Moisture can be a problem for radome-type radars, as Kevin Kinirons, who lives in Brick N.J., and works in the marine construction business, found out for himself.
Kinirons bought one of the first Simrad Yachting Broadband 3G radars for his 28-foot Pearson cabin cruiser in 2011. He likes it enough that he says he’d buy another one, even after dealing with a moisture problem that developed earlier this year.
Even though he says it was “fairly pricey,” he bought the broadband unit because of its advanced features. He also he liked that it weighed very little — 16 pounds.
Then this past spring the radar stopped working. He talked to a Simrad technician who told him to switch some wires. When that didn’t work, Kinirons says, “he told me to take the radome apart. I said, ‘There’s a seal.’ He says, ‘take the dome apart and check for moisture.’”
Kinirons says he pulled the dome apart and found “well in excess of a coffee cup of water. That seems to have shorted everything out.” All the metal inside the dome was discolored and “that was halfway up on the rotating part.”
The warranty had run out on Kinirons’ radar. However, Simrad said he was covered, “even though I was out of warranty time-wise.” Kinirons says he assumes he got warranty coverage because the moisture build-up problem “was a design flaw, kind of like General Motors.”
Simrad Yachting’s technical support team says there is a weep hole in the bottom. “They always had a weep hole. You can’t say they didn’t have a drain,” Simrad technician Mark Dexter says.
Dexter attributed the problem to improper installation, saying, “If it’s installed where the [the weep hole] is covered, it’s possible that as the radar heats and cools moisture could build up.” However the radar had been operating without any problems for over two years.
Dexter adds that Simrad, “in an effort to avoid this, they did make an engineering change,” referring to it as “a breather hole.”
A month after Kinirons sent back the damaged radar he received a new unit. The only money he had to put out was $60 for shipping. The new radome does what the old one didn’t — drains moisture. “They did put a drain in the back; it’s very obvious to see,” Kinirons says. He guesses it has a pressure-release valve that makes it difficult for moisture to enter the radome but easily vents moisture.
Now, he says, the new Simrad 3G radar “is working just fine. And I’d buy another unit today.”
Kinirons, who is a longtime National Fisherman reader, obviously doesn’t have to take his Pearson cabin cruiser out in snotty weather to earn a living hauling fishing gear, but he says he feels fishermen should know about the radome problem he experienced. If you’re in limited visibility and the radar quits “in a place like Maine or Alaska, you don’t just run aground,” he says, “you go up on the rocks.”