I got the following PM, and I'm sharing it and my response (with permission), since I think it may have general interest to OpenCPN radar
I am sending this as a private message but if you think it relevant then you can reply via the forum
I am a live aboard doing open ocean and inshore cruising in a 60ft catamaran
and am now wanting to replace my very old CRT Furuno radar
with one that I can interface my computer through OpencPN
I have followed this thread since its inception and would welcome your views + thoughts + advice on each of the following
With the benefit of hindsight + the curroent and future improvements being made to the Gradar Plugin which scanner head
would you NOW purchase
or recommend ? This is assuming you would be replacing your existing Garmin
3D or 4D HD or anything better ?
Which manufacturer would you select for radar software
facilities + reliability
+ trouble free interfacing and connections ?
Would you prefer an Open or Enclosed array and in what size – 24 or 48 inch?
My personal preference would be for a 48 inch open array for the improved resolution it can give. Are there any open arrays available now which can be interfaced with the Gradar plugin ?
Would also consider a 24 inch dome array if the Open Arrays cannot be interfaced
And my reply
Thanks for the message.
There are two different ways for me to look at this problem:
1. Current OpenCPN
user: I would choose a Garmin
, since the OpenCPN interface is well advanced, reliable, and under active development. Also, given my experience with the 18" HD scanner, I would opt for an open array scanner next time. My main shipboard radar is a Furuno
, 6' open array, and the small 18-24" scanners are not even in the same league as far as resolution. As an example, I think MARPA tracking on a small enclosed array would not be satisfactory. Just not enough resolution. As you know, though, the Garmin
open array scanners are a bit pricey. The current
OpenCPN Garmin PlugIn should support this scanner, but has not been tested, as far as I know. I know it uses the same interface to the Garmin chart plotters.
2. As the OpenCPN lead developer: If I had the time and ready cash, I would buy a Furuno
open array scanner, and build an OpenPCN plugin to support it. This gives me two things: a)a better radar for daily use, and b)another supported hardware
widget for OpenCPN. This is a special case, I know, but there it is. I happen to like Furuno gear
a lot for daily at-sea reliability
. It just works.
Now, having said all that, I should note that my Garmin GMR18HD has given me no problems whatsoever, and is surprisingly low DC power when active. I have no complaints with it, considering its cost, etc.
Let me also say this: The Garmin PlugIn to OpenCPN is reliable for daily use. I have it running nearly always when underway, and it rarely surprises me.
However, when the fog
closes in, and my ship is at risk, I rely on the 6 ft. Furuno, just for the resolution improvement it gives. There is no substitute for reduced beam width and increased power.
I also have an 18" Furuno dome radar as backup-to-backup. (I know, 3 radars is a bit much, but that's what I do...) The Garmin 18 is far superior to the smaller Furuno in target resolution.
Hope this helps