Garmin xHD radar upgrade

I always have high hopes starting a project. They never turn out to be as straightforward as I want them to. My project for this weekend was to replace the Garmin 18″ HD radome with a new fancy and possibly amazing just released Garmin 24″ xHD radome. In addition to the new radar, I also bought a new Seaview mast mount. The best price I found on the radome was The GPS Store, the Seaview mount came from Fisheries Supply.

It should be a fairly simple swap. There is just a power cable and a CAT5 network cable out to the radar. The hardest part should be changing the mast mount. Right? That’s the way I figured it.

mv Archimedes 18 HD and 24 xHD radar 

Challenge 1. The new radar is bigger. The connectors on the radar are a bit farther forward than the existing radar. The cables are about four inches too short. Solution: I spent some quality time on the bowels of the boat carefully pulling all the slack I could find in the cables back toward the mast. I was able to get about eight inches without difficulty.

Challenge 2. It’s kinda hard to lower the mast with just one person. I was able to do it, but I would not recommend it as standard practice. I used a block and tackle and a fair amount of luck.

mv Archimedes mast down for Garmin 24xHD install 1

Challenge 3: The new mount is not designed to fit our puny little mast. Our mast is about 3″ wide (maybe smaller. I need to measure it.). The new Seaview mount requires a minimum diameter of 3 5/8″. Solution: As luck would have it (and it rarely works out this way for me), the new radome fits the old mount. So I re-installed the old mount and bolted the new radome on it.

mv Archimedes mast down for Garmin 24xHD install 3

Challenge 4: The power cable for the new radome is slightly larger gauge and has a different connector. Solution: Pull out the old cable and put in the new one. This is where I spent most of my time. Little by little, I pulled the old power cable out and pulled the new one in. I started at the mast and ended up at the electrical panel in the engine room. I must have cut, removed, and replaced 100 wire ties.

mv Archimedes new radar wire run

I don’t know if this was the best way to do it, but a previous owner ran all the external wires down the side of the flybridge steps, through the deck, and inside the aft stateroom closet. Then the wires go through the stateroom steps and into the engine room. Not the most direct way, but that’s how it is. I understand newer boats have a wire race in the salon ceiling so this is not necessary. Maybe ours does to and I just don’t know it.

After a fair amount of climbing up and down, pulling and running wires, and removing and replacing wire ties, the new radar is all installed properly and ready to go.

The last hurdle was raising the mast again. A bit easier than lowering it was, but once again, I would not recommend it as a one person job. I just had me so I was short on help.

Below is the radar “view” from our slip. It’s pretty limited so this isn’t a good comparison for the two radars. The 18″ radar displays one color and returns a good signal.

mv Archimedes Garmin 18 HD radar display 1

The new 24″ radar is below. The xHD unit displays multiple colors. More colors must be better. I assume they are related to signal return intensity. Dual range split screen view is a handy feature. There is a lack of information (or perhaps I’ve just not found it) available about what I see on the new screen. I’ll post something later when we take the boat out and get a chance to give the new radar a good test.

mv Archimedes Garmin 24 xHD radar display 1

A short video from Garmin about all the swell new features of the xHD radomes.

And here is  the old 18″ radar mounted on the mast and, below, the new 24″ xHD.

mv Archimedes Garmin 18 hd radar old 1 mv Archimedes Garmin 24 xHD radar new 1I managed to get a few other details taken care of this weekend. I took the deck freezer to Boat Electric. It’s never worked. It needs a new controller at a minimum and probably a new compressor. We will pick that up in two weeks. And I also managed to get a couple of photos hung up on the walls.

mv Archimedes forward berth new art 1

mv Archimedes aft berth new art 1After that, I was tired, so I decided not to do any more work.

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