Topic: Technology Notes ( Nov, 2004)
posted November 25, 2004 04:08 PM
This note is in a sense an update to Radar for Mariners' Chapter 13 on Trends in Radar, which is posted here on the very day the books arrive in our shop. In short, as expected, radar technology is on the move. Any print publication will be dated to some degree when it hits the newsstands.
Most navigators have heard of NMEA—or they will sooner or later—it stands for the National Marine Electronics Association that coordinates the standards on electronic data format. If a depth sounder, for example, advertises a NMEA output, it means you can get the signal out of the device in a simple text format that is consistent with these standards and thus should be readable by any other device that accepts NMEA input.
Life is not always as simple as it should be in this regard, but in general this has been a very successful standard.
What many navigators may not know, and should, is that NMEA also publishes a magazine every other month called Marine Electronics. It often has very interesting and up to date information on what is taking place in marine electronics and amongst electronics service companies. The organization is a a professional association of electronics sales and service people.
In the Nov/Dec 2004 issue (vol 14 no 6) there is a long article on latest radar technology. You can see a copy at your local electronics dealer or repair shop. A few highlights that caught my eye are listed below:
— Several companies, including Nobeltec and Northstar, have added variable or faster antenna sweep speeds, often as a toggle to double the sweep speed from about 3s to about 1.5s. This is of most interest when travelling very fast yourself or in the presence of fast vessels. See Adjustable sweep rates
--Northstar now has user-selectable sweep display options. Choose from conventional sweep display, or add a radial line at the leading edge of the new display, or divide the screen into quadrants and have the respective quadrants update sequentially.
-- several mention new color pallets and contrast levels in new models, which allow for clearer presentation when overlapping radar images and e-charts. This issue was pointed out in the book and remains a concern in many units. Sometimes it is best to use the overlay to just establish where you are and what the targets are -- which the overlay option does beautifully -- and then switch back to chart or radar alone or side by side for the rest of the navigation.
-- Simrad reminds us of their exclusive dual split-screen display, which allows two radar images side by side each with individually controlled range settings. View one on low ranges and the other on higher ones.
-- Furuno confirms that its black box systems use monitors that can be upgraded and shared with other aps, and other companies also confirm that they have done away with CRTs completely and all new units will be LCD.
-- Raytheon reminds us that they were the inventors of the "lollipop" waypoint display, which they have extended to now include complete routes of waypoints that one can display or even select from the radar screen. The integration of radar display and chart display is merging rapidly with all models.
-- Sperry has announced that on its new ship radars you can switch between S-band and X-band on the same display without losing target trails, and they have upgrade packages now that allow ships to replace their older CRT displays with new flat panel LCDs.
-- JRC has announced a new feature called "constaview" that maintains an essentially real-time view of the surroundings that is not just updated with each radar sweep. This is a new video processing technology that will also let users switch modes from say North-up to Head-up without losing target trail information.
From: Starpath, Seattle, WA