For more than 50 years, marine radar has served as a reliable means of detecting obstacles on the water at night. But over the past 15 years, evolving imaging technologies—including thermal and night-vision cameras—have emerged to help augment radar when boating in the dark.
The most recent entry is the Nightwave D1 ultra-low-light marine camera system from SiOnyx, an affordable, compact, fixed-mount camera built around SiOnyx’s patented black silicon CMOS sensor. Generating color images in 1080p, Nightwave requires only faint starlight as an illumination source. Though it will not pierce fog—as does marine radar—Nightwave can help boaters see and identify low-lying hazards in the water that radar cannot easily pick up, such as timber or lobster-pot buoys. It can detect objects as far as 150 yards away from the boat.
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The IP67-waterproof-rated camera, measuring 5 inches in diameter and 6 inches tall, and weighing just under 2 pounds, is designed to mount in either top-up or top-down configurations. It also has a 1/4-inch 20-thread receiver for using the camera with a Ram mount. A video cable connection plugs into the analog video port of an MFD. The camera also offers wireless video streaming to mobile devices using the SiOnyx Nightwave app.
With a 40-degree field of view, Nightwave covers a wide horizontal swath over the waters ahead of the boat, but the camera does not possess pan or tilt functions. This keeps the cost ($1,495 suggested retail) in check, but also limits the ability to look side to side. Also, the Nightwave D1 is not stabilized, a feature reserved for high-end marine cameras, such as the FLIR M364C ($22,495 suggested retail) with multiple cameras and gyrostabilization. So, as seas jostle the boat about, the Nightwave video image will reflect this motion.
However, as you slow the boat in protected waters to negotiate a tricky channel or approach an unfamiliar marina, the Nightwave D1 can more than prove its worth in guiding you safely along your way. To learn more, visit sionyx.com.