Everything You Need to Know About Marine Radars

Marine radars are extremely useful components for marine vessels of all types, and they have consistently been advanced to now serve as a simple-to-use tool that may benefit numerous applications. As a device that assists in navigation and may warn crews of surrounding objects that can cause a collision, marine radars are used to increase the safety of navigating large bodies of water. In this blog, we will discuss the marine radar in order to help you understand how they function, the various features they provide, and more.

How Marine Radars Work

Similar to other radio devices, marine radars function through the emission of high frequency radio waves that are bounced back when they reach an obstruction. When an emission reflects off of the hull of a vessel or a channel marker, many radars will calculate the duration of the process or the difference of the frequency in order to determine the distance of the object. While marine radars are intended to track vessels, beacons, and other solid objects, they may also be affected by rain, large waves, and birds which all may be detected by reflecting radio waves. As such, many modern marine GPS parts will denote the difference in frequency strengths to make differentiating between detected masses much easier.

Main Features

While the radar will display detected objects around a vessel, it is important to know how this information may be used. For instance, the frequency and time that it takes for a signal to be sent out and reflected will determine whether or not it is safe to continue down a specific route. On the Plan Position Indicator, or PPI, reflections are often displayed with specific distances that are determined based on timing or frequency. If the radar is advanced enough to display differentiations between detections, the PPI may show various colors that determine the strength of the signal, often using lighter colors for weaker returns such as rain and darker colors for stronger returns such as land and marine vessels.


When using any marine radar, one should always be aware of its effective range. While one may think that setting the highest possible range for their device is the best option, such configurations can lead to confusion as the PPI will become cramped which can make discerning different objects and their distances more difficult. Generally, one should be most focused on the surrounding mile or two, as that is the distance at which most concerning objects can be detected and avoided for collision prevention. Long range detection can still be useful, however, as it may be relied upon to find distant land masses or a storm. In some instances, split-screen modes may be used to see both types of displays.


Alongside range, there are many different settings that may be managed and adjusted on various marine radars. Generally, the radar view may be able to be overlaid onto a chartplotter, and this can make navigation and collision avoidance easier. In many cases, this will not be a default setting, thus requiring the user or a specialist to set it up. Beyond such configurations, other customizations may be made to many marine radars to ensure that they accommodate the specific needs and requirements of a specific application.

With the proper marine GPS parts and marine radar equipment, vessels can navigate the ocean with increased safety. When you are in need of reliable marine radars, marine engine components, and other such parts, Purchasing 3sixty is your sourcing solution. As a premier supplier of aviation, NSN, and electronic parts, we provide competitive pricing and rapid lead-times on over 2 billion items that we carry. To get started on the purchasing process, fill out and submit an Instant RFQ form and a dedicated account manager will reach out to you within 15 minutes to provide a personalized quote based on your needs.


February 10, 2020
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