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Best marine radars for 2019

Radar has undergone a dramatic turn in recent years that makes it a lot more user friendly for boaters who aren’t all that familiar with the technology. Manufacturers including Navico (the maker of Simrad, Lowrance and B&G), Garmin, Furuno and Raymarine all have their versions of radar that harness Doppler technology to keep you posted about nearby vessels that pose threats as well as boats that are moving away from you. The result is a major leap ahead in functionality and safety, and that’s just one of the features the latest radars offer.

A lineup of the best radars on the market is below. The roster is part of an exercise Marine Electronics Journal does every year as part of our Buyers’ Guide. It works like this: We ask manufacturers to identify the one model they produce in a particular category that they consider to be their Best & Brightest—not necessarily the most technically advanced or newest but rather the one they rate highest in the product line for one reason or another. Could be the functions and features it offers, or maybe it breaks new ground in maximizing effectiveness or utility, or maybe it’s the most popular as measured by sales to boaters.
The Best & Brightest list includes 16 categories of electronics, from AIS(Automatic Identification System) and autopilots to satellite TV and wireless devices. Last week we looked at underwater lighting. Next week we’ll tell you about some remarkable wireless devices.

Garmin GMR Fantom 126

The GMR Fantom 126 is Garmin’s most powerful 6 foot solid-state radar, featuring 120 watts of power. It uses MotionScope technology to detect and highlight moving targets in different colors, which helps you avoid potential collisions, find flocks of birds and track weather. Its pulse compression technology provides high-resolution imaging and maximizes energy to help you detect and identify targets. A new feature, True Echo Trails, provides a fading trail on moving targets while accounting for the movement of the boat. Auto Bird Gain helps identify flocks of birds on the water. The GMR Fantom 126 radar has a detection range of 20 feet to 96 nautical miles (nm), and offers instant turn-on with near silent operation and low power consumption.

The DRS6A-NXT is a solid-state radar with pulse compression and Doppler frequency shift sensing technology, built into a 3.5, 4 or 6 foot open array antenna. Designed for both NavNet TZtouch and TZtouch2 MFDs, the DRS6A-NXT is packed with features, including the revolutionary Target Analyzer, which automatically changes the color of targets approaching your boat, clearly showing hazards. Green echoes are stationary or approaching targets moving less than 3 knots. Echoes dynamically turn red when targets are approaching at a speed of 3 knots or faster. It works the same when you’re following another vessel. If the target is getting closer at a speed of 3 knots or more, the echo turns red. Target Analyzer works independently of one’s own ship speed.

Koden MDC-5200

The Koden MDC-5200 series radar from SI-TEX Marine Electronics delivers professional-grade performance for a wide range of vessels. With output power ranging from 4 to 25 kW and maximum range scales up to 96 nm, the MDC-5200 is built for professional operators in challenging conditions. A long list of advanced features includes built-in AIS interface for displaying up to 1,000 targets, built-in ARPA (Automatic Radar Plotting Aid) tracking of up to 100 targets, comprehensive ship’s data display and C-MAP chart overlay (with optional SD card).  Koden’s Clear Image feature provides high-speed sampling in the short range for precise target acquisition and tracking, while Auto Gain and Auto STC settings allow for easy operation. The 12.1 inch high-resolution XGA display with anti-reflective coating provides clear viewing in any environment on open or enclosed helms.

The ONWA KR-1008 has been upgraded with a new signal processing board in its radome antenna unit for better resolution of targets. The display is a 9.7 inch TFT color LCD display enclosed in a rugged die-cast and waterproof housing. The AIS function overlays radar targets with AIS targets when an external AIS device is connected to the KR-1008 for better collision prevention. The range reaches to 36 nm, operating at X-Band frequency with an output power of 4 kW. Automatic Target Tracking up to 30 targets with warning against threatening targets violating preset CPA/TCPA. Supports NMEA 0183 interface for interconnections on board and system software can be upgraded via USB.

Quantum 2 is the latest generation of Raymarine’s popular Quantum CHIRP radar, now made even better with the addition of Doppler target processing. Quantum 2 instantly highlights moving radar contacts and color codes them to indicate whether they are inbound or outbound.  Boaters will enjoy vastly improved situational awareness and confidence at the helm. Like its predecessor, Quantum 2 uses CHIRP pulse compression technology for superior target detection at both short and long ranges. Integrated WiFi and thin cabling simplify installation, plus Quantum’s energy efficient and lightweight design provides safe radiated emissions and substantially reduced power consumption.

SI-TEX T-760

This professional touchscreen radar proves that boaters can have big-time performance in a streamlined, affordable package. Measuring only 5.3 x 8.8 x 3.6 inches overall with a unique 7 inch vertically oriented display, the radar is easy to fit on any console, helm or overhead mount. With 4 kW of power and 18 or 24 inch radome antennas, the T-760 delivers 24 or 48 nautical mile range and a host of professional grade features, including multi-speed antenna rotation, standard 50 target AIS tracking capability, standard 10 target MARPA (Mini-Automatic Radar Plotting Aid) capability, 11 trail indication settings and auto or manual Sea/Rain clutter modes. The slim, stylish case optimizes helm space while showing navigators what really matters. Intuitive touchscreen controls make set up and operation easy.

Simrad/Lowrance HALO24

The Halo24 pulse compression radar combines the performance and reliability of Simrad’s award-winning radar lines with the advantages of new cutting-edge technology, a sleek profile and lightweight design. Delivering a full 360-degree sweep every second, this extremely fast refresh rate gives users an almost real-time view at close range—excellent for high-speed tracking. Offering high-quality short-, mid-, and long-range detection capability, Halo24 is designed to process multiple ranges simultaneously for instantaneous dual-range performance. In addition, the radar features Simrad VelocityTrack Doppler technology that provides instant visual feedback on the motion of radar targets in relation to the boat. Using the Doppler effect, VelocityTrack automatically checks every target and simple color-coding highlights potential hazards.


Custom radar mounts

Seaview Global PMADM4M1
Seaview Global specializes in marine mounting solutions and has a wide variety of products that make electronics installations easy. The mounts asre formatted to work with major manufacturers’ radomes, open arrays, GPS and other antennas. Modular mounts can be accessorized to accommodate multi-antenna arrangements or custom mounts can be designed and created for specific solutions. A variety of light bars, mast mounts, cable glands, and pods deliver a professional finished look while providing support and visibility. Seaview’s new dual-mount design allows a closed dome radar to sit directly above the footprint of the mount while a second elevated platform above accommodates thermal cameras or searchlights. The PMADM4M1 Dual Mount comes with a lower plate that fits major manufacturers’ radars.

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Comments | Leave a Comment
Page 1 of 3 ( 13 comments)

Jp:(8/11/2018 5:28:29 PM) "I have a 2018 Yamaha f40 la and Humminbird helix 7 di , I would like to leverage the nema 2000 capability of the helix 7 to display engine info, what do I need , Humminbird does have a gateway and lowrance makes a Yamaha nema cable, but I'm reading connectors are proprietary . How can I get what is needed?

Since these products are not NMEA 2000 certified there is little assurance that they will share data with each other.

1. Here is the link to see all NMEA 2000 certified products:

2. The NMEA 2000 cables and connectors are from many manufacturers: Here is the link for approved cables and connector manufacturers:

AC/DC grounding distance:(8/2/2018 1:29:35 AM) "What about the grounding points of AC /DC systems? can they be grounded at the same point?
If one system has both AC and DC can they both be grounded to a common buss-bar that has only one conection to the hull?

Here's what Ed Sherman, electric tech guru at the American Boat & Yacht Council, said:

The ultimate goal should always be to tie ac and dc grounds together on board at a single point. In ABYC Standard E-11, it is described as “the engine negative terminal or its buss.” It is most commonly done at a buss."
Hard-Over with Brushed APilot Pump:(12/18/2017 5:37:05 PM) "Jim.
What do you mean by ...."Garmin GHP 20 with SmartPump...Because it is a brushless system, it is fail-safe and won’t execute a hard-over turn the way a brushed pump can."

Thanks for the note. Since the description came from Garmin I contacted the company for an explanation. Here's what one of their engineers told me:

On brushed DC actuators, a single-point failure in the drive circuit (shorted wire or blown component inside the controller) could cause the motor to run full speed in one direction and take the rudder all the way to one rail. A brushless actuator relies on timing-controlled commutation, so a short or component fail would cause the actuator to stop moving rather than moving at full speed.

Hope this helps,

trawlerdeejay:(10/13/2017 3:46:51 PM) "Excellent article. I had no idea what the differences were between o183 and 2000, Thank you so much."
Darryl:(3/27/2017 10:17:15 PM) "Putting the MSRP with each unit reviewed would have been helpful. If each unit was actually tested, the reports on each unit would have been helpful too.

Thanks Darryl---we generally don't mention prices due to confusion over so many variations---MSRP (mfg. suggested retail price), MAP (min. advertised price), MRP (min. resale price) and then there are internet prices on some websites that go their own way. But your point is well taken--buyers need to know if something is in their price range. We'll work on it.
There is independent testing of some of these products on sites like but the information we receive from manufacturers rarely cites the results of any shootouts they may conduct against the competition's products. "
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