... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jul 3, 2009
Since we're already discussing the Navico BR24, let's take a look at an interesting disagreement that's cropped up regarding its safety claims. At introduction, Navico's CEO called this low wattage solid state technology "a huggable radar" -- i.e. without any radiation danger whatsoever. But how dangerous are conventional magnetron marine radars in this size range? In the July issue of PMY, the new electronics editor Tim Bartlett tries to answer that question, and concludes, "So rest easy. While your microwave oven could theoretically cook you, a
small radar can't because it doesn't transmit long enough or with
enough power." Navico disagrees...
When you read Tim's article, Hazardous to Your Health?, it's obvious he did some serious research into the mysterious world of "radiosity" and the workings of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). But was "rest easy" a reasonable conclusion? By way of rebuttal, Navico got Dr R.S. Mowbray to summarize the hazards of small radomes. You can read/download the PDF here, and I think you'll find it informative. I, for one, have never seen a summary of "safe distance" recommendations like the table above, and I've looked. Plus I've never read as clear an explanation of the difference between "Occupational" and "General Public" radiation limits, and isn't it strange? A professional mariner can handle ten times more exposure because he or she is more aware of the danger? But, overall, I remain confused about this vague subject, and am very curious about your thoughts. And let's discuss in real terms. Would you be comfortable sitting for hours on a fly bridge with a conventional magnetron radome pulsing within, say, four feet and nearly level with your eyeballs, or other balls? I've seen installs like the latter, and really don't know if the situation is "rest easy" or "not absolutely intrinsically safe" (as Dr. Mowbray puts it).