JRC Radar 1000
At last, a radar unit that?s really suitable for small boats has hit the market. Marc Percival puts the new JRC Radar 1000 through its paces on his home waters.
If you fish a lot at night JRC Radar 1000 will make navigation much easier, and quite possibly save your life!
Radar is one of the most effective enhancements to poor visibility navigation you can have. It gives you a positive ID on what?s out there, be it rocks or other boats.
Most of us have encountered the clown who doesn?t use navigation lights. And even when boats do show navigation lights they can sometimes be hard to pick against a background of shore lights. In some cases you don?t see the boat till you?re almost on top of it!
Throw in poor visibility from a salt encrusted windscreen and you wonder why we don?t have more collisions at night. Obviously radar helps in these situations. While GPS gives you an idea of where you are, only radar will warn you of other boats and other objects that may cross your path. And even then it?s not foolproof.
Benefit of Radar:
Used properly radar significantly reduces the risk of collision, or grounding in poor visibility. However, even with radar international rules of the sea you are required to still keep an effective watch at times when underway.
One of the best ways to avoid trouble in poor visibility is simply travel at a slower speed. Going fast in low visibility is a sure recipe for disaster, and illegal.
GPS is certainly an excellent tool for navigation, but useless when it comes to collision avoidance. The quicker you move in low visibility, the more you need radar. The GPS will only give you some idea of what is out there, but not the boat you may be speeding towards. Simply put, GPS is for positioning, RADAR is for collision avoidance.
Radar is an acronym for Radio Detection and Ranging. It was developed from an observation made by Marconi in the 1920s. The technology was subsequently improved in the 1940?s by the English team of Randall and Boot at Birmingham University under the direction of Sir Mark Oliphant. Used during WW 2 it became much more compact after the war. Certainly the modern sets of today are a miracle of miniaturisation.
How It Works:
A Radar set transmits a short pulse of electromagnetic energy from its scanner. This bounces off a target, returns to the ship and is picked up by the scanner. After processing by the receiver a visual representation shows on the screen.
Target range is very accurately measured by timing how long it takes to for the pulse return. Bearing to the target is measured by lining the scanner up with the trace on the screen. In fact radar measures distance much more effectively than bearing.
The transmitter produces the pulse that is fed along the waveguide to the scanner. The scanner is a rotating antenna that transmits and receives, like the transducer of an echo sounder. When a pulse is transmitted, the transmitter is shut off until it is received. Each pulse varies in duration between 0.1 and 3 microseconds. A microsecond is a millionth of a second.
The radar pulse travels at 300,000,000 metres per second so a short pulse of 0.1 microsecond measures 30 metres. This corresponds with the minimum range of most sets.
Radar has a vertical and horizontal beam. The vertical beam is usually between 15 and 30 degrees, wide enough to compensate for the rolling of the boat. The horizontal beam angle is narrower (0.5 to 4 degrees) in order to provide more accuracy in measurement of bearings. In general, larger scanners have narrower beam angles and more accurate bearing resolution.
The antenna (scanner) or dome should be positioned as high above the waterline as practically possible, and under no circumstances should it be placed in line with a GPS antenna or anyone?s eyes. The Microwaves emanating from a transmitting radar are harmful to the eyes at close range. That is why they should be placed well above the heads of all crew.
The display unit is usually kept near the helm. This is the most useful position for it.
The modern LCD units like the JRC 1000 offer much better waterproofing than the older units and can be fitted in the dash area of a trailerboat. However, when running the main cable from the scanner to the receiver don?t kink the fragile multi-core line. Bending the cable too much can cause it to fracture inside.
This cable costs about $60 a metre, so treat it with care. Gentle feeding of the cable between destinations is the way to go. Also I suggest an expert should also do the initialization if you aren?t that experienced about radar.
Pulse length, antenna and target height as well as power of the set determines Radar range. The return you receive from the target will depend on a number of factors. There is the power of your set, the shape and material type of the target and the atmospheric conditions. Even how you adjust the set will make a critical difference.
However, we have to be realistic about radar range. It is a little keen to expect to get 48 nautical miles from radar positioned low to the water and scanning in the direction of a low target positioned over the horizon.
If a target was 4m high and the antenna was 4m high the maximum range it could be picked up under normal atmospheric conditions would be 17.6 nautical miles.
Target Response: Shape and composition of radar targets play an important part in the return of radar signals. A cliff will return much better echoes than a low shoreline. Steel will reflect echoes better than fibreglass, while rough water returns a better result than smooth water. Likewise a high, flat target will be more easily seen than a low, round one.
Radar waves will bounce away from a target if there?s no shape to make them return. Radar reflectors are constructed of metal with components angled in a way to give maximum return to the scanning radar. These inexpensive gadgets are a must if you fish offshore at night, they make small boats look like super tankers on the radar set of another boat or ship.
Air in the water in the form of breaking waves returns very well and with luck and practice you can pick the channel of a bar entrance using radar. As bars are incredibly dangerous places I suggest you practice this by day, at a safe distance.
Radar will return a tinnie far better than a wooden dinghy and you?ve got no chance of seeing a submerged container.
Bearing the above in mind, it follows that even with a radar, caution is the thing that will keep you out of trouble.
All radars have a timed warm up circuit. When the magnetron is warmed up sufficiently the unit is ready to transmit. By pressing the Tx button you activate the scanner and the Radar begins transmitting and receiving.
In the case of the JRC Radar 1000 the maximum range is 16 nautical miles. This is one of the lowest ranges of current radar.
The Radar display has a function, which allows concentric circular range rings to be displayed to give a quick idea of how far a target is from you. You are at the centre of the screen.
As with sounders Gain adjusts the amount of information displayed on the screen. The amount of Gain on the screen is critical in the use of radar as the incorrect setting may cause you to miss weak targets and cause the Guard alarm to malfunction. The optimum setting For Gain should enable clear vision of small targets without unnecessary levels of clutter on the screen.
This allows the screen to be illuminated in order to see the display.
Will change the visibility of the screen to adapt to light and viewing angles
This is a time varied Gain function that suppresses the echo from rough water close to the boat. You really need to be careful with this one as you can have it set to a level, which erases targets close to the boat.
This suppresses rain and snow clutter and enhances the chance of picking up targets in poor weather.
VRM (Variable Range Marker)
This is an expanding circle that you can adjust to precisely obtain the distance a target is from you.
EBL (Electronic Bearing Line)
This is a line you can activate to measure the relative bearing of a target from your position.
A guard zone can be set using the cursor on the Radar 1000, this alerts the skipper audibly when another vessel enters the zone or leaves it.
This shifts the display down by ? radius and expands the area in front of the vessel. It is toggled on and off
Attaches a trail to moving objects to give you an idea of their course
Expands small targets to enable easy visibility
Shows a waypoint symbol on the screen when the JRC Radar 1000 is connected to a GPS. Cursor Latitude and Longitude can also be shown when connected to a GPS.
JRC is one of the most respected pieces of marine equipment amongst professional mariners. However, there is still some strong prejudice against LCD radar among some quarters, which I believe is thoroughly misguided. Arguments concerning lack of power, poor resolution and therefore poor target discrimination are inaccurate.
Certainly a big advantage of LCD radar is its comparatively low use of power, which explains why they are very popular with cruising yachties.
Certainly the JRC RADAR 1000 is ideal for use in trailerboats. The unit is slim, watertight and has a large LCD display. The display can also be seen both day and night. The Radar 1000 also features a few extra features like floating cursor on screen, echo trail, target expansion, intermittent operation and offset. Pretty good for a small set.
On The Water:
We mounted the small scanner on a removable stand in Rex Sharkey?s 3.5 metre Quintrex punt. Rex knocked the console stand up inside an hour and fitted it easily to the boat. The unit did not look out of place on the boat though we did a few looks because of the antenna tower.
After a bit of initial adjustment of the timing and heading marker, we took the Radar 1000 for a spin on the Urunga estuary into the middle of a dinghy regatta. Access to all the features on the JRC Radar 1000 is easy using the combination of the J-Dial and the JoyStick on the front of the display.
After quick reference to the manual we were able to adjust and select all the features and enjoy the performance of this unique radar. Some help is needed to understand radar initially, so is might be best to look at a radar book in addition to the manual. Radar is not hard to use, but it is a foreign concept to most amateur fishermen.
Certainly the JRC Radar 1000 surpassed my expectations. We received good target response from difficult targets like wooden boats, rounded beacons and small buoys.
The resolution of the display was more than sufficient for picking up small targets and would be very reassuring at night. We got good returns from buoys, wooden and fibreglass boats and breaking waves.
Certainly being able to pick the channel would be an advantage when crossing a river bar at night. It didn?t take Rex long to get the hang of the radar and start using the unit like he?d owned it for years.
It is certainly a good idea to do your radar practice in good weather so you are fully conversant with it in poor conditions.
The JRC Radar 1000 is a well-constructed unit with more features than many of its larger counterparts. The pricing and size of the unit also puts it within reach of the serious sports fisherman.
Radar has not been seen on many small amateur boats to date, but if you are a serious night fisherman and want that added security of radar, then think about the JRC Radar 1000. We certainly found the unit a big help on our night fishing trip.
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