Electronics with Navico: Broadband Radar


By Chris Radford, Navico

I know some of you will be thinking “well he works for Navico, so of course he's going to say it the best thing since sliced bread”, so I'll leave the introduction to Navico's Broadband radar to a neutral journalist:  “The greatest breakthrough in radar since 1940 and the world's first recreational marine Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) radome, the Navico BR24 represents the next generation of radar safety, affordability and ease of use. Combining straightforward installation, flexible antenna placement options and low power draw, Broadband Radar is the clear choice for every type of vessel.” This is a quote from http://www.panbo.com/


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The new BR24 delivers boaters a host of important performance and safety benefits, including superior target definition and target separation in close quarters, such as when navigating unfamiliar areas at night or when passing through busy commercial shipping zones.

One reason you'll wish you visited the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show in May (apart from the horrendous weather) was that Navico not only debuted its Broadband Radar, but we actually had a live working unit running on the stand. That's possible because the 18″ solid state radar transmits at “1/2000th the power of typical pulse radars.” And it actually generated meaningful images inside that huge show hall as the technology is so amazingly good at resolving short-range targets. The various Lowrance, Northstar, and Simrad units that are going to be updated to support this scanner will even have a 1/32 nm range or 50m. So…high target resolution, very low power draw, almost no dangerous radiation, and no tuning or warm up time needed…is this an interesting development, or what?

So how will this revolutionary product help my sailing? Well for may reasons –


  • Instant on: The Broadband Radar has no warm-up like conventional magnetron radars. This will help you save power, and ultimately allow you to use the radar more, so it will provide a higher level of safety.

  • Low Power consumption: The Broadband Radar only draws 17W during operation, which is well under half the power compared to magnetron radars & 1.6W in standby.

  • No harmful radiation: Unlike magnetron radars the BR24 doesn't use microwave radiation to detect objects. The BR24 produces less than 1/10 the energy of a mobile phone and emits no harmful radiation outside the dome. Due to this, the BR24 can be mounted in more convenient and flexible locations. Also from the day you purchase the unit, its maximum range will always remain at 24NM, unlike magnetron radars that deteriorate over time, similar to plasma TV's. Most commercial vessels will replace there magnetron radars every two years due to this deterioration. The BR24 is the first radar to gain classification to be able to be used on land, so its use is almost endless.

  • Target resolution: The BR24 will allow you to zoom as close as 50m and is so sensitive that it will pick up your boats VHF antennas or even craypot buoy floating in the water. Combine this target resolution on a Chartplotter with radar overlay, interpreting radar will have never been so easy. Another great feature is the coastline definition it shows, it needs to be seen to believe. Last month I had the pleasure of showing this amazing product to 20 journalists. After running through the technical side of the product on land we hit the water. Driving along I pulled up to an oyster lease, to there absolute amazement the radar could actually detect the individual stakes in the water, comments like – amazing, incredible, life changing etc rang out around the boat.

  • Easy installation: Out of the box, the BR24 will be a delight to install from its 13.5mm diameter scanner cable, to the fact that the BR24 will auto tune. So unlike magnetron radars that are constantly being tuned to maintain its optimal effectiveness, the BR24 will also be operation at it's best. The compact 18″ (45.72cm) radome measures 280mm in height and 488mm in diameter, weighs 7.4kg. The BR24 has an operating temperature range of -25°C to +55°C & the BR24 is waterproof to the IPX6 standard and is covered by a two-year warranty.


So in summing up, the BR24 is going to be a useful acquisition for the cruising or racing sailor alike. The BR24 will be combatable with the Simrad NX40, NX45 and GB40, Northstar M84, M121 & 8000i & the Lowrance HDS 7, 8 &10 via a simple software upgrade. Further details can be found at http://www.navico.com/


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