Radar Detector

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I once read in PBO that there was a system available that can passively detect radar from ships called the C.A.R.D. system. Apparently this uses a tiny percentage of the power that a normal radar system uses- ideal for long cruises or ocean races.

Have you, or know anyone that has bought this system? I'd love to know what you think of it, as I am interested in purchasing one.

Thanks, Ben
 
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We've had one for about eight years. It works, so long as the ships have their radar on, and they don't always. It is quite sensitive. Sometimes we'll get a report of a ship's radar and not see anything when we look carefully. Once it drove us quite nuts, it was about an hour of these reports with no ship in sight - apparently in that case the ship was on a parallel course with us, just over the horizon to our eyes, but still above the horizon for the C.A.R.D. system to detect their radar signal.

There is an audio signal which can be turned down or off, and a visual signal. It is most welcome on long lonely night watches.

We do not have radar - at first because we didn't want to spend the money for something we weren't sure we'd need, now it's just inertia and again not sure we need it, though in a few nasty storms close to shore, radar would have been welcome when visibility was zero and there were oil rigs and fishing boats in the area.

C.A.R.D. does not replace a person on watch. It is just another tool, relatively inexpensive in both money and energy.

We are on our third unit - first one replaced when a newer, better model came out, second unit obtained when a lightning strike fried our electronics. We would like to say that we have received exceptional service from the people who sell it.
 

robp

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Serious question. Is it any use or comfort when you are in thick fog and you hear and see that a radar set is in range and in use?
 
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It must be some help- if you didn't have one, then you wouldn't be able to steer clear of them- the CARD system has a directional capability.

Admittedly it only alerts you of radar emitting vessels, but I'd rather have one than not.
 
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If your sailing is in fog areas, I\'d get radar

I forget what it's like to sail in busy areas where thick fog descends on you! As much as we like our C.A.R.D system, we cruise exclusively in the tropics, where fog is not an issue, and where, other than the area around Singapore, there just isn't that much shipping traffic. There have been times, particularly when we were sailing at night in Indonesia and during the terrible fires on Borneo which reduced visibility over the entire area in 1997. Radar then would have been most welcome to help us avoid the fishing boats out there, and also, on a few very, very smoky days, find land a little more easily.

The C.A.R.D. system is not so expensive that you couldn't install it in conjunction with radar, and use it much of the time. It doesn't use much electricity, it's small. But where visibility is a problem, I think I'd vote for radar if I could only have one of the two.

missed the other question - yes, the system has some directional ability, but if there were radar signals from more than one direction you would indeed have something like a "blip frenzy" <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1>Edited by JeanneP on Wed Sep 5 18:52:51 2001 (server time).</FONT></P>
 
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Re: If your sailing is in fog areas, I\'d get radar

So does it literally 'blip' at you- or is there a constant signal that gets stronger when a ship gets closer??
 
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Re: If your sailing is in fog areas, I\'d get radar

From memory the CARD system costs £400-£500 and a cheap radar costs around £900. We have cruised in both the tropics and Europe and I wouldn't swap our cheap radar (it cost £1100 in 1996) for a CARD system.

To cross the crowded shipping lanes in zero viz is difficult enough with radar let alone a system that will as Ken suggests just get confused. Now if you are going to the low shipping densities of the tropics I'd still prefer a radar for spotting and tracking squalls. Don't forget that you can fit a sounder on a cheap radar that will serve as a warning device.

When radar was in the £2000+ priceband then CARD was a sensible alternative but now the differential has dropped I reckon that its days must be numbered. The one pro I can see is its low power consumption relative to a radar which is a consideration for long distance but doesn't come into the equation for coastal stuff in Europe.

Chris Enstone, Rival Spirit
 
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Re: If your sailing is in fog areas, I\'d get radar

OK- imagine this- what if there was a device that could accurately track radar signals and not get confused by multiple signals?

I'm the first one to turn off anything that bleeps unnecessarily at me (wish I could do it to my wife!)
 
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Re: If your sailing is in fog areas, I\'d get radar

Still would choose radar, as someone else has posted not all vessels have radar turned on. Not to mention smaller vessels that don't have radar at all.

I just don't see the point in saving a few bob at the risk of not detecting a dangerous object. Unless you need to conserve energy for long distance stuff the utility value of radar which you can also use for navigating in thick conditions far outweighs the small cost advantage of a device that only has one function.

Chris Enstone, Rival Spirit
 
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Re: If your sailing is in fog areas, I\'d get radar

The intensity of the blip changes, but not directly. The sound is constant, and is controlled to be as soft or as loud as you want - so if you were in the cockpit you could turn up the sound to hear it from below. When you are relatively distant from the radar source there is a directional capability - but - what you have is a circle marked off in quarters. The light signal when it detects a radar source will indicate the source quadrant. As a signal gets closer, however, fully half the circle will light up. And if there are two sources from two different directions being emitted at the same, or only fractionally different, times, all four quadrants could light up.

The C.A.R.D. system is useful for shorthanded or singlehanded sailing, when you can't have your eyes pinned on the radar and can't spend much time below, and don't have the electricity for radar to be on continuously. Then I do believe that it is an appropriate adjunct to other nav aids.

As for warning of squalls - we reef down at night regardless of weather (well, most of the time!), and during the day it's pretty easy to see a squall and take precautions without radar. But that's our level of comfort, and might not be somebody else's.

Fair winds,
Jeanne
 
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