Marine radar on PC

Here’s a page which will demystify the process of getting marine radar on PC, such as my Toughbook units. Digital radar of the specific models listed below can be connected, and will display real time overlay with the charts. How can you tell if it’s digital? For one thing, it must have an RJ45 (Ethernet network plug) on the dome itself. If it’s too old (let’s say older than 2005) then it definitely won’t be compatible. Yes, there are some old analog radars which can connect to a PC. This is ancient, will not allow overlay over the charts, and highly proprietary. It’s not worth investigating in this time and age. If you’re getting a used radar, it makes sense to get a digital one.

Marine radar on PC summary

  1. Only specific radar dome models are compatible with specific software.
  2. Make sure to also get a compass sensor for accurate overlays while your boat is stationary.
  3. A digital radar dome can connect directly to a PC with no expensive proprietary MFD needed. This can represent substantial savings of a few thousand dollars!
  4. This is a relatively budget friendly option, but even a used digital radar dome alone can run around $1000 plus minus a few hundred.
  5. Digital radar connects to a PC via an RJ45 network cable (Ethernet) or via WiFi for some of the newer models. The cable might need to be slightly modified.
  6. You may have an older analog radar with its own screen that works. If you’re happy with it and it’s working fine, then just keep it! Use it side by side with one my systems or another chartplotter. There’s no way to get the old analog signal into a computer for overlays, but there’s no reason to stop using it either just because it’s old.
  7. If a digital radar is outside your budget, consider getting an AIS receiver as a partial replacement. I offer them for only $200 including its own antenna. They are plug and play and don’t require installation, unlike a radar dome. You can also get a cheap AIS transceiver.
  8. Here’s my guide to cheap marine radar which discusses some other alternatives as well.

OpenCPN (included on my navigation laptops) supports the following marine radar on PC

Please note that the newer radar models which are NOT listed above, such as Garmin GMR Fantom, are NOT supported at this time. If you’re not sure, please ask me before buying the radar dome, and I will confirm.

Radar on PC - overlay showing on standard charts with OpenCPN
Real-time marine radar & AIS overlay on standard charts (red markings = radar, triangles = AIS on OpenCPN)

TimeZero (formerly Nobeltec & MaxSea) supports the following marine radar on PC

Furuno DRS / FAR series radar such as: DRS4DL+, DRS4DNXT, DRS6AX, DRS12AX, DRS25AX, all DRS models search. Furuno radar domes are fairly expensive, be warned. Please note that DRS4W (1st Watch Wireless Radar) is NOT supported!

Nobeltec InSight Radar: TimeZero is compatible with all MDS Ethernet InSight Radars (Koden radars with a MDS5 and MDS6 control box), as well as ethernet 2KW Dome Radar such as MDS1R and MDS8R Koden radars.

If you are looking to buy a rugged laptop to run your TimeZero license, my midrange systems are OK for it, and my premium systems are perfect for it. It’s a well featured piece of software with pretty expansive functionality, but far from cheap!

Rose Point Coastal Explorer (CE) supports the following radar models

Coastal Explorer is compatible with Koden RADARpc interface boxes: MDS-5R (also available rebranded as Nobeltec Insight II), MDS-6R, MDS-1100, MDS-1100R (T-1100R) which provide an Ethernet interface to Koden radar domes. Many Koden radar domes are compatible with those boxes. For example, the following: RB714A, RB715A, RB716A, RB717A, RB718A, RW701A-03, RW701A-04, RW701A-06, RB805, RB806, RB807, RB808, RB809. Here’s some good info about integrating radar with Coastal Explorer.

Rose Point ECS is the professional version of Coastal Explorer. It’s compatible with Furuno FAR-21×7 series, JRC JMA-5300 MK2, Alphatron JMA-610 radar. You probably don’t need to go this route, but I’m just sharing the info for anyone who is looking.

Rose Point ECS marine radar on PC overlay with vector charts

P-Sea Windplot supports the following marine models

Similarly to Coastal Explorer, P-Sea supports various Koden radar domes. The following models are supported: RADARpc-4D RADARpc-3.5, RADARpc-4.5, RADARpc-6.4, RADARpc-6.6, RADARpc-12.4, RADARpc-12.6, RADARpc-25.4, RADARpc-25.6, RADARpc-25.9.

You can download the instruction manual here. This is a rather outdated system, so unless you can get a box and radar dome cheap, there is no point in going this route from scratch in 2021 and beyond. There is no radar overlay with the charts, so it may not be quite as convenient.

Marine Radar on PC - P-Sea Windplot with Koden RadarPC

EuroNav seaPro supports the following radar models

Koden MDS-50R, MDS-51R via Koden MDS-2 Radar Interface Box.

EuroNav seaPro radar display with a Koden Radar

Any questions? Please contact me!

Why use a navigation laptop as a chart plotter?

My navigation laptops can be much more affordable than GarminLowranceSimradB&GFurunoHumminbirdRaymarine, Standard Horizon. I will also support the GPS laptop your purchase forever! Furthermore, I believe that some of the commercial chart plotter brands gouge their customers. Large companies force their clients to upgrade. They stop supporting older units with chart and software updates. In addition, they charge outrageous fees for simple things like a larger screen size. I don’t do any of these things, and never will – guaranteed! Moreover, please take a look at other advantages as well. A GPS laptop can offer a compelling alternative to major brands!