Posted by: Scanstrut | June 17, 2011

Level Best – Proof that Radars Perform Best when Kept in Line with the Horizon

Self Levelling Radar Mount - Backstay Installed on Hallberg Rassy 43 mkII

Long distance sailors have advocated for many years that in order for the radar to give the best picture possible it needs to be kept level with the horizon. In the past, these experienced circumnavigators built their own structures to gain the best performance from their radar and avoid scanning the sea one way and the stars the other.

At Scanstrut, we have always believed in this concept and our Self-Levelling Radar Mount range is testament to this.

But are these offshore maestros right? How much performance is lost when the radar is not level and is the investment in a self-levelling radar system worth the extra cost?

Not wanting you to take just our word for it, we supplied our product to two well respected yachting titles, Germany’s Yacht magazine and the UK’s Yachting Monthly, for some truly independent testing.

Both magazines findings were conclusive: a level radar works best. Yacht magazine went so far as to say that the self-levelled radar performance was ‘perfect’ and as you can see from the Yachting Monthly results, it is really surprising to see how quickly the fixed radar image deteriorated as the angle of heel increased. Angles of heel as low 10 degrees saw target loss in some instances (view video here). 

Testing by Graham Snook of Yachting Monthly

0° heel angle

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

30° heel angle

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Both articles are available to download from our website here.

So, how do you decide whether to recommend a self-levelling or fixed option to your customers?

The argument for self-levelling is compelling and is a must to guarantee the perfect picture. On the downside however is the extra cost. Self-levelling systems such as the Scanstrut version are hydraulically damped to cut out small oscillations and react only to larger changes of angle. This feature is essential to reduce cable wear and ensure a reliable radar picture. However, all this engineering adds costs and makes a levelling option up to 3 times the cost of its fixed equivalent. 

It really comes down to 2 things: budget and expectations. It would be easy to say that if all your sailing is inshore or weekends only then a fixed mount is fine. It’s not that simple however and we have supplied many of our levelling mounts to this exact customer whose simple motivation was to have the radar perform at it’s best whenever they needed it, be that overnight to Guernsey or coming home in the fog after a day on the Solent. Budget is more restrictive – some boat owners simply don’t have the funds to spend the extra required. However, those who have made the investment have never regretted it and are able to head out for a day sail or a 7 day passage confident that, when needed, their self-levelled radar will give a 100% performance.

Available in mast, pole and backstay mounted versions, view the range at www.scanstrut.com.

(This article recently appeared in the BMEA Direct Issue 7)

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