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Old 13-06-2018, 11:21   #1
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DIY Radar Pole


I've seen some posts in other forums regarding the construction of a radar pole out of an old spinnaker pole.

Would a spinnaker pole have the strength to hold the radar dome up in lively conditions?

Has anyone on this forum constructed a radar pole? If so, what did you use?

Paying $1000 for a specialized radar pole is beyond my budget, and I can't see where they can justify this cost.

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Old 13-06-2018, 11:28   #2
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Re: DIY Radar Pole

Depends on the size and weight.

I'd think it should well be strong enough, as long it's not to corroded.

Especially if you add braces to it.
I'd tape the braces on with epoxy and fiberglass tape.
You could also add some stays.

Alternativly you could have someone weld the braces on. Still welding aluminum needs skill and usually costs.

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Old 13-06-2018, 11:57   #3
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Re: DIY Radar Pole

I have a radar mast made out of a plain piece of 3Ē aluminum pipe that came with the boat. There is a stainless mount bolted to the top. Works fine. It isnít anodized like a spinnaker pole would be though. Most sailboat radars arenít that heavy so I canít imagine it being a problem for a decent sized piece of tube.
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Old 16-10-2018, 10:07   #4
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Re: DIY Radar Pole

I am also interested in making a DIY radar pole. I don't want to mount a radar on the mast and having decided to go with a pole it seems everyone is selling 3" diameter poles for a boat buck yet the latest solid state radars weigh 50% less than the old high power magnetron types.

Playing around on the internet and finding some loading calculators I think 2" tube (1.87" inner diameter) would suffice for a 8ft pole with a single brace.

Any comments?
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Old 16-10-2018, 11:15   #5
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Re: DIY Radar Pole

My non-PE “bar napkin” review would require wall thickness, weight and some data on the rigidity of 2” SS with that wall thickness.
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Old 16-10-2018, 11:25   #6

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Re: DIY Radar Pole

A fast trip to (and there are often cheaper local sources) will find you 20% off everything by email coupon for a short time right now. They also sell titanium tubing, which would be stronger than stainless. pricey, but still not a thousand dollars!
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Old 16-10-2018, 12:10   #7
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Re: DIY Radar Pole

I sailed on a J42 to Newfoundland.

It featured a nice gimballed RADAR on a DIY pole at the stern.

The pole was made of PVC pipe and securely mounted (below deck) and reinforced.

The owner of the J42 built it himself (he is an engineer) and it was sturdy and worked well. He is a CF Member, and he may be able to show you a photo and tell you more if you contact him. He is a very experienced sailor and highly skilled. If you want his CF name, send me a PM.

Hope that helps someone who may be looking at alternatives to stainless steel pipe.
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Old 16-10-2018, 18:10   #8
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Re: DIY Radar Pole

I'm leaning towards stainless as it will match the rest of shiny stuff above the freeboard, as the aesthetics of the thing is quite important, PVC would be a no no. It's not the cost per se that puts me off buying off the shelf, but that the current products seem to be designed for earlier magnetron radar weighing 20lbs + at 3" tube diameter and now the newer solid state radars weigh 12lbs which would allow a slightly more elegant solution?

However the mathematics of how strong a stainless steel tube needs to be doesn't yield completely to an internet search by a layman (me). It certainly isn't wind pressure on the dome that is the deciding factor as the loading at high winds on a 22" x 9" dome are low numbers so it must be the horizontal load of the weight at the end (dome) as it swings through x degrees in y seconds and accelerates/decelerates abruptly in a rough sea. I was hoping that someone could put the numbers up on what the realistic loads are so I can work backwards and see if a 2" pole or even 1.5" pole 8ft long braced such that the dome is on 5ft max of flexing strut.

(and similarly the OP could also deduce if a spinnaker pole has sufficient margin)

Reading online, gimballing the dome appears to not give much benefit so I'm looking to fix one directly. The cost is such that I may go with trial and error at 2" and see what happens.

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