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Old 25-02-2016, 13:26   #1
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Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

As both Garmin GMR 18HD and Lowrance Broadband 3G radar are I believe supported in OpenCPN, I am trying to figure out which one to buy. I don't have or intend to have the either radar's native display but will only use OpenCPN so that doesn't make the decision straightforward.

The Lowrance unit appears to be more expensive. Is it significantly better?
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Old 25-02-2016, 15:48   #2
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by asinc View Post
As both Garmin GMR 18HD and Lowrance Broadband 3G radar are I believe supported in OpenCPN, I am trying to figure out which one to buy. I don't have or intend to have the either radar's native display but will only use OpenCPN so that doesn't make the decision straightforward.

The Lowrance unit appears to be more expensive. Is it significantly better?
I have the Lowrance 3G unit it is a "broadband radar" and it has excellent short range definition and is very low power consumption about 2W / 18W standby / running. So much so that it can be left on. It is instant on anyway.
I checked out the earlier Garmin 18HD I think there is a xHD now. These as I understand it are "conventional EM radars" and have a longer range but much higher power consumption minimum 30W plus. I think there is a warm up. IMO the short range definition is poor in comparison. Not that it matters up the mast but emissions from the Lowrance unit are safe compared to the Garmin. The Garmin does have MARPA but this has been largely overtaken by AIS especially in overlay situation.

I would highly recommend the Lowrance unit. It plugs straight into the ethernet socket. BTW the Lowrance / Simrad and B&G units are all the same just badged.
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Old 25-02-2016, 16:24   #3
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

I favor lowrance simrad for all the reasons stated. I have purchased but have not installed
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Old 25-02-2016, 18:44   #4
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

I had Garmin on my last boat and it was amazingly good. I would get it again. Never a problem and no warmup period to speak of. Does anyone use MARPA any more?
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Old 25-02-2016, 20:56   #5
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

have the garmin, but with a Garmin chartplotter, not opencpn. going to experiment with Opencpn this summer though.

Love the garmin as it is now - one of the best radars I've worked with. I've also heard good tings about the Navico (Lowrance/Simrad) version.
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Old 25-02-2016, 23:28   #6
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

I have both the Garmin 24 HD and the Simrad 4G. While I do not have much experience with the Simrad yet, I have used the Garmin for several years, but only with a Garmin MFD. It is a good radar and it does support MARPA with the Garmin MFD. The downside is that it is a magnetron (Pulse) radar, which takes a couple of minutes to warm up. It will also eventually wear out after 2000 - 3000 hours of use. I understand that it will only work with chart overlay on OpenCPN and this also requires a heading sensor, such as a fluxgate compass.

The Simrad plugin to O (version 1.302) is able to show the radar heads-up without chart display or north up (possibly also course up, but I have not tried it) with chart overlay. The plugin also requires a heading sensor. The advantage with the Broadband radar is that there is no magnetron to wear out and the transmit signal is low (1/5 Watt) whereas the Garmin transmits 4 kW pulses. It is safer to be around the Simrad. The Simrad is also able to pick up targets at a shorter range, but it is not as good at long range (24+ mi). It will not trigger racons and Search and Rescue Transponders (SARTs) because of the low power. The resolution is a little better on the Simrad, according to specifications, but I haven't confirmed it.

As mentioned, it does not need the warm-up time that the Garmin needs, but it still takes a few seconds for the scanner to get up to speed and start showing a picture.

The Simrad is reported to be bad at MARPA. I suspect it may have something to do with the relatively weak return signals, so a good operator may coach it into working for some targets.

Cheers, ....Erik.
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Old 18-04-2016, 06:44   #7
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

Hello together!

I want to get a radar (3G) and use it only with OpenCPN. Does any of you have experiences with this setup? More precisely my questions are:
- Is installation really straight foward (plug in the ethernet & install the plugin)?
- How can head-up of the overlay image be acomplished (i.e. what else needs to be installed and how - via radar, interface box or into the computer)?

Thanks a lot in advance!
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Old 18-04-2016, 06:50   #8
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

blauohnewasser
I think you'd best describe your current instruments and bus, and in particular what heading instruments you have. That will help determine the best approach and which radar. I believe the plugin for the B&G is more developed which might be a factor. Short answer: I don't believe it is simple, but it is not too complicated.
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Old 18-04-2016, 07:11   #9
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

Hi rgleason and thanks for your fast reply!

My system is - as of right now - basically nonexistant. I have just the computer (Mac) with OpenCPN on it. The boat has only wind, depth & speed, which are not connected by bus but directly to the 2 displays. Plus a combined AIS and GPS receiever (via USB-stick directly to the computer, see here for the product) and thus should have a GPS location and direction of travel for OpenCPN.

As i understood a heading (i.e. compass) would stabilize the radar overlay. This would be nice, but as i’m heading for low budget, i am happy already with the radar working properly on the computer (regardless if gps- or compass-overlay or un-stabilized split view).
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Old 18-04-2016, 08:20   #10
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

Hi rgleason and thank you for your fast reply!

I don’t have a bus (yet). Wind, log and sounding are directly into the instruments. Other than that I use a laptop (Mac) with OpenCPN and just ordered a Seanexx RX210 USB-stick which will bring AIS- & GPS-data to the computer.

I then only want to have the radar on the computer as well.

If an overlay (with GPS heading) is possible: great! If it is easy & cheap to add a bearing-sensor to the setup, even better. But if it is just a split-view for the radar image that is fine too for me.

Thank you in advance!
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Old 18-04-2016, 08:54   #11
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

Ok,
Wind, log and sounding are directly into the instruments - What instruments?

GPS What? How?

You would need a Nmea 0183 fluxgate, the specs require 10 ms or fast update at 38,000 baud, but if it is sail you are going fairly slowly, so less might work.

There are examples of arduino etc, heading sensors in this forum that you could build inexpensively.

GPS heading is probably not accurate or frequent enough, but some very expensive and accurate GPS's on large heavy boats that are not affected by sea as much may work fine. (I believe, but not sure.)

Others may chime and and contradict or offer better advice.
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Old 18-04-2016, 09:48   #12
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

Instruments are Navman Wind and Navman Multi. They follow NMEA 0183. But, as said, they are connected directly from the sensors to insturments (no interconnection even between the two instruments). Wind sensor -> Navman Wind, Log & sounding -> Navman Multi.
There is no GPS or bearing sensor on board yet. But GPS will be available via the USB stick previously mentioned.

As stated, all i really want to know is what is necessary to connect a radar (apparently Simrad or B&G 3G are compatible) with OpenCPN. And, if is easily done, stabilize it with an additional bearing sensor (or just with the GPS info - don’t know if that works).

Thank you!
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Old 18-04-2016, 09:58   #13
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

asinc - all...
I'll chair my experiences of the BR24 radar. ( = Navico/Simrad/Lawrance -3G)
- You have to have a NMEA heading signal from any type of compass into OCPN or, 4G only, via NMEA2000 into the radar. (Magnetic/Fluxgate/GPS-compass) OCPN can't handle MARPA so heading update frequency is not critical at all. (I've an home made compass at 1-2 Hz) Many Auto Pilots can serve NMEA heading into OCPN
- Minor power consumption as earlier described.
- Simple connection to OCPN. Give it power over a fused switch. RJ45/Internet jack into the PC. (For some Windows versions you may have to manually adjust the firewall)
- Install BR24Radar_pi of version => 1.31 (OCPN version 4.2)
- Start OCPN and activate the BR24 plugin
- Activate OpenGL in OCPN.
- Power on the radar and wait for PC-network connection.
- Start the radar scanner from BR24radar-plugin icon in OCPN.
- Adjust radar installation preferences from the plugin
- Enjoy

Read more:
PlugIns for OpenCPN 4.2 | Official OpenCPN Homepage
opencpn-navico-radar-plugin.github.io
The whole plugin story:
OpenCPN SIMRAD/LOWRANCE Radar Overlay PlugIn
First time settings info:
http://www.simrad-yachting.com/Root/...e_28-09-11.pdf

Håkan
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Old 18-04-2016, 11:03   #14
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

Thanks for the specific info, Hakan!

Sounds like it basically should be fairly straightforward to install... only: do you maybe have a link to a site where i can find a tutorial on how to build a NMEA bearing sensor? And how is NMEA then connected to the PC?

Thanks a lot!
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Old 18-04-2016, 13:25   #15
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Re: Garmin or Lowrance - Which Radar to Buy?

blaouh...........
I made my compass in 2014 and it has been working since. See: Inexpensive heading sensor?

I connected the serial NMEA signal to my Simrad IS15 system since I had the Simrad instrument to visualize it. The IS15 system is further on connected to OCPN. But it would be easy to take out a USB or RS232 for a direct OCPN PC-connection.

If needed the heading frequency can for sure be sped up to 10 Hz.

Håkan
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