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Navico’s broadband radar

EMITTING less radiation than a mobile phone, a new radar system about to be released in Australia is destined to revolutionise the country’s $7.8 billion recreational marine industry.

Developed by Navico at a cost of more than AU$10 million, the revolutionary BR24 broadband radar, according to Navico, is claimed as the most significant breakthrough in radar technology since 1940.

Broadband radar will be available across three of Navico’s brands: Lowrance, Northstar and Simrad.

Due to be officially launched onto the Australian market at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, Navico’s BR24 broadband radar is the first radar on the recreational marine market to use Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) technology. Until now, only the military and big commercial boats could afford FMCW radar. Most recreational boats use pulse radar.

Pulse radar works by transmitting and receiving pulses of radio waves, alternating between transmission and reception at intervals of microseconds.

Navico’s BR24 broadband radar works in a radically different way, transmitting continuously, not in pulses. The radar picks up objects within a 24 nautical radius by varying the frequency of its continuously transmitted signal, then looking for those variations in the echo.

The BR24 radar offers significant advantages over conventional radar and is a boon for owners of smaller boats and for mariners who navigate congested coastal waters.

Navico’s broadband radar both draws and emits a fraction of the power than that used by conventional radar – an important consideration onboard a boat, which must generate all its own power.

Specifically, it draws a mere 17 watts when operating and a puny 1.6 watts in standby mode. Compare that to the two and four-kilowatt pulse radars that make up the bulk of the market, which use 25-30 watts when operating and 10-15 watts in standby mode.

The BR24 Broadband Radar also produces a miniscule 0.1 watt of transmit power. That’s about 1/20,000 the amount of energy produced by conventional radars, which typically emit between two and 25 kilowatts, and about 1/10 the amount of energy produced by a mobile phone.

Navico’s Broadband Radar emits microwaves in such small doses that, unlike conventional scanners, the risk of radiation outside the radome (the case containing the scanner) is nil. It means boat owners needn’t worry about mounting the radome at a safe distance from humans and never have to worry about microwave radiation again.

Navico Asia Pacific’s chief operation officer, John Scott, said: “The BR24 challenges so many of the core assumptions that boat owners hold about radar that it can fairly be called a paradigm shift – recreational marine radar will never be the same again!”

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