Broadband is the new pulse!
In 2010, the brands: B&G, Simrad and Lowrance under the parent company, Navico were the first to present Broadband Radar with Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) technology to the German water sports market. In 2013, the successor to the first "3G" antenna was introduced to the market - the "4G" model.
What distinguishes Broadband Radar from Pulse Radar?
Broadband radar differs from traditional pulse radar in that a broadband antenna transmits data during the measuring process without interruption while receiving data at the same time. This is however not the case with pulse radar systems, as pulse radar transmits individual pulses while waiting to receive their echoes. A broadband radar antenna is aided by semiconductor technology within its interior, as well as two separate receiving and transmitting antennas which send and receive signals with varying frequencies to represent a visual representation of different heights and depths without having to use a great deal of energy. Depending on how the dispatched tone/signal changes in its trajectory from forth and back to the object, the radar system can detect where and at what distance the potential target is. On the other hand, traditional radar is generated and sent with great force by magnetrons as an electromagnetic pulse, while waiting for a signal to return in order to locate a specific target.
The benefits of Broadband Radar
1. Clear representation of the immediate area
"The difference between pulse radar and Broadband technology can be illustrated quite simply: the electromagnetic pulse of pulse radar is like a loud cry, upon which an echo follows when a target is present, which may reflect that tone. Although the cry is loud, it might be drowned out by all of the other sounds in its immediate vicinity. This may cause objects to look distorted at close range on conventional radar screens. Additionally, mapped faults or targets might not be displayed if you are working with suppression functions.
Broadband Radar, on the other hand, doesn’t “cry out”, but rather whispers and listens continuously, as to not suppress the sounds of targets at close range. Thus, there are no blind zones, as is the case with conventional radar systems. Believe me when I say that you will never see such a clear view of other ships at close range while using a normal radar system!" Explains: SVB electronics specialist, Eugen Wojszczyk.
This provides yet another reason to buy a (Broadband) radar system, which will improve collision avoidance at sea and clearly identify obstacles in severely restricted visibility.
2. Fast power-on and start-up
Another advantage of this new technology compared to the pulse radar, is its ability to quickly power-on and start-up. Broadband Radar doesn’t require a warm-up period of 2-4 minutes, as conventional radars do, immediately providing crystal clear radar targets. This feature is very useful in certain conditions, such as sudden fog.
3. Reduced health hazards caused by radiation
The following brands: Simrad, B&G and Lowrance advertise that their Broadband antennas only emit 1/5 of the radiation of an average mobile phone, which makes them much more compatible on-board than conventional pulse radar systems. By comparison: a conventional radar system requires about 2000 watts of power, in order to transmit its signal. On the other hand, new Broadband technology uses only about 200 mW to produce the same signal. Thus, you can mount your new Broadband Radar Antenna on to any point on board, without having to search for the antenna’s blind zone.
4. Detection of weather / storm fronts
"One big difference between NAVICO's first 3G BROADBAND antenna and their new 4G technology is the assessment of storm fronts, rain and other weather conditions, whereby 4G technology can identify these systems much more precisely. Even storms which are located 12 nautical miles away are displayed clearly and distinguished from other signals." Says: SVB electronics and networking specialist, Felix Willenbruch.
5. Good resolution at far range
Unlike conventional radar systems, new broadband systems barely indicate any radial deformations and distortions, so that ships and other targets can be accurately identified within a wide radius. The new 4G antenna, the successor to the 3G antenna by NAVICO also promises 50% more coverage than its predecessor, while being able to clearly locate targets up to a distance of 32 nautical miles.
Warning: A disadvantage of Broadband Technology is that it can’t locate and identify so-called radar beacons (RACONS), SART signals, and RTE's. This applies to both 3G and 4G NAVICO radar antennas.