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Radar - is it really helpful?

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Hi all

So silly question, but is radar really useful? For example, with iPads for real-time weather radar (plenty of apps for that) and the chart-plotter for navigation, and back to the iPad with a real time connection (3G or LTE) to the world of Apps available, what else does radar provide that is indispensable?

Thanks much.

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How well does radar pick up fiberglass boats?

With todays technology and e-maps etc, the need for radar probably isn't needed as much. But several years ago, I could have used it.

While cruising at night, I almost made "contact" with a laker anchored outside the channel which I was entering. In another near miss, almost made contact with tug/barge coming out of the harbor. Both times, the ships lighting blended in with the background of city lights.

Radar would have picked them up from several miles out. They would have painted a big radar return and easily identifiable. During daylight, radar probably isn't needed as much. But night time ops, still a good thing to have. Especially tracking the guy who will likely cross your bow at 50 feet.

We have several breakwalls in our end of the lake, Spotting two white flashing markers are very difficult to locate due to the fact they are mixed in with city lights. Radar would ID the breakwall.

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It's extremely helpful in both low visibility and occasionally on sunny days. If I could figure out how to post pictures, I'd post a picture in August where I was caught in a fog and a freighter was 200 yards in front of me. I couldn't see it, but the radar had it pegged. Any night boating it is imperative in my opinion. After fireworks for example I can't tell you how many people forget to turn on the nav lights. Radar has been a great benefit in those situations as well. Even on sunny days, when you're cruising and something shows up on radar, I've told myself, there's no boat over there... Only to see that the radar picked it up.

This is long answer to your question, but yes, it is necessary on larger boats and your iPad can't duplicate the benefits of radar.

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Running down small boats at night or being run down by someone else on auto pilot ?

Radar is a must if you can afford it. Or do not boat in foggy weather conditions.

Hopefully by now radars have a intrusion alarm setting for different ranges, to sound a bell or lights if sleeping.

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So silly question, but is radar really useful?

Not a silly question at all. When I bought our boat already equipped with radar I was a little skeptical and figured I would be laughed at for having a "lake boat" with such overkill as radar. Boy was I wrong. Running at night after fireworks with a couple thousand other boats wasn't a problem primarily due to radar. The radar returns overlaid on the chartplotter was simply indispensable. We could even get up on plane and "see" everything out there. Granted, you can't see what's IN the water, but certainly what's ON the water. And fiberglass boats display just fine, by the way.

As cyclops said, if you can afford it, it's a must...or at least it expands the safety envelope and increases your utility.

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It's extremely helpful in both low visibility and occasionally on sunny days. If I could figure out how to post pictures, I'd post a picture in August where I was caught in a fog and a freighter was 200 yards in front of me. I couldn't see it, but the radar had it pegged. Any night boating it is imperative in my opinion. After fireworks for example I can't tell you how many people forget to turn on the nav lights. Radar has been a great benefit in those situations as well. Even on sunny days, when you're cruising and something shows up on radar, I've told myself, there's no boat over there... Only to see that the radar picked it up.

This is long answer to your question, but yes, it is necessary on larger boats and your iPad can't duplicate the benefits of radar.

In ocean, in and out of a busy harbor and haven't done any night boating simply because there isn't enough safety parameters implemented into the crappy little 531s GPS that came with the boat. So nighttime boating was out of the question completely and luckily we haven't run into fog yet because almost everyday we picked to go boating was predicted to be a completely sunny and bright day.

Not only radar, but high definition radar even. Next year when we start voyaging longer distances and going into Boston Harbor where there's all sorts of crazy traffic, it'll help a lot.

And agree with it not being a silly question at all. It's actually a great topic to discuss.

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Don't have it on my boat but was visiting a friend in Cape Coral a few years back and got into a terrible rainstorm coming back to port. Radar picked up all the channel markers. Enjoyed seeing all the small boats lining up behind us following us in.

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Radar is a good & bad thing in fog.



Had a HUGE twin big Dieseled cruiser / Yacht idling towards me in fog so thick could not see my hand at arms length. I am dripping water on my skin areas.



2 voices on the boat are trying to decide which way to turn to go to the marina. 1/2 mile away. I raise my voice and say. I am right in front of you and anchored in 18" of water.



Fu99ing idiot !! I told you we were too close to shore.



Severe reverse rpms



How could that happen ? Why did it happen ? Are you always as lucky as they were ?




This is a VERY good topic !!!!!!


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Do we remember what sank the Italian cruse ship ? Andera Doria. A 15 cent range scale light bulb. They thought the distance scale was much farther out in distance.

2 times I turned around as I felt a cold wet feeling come over me. SEVERE INSTANT SUPER DENSE FOG. Drop anchor & hope he does not hit me.

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I bought a boat with it, for same reasons above I love it. I will also add for me for fishing purposes I can see where the other boats are not.

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Thanks to all for the great responses. It seems Radar is indeed very relevant. Will have to save the pennies!!

So to add fodder to the topic... how hard is it as a DIY project to install?

Current setup:

Garmin 7212 chart-plotter with bluechart G2 vision

Garmin VHF 300 radio

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lol, you know you got one of the best GPSMAPs Garmin makes, right? :) Do you have the wireless mouse for it, too?

I would add sonar if you don't already have it. With that 3D imagery it gives you, you'd get amazing looks at what's underwater.

I was looking at that unit last week for my upgrade and was very impressed with it.

I don't know what the hardtop of your Sig 310 is like for wiring through it, but that's the first thing you'll have to consider before deciding if it's a DIY project. That's a pretty serious hardtop and you don't want to ruin it. It's not like an arch where it's much simpler. If you can see a way to channel the radar wiring from the hardtop roof and down to your helm dashboard and to power the radar also, then maybe. But for a unit like that, I would have a pro do it unless you have some very decent wiring knowledge. There are some weather related elements that these guys will do to protect the electrical connections and just certain knowledgeable stuff about best locations and such that you might not know, making it worth it IMO.

Which radar were you thinking of getting, the open ray or radome?

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Many people only use radar in poor weather conditions and fog. I run with it on almost always, even on perfectly clear days. It helps navigation to spot buoys, land contours, other boats, etc. This boat has some visibility challenges that I did not have in my previous 3 chaps, so the radar gives me "eyes behind my head" utility that I really appreciate. And using it in perfect conditions, is good training for when you really need to rely on it.

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Time to steal This question a little bit.

Does any company make a radar with a warning circuit on the closest radar range scale to alerte the crew that someone is approaching your anchored boat . Like WAY AWAY from any traveled area. Nice ALONE boats attract scumbags in some areas. Then no trace of the crew is found.

A feature that is need in todays drug user infested world.

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lol, you know you got one of the best GPSMAPs Garmin makes, right? :) Do you have the wireless mouse for it, too?

I would add sonar if you don't already have it. With that 3D imagery it gives you, you'd get amazing looks at what's underwater.

I was looking at that unit last week for my upgrade and was very impressed with it.

I don't know what the hardtop of your Sig 310 is like for wiring through it, but that's the first thing you'll have to consider before deciding if it's a DIY project. That's a pretty serious hardtop and you don't want to ruin it. It's not like an arch where it's much simpler. If you can see a way to channel the radar wiring from the hardtop roof and down to your helm dashboard and to power the radar also, then maybe. But for a unit like that, I would have a pro do it unless you have some very decent wiring knowledge. There are some weather related elements that these guys will do to protect the electrical connections and just certain knowledgeable stuff about best locations and such that you might not know, making it worth it IMO.

Which radar were you thinking of getting, the open ray or radome?

Thanks, yeah I do love the 7212, very good plotter with great visual appeal and the mariner eye view or 3D views are pretty cool, gives a neat perspective of what you look like from above and behind you as if followed by a DRONE with a camera! LOL

I was thinking of just getting a Garmin system to keep it all Garmin. Looking at an open array with narrowest beam and most KW I can afford. This video is a really good primer on radar:

please share -- https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/on-the-water/radar/gmr-18-hd-radome/prod13489.html

The hard top has wire chases (I've looked) for the VHF radio and TV antenna already mounted up top. So I think this is doable! ;-)

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If at all possible. Always separate the low powered equipment from the high powered stuff . Run the power radar cables down 1 side . Run everything else lower powered down the other side. Always works out far better that way. That solves the problem of cheap shielded power cables or 1 end not made correctly, before it has a chance to cause massive trouble shooting problems.

Remember. Everything worked fine before we turned on the radar.. That never changes. Radars are designed much better today. But many people still have problems after installation.

Do make very sure all the formats are very compatible before installation.. It is your boat.

Get lucky. :)

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Not a silly question at all. When I bought our boat already equipped with radar I was a little skeptical and figured I would be laughed at for having a "lake boat" with such overkill as radar. Boy was I wrong. Running at night after fireworks with a couple thousand other boats wasn't a problem primarily due to radar. The radar returns overlaid on the chartplotter was simply indispensable. We could even get up on plane and "see" everything out there. Granted, you can't see what's IN the water, but certainly what's ON the water. And fiberglass boats display just fine, by the way.

As cyclops said, if you can afford it, it's a must...or at least it expands the safety envelope and increases your utility.

Thanks Tex!

So does anyone have this one - Garmin GMR™ 606 xHD Open Array Radar

I think a 1.1 degree beam with 6KW and a 6' array is about the sweat spot for best bang for the buck. I think going less than that might cause should'a and could'a remorse? What do y'all think?

Is that overkill? Is a 3+ degree beam at 4' array but still at 6KW still a good radar picture for other boats and smaller obstacles?

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Hahaa, good one on the drone. So you don't need to get that gopro and have it fly around you. :D

I've seen that video several times in the past few weeks doing my research. For the size boat and depending on how much & where you'll be boating, the 24" HD dome will probably be more than adequate. If you don't mind having a 4ft blade spinning on top and getting an additional degree or two in beam width, then the 4' OA will do. I personally think those are reserved for boats in the 40' range and higher, simply aesthetically speaking and considering the speed of one to the other is not of great significance. But that's just me. :) It'll be fun to see what you end up choosing and more importantly see a picture of your boat!

Did you see the one I posted for you on that other thread of those guys with a brand new 310 zipping by us?

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Hahaa, good one on the drone. So you don't need to get that gopro and have it fly around you. :D

I've seen that video several times in the past few weeks doing my research. For the size boat and depending on how much & where you'll be boating, the 24" HD dome will probably be more than adequate. If you don't mind having a 4ft blade spinning on top and getting an additional degree or two in bandwidth, then the 4' OA will do. I personally think those are reserved for boats in the 40' range and higher, simply aesthetically speaking and considering the speed of one to the other is not of great significance. But that's just me. :) It'll be fun to see what you end up choosing and more importantly see a picture of your boat!

Did you see the one I posted for you on that other thread of those guys with a brand new 310 zipping by us?

Oh man.... all great points! Ok, I'll have to think a little harder, I agree going overboard may not be necessary. I guess I just wanted to try to maximize bang for buck and NOT have regrets later.

The video really clarified what beam angle and array width and KW meant and what you can expect in "returns" from each step up. So based on that info I supposed a 6' wide array (maybe 4') with 6KW and 1.1 or 1.8 (4') beam angle will really give a high resolution return and will probably lead to less "guessing" on what the return paintings are. Ya know?

I think with drone technology going the way it has so far, we won't need radar, we'll have drones escort us and telemetry back any info we need! ;-)

Hey what was that other thread? I'd like to see what you posted.... i didn't see that.

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If at all possible. Always separate the low powered equipment from the high powered stuff . Run the power radar cables down 1 side . Run everything else lower powered down the other side. Always works out far better that way. That solves the problem of cheap shielded power cables or 1 end not made correctly, before it has a chance to cause massive trouble shooting problems.

Remember. Everything worked fine before we turned on the radar.. That never changes. Radars are designed much better today. But many people still have problems after installation.

Do make very sure all the formats are very compatible before installation.. It is your boat.

Get lucky. :)

Thanks cyclops - yeah agree, need to keep RF interference (power) away from things that need shielding from that. I think I can do that with this hardtop on the 310 SIG.

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Oh man.... all great points! Ok, I'll have to think a little harder, I agree going overboard may not be necessary. I guess I just wanted to try to maximize bang for buck and NOT have regrets later.

The video really clarified what beam angle and array width and KW meant and what you can expect in "returns" from each step up. So based on that info I supposed a 6' wide array (maybe 4') with 6KW and 1.1 or 1.8 (4') beam angle will really give a high resolution return and will probably lead to less "guessing" on what the return paintings are. Ya know?

I think with drone technology going the way it has so far, we won't need radar, we'll have drones escort us and telemetry back any info we need! ;-)

Hey what was that other thread? I'd like to see what you posted.... i didn't see that.

I forget which thread it was, but it was the first time I saw one of your posts and asked when were we going to see a pic of the real thing, then it just happened to be that day we were out and as we were getting out of the harbor, a 310 SIG goes zipping by us and I took this snap shot of it. We watched it cruising away and notice it was heading straight towards a danger marker and we got a bit stressed because it was high tide at the time and I know that rock pretty well and it extends quite a bit from the marker but you couldn't see it since the tide was up. Well, he must not have seen the sign because we saw him swerve to starboard at the last second and just miss it. Very lucky, could've easily lost both drives but they were ok. Here's the pic.

IMG_2237_zpsd37abbae.jpg

This one was taken a few weeks prior to the one above, about 18 miles north of the harbor. Looks like a different boat.

IMG_2139_zps5eacb569.jpg

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I forget which thread it was, but it was the first time I saw one of your posts and asked when were we going to see a pic of the real thing, then it just happened to be that day we were out and as we were getting out of the harbor, a 310 SIG goes zipping by us and I took this snap shot of it. We watched it cruising away and notice it was heading straight towards a danger marker and we got a bit stressed because it was high tide at the time and I know that rock pretty well and it extends quite a bit from the marker but you couldn't see it since the tide was up. Well, he must not have seen the sign because we saw him swerve to starboard at the last second and just miss it. Very lucky, could've easily lost both drives but they were ok. Here's the pic.

IMG_2237_zpsd37abbae.jpg

This one was taken a few weeks prior to the one above, about 18 miles north of the harbor. Looks like a different boat.

IMG_2139_zps5eacb569.jpg

Oh wow! I'll bet the pucker factor aboard was more than the vacu-flush could handle!! LOL!

Thanks for the re-send. Nice shots! I will definitely post "real" shots in near future...just wrapping up a quick "mod" at the helm, then will post that. ;-)

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I have not read every posting. BUT, radar is very useful at night and in the fog.

The new units can overlay both the radar and GPS on the screen which is great. Makes it a lot easier to read. One thing I would get is a electronic compass. The compass will keep the 2 overlays lined up.

One night coming back to the club, the radar was picking something up. But I could not see anything in front of me. To make a long story short, it was a sail boat. Its streaming light blended into the background with the house & street lights. This happened on a clear night.

As to interference, I know Garmin uses cat-5 shielded cable. Makes it so much easier to install!

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Radar can prevent the loss of your boat if you ever get caught in a poor visibility situation. I asked myself can I afford not to have it? Another safety feature just like VHF. Plus now I use it all the time.

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