BR24 vs Furuno 4′ UHD, take two (yike!)
Well, that was exciting. Yesterday afternoon I went out on the Bay aboard Spirit of Zopolite, in large part so Capt. Bruce Kessler could show me how well his new Furuno 4-foot UHD radar works in close quarters now that he’s seen Navico’s Broadband Radar. And he was right; once away from the dock, the NavNet3D screen was resolving the complications of Camden Harbor very well indeed. The photo above, worth examining large (click on it), shows us returning via the channel through the Outer Harbor moorings, with almost all the boats and shoreline sharply resolved at quarter mile scale, and we could have gone down to 1/8th mile. I’ve been in this spot many times when you couldn’t see anything except an occasional channel bouy or vague boat shadow, and it’s interesting to compare the image with BR24 screens taken a few weeks ago…
In the screen below, Li’l Gizmo is just entering the Outer Harbor, with the BR24 set at 1/4 mile (and about five feet off the water). Note how the wide horizontal beam width typical of any 18″ radome results in wide targets, but how Broadband range resolution rivals UHD, and how it’s nailing the three nav aids close to the boat. (Note too how Lowrance’s built-in charts fail to show the relatively new Special Anchorage boundaries, and hence the channel, that are on SoZ’s up-to-date NOAA raster charts.)
Now here’s Broadband at 1/8 mile in the channel; that is a pair of low, round plastic channel bouys just ahead. Which is great, but I’m not sure I’ll see those with the BR24 now mounted about 20 feet high on big Gizmo.
And of course this is all a bit silly as there is no real comparison between SoZ’s full blown NavNet3D system and a BR24/HDS-10, beyond perhaps close-in range resolution. With the open array UHD we were seeing every target out on the Bay, including the wierd one way below, could easily make MARPA targets of them, and/or watch targets in true dual ranges. Bruce is also experimenting with Coastal Explorer, and tentatively liking it. In fact he showed me how CE2009 can quickly copy routes to the Northstar which then commanded the Simrad AP through manuevers. Altogether, it was a great boat ride…until the very end.
Spirit of Zopolite has five Mathers electronic throttle/shifters all ultimately controlling her Cummins 300 hp all-mechanical engine. That’s so Bruce can have the best angle possible when he manuevers her 80 ton bulk to a dock. He was on the flying bridge as he backed and filled alongside the Camden Public Landing, wearing a headset so he could talk to his very able guest/mate aft, with me somewhat superferlous but ready to pass a dock line from the bow. It was on the last little backing move that Bruce announced, fairly calmly, that he couldn’t get her out of reverse, and all five Mathers started alarming loudly. And it was great good fortune that SoZ’s swim platform just gouged the floats a bit, slowing her down a bit more, before Bruce flew down the stairs and shut off the engine from the pilot house. Yike.
How did that happen? Well, SoZ was four boats away from a serious marina lightning strike in Southwest Harbor a week or so ago, so serious that a VHF antenna on the sailboat that took the direct hit was driven right through her teak deck! Boats all around suffered related electronics damage, including SoZ’s Furuno FA100 AIS, which is now out for a rebuilt. The tech who checked out SoZ warned that other anomolies might show up, and that’s probably what we saw yesterday. Once tied up, Bruce took power off the Mathers (i.e. rebooted them), and when turned on again, they shifted the boat fine. They had never failed like that in 8,000 hours of cruising! Something to think about.
But for a bit of levity, check out Raw Faith, a locally famous vessel that has failed both times it has tried to leave Maine over the last several years. In fact, this was the first time I’ve seen her underway, and I believe it was with special permission from the USCG which has had her under orders since the second costly rescue. Sometimes boat problems are more predictable.
Ben, the comparrison between the Furuno UHD and Navico Broadband was very interesting, thanks. I hope to see more when all is sorted on “big” Gizmo. What I did notice is that not only did the Furuno show a more updated chart but the skipper also had the plotter screen (on left) set in 3D. That’s really impresseive, overlaying radar in 3D! It would have looked good if he overlayed Sat Photo’s and depth shading (on the plotter) as that takes the Furuno into a completey different league. I have heard reports that the Navico FMCW technology is yet to be proven on long ranges so it will be interesting to see if the installation on “big” Gizmo with increased antenna height improves long range performance whilst maintaining target definition.
Ben, Please advise Captain Kessler that the Furuno DRS4 Radar Image can be refined even further by adjusting the Main Bang Supression parameter to eliminate the own ship center spot and further enhance the very close range targets. He can call Furuno Tech support to run him through this simple adjustment in the Installation Wizard.
I had to re-emphasize to everyone in my office that your pictures show the Furuno radar image and the BR24 image at the SAME 1/4 mile scale at the same location. Then, I watched their jaws drop as they realized the dramatic differences betweeen the two radar images.
When someone asks me why they should invest in a larger radar system, this kind of picture comparison is impossible to explain but, your pictures make it easy.
Switching the radar image to Full Color (red targets) on the Navnet 3D Display would make the image even more comparable.
Thanks, John. It was actually me who put that window in 3D. Bruce hasn’t experimented much with that, but he may get into it. I thought it worked great, showing a little more range without losing close-in detail. Also, when we were out on the Bay, the radar overlay — 2D or 3 — was tight as a tick, credit to Furuno and a well calibrated heading sensor.
I am certainly looking forward to testing and comparing Simrad, Garmin, and Raymarine 18″ radomes, and they’re all essentially operational. But it poured here again yesterday, and all my tasks are off schedule.
Not that rain stop Bruce Kessler. Yesterday morning he was preparing to get underway, having first shown his three crew members the location of the circuit breaker for the electronic controls, in case he needs to reboot ’em!
Hi Ben, looks like it’s safe to post comments again.
Panbo is now been moved to a faster, more secure server system, but I am worried about glitches. Please don’t hesitate to report problems directly to me: ben.ellison at panbo.com. Thanks!
SOG 16.1 in the harbor?
Talking about strange values, how about the 987 ft depth indicated shown on the NN3D in the SoZ picture? The chart shows it should be something like 10 ft.
We had just turned on the NN3D sounder and it takes a bit to find bottom and auto range.
But I see SOG 4 knots, which was true.
panbo posting may be very sparce this week, friends. I’m out in the fog, writing this on an iPhone, cuising/testing all week.
But here’s news: the Raymarine 18″ Digital dome is performing very well.
I have been keeping track of you reports on radar displays and target quality.
I have sold and installed every brand of radar made in the last 15 years and a Furuno radar will always out perform any other like product.
I have seen a 4kW, 2′ open array FR1752 Furuno radar outperform a 6kW raymarine with a 6′ open array. It was a joke. Dollar for dollar Furuno Radars are the the best value.
Based upon one experience with a lightning strike 30 yards off the starboard bow of my docked sailboat (Pacific Seacraft) I would not trust one single pierce of electronics on my boat after a nearby strike. One important note; I was connected to shore power at the time with only the charger on. There was clear physical evidence inside my boat that we had taken a load of EMP. We had ICOM fuse holders from the VHF’s power lines embedded in teak across the cabin. Essentially, every electrical and electronics component failed. All repaired gear, with the exception of the Raymarine autopilot control head failed within one tear. The AP was fine. Using an electron microscope we found hidden damage inside RG8U Belden coax which was replaced. Each strike is different and his Northern Marine trawler is beautifully built, but I would be very careful and reject repair of failed items as an option.
I read your column religiously and by no means am I a fan of Navicos but how can you consider it a fair comparison between a 4ft open array and a 18″ dome antenna notwithstanding the difference in the price which has got to be around $2K. The picture resolution on the BR24 looks good but as we are finding out there is a limitation of an approximate 6 mile range that must be considered in the purchase equation. This is not a report, it is factual, the BR24 is a short ranged radar because of its technology. Please explain that to your readers. On the other hand, the overall quality and reliability from the worlds leading radar manufacturer Furuno must be also considered.
Henry, I specifically wrote “there is no real comparison between SoZ’s full blown NavNet3D system and a BR24/HDS-10, beyond perhaps close-in range resolution” and then enumerated some of the things the Furuno can do that the BR24 can’t. It’s also a silly comparison because the BR24 is so much smaller, less expensive, and less power hungry.
I also have not yet commented on BR24 performance beyond near range, because I’ve only seen it for myself very recently. Now, after four days of running with it, mostly in fog, I agree that it seems quite limited beyond 6 miles, maybe even 4 miles. On the other hand — and this may be somewhat peculiar to the complicated coast of Maine — I never would have set it over 3 miles if I weren’t testing it.
I’ve written a little about this week here:
…and will write more very soon.
While I am sure Maine is special in many respects, 3 miles dosn’t seem unusual to me.
My heaviest use of radar this season was to/from Huntington to Nantucket, an 80 hour round tip with 15 miles in fog, and anoter 15-20 miles in rain. Rarely was my radar configured beyond 2 miles.
Although I don’t have AIS, in effect my AIS would have been limited to the same range.
I just towed home a 2009 Ranger Tug R25… It has a Garmin 4212 MFD and their sonar… No radar… SO, I am looking at this radar stuff…
The broadband radar is appealing for close in resolution and no X band hazards – I am a long time ham radio operator so I have a grasp of RF hazards…
But, I am also wondering if maybe the Garmin radar, perhaps with the 18 or 24 open array, might be a good solution… For now I will be sailing Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron waters and close resolution is probably batter information most of the time, compared to reaching out 20 miles…
Would a 24″ open array be a problem on a boat this size? I am thinking I will have to modify the factory tower to put the array on top..