Konig says that BR will offer all of the advanced controls skippers are used to, but that they’ll be less necessary, as the technology will work darn well right out of the box. Advanced features, like automatic target plotting, will vary according to the brand of BR a user installs, but the high performance will be the same across all the Navico brands. And so will the radar’s margin of safety.
The real dangers of radar radiation are tough to quantify and sometimes exaggerated but nonetheless worrisome. (For an extreme example, Brandt reports that fuel trucks were not allowed close to the huge Air Force “maggies” he oh-so-carefully worked on!) The fact that BR emits about a tenth of the radiation generated by a typical cellphone is not only comforting, but means that the installation options are much greater. A BR antenna mounted level with flying-bridge seating, for instance, will not make me worry like even a 2-kW dome does.
Combine low radiation, low power draw, and a clever wiring design—BR domes will come with a slim 90-foot combination Ethernet and power cable attached and ready to run to an interior junction box—and you can see why Konig claims this is the easiest-to-install radar ever made. Navico figures BR will be appealing as a primary radar for small boats and as a secondary, near-range radar for larger boats, and I think several trends support that. GPS navigation, AIS, and live satellite weather have all made long-range radar somewhat less important.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The next step for me is to see how well BR works, something I hope will happen before this column prints and which I will surely write about on my blog. There you can also find discussions of much higher-power solid-state marine radars—like Kelvin Hughes’ SharpEye and Honeywell’s yet unnamed but amazingly high-res prototype. While they are so far both costly and rare, I’d guess that more solid-state sweet spots will be found in due time. But Navico gets credit for being first in our world.
This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.