Radar at Muskegon Lake

I spent mothers day weekend at Muskegon Lake with the folks from the Mariners Center.  (www.marinerscentre.com.)   The first thing I learned is they call it Muskegon Lake and be sure not to flip flop the words and call it Lake Muskegon.   The weather was cold and windy but spirits were high, being this was the first weekend that the marina was launching some of the big boats that had been in storage all winter.  Folks were out, ready to prep their boats for the boating season.

Raymarine had their mobile showroom out and I had the opportunity to work with Chris Melena the regional sales manger for the great lakes.   It was nice to be able to spend some time with him and learn all about chart plotters and radars.  I was most intrigued with the new, high definition radars.  When I spoke with Greg and Bill , we spent most of our time talking about the weather in Muskegon, and I did not get to share all the cool things I learned about high def radar.  So I will take a moment here and share what I learned.   Of course if you have any questions about marine radar, I am the boating guy, so feel free to ask.  If I do not know the answer, I can always track it down.

I have been use to analog radar and over the years grew accustomed to what most people call noise, and seeing targets blur together the more you scan out.  Now with HD digital, that mostly goes away.  We set in the harbor in the Raymarine Mobile showroom, which has active radar, and shot out across the marina and lake.   I was amazed at the clarity, and the ability of the radar to paint target separation at ranges of several miles.  I could make out the actual slips in the marine and could see which had boats and which did not.  With the map overlay interface, I could easily see the channel markers and jetties.  This could be priceless coming into port with fog, rain or other visual problems.

According to Chris the difference is, older marine analog radars produce 4 packets of info for every sweep they make, while HD digital radars produce about 16,000 packets of info every time they sweep.  With all this additional info the multi function displays can process it and produce a much crisper image.  The good news is, now you can make out the rock outcropping from miles away in the complete dark, but the bad news is, if you have an analog plotter, then you may have to upgrade it to get the full effect of the HD radar.  Now I did check out the new touch screen displays for the plotters, but that is another story.  All I can say is, if you are a fan of the iPhone then you will really like the new E-series wide screen displays.

High end TVs on Boats

Last weekend, I was in Miami Florida for an Event hosted by Panasonic. They were showing off all kinds of new electronics for home and travel, but the thing that caught my attention was the new 3D televisions. I feel like the big fish that bit the cut squid and now I am hooked. As I was standing there watching some beach volleyball in 3D, I was thinking to myself, How do I explain to my wife that we NEED a new TV.

I have to admit my boat is a little too small for a 50 inch flat screen, but I have had the opportunity to visit a few boats that had TVs that size.   A 50 foot Viking Yacht may be out of my personal price range but a 50 inch 3D TV is attainable at $2400. It even comes with glasses. The Panasonic rep at the event asked me what I thought the cost was, and of course I was way off.  I was thinking “as cool as this is, and as cutting edge as the technology is”  it has to be 5K or more. Well, I was wrong and realized a new 50 inch flat screen is well within my reach and with some persuading with my wife, I hope to have one in the next few weeks.

The neat thing about the Panasonic home version of 3D, is that it is an active system, meaning the glasses are powered and they are opening and closing the lenses on each eye over 100 times a second. Therefore you are able to watch 1980X1080 full HD in 3D. So you are seeing 2 separate images multi times a second, the timing was perfect between the TV and Glasses. This is compared to a Movie theater where the system is passive. If you have been to see a 3D movie at a theater, then you received a pair of paper/plastic glasses with one side being green and the other being red. How the passive system works is, there are 2 constant images on the screen, one running horizontal and the other vertical. So the passive glasses just tricks your brain into seeing two images. The faster the image moves the easier to trick your brain. In the active system, the movie scene can be slow motion or stationary, because the glasses are refreshing hundreds of times a second.

This week I will work on convincing my wife we need a 50 inch flat screen 3D TV, then shortly thereafter I will work on her for a 50 foot sport fisherman! But for now, I will settle on watching my favorite fishing shows on ESPN in 3D.  For more information on 3d TVs visit www.panasonic.com