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Disappointed with Garmin 424xHD2 Radar

Old 05-26-2019, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by spearfish25 View Post


Checked it today. I sit at rest with a 2 to 3deg bow up angle on the array. There will likely be a wedge in my future but first Iíll get the hardware replaced and see how it is with things working correctly.
Fix the angle before you do anything else! A bow up attitude at rest is very likely your problem. Most boats on plane are 3-4 degrees bow up and even higher at speeds below that so your radar was "shooting at the sky", unless there were heavy storms or low flying aircraft you wouldnt get a return!

I've had the pleasure to be aboard Nomans boat and one day cruising along I saw a dotted echo coming straight at me about 8 miles away, one like I'd never seen before and closing fast! While I'm trying to figure out what in the heck it was, it gets about two miles away and I see an FA-18 fighter screaming at me! He then circles us at about two miles distance leaving a dotted line around the radar. We were about 75 miles offshore of NASAs Wallops Island launch facility and I guess they wanted to see who the heck was running that fast that far offshore. Quite exciting!

There are different schools of thought on radar angle. Some want it level at cruise, some want it level at a slow bell. With the higher power radars and their narrower vertical beam it's an important decision and takes precise angle measurements at speeds to optimise. I personally fall in the camp that wants it level at slow bell speeds, when you are slowed down due to limited visibility or trolling looking for birds. Others may have different priorities.
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Old 05-26-2019, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by bills106 View Post
Fix the angle before you do anything else! A bow up attitude at rest is very likely your problem. Most boats on plane are 3-4 degrees bow up and even higher at speeds below that so your radar was "shooting at the sky", unless there were heavy storms or low flying aircraft you wouldnt get a return!

I've had the pleasure to be aboard Nomans boat and one day cruising along I saw a dotted echo coming straight at me about 8 miles away, one like I'd never seen before and closing fast! While I'm trying to figure out what in the heck it was, it gets about two miles away and I see an FA-18 fighter screaming at me! He then circles us at about two miles distance leaving a dotted line around the radar. We were about 75 miles offshore of NASAs Wallops Island launch facility and I guess they wanted to see who the heck was running that fast that far offshore. Quite exciting!

There are different schools of thought on radar angle. Some want it level at cruise, some want it level at a slow bell. With the higher power radars and their narrower vertical beam it's an important decision and takes precise angle measurements at speeds to optimise. I personally fall in the camp that wants it level at slow bell speeds, when you are slowed down due to limited visibility or trolling looking for birds. Others may have different priorities.
Weíve pretty much all but confirmed there is a hardware problem. Thereís zero chance that I never get a single good return at a distant target while fishing offshore due to 3 deg of array angle. The bow has moved down 2 or 3 deg while bobbing out there plenty of times yet my radar has always been myopic to a 1/2 mile.

If this were simply an array angle issue, every owner of a modern Regulator would have worthless radar performance. I just donít believe thatís possible.

Please donít think Iím dismissing the angle though. I have a request in to Seaview for a custom riser for the radar. Planning to get it up 5Ē with a 4 deg wedge angle and hopefully they can fab the mount to match the Garmin pedestal bolt pattern to avoid more holes in the boat.

Last edited by spearfish25; 05-26-2019 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 05-26-2019, 07:29 PM
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One thing I've noticed is it takes several sweeps for the autotune functions to start dialing in. Bobbing up and down with that much angle will make it very difficult for the unit to lock in but Garmin will exchange it I'm sure. The scanner has two sets of mounting stud locations to cover just about all the common radars out there, one will fit!
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:46 AM
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Originally Posted by spearfish25 View Post


Weíve pretty much all but confirmed there is a hardware problem. Thereís zero chance that I never get a single good return at a distant target while fishing offshore due to 3 deg of array angle. The bow has moved down 2 or 3 deg while bobbing out there plenty of times yet my radar has always been myopic to a 1/2 mile.

If this were simply an array angle issue, every owner of a modern Regulator would have worthless radar performance. I just donít believe thatís possible.

Please donít think Iím dismissing the angle though. I have a request in to Seaview for a custom riser for the radar. Planning to get it up 5Ē with a 4 deg wedge angle and hopefully they can fab the mount to match the Garmin pedestal bolt pattern to avoid more holes in the boat.
Absolutely there is no reason not to take advantage of the hardware replacement if it is not being done at your expense. In my case, the sequence of events was that the mounting angle was changed first, which made a notable improvement but left me a rather mediocre radar that was barely adequate. Next both the scanner pedestal and antenna were replaced under warranty by Garmin over the winter. Before the boat was launched in spring, Garmin issued a major software update for the xHD2 radars, which we applied. Thus the first time I used the radar with the replacement scanner, it also had the new software. So I can't really tell how much each factor contributed to the current performance, although the mounting angle did make an immediate improvement.

At the time, a Garmin rep told me there was a hardware fault in a production run of the 25kW pedestals like mine. He specifically said that it did not affect the other units and as a consequence, the 12kW radars outperformed the 25kW units causing lots of unhappy customers who typically had big installations on their boats since people rarely put a 25kW radar on a small boat.

I checked my radar and it has about a 4 degree down angle when the boat is at rest. That would give me about a 0 degree angle at slower planing speeds (12-20 kts) and a 1 or 2 degree down angle at higher speeds. If your Regulator runs like my old one used to do, your radar would have a 5-7 degree or more up angle at slow planing speeds and maybe 3-5 degrees up at higher speeds. Don't attach much weight to other Regulator owners not complaining. Many boats have their electronics installed by the selling dealer or an outside contractor who may well have mounted them at a down angle. Also there are lots of people who lack familiarity with good radar performance and may not even know they have a problem.
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Old 05-27-2019, 03:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Nomans View Post
Absolutely there is no reason not to take advantage of the hardware replacement if it is not being done at your expense. In my case, the sequence of events was that the mounting angle was changed first, which made a notable improvement but left me a rather mediocre radar that was barely adequate. Next both the scanner pedestal and antenna were replaced under warranty by Garmin over the winter. Before the boat was launched in spring, Garmin issued a major software update for the xHD2 radars, which we applied. Thus the first time I used the radar with the replacement scanner, it also had the new software. So I can't really tell how much each factor contributed to the current performance, although the mounting angle did make an immediate improvement.

At the time, a Garmin rep told me there was a hardware fault in a production run of the 25kW pedestals like mine. He specifically said that it did not affect the other units and as a consequence, the 12kW radars outperformed the 25kW units causing lots of unhappy customers who typically had big installations on their boats since people rarely put a 25kW radar on a small boat.

I checked my radar and it has about a 4 degree down angle when the boat is at rest. That would give me about a 0 degree angle at slower planing speeds (12-20 kts) and a 1 or 2 degree down angle at higher speeds. If your Regulator runs like my old one used to do, your radar would have a 5-7 degree or more up angle at slow planing speeds and maybe 3-5 degrees up at higher speeds. Don't attach much weight to other Regulator owners not complaining. Many boats have their electronics installed by the selling dealer or an outside contractor who may well have mounted them at a down angle. Also there are lots of people who lack familiarity with good radar performance and may not even know they have a problem.
Thanks for sharing your setup. It sounds like I may need a 6 deg wedge then.

From what I read in a radar basics book, doubling radar power gives a 19% improvement in range in ideal conditions. It didnít mention target detection though. Iím curious if doubling power makes a faint target 20, 50, or 100% stronger as a return on screen.
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Old 05-27-2019, 04:37 AM
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​​​​Not to beat a dead horse but....

I have same radar and set up on a different boat.

A wedge changed everything. I can easily spot single birds @ 3nm.
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Old 05-27-2019, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by spearfish25 View Post
Weíve pretty much all but confirmed there is a hardware problem. Thereís zero chance that I never get a single good return at a distant target while fishing offshore due to 3 deg of array angle. The bow has moved down 2 or 3 deg while bobbing out there plenty of times yet my radar has always been myopic to a 1/2 mile.
If this were simply an array angle issue, every owner of a modern Regulator would have worthless radar performance. I just donít believe thatís possible.
Please donít think Iím dismissing the angle though. I have a request in to Seaview for a custom riser for the radar. Planning to get it up 5Ē with a 4 deg wedge angle and hopefully they can fab the mount to match the Garmin pedestal bolt pattern to avoid more holes in the boat.
You really don't want an aluminum riser - all that weight extended up 5" on the top of a CC hard top will over-stress it as it bounces all around in the waves. The best thing to use is the Seaview 4 degree plastic wedge - https://www.defender.com/product.jsp?id=982596 - very simple to install using the standard Garmin bolts. I have a xHD2 1226 on my boat with it.
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Old 05-27-2019, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by LI32 View Post
You really don't want an aluminum riser - all that weight extended up 5" on the top of a CC hard top will over-stress it as it bounces all around in the waves. The best thing to use is the Seaview 4 degree plastic wedge - https://www.defender.com/product.jsp?id=982596 - very simple to install using the standard Garmin bolts. I have a xHD2 1226 on my boat with it.
I need to get it up a bit higher due to some other stuff on the ttop as well. I already have a 1.5Ē starboard block to raise it which I could put the wedge on top of. Less height but still achieves a bit of elevation with a solid mount.
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by spearfish25 View Post


Thanks for sharing your setup. It sounds like I may need a 6 deg wedge then.

From what I read in a radar basics book, doubling radar power gives a 19% improvement in range in ideal conditions. It didnít mention target detection though. Iím curious if doubling power makes a faint target 20, 50, or 100% stronger as a return on screen.
Those theoretical relationships between power and target detection don't really tell you anything. It is a virtual certainty that you will never replicate all of the other factors that go into whether a target is detected such as the reflective properties of the target and its size, weather, sea state, and so on. I think a simple generalization that works is that a higher powered radar is more likely to show a distinct return from a target that is small (birds for example) or that has poor reflective properties (a small wooden boat for example). Is it 20% more likely that you would see something with a 12kW instead of a 6kW, well "that depends on all of the other factors. Output power on a radar is sort of like motors in boats. It's rare for someone to complain about having too much horsepower, but the hard question is how much is enough for your needs. I do a lot of tuna fishing and I wanted to be able to pick up flocks of birds 6 miles away so I got the 25kW. Otherwise 12kW or 6kW would be fine.
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Old 06-12-2019, 04:09 PM
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Hey guys, figured I'd follow up on this. I had the array swapped out (same pedestal). I'd say I have an improvement but still nothing in the league I've seen from photos you've shared. Here's a video of what I'm seeing. What do you think?

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Old 06-13-2019, 05:47 AM
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I'm confused in this whole line of events. I would have thought that a Garmin tech (or whoever is covering this under warranty) would have tested your unit and identified your issue before swapping out the array? Even if they were guessing and decided to simply swap it out, they should have went out and tested it with you. This way you would have reported back to us and told us the fix instead of more questions and the disappointment you are still having. Were they Garmin techs or at least knowledgeable with your radar since it's getting done under warranty? Don't misunderstand...I am in NO WAY coming down on you. I feel horrible for you. I am just amazed that the tech didn't address your issues and questions. I would have thought you would have reported back to us what the definitive problem was.
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Old 06-13-2019, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by homeby51 View Post
I'm confused in this whole line of events. I would have thought that a Garmin tech (or whoever is covering this under warranty) would have tested your unit and identified your issue before swapping out the array? Even if they were guessing and decided to simply swap it out, they should have went out and tested it with you. This way you would have reported back to us and told us the fix instead of more questions and the disappointment you are still having. Were they Garmin techs or at least knowledgeable with your radar since it's getting done under warranty? Don't misunderstand...I am in NO WAY coming down on you. I feel horrible for you. I am just amazed that the tech didn't address your issues and questions. I would have thought you would have reported back to us what the definitive problem was.
Yeah, it's a work in progress and I've learned that most of these dealers/vendors don't necessarily want to do things 'right'. My issue is with distant targets. Near performance has been fine. It simply means someone needs to go for a boat ride with me. I scheduled a visit, made time to meet at the boat and specifically said 'you have to go out with me'. Tech comes out, says he knows how to hook them up and install but not how they work and he doesn't have time to go out on the boat. Waste of my time. I call their office royally pissed off and forward the owner photos of the radar performance. He says 'we'll just swap out the array and go from there'. Array gets swapped during the middle of my work day so i can't be there. Left it for me to test and get back to them, so there were are. Super frustrating. They are working with me though, so I'm confident it'll get resolved. They've reviewed the video and feel it's still not right. Plan now is pedestal replacement.

I wish I had more experience with this model radar so I could know if what I'm seeing is truly right or wrong. It's hard to fight the good fight if you have no good reference. You guys have shared some great images of your radars that show far better performance but they're also higher power units (12 or 25kw vs my 4kw).

If any of you guys have a 424xHD2 and can take an iphone video of it running while sitting a little offshore of the coast, it would be great to see exactly how your unit performs for comparison.

Last edited by spearfish25; 06-13-2019 at 06:18 AM.
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:40 AM
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So gain was at 87%, but where were your sea state and rain filters set? Your boat is rocking pretty good, they must be set well above calm.

Also, be aware as you change range, your gain changes. It's a feature, but it can seem like a bug at times.

So for each range, check range, and try changing sea state/clutter filter. It does take some tuning.

As for the beach returns, that looks more or less normal. I can make an entire jetty disappear if I'm not paying attention to settings.

Also, keep in mind that at 12 mile range, you may not see returns in close if they are small objects. If you think an object is 5 miles away, use the 6 or 8 mile range to look for it, not the 12. This is why they have dual range radar. You can use half the screen at 1 mile and half at 8 miles, and see what you need to see.
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by gerg View Post
So gain was at 87%, but where were your sea state and rain filters set? Your boat is rocking pretty good, they must be set well above calm.

Also, be aware as you change range, your gain changes. It's a feature, but it can seem like a bug at times.

So for each range, check range, and try changing sea state/clutter filter. It does take some tuning.

As for the beach returns, that looks more or less normal. I can make an entire jetty disappear if I'm not paying attention to settings.

Gain was set at 80% which is where scattered noise was starting to show across the screen. Rain and sea filters were off. I did go through every range and set the parameters for the exact reason you mentioned. I've experimented with bumping up sea and/or rain filters which can allow higher gain settings while minimizing surface noise. However, it really is 'fine tuning' and doesn't really dramatically change my problem of not painting concrete 15 story buildings at 10 miles.
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Old 06-13-2019, 08:00 AM
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I'm not a radar engineer, but I have to imagine that at that distance you need a surface that is pretty much perpendicular to your antenna for you to get the reflection back at an intensity that means something to the antenna. Your radio waves are going up and out, they may just be bouncing off over your head.

I don't usually look for buildings that far out, but I can see the bluffs at block island at a pretty good distance.
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:45 AM
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I'll post back when the pedestal is replaced. Fingers crossed it makes the difference.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by spearfish25 View Post
Yeah, it's a work in progress and I've learned that most of these dealers/vendors don't necessarily want to do things 'right'. My issue is with distant targets. Near performance has been fine. It simply means someone needs to go for a boat ride with me. I scheduled a visit, made time to meet at the boat and specifically said 'you have to go out with me'. Tech comes out, says he knows how to hook them up and install but not how they work and he doesn't have time to go out on the boat. Waste of my time. I call their office royally pissed off and forward the owner photos of the radar performance. He says 'we'll just swap out the array and go from there'. Array gets swapped during the middle of my work day so i can't be there. Left it for me to test and get back to them, so there were are. Super frustrating. They are working with me though, so I'm confident it'll get resolved. They've reviewed the video and feel it's still not right. Plan now is pedestal replacement.

I wish I had more experience with this model radar so I could know if what I'm seeing is truly right or wrong. It's hard to fight the good fight if you have no good reference. You guys have shared some great images of your radars that show far better performance but they're also higher power units (12 or 25kw vs my 4kw).

If any of you guys have a 424xHD2 and can take an iphone video of it running while sitting a little offshore of the coast, it would be great to see exactly how your unit performs for comparison.
Wow...I feel for you. Who is covering this warranty work? Is it Garmin or is it Regulator? I can't imagine them sending out techs to swap parts but they cannot handle a test ride to see if the problem is fixed. Unbelievable....
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Old 06-15-2019, 04:43 AM
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Can you find someone with the same radar or even a Garmin dome radar and arrange to take both of your boats out to the same spot and compare returns?
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Old 06-16-2019, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Fish'nFool View Post
Can you find someone with the same radar or even a Garmin dome radar and arrange to take both of your boats out to the same spot and compare returns?
Keeping my eyes peeled but so far no luck. My buddy has a 6' open array Simrad but then we're not comparing apples to apples.
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Old 06-18-2019, 03:50 PM
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So I had a bad pedestal. Swapped for a new radar today and there is a profound difference and improvement. Thanks for everyone who worked through this with me. Ill post some new offshore pics as soon as I take the boat out.

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