Small Radar, Huge Value
SI-TEX Marine Electronics now makes it easier and more affordable for owners of small boats to install professional-grade radar. The SI-TEX T-760 Series Radar family brings the advanced features of touchscreen display, Automatic Identification System (AIS) target tracking, and 4kW power to smaller center console, cruiser and sailboat owners. The T-760 sells for $2,095, which includes the stand-alone touchscreen display and 18-inch 4kW antenna—the more powerful 4kW transmitter greatly improves the radar’s performance in poor weather conditions.
It all starts with the convenient size of the T-760’s touchscreen display—at only 8.9 inches tall and 5.4 inches wide, it allows for versatile mounting options even on small or crowded consoles and helm stations. “With the 4kW transmitter it’s an all-weather system,” says Allen Schneider, SI-TEX’s vice president of sales. “You don’t have to worry about getting caught in a rainstorm and not having the power to pick up targets, which is an issue with low-power radars. With AIS and MARPA (Mini Automatic Radar Plotting Aid), you have big radar functions you don’t normally get in a small radar option.”
The T-760 also comes with an option for a VGA output so that users can route the radar display to a bigger computer screen or multi-function display (MFD) and use the standalone touchscreen display as a control. Having stand-alone radar also gives you an important backup option in case your GPS or multi-function display stops working, allowing you to navigate safely back home by using radar alone. The T-760’s 18-inch compact radome antenna provides solid performance in a wide range of conditions and range scale choices from 1⁄8 nautical mile to 24 nautical miles. The T-761 (MSRP $2,895) features a 24-inch radome antenna that delivers a narrower beam width, which results in improved target resolution and an increased effective range of up to 48 nautical miles. Both the T-760 and T-761 feature powerful 4kW transmitters, ensuring accurate detection and presentation of targets large and small. Both models also offer multispeed antenna rotation (16/27/36/48 rpm) for optimum target detection and tracking over a range of boat speeds.
Among many other notable standard features of the T-760 Series are Relative Motion, True Motion, North-Up, Head-Up, and Course-Up presentation modes, Auto or Manual Sea/Rain Clutter modes, and 11 Trail Indication settings (including off and continuous). With input from a SI-TEX Metadata AIS module (or other AIS receiver), the T-760 Series can track up to 50 AIS targets simultaneously for enhanced navigational safety in crowded waterways. With input of bearing, ship’s speed and lat/long data, the T-760 Series equips navigators with professional MARPA tracking of up to 10 targets at distances of up to 20 nautical miles.
“This allows customers to use their boat at times when they wouldn’t feel comfortable, such as at night when they are worried about other boats, or when the fog rolls in and you can’t see past the bow,” says Schneider. “In heavy fog, radar does a better job than infrared and night vision because the moisture in the air homogenizes all the temperature gradients. With radar you see what is actually going on out there in real time.”
Radar is very much like a sonar fish-finder except the transducer/antenna is spinning inside the radome. By transmitting thousands of harmless microwave pulses per second the radar determines what objects are around you and references their position to your bow.
“The portrait mode works out wonderfully; you get that longer forward view of what is ahead of you and not cut out with the screen being turned sideways,” Schneider said. “I like to run a 1.5-mile range inshore and 3-mile range offshore. That gives me enough time so that I can see what is coming into the area and see what they are doing. I hear people all the time say ‘I really only care what is within a half mile of me.’ But if you run too short on range, by the time you see what is happening it’s not enough time to react.”
Schneider advises new users to practice using radar on beautiful days and evenings when you don’t really need it. “That will allow you to get familiar with the radar and how to set it up, so that when you absolutely need radar you are familiar with it. The biggest problem most new radar users have is that they don’t turn on the radar until they are in trouble, and that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”
By Doug Thompson, Southern Boating July 2014