Radar, Instruments, and GPS

These five electronic systems may be worth a look.

Si-Tex T-700 Series Radar

Relatively recent advances in the quality of LCDs mean you don't give up much if you opt for a small display. The megayacht owner who wants radar on his 30-foot center console has a choice of some impressive equipment, including the new Si-Tex T-700 series True-Color Radar. The TFT display measures only 61/2 inches diagonal, but it displays targets in differing colors depending on the strength of the signal. In addition, you have a choice of normal display or semi-3-D, which lets you approximate the size of the target. The unit comes with all the features you expect from modern radar and offers an optional automatic tracking aid. This feature lets you track a maximum of 10 targets that you designate, with the radar automatically giving you each target's distance, speed, bearing, course and closest point of approach. The built-in alarm warns you of a collision or lost target. Price: $2,995 to $5,395, depending on power output and antenna. Si-Tex, (727) 576-5734; www.si-tex.com.

Simrad RA30 Series Radar

Simrad's RA30 series seems to prove the need for small radar that offers big performance. The TFT liquid crystal display measures 7 inches diagonal and presents target echoes in differing colors depending on the strength of their signals. Simrad says this feature helps you spot small targets in rough conditions. The radar's semi-3-D presentation distinguishes between weak and strong echoes, further enhancing your recognition of small targets. All models let you simultaneously display normal and semi-3-D on a split screen. The RA30 series' echo tracking, one of its most useful features, lets you track a target's course and instantly know where it's headed. Automatic tracking aid adds to the safety dimension by providing the target's distance, bearing, speed, course, etc. Maximum range is 24, 36 or 48 nautical miles-models RA30, RA31 and RA32, respectively. Retail price: $2,995 to $5,935, minus a $200 rebate available on some models until December 31. Simrad, (425) 778-8821; www.simrad.com.

Furuno RD-30 Digital Monitor

Furuno's new Smart Sensor digital depth sensor is the heart of the RD-30 digital monitor. It allows the RD-30 depth/nav-data repeater to show precise depth readings in water as shallow as 2 feet and temperature variances as little as two-hundredths of a degree Fahrenheit. The Smart Sensor comes in its own housing and connects directly to the RD-30 display or NavNet display via the NMEA data port. It doesn't require an additional processor, junction box or power connection. The Smart Sensor operates at a frequency of 235kHz, chosen for its ability to provide good performance at the boat's high speeds, in shallow or turbulent water. This frequency also doesn't interfere with most other sounders, which operate at 200kHz. Housed in a waterproof casing, the RD-30's 41/2-inch diagonal screen has adjustable brilliance, great for use at night. It also functions as a nav-data repeater and can display speed, bearing, course, position and wind data in five fully programmable display modes. It lets you set alarms for depth, speed, arrival, cross-track error and more. The RD-30 sensor is available in plastic transom mount or bronze through-hull. Price: $395 without transducer. Furuno USA, (360) 834-9300; www.furunousa.com.

Raymarine ST290 Instrument System

This new high-performance instrument system made its public debut late in July aboard Brad Van Liew's Open 50 Around Alone racing yacht Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America. Raymarine developed the ST290 for "premium motoryachts and sailboats, and the company has combined a high-grade graphic display with the latest SeaTalk2 communications protocol. This protocol is the NMEA 2000 standard and is a maximum of 20 times faster than the 0183 standard. Each of the digital displays shows large, bold numerals and uses Densitron's latest Silverback LCD technology to provide wide view angles and high contrast in all lighting conditions. The other display in the system is a large, two-line instrument that is able to display any two items of data at one time. You may set this display to automatically scroll through a data sequence of your choosing. The analog instruments show wind, heading and rudder angle. Last but not least, the ST290 can communicate with PC-based navigational planning systems, such as the Raytech Sail Racer. Price for data display: $980; graphic display: $1,230; compass display: $530; digital remote keypad: $410. Raymarine, (603) 881-5200; www.raymarine.com.

Magellan SporTrak Handheld GPS

Magellan has been part of Thales Navigation since 2001, and after a brief quiet period, the new ownership has introduced a line of handheld GPS receivers to suit a variety of outdoor activities. The line includes three models: SporTrak, SporTrak Map and SporTrak Pro. The first two appeal to hikers and bikers, and Magellan aimed the Pro at boating enthusiasts and fishermen who frequent lakes, rivers and sheltered salt water. The Pro has a 12-channel WAAS GPS, 23MB of expandable memory and a 9MB database of North American waterways, marine nav-aids, major roads, highways, parks and airports. The memory allows the downloading of map details, points of interest or topographical maps from Magellan's MapSend software. A PC data cable lets the Pro interface with any PC. An AC power adapter and DC cigarette lighter adapter also are available. Price for the Pro: $299. Thales Navigation, (800) 669-4477; www.magellangps.com.