Q. Can you recommend an affordable radar for a small boat with limited space?
A. Furuno has two entry-level radars, the 1623 ($1,595) 16-mile radar with a 6-inch screen and 15-inch-diameter antenna dome, and the 1715 ($1,995) 24-mile radar featuring a 7-inch screen and 24-mile radar with an 18-inch-diameter antenna dome. Both have monochrome displays and 2.2 kW output power.
The Si-Tex T-760 and JRC JMA-1030 have similar basic radars ($1,995 each) with 7-inch screens and narrow housings measuring only 8 3/4 inches high and 5 1/4 inches wide that can slip comfortably into limited helm spaces. Each has a color touchscreen, 18-inch antenna dome, 4 kW power output and 24-mile range.
The Raymarine Axiom 7 features a 7-inch color touchscreen multifunction display ($649) along with the Raymarine Quantum Q24C 18-inch 24-mile solid-state radar dome antenna ($1,350) to give you a complete navigation system with built-in GPS and marine coastal cartography for the entire U.S. For only an additional $20, you can have a built-in depth/fish finder.
Don’t overlook the option of a combination radar/GPS/chart plotter. With today’s automated production techniques, the added manufacturing cost for these valuable extra features isn’t all that great. Plus, you gain the ability to add other functions such as AIS, chirp sonar, side-scanning sonar, night vision, live satellite weather, sound-system control and more in the future. These added benefits are significant and should not be dismissed for budgetary reasons.
In many cases, the additional costs may only be a few hundred dollars. Yet these multifunction displays may occupy no more space than conventional radars.
The Simrad NSS7 evo2/3G ($1,999) and Lowrance HDS7 Gen3/3G ($2,248) both bundle a 7-inch display with touchscreen and manual controls, a high-resolution broadband radar dome antenna, built-in GPS, chirp sonar and StructureScan sonar, and the ability to add a forward-looking depth screen and other accessories (compatible transducers optional).
Space-starved consoles can benefit from Furuno’s DRS4W ($1,245) 4 kW, 24-mile-range radar antenna. This can be mounted out of the way on a cabin top, mounting pole or arch. It has no display and connects wirelessly to any iOS device (iPhone/iPad) with the use of a free downloadable app. Your phone can even alert you if another boat, rock, buoy, shoreline or other obstruction comes within a preset distance from your boat.
The MDS-BR navigation radar pack ($1,999) from Si-Tex bundles a Furuno 2 kW, 24-mile-range, 18-pound, 20-inch-diameter radar dome with Nobeltec’s acclaimed TimeZero Trident navigation software that operates on an onboard computer. This combination provides a powerful navigation tool and gives you detailed interactive marine cartography, creating a living map with your radar picture superimposed right on the chart being viewed.
RAM mounts from National Products have a reputation in being problem solvers to squeeze in GPS, chart-plotter, radar, fish-finder and computer displays in cluttered, space-scarce locations. The mounts offer a variety of adjustable mounting brackets, attachable swing-out arms and elevated extensions that require only a couple of square inches of helm or dash space at their bases.
Many newer MFDs feature local Wi-Fi, which means you can view and even operate the controls, change depth settings and radar range, and make other adjustments from a mobile device from anywhere on the boat. This can be handy should you step away from the helm to engage in fishing or other activities. Appropriate apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Android Google Play Store.
These multifunction navigation displays are designed to let you perform periodic software updates, which can enhance operation and add new functions, as well as fix known problems. This helps to extend your set’s operational life and keeps your investment fresh with the latest up-to-date features.