. My previous Furuno did that flawlessly.

Also, on radar overlay (of the chart) there is no capability for trails, which for me is a huge issue, since that is very helpful when navigating busy waters. There are trails available but only when using the radar by itself. Again, my previous Furuno did that flawlessly.

There is also an issue with the radar overlay not aligning with the chart; again a huge issue although that may be resolved with a new heading sensor.

But overall I would be hesitant to recommend the Simrad 4G given it its lack of basic functionality.
Thanks Conrad. Simrad has been on my "never buy" list because of the way they sunsetted my model and threw away all the spare parts so you can't get it serviced. But you added one more.
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Old 08-31-2014, 11:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by High Wire View Post
Are basic functions like adjustment to gain and range menu driven? It drives me insane with newer units that you have to drill thru multi levels of menus to do tasks that used to be one button or turning a knob! "Are you sure you want to transmit? Yes or No?" Of course it defaults to No so that you have to cursor over to Yes and push the Enter button. Adjust the display back lighting? Get the manual out.
I will say that those adjustments are straightforward and intuitive. Much of what the Simrad suite has to offer is user friendly I must admit.
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Old 08-31-2014, 11:37 PM   #5
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Thanks Conrad. Simrad has been on my "never buy" list because of the way they sunsetted my model and threw away all the spare parts so you can't get it serviced. But you added one more.

Yes, I recall an earlier thread where we had gone and and forth a bit on their support. Because this product is new they are supporting it generally, but my supplier/installer is getting a markedly slow response from them. The north up issue has been ongoing for months and they just recently advised that perhaps it is a "feature" that needs to be addressed.
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Old 09-01-2014, 01:13 AM   #6
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Might it be an issue only trying to go north up for both GPS and Radar..? Also, why do you prefer north up..? I guess I have never been a chart reading purist, although I always check against chart as well, but having only a GPS unit, I always prefer it to default to heading up, as it seems so much more logical to have like a moving map of where you are heading for, rather that the mental adjustment of having to imagine me and where we are as the moving icon on the chart, often moving in the opposite direction to where the boat is pointing. I would have thought that would apply even more for Radar, being one instrument whose primary purpose is collision avoidance. How do those functions work if both set to heading up? You might well find they work better. In which case maybe problem solved..?
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:05 AM   #7
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Might it be an issue only trying to go north up for both GPS and Radar..? Also, why do you prefer north up..? I guess I have never been a chart reading purist, although I always check against chart as well, but having only a GPS unit, I always prefer it to default to heading up, as it seems so much more logical to have like a moving map of where you are heading for, rather that the mental adjustment of having to imagine me and where we are as the moving icon on the chart, often moving in the opposite direction to where the boat is pointing. I would have thought that would apply even more for Radar, being one instrument whose primary purpose is collision avoidance. How do those functions work if both set to heading up? You might well find they work better. In which case maybe problem solved..?
I always have the chart plotter oriented to north up, as it matches the paper charts that are sitting right beside it, which are always north up. Any other orientation on the plotter would make no sense.

I suppose if I had both the chart plotter and radar set at heading up it might work fine, but that is not my preference, and the system purports to be able to accommodate my preference so that is my expectation.
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:34 AM   #8
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Different folks nav differently and to each their own. When in large bodies of water prefer North up as that's the way I navigated 30 years before electronic nav. (though I do admit I had other pilot's/navigators turn the chart whichever way we were headed...). When in narrow waterways...I let it stay auto CU or whatever the manufacturer calls it, head up, because it's a little more instantaneous to grasp and does tend to match the radar pic. (not overlay).

But I'm curious, as I was within a hair's breadth of buying 3G/4G but had just enough split decision and then I didn't like the plotter selection to match, why the primary function of radar of target identification doesn't win out above all else. Is it not the wonder of wonders that some make it out to be?

The issues you have would be tiny in my mind if target ID was as superior as some reports have it. So what's your take on target ID in general and also in close as that seem to be a big deal too? I do hate losing targets withing a couple hundred feet.
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conrad View Post
I always have the chart plotter oriented to north up, as it matches the paper charts that are sitting right beside it, which are always north up. Any other orientation on the plotter would make no sense.

I suppose if I had both the chart plotter and radar set at heading up it might work fine, but that is not my preference, and the system purports to be able to accommodate my preference so that is my expectation.
So, sorry Conrad, but what you appear to be saying, you are reluctant to accept advances in real time, 24/7 accurate navigation that people like Magellan, Francis Drake, not to mention Captain James Cook, and all navigators since until recently, would kill for, because you are used to looking at charts North up...that's ok, whatever works for you. Trouble is, it might be why your equipment doesn't, in spite of what Simrad says.

Why I say that is that normally Radar automatically works course/heading up, because it's primary function is collision avoidance. It is showing you in relation to real objects out there, whereas GPS is plotting you onto a preprogrammed map, where it's all mathematically calculated, so it does not care about the chart orientation. I would expect minute differences in signal speeds/reception times and differing screen refresh rates would make exact overlay a big ask anyway, wouldn't it..?
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Old 09-02-2014, 10:36 AM   #10
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Yes, I recall an earlier thread where we had gone and and forth a bit on their support. Because this product is new they are supporting it generally, but my supplier/installer is getting a markedly slow response from them. The north up issue has been ongoing for months and they just recently advised that perhaps it is a "feature" that needs to be addressed.
Interesting question on the North Up feature. My wife has to stand on her head if we are headed south to figure our where we are going on either radar or the chart plot since I always navigate in north up. Remember in school testing when they would show you a picture of an unfolded up piece of paper with holes in it and you had to pick the one that when folded matched the image shown? Spatial reckoning, I believe they called it. Perhaps the Simrad engineer who designed that feature always did poorly on that test.....

As an aside, I have a Garmin GPS in my car that doesn't have a QWERTY keyboard, just an ABCDEF type. Takes me forever to enter a street name, and I have always wondered what engineer in their right mind would ship a product that 95% of people would find hard to use? Perhaps that is Simrad's philosophy as well.
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Old 09-02-2014, 10:48 AM   #11
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Ok, I just had a quick debate with the admiral on the whole issue of whether North Up is superior or inferior in some absolute sense of engineering which would dictate whether you included it at least as an option when designing a radar. Even though her mental imaging works best on Course Up, she agrees it is not the optimal display for two reasons:

1. On North UP, when you are headed west, on the chart, radar, etc., you show up heading west. On Course Up, you have to orient yourself to a separate indicator to know where north actually is, which involves another mental step. Winner: North Up.
2. On North UP, the port side of the vessel always corresponds to the image of the vessel. On Course UP, you have to mentally flip what is on the port side of the image to the starboard side if you are headed south to get oriented. Again, North Up wins.

Neither of these extra bits of mental juggling is a big deal, unless you're fatigued, panicked, etc. Then, perhaps it matters.

So, we're with you Conrad.
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Old 09-02-2014, 11:12 AM   #12
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I use North up because the shapes of the various land masses that I travel amongst are committed to my memory only North up. For examle, if I turn the chart upside down Marrowstone Island becomes an unrecognizable shape.

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Old 09-02-2014, 11:20 AM   #13
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Having started with electronic nav systems in an airplane and then on to boats, north up is disorienting. I am always running heading up. If I want to know where north is, I check my heading. With AIS overlaid on the chart plotter, with heading up you have a pretty good idea of where to look to visually acquire the target. The same with heading up on the radar.

Since I have Lowrance MFDs I am interested in the 4G radar to replace my Raymarine if it ever gives up the ghost. The key is target detection.

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Old 09-02-2014, 01:34 PM   #14
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Well I certainly didn't expect this to turn into an anchor/single vs twin type debate!

The target definition is very good. Since my only other experience with a similar system was with our Furuno Navnet2 c/w 4KW radar on our previous boat, I'll give some comparisons:

Close in: 4G hands down. In fact I was able to track a bird swimming down the channel beside our docked boat. That would have been inside the blank patch on the Furuno.

200' and beyond: I'd say its a wash. The Furuno clearly shows the V of the boat's wake when plying smooth waters. The 4G shows it about the same way. Both are very good out to about 15 miles; beyond that I never really examined closely. Most of the areas we cruise are significantly closer in.

So given that the target definition beyond 200' is probably about the industry norm (given my limited sampling), I'd say that Simrad should offer properly working other features as mentioned.

The Furuno provides trails on radar overlay, and I expected that on the 4G.

The Furuno allows you to set the radar on north up, and retains the setting. Again I expected that on the 4G.

The fact that the 4G allows trails on the radar but loses them when the radar is in overlay mode suggests that they didn't think it all the way through.

The fact that the 4G allows the radar to be set north up but loses the setting on power down suggests that they didn't think it all the way through.

So whether my preference is north up, course up, or heading up should not matter. (Except for the forum folks!)

Interesting discussion about the merits of the various orientations! Whatever floats your boat I guess. Or helps to keep it floating.
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Old 09-02-2014, 01:51 PM   #15
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I wonder how much longer Simrad will be with us..
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Old 09-02-2014, 08:28 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Having started with electronic nav systems in an airplane and then on to boats, north up is disorienting. I am always running heading up. If I want to know where north is, I check my heading. With AIS overlaid on the chart plotter, with heading up you have a pretty good idea of where to look to visually acquire the target. The same with heading up on the radar.

Since I have Lowrance MFDs I am interested in the 4G radar to replace my Raymarine if it ever gives up the ghost. The key is target detection.

Tom
That still makes most sense to me. Surely it's the same driving a car, flying a plane, piloting a boat. You want to know where and what you are heading into NOW. Not where north or any other point of the compass is for that matter. As the pilot said. If you want to know where North is, look at the arrow on the GPS screen or your compass, and it'll tell you. But unless your desired course just happens to be due north, it is largely irrelevant at that time.

Coming back to why wives like to turn the maps round is surely because heading up is instinctively logical. Trouble is, car maps don't do heading up, so you are stuck with north up. The car GPS however, does do heading up, and in 3D if desired. What's the difference other than the desire to stick with old-fashioned convention. I just find it amusing what slaves to old habits we become.
However, using charts, north up, spread out to get a good overview is another matter.
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Old 09-03-2014, 02:03 AM   #17
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When you are other than North up, as the boat moves in a seaway everything - fixed and moving masses, chart data if you have overlay - swings as well. The RayMarine I had on my Osprey would only do chart overlay in North up configuration. I hate Course up but use it on my Garmin HD because that's the only mode that "looks ahead" <sigh> and I don't want to lose 1/2 the screen to my rear view mirror (so to speak).
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Old 09-03-2014, 06:41 AM   #18
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What is instinctively obvious doesn't necessarily work for someone USED to do something another way.

It's only been the last couple years that I had to "break" myself of the habit of using north up all the time.

The real reason for that was fairly fast running at night, in narrow (less than 200 feet wide) bodies of water with lots of potential turns and poor marking. The second or so of quicker orientation backed by the Radar pic is what really go me to come over...but as I posted in open water and planning, north up is still what my mind sees and likes...so intuitive or not...anyone with decades of serious chartwork and the early days of "plotted on chart machines" and radars that were exclusively in "north up" on vessel I served on...yep...north up is ingrained into my nav skills.

Even flying all those years with no or very early versions of chartlotters reinforced north up...not sure that all my coworkers did it that way but I did so that added to my "trained" way of doing nav making it harder to accept the new tech.

Heck they still teach reorienting everything to North Up in captains licensing for chart plotting...even though magnetic is easier for the average rec boater and even GPS does the calculations on the fly.
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Old 09-03-2014, 09:22 AM   #19
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When the radar changes background user settings simply by turning it off, it is flawed. SIMRAD should issue a fix. My older (2007) Lowrance radar sometimes changes settings on its own, sometimes its keeps them after power down. I have to check every use to see if it powered up the radar when I don't want it. It doesnt tell you, you have to go thru the menus to see if it powered up on its own!
FWIW, I have always been a North Up guy, but on the trawler with a large plotter, Course Up sure is easier to run thru tight channels like the ICW.
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Old 09-03-2014, 11:31 AM   #20
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When the radar changes background user settings simply by turning it off, it is flawed. SIMRAD should issue a fix.
Bing Bing Bing.

The software should allow the user to specify settings and those settings should stick after a power on/off cycle. Is someone prefers north up that is their choice. Nothing wrong with it and the software should support the user's choice.

This is a crappy or buggy design by SIMRAD.

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