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Old 12-01-2017, 03:59   #1
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FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

I recently purchased a 2007 Chaparral Signature 310 cruiser that has an original 2007 Raymarine radar with C80 chart plotter.
Since the boat is in the shop for work, I was wondering if it is worth the $5000 or so to get a night vision. Some in this forum have suggested that a radar would suffice.

My interest in night vision is more for detecting small vessels or debris that is near the boat. I assume that the radar won't detect these, right ? Yes, I know all vessels at night are SUPPOSE to have light but we know how that goes.

Would you spend that extra $5000 ?

Are newer radar better than what I have from 2007 ?
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Old 12-01-2017, 04:15   #2
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

Honestly don't let it burn a hole in your pocket, go put it in the bank for a time when you need cash fast.
Unless your going to be some kind of covert boat sneaking around at night, you really don't "need" night vision, heck most of the time depending on where you are, you don't "need" Radar either, in my opinion your 2007 Radar as long as it's working will do the job.
A 1987 Radar did the job for that matter
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Old 12-01-2017, 04:20   #3
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

99% of pleasure craft out there have neither and get along fine.

Use your boat for a while as is then decide if you need to add equipment.
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Old 12-01-2017, 05:05   #4
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

You will do much better spending 1/10th that amount on super high quality 7x50 marine binoculars like these Steiner 7155 Navigator Pro Marine Binocular with Compass - 7x50

Binos like these have amazing light gathering abilities. They also have much greater clarity than the low resolution of a Flir display, without ruining your eyes native night vision. You're never going to see a submerged log at night either way, unless you know where and when to look.
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Old 12-01-2017, 05:40   #5
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

FLIR night vision gear is fantastic, but it's no kind of "versus" to any radar, old or new.

Make sure you're happy with the radar, and update it if you're not.

Only then, if you still have money to burn and want a fantastic toy, then think about FLIR.

A good radar will find unlit boats, will give you precise range and approximate bearing, will let you plot CPA, and to boot will set off a guard zone alarm.
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Old 12-01-2017, 06:00   #6
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

I have a 2003 Raymarine Pathfinder radar still going. Get an AIS if you are going to cruise a lot and that along with Radar is a good thing to have both day and night. Get an AIS with wifi capability and use your IPad/iPhone with INavX app with it. Next get an LED GoLight with remote control. If you are going to cruise the Tenn-Tom, GICW, AICW or narrow rivers a lot at night, then consider the Flir last. You can buy all the above for less than half the cost of a FLir.
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Old 12-01-2017, 06:42   #7
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

I have had FLIR on a few boats, (megayachts), and other than interesting things like seeing foot prints on the dock, and seeing which cars in the parking lots still have warm engines, it is pretty much useless. On a cold night entering a harbor it works well, but you can see just about as well. It only works well close, say under a thousand feet feet or less, however, if there is a small boat with an outboard that shows heat pretty easily. In fog it is pretty much useless as the heat signature does not transfer that well through fog. We played with it quite a bit, and in cold water you can see a persons head within a few hundred feet. Up in the ice it was useful as you can see ice with it, but if you are that far north you have the sun pretty much all day.

Stabilized binoculars are a far better purchase, and radar, If I had one choice of electronics to take with me it would be radar.

Hope this helps,

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Old 12-01-2017, 07:10   #8
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

The current night vision products don't compare to military grade kit. Even the top FLIR systems would struggle to have 20% of the capability of milspec systems.

Based on feedback from 2 people I know with FLIR systems and a review of brochure specs I wouldnt bother. Even detecting a person in the water in rough weather with a milspec system is very difficult.

You will only detect objects with an IR signature different (warmer) than the surrounding environment.

You wont be detecting hard things in the water with either radar or a FLIR system. You will also lose your situational awareness if you spend all your time staring at a reversed thermal image. It's worse than watching paint dry.

Radar also wont detect things in the water but will likely get used more often. Any of the new 4G radars have good resolving capability for small vessels. Sounds like radar with a MARPA capability would better suit your needs. All the main providers have good options here.

I do like the MOB following capability of some FLIR systems. But you need tight integration with your screen and they need to be on and pre warmed.

The best way to detect hard objects in the water is with the mark one eyeball. Most important to reduce your speed such that if you do hit something you dont suffer any damage.
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Old 12-01-2017, 07:14   #9
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

Even if it did show stuff in the water, you'd go mad if you tried to stare at that screen for an entire passage.

Another option would be to upgrade your C80. The new Lighthouse 2 software on the newer raymarine gear is soooo much better.
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Old 12-01-2017, 08:38   #10
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

Skylark's Raymarine radar is from 2008 and is already two generations behind what is available today. However, the radar and C120 chartplotter make using radar vastly more simple that previous generations.

The new generation of radar systems have much higher resolution, but a unit from 2008 works fine. I don't feel the need to upgrade at this time.

About binoculars...I read that Fujinon's Polaris Marine Binoculars - 7x50 with Compass had the best ratings of all the compasses on the market.

Fujinon Polaris Marine Binoculars - 7x50 with Compass

Although they aren't night vision devices, they work very well at night.
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Old 12-01-2017, 09:30   #11
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

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Originally Posted by leftbrainstuff View Post
The current night vision products don't compare to military grade kit. Even the top FLIR systems would struggle to have 20% of the capability of milspec systems.
Really, really good FLIR systems are cooled, I don't know how cold the sensor gets I have forgotten it was measured in degrees Kelvin, it is way colder than your freezer, takes about 20 min to get optimum.
The Sensors on civilian boats etc I believe are un-cooled and therefore way less sensitive.
The sensitivity of a flir system is called MRT, for minimum resolvable temperature. I never did find out the MRT of the Apaches FLIR, its a commercial, not military secret. I have a tape still where you can see the shadows of the rotor blades coasting down on the tarmac at night, what you are seeing is the heat that is being radiated by the Moons reflection off of the concrete being blocked by the passage of the blades. That is very, very little heat
Twice a day you get what is called IR crossover, where everything is the same temp and you can't see squat in FLIR, also heavy rain will make everything about the same temp and again, vegetation and ground wise, you can't see squat.
I have to imagine anything not actively giving off heat that is floating in the water will have very little or any difference in temp with the water, well below the MRT of an uncooled FLIR, and therefore invisible.

Best FLIR story I have is several mines were buried in Hoenfeld Germany and an AH-64 sent out to see if it could find them. Real good friend of mine George Kallstrom was in the front seat, of course this is ridiculous as an Apache can't see through dirt.( we were training for deployment to Bosnia in Dec 95)
Well, George found them, apparently they had been buried just hours earlier and George could see the temperature difference in the dirt. Somehow the news media got the story, there was a story on the cover of Time magazine or some other major magazine that showed a cartoon of an Apache finding a mine and sending the data back to the Pentagon ( we did have Satcom and what was called phototelesis) we could send pictures over Satcom.
We had a hard time finally convincing Command that we could not reliably find mines, they thought they had solved the Bosnia mine problem.
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Old 12-01-2017, 10:31   #12
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

If it is an either/or way to spend some money, update the radar.
Newer ones are better. (mine is an old JRC)

If money is a priority,
In order,
1. Good Binoculars. at LEAST 2 pair aboard, and always one handy. Of the 3 pairs of Excellent binocs I've seen on boats, two were kind of screwed up. Dont buy something you can't afford to replace when appropriate. (make that 3 of 4)
Maybe even stabilized.
2. Newer Radar
3. Epirb
4. AIS with its own antenna, unless your VHF radio has built in AIS transponder.
Antenna is actually VERY easy it add. ALL external switches attenuate your transmitted signal a surprising amount, some attenuate the received signal.
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Old 12-01-2017, 11:33   #13
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

Yes - update the radar if you think you need to. However, what you have will do just fine if it's in good order. For the IR, you can get a good pair of night vision IR sensitive binos for about $500, for those times when you might want/need them.
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Old 12-01-2017, 12:48   #14
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

Radar all the way, forget about FLIR. What you have is analog radar which is pretty good as the C80 can be upgraded to MARPA easily (you need a $200 gyro). Going up from what you have is digital radar (no real benefit, smaller cable), then HD radar (better resolution) and finally solid state radar (Quantum or Navico, even better resolution and instant on, slight power benefit). All these benefits are incremental, nothing revolutionary. I would rather spend money on autopilots or other things you get to use everyday than incremental upgrades in capabilities.
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Old 12-01-2017, 13:07   #15
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Re: FLIR Night Vision versus dated Raymarine rader

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Really, really good FLIR systems are cooled, I don't know how cold the sensor gets I have forgotten it was measured in degrees Kelvin, it is way colder than your freezer, takes about 20 min to get optimum.
The Sensors on civilian boats etc I believe are un-cooled and therefore way less sensitive.
My F-111 had the FLIR for certain missions and a built-in IR detector. Both were nitrogen cooled, and according to the tech. reps brought the sensing plates down close to absolute zero. The IR sensing head up at the top of the vertical stabilizer was a synthetic sapphire. I can't imagine any civilian units even approaching the sensitivity of either of those units on the plane. Not to mention the cost if they even made such a non-military unit for private boats.
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