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Planning for an upgrade

 

 

  • Types of upgrade
  • Adding radar to an existing MFD
  • Choosing location and mounts
  • Planning for installation
  • Software upgrades when and why

Whether you are extending the capability of your system, replacing older equipment or looking to improve the amount and accuracy of information that’s available to you, planning for an upgrade makes a big difference.

Based in Auckland New Zealand, Craig McMillan and Laurie Bates have a wealth of experience when it comes to Navico® products. Craig is one of Navico’s Product Experts while Laurie is Product Director at Simrad Yachting.

Here, they offer some valuable tips for upgrading your radar.

Here, they offer some valuable tips for upgrading your radar.

 

“There are generally two key avenues that people go down when they are considering an upgrade,” explains Laurie. “The first applies to those who already have an MFD (Multi function display) and a navigation network on their boat. So they already have all the data from heading position sources they need, they just don’t have a radar.

 

“For these people, so long as they identify a good installation site that has a robust enough mounting point, it’s simply a matter of bolting the radar either directly to the surface, or to a number of aftermarket mounts that lift the radar arm up clear of a surface. We tend to use mounts from either Scanstrut or Seaview.

 

“Then, it’s just a one cable run. Our cable breaks out into two at the bottom end so you’ve got the power supply and then the Ethernet to go into the MFD network.

“Some people ask about wireless radar and my view is that there’s no real advantage as you still need to run a cable to power the unit.

“The other common avenue for upgrades is for those who have an older radar that needs to be replaced, or maybe one that is just no longer working. Because we focus a lot on the retrofit market when we design our products, upgrading is usually pretty straightforward.

“The big advantage of a Simrad® unit is that the footprint of our latest radars is the same as the footprint of the previous generations, so that those four bolts and their holes are the same size and in exactly the same location. This makes it especially easy to upgrade.

“We also try to ensure that you can re-use your old cable as well which helps a great deal with not having to re-run cables.

“Now, if you’ve already got a cable run that is in a tricky place and you are looking to upgrade a 3G or 4G radar to a Halo that uses different connectors, we offer a small adapter piece. This means you can re-use your existing cable that’s already run through the hard top or through the structure of the boat.“

Ethernet Connection

The scanner can be connected either directly to a RJ45 ethernet socket or to a 5-pin ethernet socket via the supplied ethernet adapter.

A: Display unit or ethernet switch with a 5-pin Ethernet socket

B: Display unit or ethernet switch with a RJ45 Ethernet socket

C: Ethernet cable plug (RJ45)

D: Ethernet adapter cable (RJ45 to 5-pin)

E: Power and power control wires

F: Interconnection cable to scanner

Ethernet adapter cable

The ethernet adapter cable is used to connect the scanner to a 5-pin ethernet connector. Use the supplied waterproof cable boot to seal the connection between the interconnection cable and the ethernet adapter cable.

1: Waterproof cable boot

     Slide the boot parts over the interconnection cable.

2: Connect the cables together first inserting the RJ45 socket, then turn and lock the cable boot. (A) to the adapter cable (B).

3: Tighten the boot gland.                                                

A: Broadband 3G/4G Radar to Halo24 Radar Adapter Cable.

 

B: Existing Installed broadband 3G/4G Radar Interconnection cable.

In both cases there are some fundamental checks to make before buying and fitting a unit.

1: Check the on board power supply and electrical distribution panel to ensure that the power supply can provide sufficient current to the new radar without causing voltage drops.

2: Check the antenna mounting area to make sure that it meets the requirements.

3: Check the existing arrangement for bolt hole diameters and positions. Our Halodome bolt patterns match many older systems in the field now, so new bolt holes may not be needed – a big advantage.

4: Check mounting plate thickness to ensure that the supplied bolts are long enough, or do not bottom out.

5: If you are upgrading from 3G/4G we can supply an adaptor cable so that the same interconnect cable can be used. An existing RI10 Radar interface box from 3G/4G can be left in place if the cable run is difficult, although we recommend removing it if possible.

6: Check the interface systems on board for compatibility. If NMEA 2000® components are installed these will usually be compatible. However, if the system is older and uses NMEA0183 interfacing, most likely there will have to be some upgrades to GPS and Compass sensors to allow use of features such as VelocityTrack™ and radar chart overlay.

Aside from the hardware improvements, there is also the issue of software upgrades.

“For our MFDs there will typically be about three software updates a year,” says Laurie. “Radar is often less than that, around one or two updates each year.

“The reasons we might release an update is that we find a bug, or we get reports from the field that there’s a performance issue - this would be a really high priority for us.

“We may also issue software and feature upgrade to ensure compatibility with new equipment and other models.

“Generally, radars are updated via the MFD using a micro SD card that you’ve used to download the upgrade from the Internet. Alternatively, if you have an MFD network on the boat that is connected to the Internet you can download the upgrades directly and then upload to the radar.”

But while upgrading is generally an easy exercise, Craig offers further sound advice based on what is sometimes easily forgotten.

“To get the most out of any radar you need a really good heading sensor, especially if you are using the more sophisticated functions such as chart overlays and Velocity Track,” he says. “So a really good compass on your NMEA 2000 is essential to get the best out of any upgrade. And it’s not just the radar that will benefit, the autopilot, true wind speed and direction read outs and many other functions will operate far better with an accurate heading.”

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Laurie Bates

BE MSc CENG MIET

Laurie’s involvement in electronics has spanned his entire career. After studying electronic and electrical engineering at Auckland University he spent 20 years in the NZ Navy and gained an MSc in Explosive and Ordnance Engineering at Cranfield University (UK). With a wealth of specialist radar knowledge and having worked in the defence industry he joined Navico where he is now Product Director at Simrad Yachting.

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Craig McMillan

PRODUCT EXPERT

After a career in avionics in the New Zealand Airforce Craig was a distributor for Simrad® and B&G® products for 20 years before joining Navico as Product Expert, a role that he has held for the last six years.