With no dedicated screen or multifunction display, the 1st Watch Wireless Radar is the cheapest colour radar on the market, says Toby Hodges

Furuno’s new 1st Watch Wireless Radar is the first wifi radar in the world and makes radar affordable and practical for virtually all yacht owners. It comprises a radome, a power cable and a free downloadable app for IOS devices.

Within the 4kW radome is a wireless module that transmits the received signals via wifi directly to an iPhone or iPad, removing the need for a costly dedicated screen or multifunction display. This makes it the cheapest colour radar on the market – at £1,220, around half the price of comparable colour systems.

With the app you can activate and control the radar from the screen of your mobile phone or tablet by means of simple-to-use functions and menus. The zoom can be adjusted (from 0.125 to 24nm) and the colours and backlighting changed. Rain clutter can be customised, but not the sea or gain modes.

The radome itself is self-tuning and, according to Furuno’s sales manager, Daniel Conway: “It has been kept as simple as possible as 90–95 per cent of our customers only ever use the auto mode.”

The 1st Watch Wireless Radar can be fitted to small vessels without the need for major modifications. “It is practical for anything that will go across the Channel and could get caught in fog,” says Conway. Installation involves simply mounting the radome to a mast or a pushpit pole and attaching the 12V or 24V cable to a breaker or battery. Power consumption is 2.1 amps on 12V, and 1 amp on 24V.

Price: £1,220 inc VAT and 15m cable.


We asked our readers and staff if they would rely on an iPad for radar?

 

 Yachting World readers on Facebook said:

 

“Would be better to use a Sony Experia waterproof tablet or phone than the water-sensitive iPad – even in a housing”

Steve Pickles

 

“No, but I’d be the first to want it as an option” Daria Blackwell

 

“Yes” Tjarda Murris-Lambrechts

 

“I already do! Added to an Ubuntu powered laptop and tablet are GPS and IIS USB dongles integrated with open CPN navigation software” Don Darkes

 

Elaine Bunting: “No. With radar I want a set up that won’t drop connection, run out of power at an inopportune moment, or be liable to get dropped. The iPad as a portable repeater is a great idea, but not as the only method of viewing.”

 

Skip Novak: “Radar is considered a fundamental tool for navigation; and rightly so, especially while inshore in view of ever-increasing numbers of craft travelling in ever-increasing speeds under both sail and power. A handheld device for your radar display – something you can easily drop overboard or step on in the bottom of the cockpit? D’oh!?”

 

Toby Hodges comments

There remain fundamental reasons why we shouldn’t rely solely on a mobile device as a navigation or collision avoidance tool (some are listed here). But when it comes to the question of budget and practicality of installation, Furuno’s solution has unique merits. Were it a choice of being able to afford this wifi radar or no radar at all, I would opt for it – and be glad of my decision when the fog sets in during a Channel crossing.

An ideal solution would be a mix of dedicated radar display and an iPad as a back-up or cockpit repeater. Furuno is already developing the interface to make the 1st Watch Wireless radar retrospectively compatible with some of its smaller displays. And don’t be surprised to see some of the other big brand manufacturers follow suit with wireless radomes in the future.

 

This is an extract from a feature in Yachting World August 2014 issue

 

 

  • StoneAge

    Great as an add on, but I would NOT rely on it. First a pad does not have the battery power to do the job effectively. Yes, you can plug it into an inverter or 12V power source. but then it is no longer portable, but is safer with regard to water or physical damage. I want a dedicated – solidly fixed – water PROOF screen for my radar. WiFi is a nice option, but should only be considered as that.

  • Patrick Genovese

    Can it join an existing WiFi network ? If not that is a serious omission with more and more wifi enabled devices it does not make any sense to keep switching connections. Also the unit should have a wired ethernet port to enable a permanent wired connection. And how about a published standard so that software solutions can all get a radar feed irrespective of the manufacturer.