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Boat Radar & Autopilots

The open water of our world does not come with street signs, so radar systems and autopilots create a type of digital map and cruise control for easier navigation. Anticipate ships, storms, fish, and birds with the equipment suited to your range and display needs. Cruise the shoreline or go deep ocean sailing with the advantage of self-steering and a marine map for the water.

What is the marine style of radar?

Radar units use radio waves, sent out in pulses from the antenna, to pick up signals from other objects and display them on a screen. Different marine radar units will reach a variety of ranges, from nearby objects to hundreds of miles away. This information tells or assists the navigator in recognizing their exact geographical location and distance to the target or targets.

How does a boat autopilot work?

An autopilot, also known as an autohelm, is an electronic or mechanical steering control system. The three main components are a heading sensor, like a compass; a central computer; and a drive unit, like a motor or hydraulic pump, that applies force to the rudder. This effectively removes the need for constant human course correction.

What is an open array radar?

Frequently used in vessels over 50 feet in length, open array radars can be a couple to several feet across but provide long-range detection. They use a narrower beam to achieve these longer ranges when scanning. Different display types are available, including color LCD options.

What is a radome?

Radomes are typically dome-shaped structures that are minimally transparent to radio waves and designed to protect radar systems or antenna from weather and the elements. They are rated for thickness, in levels of A through E, with two percentage numbers providing key information. The top number represents the average percentage of the signal conductivity, and the bottom number represents the minimum amount of the signal at any one location on the radome. The thickness ratings are as follows: A - 90/85, B - 87/82, C - 84/78, D - 80/75, and E - 70/55.

What is other common autopilot equipment?
  • Remote Control: No automated device is complete without a remote control to adjust the settings or view images without being at the helm.
  • Mount and Cables: If you are installing a system for the first time, a mount and cables will be necessary. However, if you are replacing an existing system, you should already have an existing mount and cables. Check the compatibility for your new autopilot or radar system before installation as a different mount, cables, or both may be necessary.
  • Radar Reflector: Radar reflectors are required on vessels less than 20 meters in length as a safeguard. Small boats may not show up on radar without the use of a reflector.
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