Compact design, advanced technology and easy to read. The new Raymarine puts professional performance within everyone’s reach
by Niccolò Volpati
It is always alarming to hear of an approaching cyclone. But it’s not born in the Tropics, it’s not related to low pressure: it’s made by Raymarine! It is in fact a new radar, available in two versions, 55 and 110 Watt. The radar, like the VHF, is an indispensable instrument for sailing. From the very beginning, both have contributed to the safety of navigation and are not just accessories to have on board. Moreover, Raymarine has a long history in radar, having manufactured radars since the days of Raytheon.
In more recent times, it was the first company to develop the ‘overlay’ function, which allows the radar image to be superimposed on the chart image. The advantage of this technology is that it makes the radar screen instantly understandable. Without long studies, courses, licences or a lot of experience, everything the radar detects is now easy to decipher. In Ostia, on board a super-equipped fishing boat with all the electronic instruments you can imagine, I had the chance to test the new Cyclone. Even after all these years, I would say that the company’s philosophy hasn’t changed. Their choice is still to combine innovation and technology with ease of use. Just think how useful it is today to be able to see the thickening clouds that can lead to storms, which are never pleasant when navigating. It is an open solid state array. The design is inspired by the wing of an aeroplane: compact and designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, such as 100 knot winds.
The antenna is just 33cm high and comes in three sizes: three, four or six feet. Quite easy to place on board. Also, all the wires you need to set it up are inside the antenna itself. Cyclone’s technologically advanced features, which determine its performance, are essentially three: the high-speed Imaging (at 60 RPM), the RangeFusion technology, and the Cyclone Bird mode. It rotates at 60rpm, which means the images are always sharp and well defined. In fact, the faster the antenna rotates, the better it tracks its targets. To make it easier to read what is happening around the boat, this radar uses Doppler tracking, which makes it possible to interpret the type of target and distinguish between safe and dangerous ones.
It also uses ARPA, or professional, tracking. This is the same system used by the US Coast Guard. Cyclone can automatically track up to 50 targets. The RangeFusion technology, which has been specifically designed by Raymarine, simultaneously combines short and long impulses in the same image to be able to visualize targets at a short and long range. Not only can you see everything close to the radar, but you can also spot a passing boat many miles away. Finally, the Cyclone Bird mode is designed to detect seagulls. This is a very useful feature for anglers, as these seabirds are likely to gather over schools of fish. It is well known that a radar can be useful in identifying cloud build-up for more accurate weather forecasting, but that it can also track seagulls – as Raymarine’s model does – is truly incredible.
THE TECHNOLOGY INSIDE GUARANTEES THE PERFORMANCE
OF A PROFESSIONAL RADAR, BUT THE EASE OF READING THE IMAGES
ON THE DISPLAY IS IDEAL FOR RECREATIONAL BOATING.
It is the difference between one of the first GPS antennas and the accuracy of a satellite navigator today, which is less than two metres. Cyclone Bird is a mode based on CHIRP pulse technology – an acronym for Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse. This is the same technology used in the next generation of sonars. A radar with CHIRP technology emits compressed signals over a wide range of frequencies, rather than just one pulse at a time. As a result, you get a high-resolution image on the instrument’s display. Even when it came to the crunch, during the sea test, the feature I appreciated most was the ease of use. Not only is it easy and intuitive to read the image, but the menu and functions offered by this instrument are also very straightforward. You can use it without having a radar operator’s licence or without having read the manual in detail. And a radar like this is an accessory that significantly increases the safety of navigation.
(Raymarine, the good cyclone – Barchemagazine.com – November 2023)