Testing Raymarine Quantum Q24 radar, solid on many levels

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 22, 2016

Raymarine_Quantum_Q24_displayed_on_eS128_cPanbo.jpgThat's very good radar imagery in my experience, especially given that it's the fully automated output of a relatively small and affordable radome which can be super easy to install. Note, for instance, how well it's separating the moored boats in Camden's recently discussed Outer Harbor and thus usefully revealing the channel into the Inner Harbor (that many visiting boats have trouble finding even in clear daylight). I also got to see how well Raymarine navigation networks can handle dual radar scanners and how sophisticated their WiFi has become. And finally I hope to spank Ray about its annoyingly overprotective MARPA alarms (though that situation could be easily fixed in software ;-)...

Raymarine_Q24_temporary_install_on_Gizmo_cPanbo.jpgLet's look first at the Raymarine Quantum Q24 hardware. At 21.3 inches in diameter and 8.25 high, the radome is wider but lower than the Simrad 4G radar on which it's temporarily installed, and it only weighs 12.3 pounds. I appreciated all that because in order to test the Quantum's WiFi data connection with the flybridge eS128, I moved it around to more difficult locations like the aft cockpit. It was only happenstance that Gizmo's tired old 1,200 Watt microwave oven was also there (on its way to the recycling center), but it's pretty amazing how the Quantum really can reach its 24-mile maximum range with just 20 peak Watts of compressed microwave pulses drawing 17 Watts of 12 (or 24) volt DC boat power.

Raymarine_Quantum_radar_cabling_and_WiFi_cPanbo.jpgIt wasn't clear when we first discussed the new Quantum in January, or even when demoed in Miami, but there are two distinct Q24 models. What I received for testing is the orginally announced Q24C that can make its data connection with either WiFi or Ethernet, specifically part number E70210, which does not come with an Ethernet cable (though Raymarine added the 10m one seen inset) and which typically retails for $1,549. However there's also a Quantum Q24W (E70344) that is WiFi-only and $200 less expensive. Not all retail outlets are clear about the differences, and the WiFi-only model presents a conundrum for installs where the WiFi connection may be dicey.

More on the WiFi next, and note the Quantum SSID and Passcode on the label above, but before we leave this collage, also note the multiple bolt locations to fit different radar mounts. The Quantum is designed to easily replace any old radome since you probably only need the power wires already run to the mount (or if your old dome used a single Ray digital cable, there's a power and Ethernet adapter).

Raymarine_Q24_WiFi_connection_screen_cPanbo.jpgSo this was a first in my marine electronics installation experience, and it may have taken more than one try because my old brain is not good at copying meaningless passwords. It would be nice if Ray let you click a box to make the password visible, like many modern apps do, but the bigger news is that once my test Quantum connected with the eS128 display, it has run rock solid for over two months. On power up the WiFi connection did take a little longer when I had radome in the cockpit (with a lot of structure in between) and longer still when I hid it in the cockpit of the boat that shares my float, but as mounted on Gizmo it's nearly instantaneous.

But what if there's 50 feet of air and a fiberglass cabin top between the Quantum radome and your Raymarine MFD? Ray's Quantum install manual is very thorough on this subject, and while it suggests that such a scenario will work, it also calls for a careful site survey, including a sea trial in case a neighboring boat's structure is providing a WiFi bounce. If in doubt, it would seem prudent to purchase a WiFi-only Quantum with return privileges.

Raymarine_a78_w_Quantum_and_RD418HD_radar_cPanbo.jpgBut if the Quantum WiFi connection is as solid on your boat as it is on Gizmo -- and mind you the range is purportedly over 300 feet in optimal conditions -- you may be amazed at how well it fits into Raymarine's overall wired and wireless networking. While it wasn't surprising that the older a78 MFD (above) at my lower helm gets the Quantum over Ethernet from the eS128 -- Ray's whole MFD line has remained highly compatible -- it blew my mind when I realized that it could make the Quantum connection even with the eS128 turned off and no effort on my part. Once you teach one network MFD how to connect with a Quantum, it teaches the others!

Moreover, the Quantum WiFi connection doesn't seem to affect Raymarine's other WiFi capabilities, which have gotten quite advanced. I can, for instance, still log onto the eS128 with my iPad or Android phone and run Ray's View, Control, or Remote apps. In fact, I can also have the eS128 join Gizmo's WiFi router, and if it's online, my mobile is also online. Yes, I've seen Internet, MFD apps, and Quantum all working at the same time using just one MFD's WiFi, and performance was good all around. Can any other MFD do that?

(I know that some sophisticated users would rather run their MFD app through their router, as Furuno TZT permits, and it's true that one of my onboard router connections -- the Fusion stereo remote app -- does not seem to work via the Raymarine connection, but then again the Vesper Marine XB8000 does. I can also picture how the Ray way could work nicely on a boat without a separate router; you could sort of get the triple WiFi connection I experienced simply by switching your phone to hotspot mode, or fully by having two mobile devices, no changes needed on the Ray MFD.)

Raymarine_eS128_showing_dual_radars_w_power_down_ability_cPanbo.jpgThe Quantum install further challenged Gizmo's Raymarine network because it already included a RD418HD radome. No problem! Both radars are available on both MFDs, even for simultaneous use. And note how the power button dialog box above lets you Power Down either radome as well as switch them back and forth between Standby and Transmit. MFD radar power down is a valuable feature, especially for magnetron radars with high Standby power draws on sailboats, that I first saw on Raymarine and that has only been duplicated by Simrad/B&G to the best of my knowledge. I do know that the only way I could run the current Furuno and Garmin MFDs on Gizmo with their radars shut down would be to put them on separate power switches, which seems crude.

Raymarine_RD418HD_and_Quantum_Q24_on_eS128_1-8th_range_cPanbo_cPanbo.jpgHere's the eS128 showing the magnetron RD418HD and the solid-state Quantum Q24 radars both at 1/8th nm range in target-rich Camden Inner Harbor. In this case the automatic performance was looking pretty good and also pretty similar, though I found that the Quantum was the one that could be improved by manually lowering the Gain. The real point of the photo is to show how the Gain, as well as Sea and Rain filter, can be seen and adjusted right on the touchscreen. The RD418HD and other Ray radars offer the same controls (if you choose to display them in Presentation Menu) and they work pretty well for me.

The Quantum also offers a 1/16th nm range that the RD418HD does not, though it does not have quite the up-close resolution that the Simrad 4G radar does, perhaps not surprising since Navico 3G and 4G remain the only solid-state marine radars that use Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) technology.

Raymarine_Quantum_radar_menu_collage_cPanbo.jpgHere I've tried to show the various menu items that apply to the Quantum setup and display. You'll see that it offers four Preset Modes and that you can modify the active mode long term (which is different than simply manually adjusting Gain etc. for a short-term situation). I have not yet felt the need to change those presets. Note a fairly full set of Presentation choices, and that Echo Trails of various time periods are available elsewhere. I've also tried to show how some menus need to be scrolled to access all choices, even though there is more room available on the 12-inch screen, a minor annoyance.

Raymarine_RD418HD_and_Quantum_Q24_on_eS128_cPanbo.jpgNow here are the two radars head-to-head at 24-nm range, though the screenshot seems to have been caught just before the HD image completely filled in. In practice the 20 Watt Quantum is not better than the 4 kiloWatt radome at longer ranges, but it seems nearly as good, even though the Quantum is mounted about 8 feet lower. That's impressive. This screen also shows how you overlay AIS onto radar screens if you want, and that Ray is properly showing synthetic AIS aids to navigation (which have even come to Maine).

And, yes, I have been trying out the Navionics dock-to-dock autorouting that came to Raymarine MFDs with Lighthouse 17. I've mostly seen smart results, though I do wish Ray would make it easier to hide all the waypoints generated.

Raymarine_RD418HD_and_Quantum_Q24_on_eS128_showing_fly_bridge_blockage_cPanbo_cPanbo.jpgUnfortunately, most of HD to Quantum comparison screenshots did not capture the full screens, maybe because of the unsychronized scanning, but this image is true. What it shows is how completely the Quantum pulses are blocked by all the gear installed behind it on Gizmo's flybridge. I think that any radome would be somewhat blocked, and I've tried several in that position, but solid-state radars are particularly vulnerable. (The Simrad 4G does slightly better than the Quantum, but I think the 3G would be similar.) I intend to document more radar comparisons and also to move the Quantum to the mast, but onboard obstructions do seem a factor with this radar.

Raymarine_Quantum_Q24_showing_Relative_and_True_MARPA_cPanbo.jpgThis screen shows the Quantum doing good work at 1-nm range and also its relative and true vector MARPA abilities. The two targets I selected on the touchscreen (or with the eS's excellent cursor control) were small sailboats working slowly to windward, and the true speeds and headings being tracked in the radar window are close to what I could see with my eyes. Meanwhile, seen on the chart overlay side is their motion relative to Gizmo motoring along at nearly 8 knots. The Relative and True Vector calculations don't jibe precisely, but they're reasonably close, and reasonably close is the sort of MARPA performance I've seen regularly from both Raymarine radomes. Note that one of those sailors either had significant local knowledge or took a chance with Merriman Ledge.

Raymarine_radar_mandated_MARPA_collision_n_lost_alarms_cPanbo.jpgUnfortunately, Raymarine's MARPA is marred by two unchangeable alarms, at least for my taste. While the graphic display of how their MARPA alarm works is excellent, note that you cannot turn it off (like you can the AIS alarms) and that the minimal settings are 0.1 nm in 3 minutes. So if I target an approaching vessel a few miles away and the information helps me determine that a close pass is safe, I will still get alarmed. Plus I'll also get alarmed for every MARPA that the radar loses track of, and eventually that's every vessel I track unless I dig into the menus and cancel the targets.

No doubt I'm more sensitive than most about unwanted alarms because I run so many display systems at once, but those MARPA alarms seem even worse this season because they're firing off near the Furuno TZT2 and NXT radar that mandate no alarms while automatically acquiring intelligently chosen and quite precise ARPA targets even at ranges I'm not viewing. In fact, I don't think I can evaluate any new radar without thinking about the amazing and easy collision avoidance features Ive been seeing from the Furuno NXT.

So while the MARPA alarms issue could be easily fixed by Ray, and may be trivial to you anyway, anyone shopping for a radome should be aware of what's possible with Doppler solid-state technology, though that doesn't simply mean buy NXT. These radars are just components of much larger systems, and Furuno, for instance, doesn't offer TZT 7- or even 9-inch displays that will work with NXT (Correction: there is a heavy duty TZT 9-inch, just no TZT2 smaller than 12-inch yet). The good news is that I'm pretty sure all the major brands are working furiously to approximate the NXT features, and Quantum may even be backward compatible. (The Simrad open array Halo is another candidate for Doppler update, and rumor has it that Garmin will be bringing their Doppler Fantom tech to radomes fairly soon.)

But even if the Quantum nevers get an update, I think that it's a very solid radar with a remarkable level of install flexibility at a reasonable price.

Raymarine_Q24_at_2_nm_range_cPanbo.jpg

Comments

Nice article Ben,

a question: in your side by side comparison, and in a few other screenshots, the HD seems to bloom more in distance and the Quantum more in angle.

Is that a function of the settings or part of the basic design?

For example, in the first image all of the returns looked like side shots of boats, that were all pointing in concentric circles. If this is an artifact of a small antenna, it makes sense.

Posted by: Sheldon Haynie at September 23, 2016 10:46 AM | Reply

I was wondering if any of these vendors are considering producing a smaller antenna for racing sailboats? It seems like recent gains might offset the losses from a downsized rig.

Posted by: jak at September 23, 2016 1:01 PM | Reply

Jak, I'm not sure there's enough market to warrant a much smaller solid-state radar but it certainly seems possible to build one.

And note that the current Quantum with WiFi data connection could be pole mounted on a sailboat in such a way that it would be pretty easy to stow it when not needed.

Posted by: Ben at September 24, 2016 2:49 AM | Reply

I have left feedback for Furuno on both their forum and every trade show that I have seen them.

An open array with NXT technology would get me off the fence about upgrading from a 4kw dome. With the NXT costing a few $100 less than the 4kw dome, it is a tough pill to swallow. I could see myself keeping the 4kw dome if I could add a 3.5'-4' open array.

Furuno is always tight lipped, has their been any indication they might expand the line?

Posted by: Howard at September 24, 2016 10:35 AM | Reply

Ben, can you please make some comparison shots between Quantum and 4G before you move the Quantum? Screen shots from the same position with identical ranges at almost same time from both radars at short, medium and long ranges would be very interesting.

Posted by: abbor at September 25, 2016 9:04 AM | Reply

A very helpful Garmin product/sales guy at Southampton Boat Show told me that Fantom radome will ship early December. In 18 & 24.

Posted by: mark heeley at September 26, 2016 8:52 AM | Reply

Howard, at least for now Furuno seems determined to stay with magnetron open arrays and they're making big claims for the new DRS6A X-Class:

http://www.furuno.com/special/en/radar/drs6ax-class/

No worries, Abbor, I have already started comparing Quantum and 4G from same spot.

And, Mark, won't that be great news in solid-state Dobbler marine radar evolution if it's true?

Posted by: Ben at September 26, 2016 3:10 PM | Reply

Followed up with an inquiry to Furuno in Camas, Washington. I am going to visit Furuno for a operational hands on with a DRS6A X lass radar.

The tracking features are intriguing. I have yet to determine if it is compatible with Maxsea Timezero.

Posted by: Howard in reply to Ben at September 28, 2016 11:47 PM | Reply

Another note, Timzero /Nobeltec is not compatible yet with NXT or the DRS6a X class yet. A software release is due later this year.

Posted by: Howard at September 29, 2016 2:41 PM | Reply

On return trip from Newport,RI boat show aboard my new Bruckman Abaco 40, I had a great time with the installed Furuno NXT radar. On Tuesday from Sandwich, MA at end of Cape Cod Canal, it was "pea soup" fog almost the whole trip back to Harpswell, ME (Great Island Boat Yard, who installed the electronics).

With the NXT tied to the Furuno 15" TZ Touch 2, the display was nothing short of AMAZING. Especially with all the AIS targets displayed both on the charts, and on the NXT. The "tracking" function that turned targets RED if they were a danger, worked very well. Going across the shipping lanes into Boston, proved to be very satisfying.

When we got to Green #3 at the turning point towards Great Island Boat Yard (from the Gulf of Maine) , Fog was so thick I could not even make out #3 only about 100 feet to my port side. This is a small slot that brings you past rocks on the port side and rocks / Island on the starboard side.

With the NXT radar, and TZ Touch 2 displaying GOVT Raster Charts, I felt very comfortable. Even though this was the first time aboard BELLA & running this route.

I did have my co-piot watching BELLA on "i-Sailor" displayed on a large Apple i-Pad. (I think best Navigation App out there, and the BEST charts for sure) as we went thru the cut. Told him "make sure I do not do something stupid" !!!!

Posted by: Ocean Rose at October 2, 2016 11:38 AM | Reply

I was at mets today and yesterday and I saw hummingbird has a new radar and looks just like the quantum from raymarine
Top and Base plate are similar. . .

Posted by: Tcy at November 16, 2016 11:50 AM | Reply

You are correct, Tcy! Yesterday, a great source sent me the link below, which seems to show that Raymarine has applied for FCC approval of a very Quantum-like radar that will be badged "Humminbird CHIRP" (model HB 2124)

https://fccid.io/PJ5-HB2124

I think it's good news. With four major brands already competing to make the best solid-state radars, we probably wouldn't benefit from more. But now Humminbird customers will have access to solid-state radar tech and Ray will have more resources for R&D. All good.

Posted by: Ben at November 16, 2016 12:05 PM | Reply

Hi Ben,

I know that Quantum has the hardware to do automatic target analyzing using Doppler Effect like Furuno NXT, but so far no one was able to tell me if Raymarine is actively working on that feature. Do you have insights on that topic you can share?

Thanks!

Posted by: Julian Buss at March 21, 2017 3:46 AM | Reply

Ben-
Is it likely that Raymarine will make a software update to the Quantum 24 or will they not add Doppler until a new open array comes out? I am going to upgrade to Axiom 12 early 2018 but then my serviceable old magnetron Raymarine will be incompatible with the new Axiom display. I'd like to have targets show up in color with Doppler showing a threat to us. It is very hard to keep heads down when navigating Rosario, Haro or Georgia Straits out here. LOTS of heavy traffic and still more small fishing boats running 30Kts and really posing a threat in foggy weather.

Its been 9 years since Honeywell demonstrated a SS pulse compression radar near the San Juan Islands - a LOT has passed by.
Dave

Posted by: David Vacanti at September 17, 2017 3:01 PM | Reply

Good to hear from you again, Dave, but sorry I don't know where Raymarine is at with Doppler radar development. I imagine that all the big brands are working on it, with Furuno NXT motion highlighting and ARPA performance the target. And rumor has it that a Furuno NXT open array will appear very soon. Also, existing Simrad Halo radars will get its Velocity Track Doppler optional feature quite soon, and it looks good in screens I've seen. Meanwhile, Quantum remains a very solid radar for the money in my opinion.

Posted by: Ben in reply to David Vacanti at September 18, 2017 7:27 AM | Reply

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