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Old 12-02-2013, 18:45   #1
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Radar Reflector Review,to Have or Not to Have?

i am currently in contact with an owner of a 26ft fiberglass yacht which i will be delivering across the biscay later this year.

i have advised him to fit a radar reflector,but he is under the impression passive reflectors are ineffective,and does not have the money to fit an active system,or ais transponder.

this area is prone to thick fog,also heavy shipping and yachts / fishing boats not equipped with ais transponders etc.

the vessel has an ais reciever but no radar.

i have advised him to fit a cheap plastimo box type reflector under the spreaders,costing about $20.

i would be interested to hear others reviews on different types of reflectors?
and the wisdom of fitting one at all
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Old 12-02-2013, 19:14   #2
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Re: radar reflector review,to have or not to have?

I'll jump in. A radar reflector is a dirt-cheap way to increase your chances of being seen. I have a Davis one fixed at the masthead where it can't be shielded by sails, and whenever I radio a ship to ensure we're not going to exchange hull paints, they've already seen me. It is not a substitute for careful and constant vigilance, but it is a big help and enormous peace of mind. If he didn't fit one I'd invest in one of my own, and keep it after for the next delivery.
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Old 12-02-2013, 19:28   #3
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Re: radar reflector review,to have or not to have?

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Originally Posted by Benz View Post
I'll jump in. A radar reflector is a dirt-cheap way to increase your chances of being seen. I have a Davis one fixed at the masthead where it can't be shielded by sails, and whenever I radio a ship to ensure we're not going to exchange hull paints, they've already seen me. It is not a substitute for careful and constant vigilance, but it is a big help and enormous peace of mind. If he didn't fit one I'd invest in one of my own, and keep it after for the next delivery.
thanks ,my sentiments as well!
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Old 12-02-2013, 20:15   #4
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Re: radar reflector review,to have or not to have?

Benz is right on. I had a few occasions to ask other vessels how well they could see me on their radar and every time I was told that I was a bright target. I use Davis EchoMaster. It seems to be precisely made, with the 3 planes intersecting at right angles.
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Old 12-02-2013, 20:51   #5
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Re: radar reflector review,to have or not to have?

benz is correct but you really dont have to worry about the sails. They are not radio reflectors so the radar beam will go right through them, hit your reflector, and be reflected right back through them. But the higher you mount your reflector the better

I remember reading a Practical Sailor review of various reflectors and the Davis ranked right near the top - as i recall it was only beaten by active systems. Easy and cheap way to be visible
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Old 12-02-2013, 21:07   #6
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Re: radar reflector review,to have or not to have?

i found this review from maib that attest's to the effectiveness of the plastimo and davis octohexagonal reflectors.

How to choose a Radar Reflector
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Old 12-02-2013, 21:37   #7
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Just make sure those are mounted in "rain catcher" position. An active one like SeaMe is perfect but $$$
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Old 12-02-2013, 21:49   #8
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Re: radar reflector review,to have or not to have?

Ask the owner to compare the cost of a radar reflector to the cost of his boat.
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Old 12-02-2013, 22:20   #9
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Re: radar reflector review,to have or not to have?

I think I'm with the rest of you guys. A passive reflector can be effective and the cheap Davis ones work as well or better than the expensive ones. As I recall the cheap gold foil covered Davis worked the best in the Practical Sailor test.
Jedi is right about the catch rain position. That's very important and I see a lot of these reflectors mounted wrong.
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Old 13-02-2013, 02:30   #10
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Re: radar reflector review,to have or not to have?

Bottom line is that it can't make things worse and probably improves radar returns and for the money it's a no-brainer.

Concur with with the octohexagonal crowd in the catch-water position.

I have been told (and its makes sense) that:

A small hole (say1" diameter in the centre of the octohexagon) reduces windage considerably but has almost zero effect on reducing the radar return.

And that if the over all shape is round rather than straight edged, radar returns are very much enhanced.

Could be mistaken for a round day shape I suppose.
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Old 13-02-2013, 03:28   #11
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Re: radar reflector review,to have or not to have?

I took ours down after doing a little maths. Offered it for free on the morning net in Portobelo for 3 days. There were about 50 yachts and no one wanted it.

So we gave it the flotation test!
(it failed that too)
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Old 13-02-2013, 03:36   #12
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Re: radar reflector review,to have or not to have?

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Originally Posted by Jimbo485 View Post
I took ours down after doing a little maths. )
Can you enlighten us a bit?
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Old 13-02-2013, 03:55   #13
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Re: radar reflector review,to have or not to have?

Surface area of 10 mm strip running from 1st spreader to top of our aluminium mast.

cf.

Surface area of one side of the aluminium radar reflector.

About the same.

(The 10 mm width is debatable, but that was my assumption as a relatively good reflection and ignored the rest of the mast, spreaders etc. This was just back of the envelope stuff to give me an idea of the magnitude of the reflection, not a perfect answer.)
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Old 13-02-2013, 03:59   #14
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Re: radar reflector review,to have or not to have?

This is a different reflector design that has better reflective cross section than the standard octahedral, and it can be homebuilt for cheap. We have one (cost about $10), but to date I still haven't queried any oncoming ships as to how we look on their screen.

Duckworks Magazine - Passive Radar Reflectors

Duckworks - Do It Yourself Lifelines and Bow Pulpit
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Old 13-02-2013, 04:18   #15
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Re: radar reflector review,to have or not to have?

Definitely get a reflector, or make one. Aluminum or galvanized steel. Cut out two disks abiut a foot in diameter. Cut a slot in each piece fRom edge to center, as wide as your material is thick. Nest them together, slot to slot, 90 degrees apart. Cut 4 pie slice quadrant shapes a littke oversized so you can bend up the edges into tabs. Pop rivet these 4 quadrant pieces in place to brace the two disks at right angles. Cut wind relief holes if desired. Drill holes top and bottom for shackles and one on a side edge for an anti spin line. Hoist it with spinnaker halyard or any other unused line. As a bonus Yiu can make another and paint itblack for an anchor ball. You could make yiur other dayshapes in similar fashion. These work pretty good. We used similar on high flyer bouys when longlining. A 3cm radar picks them up at several miles no prob. Much better than just an aluminum mast.
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