Garmin, Raymarine, and Simrad enclosed radars compared, part 2

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, 100-ton USCG master.

11 Responses

  1. Serge Paul says:

    Thanks John, your analysis is vry appreciated. What I would like to see is to see how these radar perform with Iceberg, can they see them at all. I realized that you won’t see iceberg were you sail, but if anyone could share there experience with iceberg it would be very appreciate.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      I would love to see if anyone else can provide images of how ice returns show up on these radars. I don’t suspect I’m going to be much help with that unless our weather extremes get a lot more extreme.

      -Ben S.

  2. Hi Ben! Excellent info! I share your feelings regarding radar overlay onto the chart – for open water and tracking rain, the overlay mode is quite useful, but if you really need to see approaching targets, a separate display is imperative! Our (now antique) e95 plotter/display puts the radar return in magenta, which seems quite visible – but its still VERY easy to miss small targets like approaching fishing skiffs and Maine lobstermen in the fog.

  3. Don Korte says:

    Hi Ben, You did a fantastic report in your radar Part 1_2 reports. I know how hard it is to compare due to installation and setting differences. Just a comment……next time out please try for some some longer range performance screenshots – perhaps 16nm or greater. This is a poor time of the year to see rain cells, but maybe some will pop up. Doppler coloring in rain cells in very important. Happy New Year.

  4. Hi Ben,
    I use radar overlays to make sure the charts are correct! I am circumnavigating and have found that charts can be off a bit! I am using B&G with both Navionics and Cmap chips. I also run OpenCPN with satellite charts and AIS overlay on a 19″ PC at the chart table. The radar overlay has proven that the charts are off on a few occasions and that the satellite charts are usually spot on! Offshore at night I switch to radar only mode every 1/2 hour or so to insure I don’t miss a small panga 150 mile out fishing!!

  5. abbor says:

    For Halo radars I strongly recommend using Harbour mode unless you are far offshore and not interested in land details, man made structures or good target resolution. In Harbor mode Halo dome radars have the beam sharpening set to Medium, in offshore mode it’s set to Off. This makes a big difference in resolution. The offshore mode is optimized for wave supression offshore. Another tip is to utilize the Calm, Moderate and Rough sea state settings of the sea clutter filtering. Moderate is default, at calm seas Calm typically gives better performance and when there rough waves you may have to go to Rough to clean up the image.

  6. Another excellent effort at providing realistic and objective comparisons. The good news is that they all work pretty well. I had to laugh reading of your struggle to use these small domes to show birds because it gave me the impression that you were able to see the birds with your naked eyes but not on the radar display. Of course the point of using radar to find birds is to do it beyond visual range. The high power open arrays that I have had on my boats can usually spot birds well over four miles away and even double that when calm and there are flocks. I don’t think anyone should expect to see many birds with a small dome.

    It is unfortunate that you were not able to test a Furuno dome as well. Their products seem to do certain things much better than the others such as ARPA for one.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:


      I definitely agree that it’s unfortunate I couldn’t get my hands on a Furuno radar dome as well. I expect that it would have been extremely competitive and likely outperformed in some areas. I still hope to be able to get one at some point. When I do, I’ll update the results.

      As for spotting birds… I think the domes outperformed my eyes, but I was able to better trust the results from my eyes. In cases where I could see birds, I could often then find the returns on the radar scope, but they weren’t consistent enough (even understanding bird returns are typically hit and miss) to be confident based just on what I was seeing on the scope. It was common to see the birds returned once, then have multiple passes (maybe as long as 10-15 seconds) without the birds being visible, then see them again. These were at relatively short ranges. I got the sense the returns were weak enough that even with it dialed down, the radars’ signal processing was filtering them right out.

      -Ben S.

  7. Curt Grina says:

    Help !
    Most literature says that Solid State Radar units DO NOT have a magnetron.

    Yet RAYMARINE website says that both of their “solid state” radars DO HAVE a magnetron. Here is a clip:

    Transmitting Frequency: 9405 +/ 25 MHz
    Peak Power Output: 4.0 kW (nominal)
    Transmitter:/ Solid-state modulator driving Magnetron
    Standby Mode: Magnetron heater and control left on, all other services off
    Duplexer: Circulator

    So are the choices 1) magnetron, 2) Solid State with magnetron, 3) Solid State with NO Magnetron?

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