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Old 25-11-2009, 17:10   #1
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2kw-4kw Radar - Opinion Time!

Ok folks,
34' Bristol mono, no previous radar installation;i.e. no arch, no mast mounts, etc. Nada, nichts, nothing. Starting from scratch.
We are going to be staying inside the gulf/carib regions; island hopping, CenAm, Mexico, not crossing any oceans in this rig. We can't afford the best of everything, but need the best we can afford on everything necessary. We are 3 and NOT singlehanding! AIS transponder will be integrated in our systems.

Question 1: Technology - I would like some opinions on the new broadband gear. I'm familiar with the theory. I want experienced opinions

Question 2: 2kw or 4kw (or more) and why (OTHER than the obvious! Is 4kw REALLY necessary?).

Question 3: Brand / Model and why.

Thx!
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Old 25-11-2009, 17:31   #2
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Sure hope the broadband lives up to the promise. We are about to install the Simrad BR24 with their chartplotter, triducer (depth, speed, temp) and AIS transceiver.

In less than a month we'll be able to give some actual information :-)


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Old 25-11-2009, 17:46   #3
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The difference between 2Kw and 4Kw radars besides power is the size of the antenna. With a longer antenna the beam width is narrower. A narrower beam width means you can resolve smaller targets more clearly. If you look at the beam width on the Furuno radars
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you'll see it is 5.2* for the 18in 2kw radar and 3.9* for the 24in 4kw radar. If you want top notch radar performance, this is significant. The difference between cost on a Furuno 2kw vs 4kw is less than $200. If you are buying high end radar/chart plotter, I'd go with the 4kw. If you just want a cheap, no frills radar, then 2kw will work fine for you.

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Old 25-11-2009, 19:45   #4
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Not a Radar Expert

However, I have used my radar for 2 seasons now (out about 70 plus days per Year/season), I have read a very informative book on radar, used a radar simulation program for training, and I have taken a Power and Sail Squadron radar course. I currently use a 2kw Raymarine radar and am very happy with it's performance. Been out in very thick fog on a few occasions and on those occasions it was a godsend.
PaulL is correct about the beam width issue. The larger unit will give you better target discrimination. The range differential between the 2 sizes is not an important factor for a sailboat IMHO. Depending on where you are going to mount it, the larger weight of the bigger unit may be a factor (for mast mounting). I bought the 2kw Raymarine model as a review of various brands and models by Cruising World Magazine stated that this 2kw model had as good or better target discrimination and resolution as most other brand's 4kw models (but that was 2 years ago and I have no experience with the Broadband). My radar rarely (if ever) fails to pick up targets as evidenced by use of it on days with great visibility (mainly for practice).
Again, I don't profess to be an expert, just trying to be helpful,
Tom
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Old 25-11-2009, 20:15   #5
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Cruising World had an articale on side by side comparision of both broadband and conventional radars in Maine. I think it was the October or November issue. Check it out as it will give you a lot of insight... the short of it is, with the exception of long trips (trans - you name it) for coast and island hopping, the broadband worked better because the extreme close in and accuracy was used more often than the long range .

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Old 26-11-2009, 08:08   #6
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I seem to recall being told that broadband may actually be worse or at least no better in rain. Anybody have any information on that?
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Old 26-11-2009, 08:39   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2divers View Post
Cruising World had an articale on side by side comparision of both broadband and conventional radars in Maine. I think it was the October or November issue. Check it out as it will give you a lot of insight... the short of it is, with the exception of long trips (trans - you name it) for coast and island hopping, the broadband worked better because the extreme close in and accuracy was used more often than the long range
Yep, read some of those myself and broadband looks to be very promising, albeit expensive. Hence the comparison. I guess this is the real underlying question: Is the expense justified on a 24nm-2kw newer technology that gives better close in resolution or the 4kw "old stand-by" rig.

I should clarify that I used to be a radar operator (fire control) in the USArmy many many moons ago. But that level of technology was old when I was trained on it 30 years ago. Of course, fire control isn't the same as navigation, but the theory is the same (or it used to be! ).

P.S. - Whoops!

I saw this article:
Broadband Radar Debuts in Miami - Cruising World

but not this one....
Navico’s Broadband Radar in the Real World - Cruising World
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Old 26-11-2009, 08:58   #8
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Just read that last article and I guess that about answers all the questions. The CWFM is better at shorter ranges while the old pulse mod is better in the long shots. Pricing isn't that far off. Might get two! CWFM at or below the spreaders and pulse higher up the mast? And one could switch between scans at the display.
Decisions, decisions.....
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Old 26-11-2009, 08:58   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishman_Tx View Post
... I would like some opinions on the new broadband gear ... I want experienced opinions ...
I don't qualify experience-wise re broadband, but I have been running a small Furuno (1623) on a small sailing boat for about 9 years with heavy use in varied conditions. I am still quite pleased with it. The main attration to me about broadband radar is the (advertised) extremely low power draw. This would mean running the unit 24/7 offshore under sail and that I would find very attractive. With respect to 2k vs 4k, I am very seldom inerested in distant targets (except perhaps certain weather phenomena). I want to know what that commercial vessel 2 to 4 nm away is doing.
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Old 26-11-2009, 09:10   #10
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A 4kw radar came with the boat, and after using it for 10 years, when it was time to replace it I went with the 2 kw. My reasoning was--why pay the cost and power usage penalties unless you are going to spend a lot of time in heavy fog. There is almost no fog where you are going to sail, so you will not use the radar much at all. It is a big help if you MUST enter an anchorage at night, and manuevering between the shrimping/fishing fleets at night, but AIS will tell you more about the ships.

I would definitely go with Furuno--take a look at what the commercial guys run.
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Old 26-11-2009, 09:23   #11
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We have a 4 kw Raymarine. The extended range is excellent and allows us to stay well ahead of the 'potential collisions'. In heavy rain and big seas targets are lost when they are close so the extra time the 4 kw range gives (20 plus miles) provides a good safety margin when the target might be comming at you at 15+knots.

We can also pick up most small targets, including other sailboats, in the 5-10 mile range.
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Old 26-11-2009, 10:16   #12
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Have Furuno 1942 ,11yrs old and on second magnetron (replaced at 3,000hrs). Darn thing picked up a beer can 2 mi out on a calm passage from Great Exuma to Long Island(yes we diverted to get a visual). That said the new broadband does not have the "clutter" at the center of the screen as our current unit. I am thinking of adding the broadband for close work , such as running the ICW at night.
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Old 26-11-2009, 12:18   #13
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The smallest Furuno 16XX with the small dome great value for money. But the broadband thing is said to be very good - look up at Panbo.

b.
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Old 27-11-2009, 22:31   #14
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Regarding output power: during nice settled weather conditions, 2 kW is fine and provides all the range your want. But that changes drastically in heavy rain for example... and heavy rain is to be expected in the tropics!

It's the bad conditions that must be taken into consideration when deciding on output power, not clear sky conditions!

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 28-11-2009, 07:19   #15
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Anybody have any information regarding the rainy weather performance of broadband vs. conventional radars? I think I heard somewhere broadband may be no better or actually worse in the rain.
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