Power & Motor Yacht - - ELECTRONICS -

gen­er­a­tion and no doubt with more devel­op­ments on the way. Then there are other sys­tems, such as Ray­ma­rine’s Quan­tum and Garmin’s GMR Fan­tom, which are both con­sid­ered “solid-state” sys­tems and use lower power lev­els to pro­vide close-range per­for­mance. Fu­runo’s X-Class radar uses a 3-gi­ga­hertz fre­quency to pro­vide ex­cel­lent tar­get­ing at both short and long ranges.

“It de­pends on ap­pli­ca­tion,” says Mark Harnett, radar prod­uct man­ager for Sim­rad. “The newer pulse-com­pres­sion open-ar­rays like Sim­rad’s Halo de­liver near-10-kilo­watt per­for­mance for long-range punch, with the ad­van­tages of im­me­di­ate-range per­for­mance, too. So this sys­tem cov­ers nav­i­ga­tion and bird spot­ting.” One may not need that range all the time, but it’s good to have the ca­pa­bil­ity.

Now all of that said, we at Power & Mo­to­ry­acht ab­so­lutely rec­om­mend that you treat radar with the same re­spect you al­ways have and give this pow­er­ful sys­tem the wide berth it de­serves. But rest as­sured, you’re not ex­pos­ing your fam­ily to any dan­ger­ous ra­di­a­tion lev­els sim­ply by us­ing a rev­o­lu­tion­ary nav­i­ga­tion tool, pro­vided you in­stall it and use it ac­cord­ing to man­u­fac­tur­ers’ spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

There are some things to think about when work­ing with your in­staller. Ba­si­cally you want the radar to be mounted above head height and over the high­est point where you and your crew spend time on your boat. This is to make the most of the radar’s 25-de­gree ver­ti­cal beam width (ba­si­cally it shoots its sig­nal 12½ de­grees above and be­low hor­i­zon­tal). Mount­ing it up high means im­proved per­for­mance over the long­est range pos­si­ble. Af­ter all, it’s line-of-sight tech­nol­ogy.

“In those in­stances where you can’t mount them high enough, we have a safety sys­tem built-in,” says David Dunn, direc­tor of marine sales at Garmin. “We have No Trans­mit zones, and you can set it so the radar will not trans­mit a sig­nal in that sec­tion.” Many sys­tems offer this peace-of-mind fea­ture, in­clud­ing those from Garmin and Fu­runo. You get a less-than-full pic­ture of what’s around you, but the sig­nal shoot­ing through all those bod­ies, seats, and equipment prob­a­bly would yield less-than-per­fect re­sults any­way.

Ex­plain to your elec­tron­ics in­staller how and when you use your radar, and he will have a bet­ter idea about how to mount it most ef­fec­tively. “The run­ning an­gle of any boat on plane ver­sus off plane can make a huge dif­fer­ence in radar per­for­mance,” McGowan says. “The mount­ing po­si­tion needs to take all that into ac­count.”

Lower-power units can ben­e­fit from a lower mount­ing po­si­tion, re­duc­ing sea clut­ter and im­prov­ing min­i­mum range. Larger radar sys­tems use nar­rower beamwidth to over­come these chal­lenges and de­liver far­reach­ing per­for­mance.

“In terms of op­er­at­ing the radar, do­ing so at shorter instrumented range is gen­er­ally safer for mag­netron pulse and pulse com­pres­sion radars,” Harnett says. “So, to re­duce ra­di­a­tion, and also in­ter­fer­ence with other radars, op­er­ate the radar only at as long a range as you cur­rently need. In dual-range mode this means the longer of the two ranges.”

And if you want to be re­ally safe, stay away from that mi­crowave oven in the gal­ley while your bur­rito heats up.

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