Unlocking the Functionality of Radar Beacons (RACON)


Unlocking the Functionality of Radar Beacons (RACON)

Unlocking the Functionality of Radar Beacons (RACON)

By:Sealite | October 18, 2021

In the marine industry a RACON (RAdar beaCON) is used by ports and harbour authorities to help mariners easily identify the location of fixed or floating Aids to Navigation.

The IMO also refers to Racon as radar transponders, that operate by receiving/transmitting data using Morse code, when a radar signal is identified. The signal is transmitted at the same frequency as that of the triggering radar, enabling the coded navigational signal to automatically appear on a ships radar.

Where is Racon used?

Racon transmission is extremely accurate and of great assistance to mariners on approach. Racon is normally used in high-risk areas to highlight critical assets such as:

  • Lighthouses or large navigational buoys
  • Landfall and obstructed coastlines
  • Offshore platforms and structures
  • Leading lines, traffic separation or traffic routing schemes
  • New or unchartered hazards
  • Centre and turning points to navigate large vessels

What benefits does Racon offer?

The primary benefit of using Racon as a connectivity option is its availability. The device will transmit in almost any type of weather, unaffected by fog or poor weather and sea conditions. The Racon signal appears alongside other radar signals on the bridge of the ship, helping the mariner to make navigational decisions.

Mariners love a Racon because of its range, reliability, availability, and visibility.

Racon range and transmission

Racons are a highly responsive, single piece device that transmits to the more common X-band (10GHz) and/or S-band (3GHz) frequencies for more specialized applications.

The Racon range is line-of-sight, typically greater than 15NM. This is substantially longer than your typical Aid to Navigation. For an optimum operating range, ensure there is a clear line of view, as any obstruction can hinder the performance of the Racon signal.

Technical parameters

The technical parameters of a racon are the:

  • Antenna – size dependent on the transmission band
  • Receiver – frequency, blocking period, primary radar pulse length
  • Transmitter – frequency
  • Response – Delay after receipt, identification coding (Morse letter), duration

A Racon is normally battery powered (12V) and recharged by solar panels. They are easy to program onsite via connection to the RS232 communication port using a laptop computer. Once installed and commissioned, little ongoing maintenance of the Racon is required.

Sealite are pleased to announce the addition of the HEKLEO-2XSR Racon to our standard range of products. It can be supplied and integrated into Sealite’s customized and bespoke solutions for fixed shore beacons or packaged with our marine lanterns and large buoy solutions. We offer proven system integration and sound power management for a wide range of marine Aids to Navigation projects.

Look out for the official product release, coming soon!

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