LabRadar set up for testing, right out of the box
This month we take a look at a product that I've been waiting a long time to get my hands on.
This personal doppler radar is able to replace a chrono for all your projectile velocity measuring needs (archery, firearms, airguns), and is easier to use, safer as you don't shoot through it, and works under all conditions.
This first article will give an overview of its operation, features, and results, but is by no means an in-depth evaluation of the product as we have simply not had much time with it.
Unit is serial number #48, and has versions 1.0 of all firmware.
LabRadar uses doppler radar technology to obtain the velocity of projectiles. It contains a transmitter and receiver to gather the data.
It can be triggered by the sounds of your shot, or by detecting the object moving downrange. This second mode is for airguns and bows that have no report, and in fact was necessary to trigger the unit when tested with our suppressed .22LR rifle.
Since doppler radar signals travel at the speed of light, it is very accurate under virtually all conditions.
The unit is positioned along side the shooter, to the side of the muzzle or bow, and aimed downrange with the display facing the user.
Upon firing the shot, the unit will continually track the projectile and report numerous velocities along its path. The data is immediately shown on the LCD display, and is also stored. While it shows up to 5 velocities per shot at various ranges on the display, it gathers and stores more (discussed later with example data provided).
The box contains LabRadar, Micro USB cable, User Guide, and Warranty Card (1yr). There are a number of accessories available for it such as various stands, a custom carry bag, and an external trigger. We're testing the base unit, as it comes.
Additionally, there are indicators in photos for bluetooth and other features that may be reserved for future use, or at least well ahead of the basic functions that I've had a chance to play with.
||6 AA Batteries or USB Powered, 800mA
||24.080 to 24.168GHz 8MHz channel steps
|Nominal Transmitting Power:
||7.6 degrees x 18.5 degrees (transmit)
||29cm x 26cm x 6cm (2.1lbs)
|Mounting Hole Thread:
||SD, SDHC Card 32Gb max
|Minimum Time Between Shots:
||+/-0.1% (+/-1m/s @ 1000m/s)
||-10C to 40C (14F-104F)
||Unit is Off
||Unit is On, not transmitting
||Unit is On, transmitting (armed)
||Unit is On, transmitting (will stop transmitting shortly if no trigger)
|1. Display / Parameters
||9. SD Card
||10. USB Connector / External Trigger
||11. Battery Compartment
||12. Sighting Notch
||13. LED Indicator
||14. Internal Acoustic Trigger Sensors (2x)
Configuration Menu Definitions
When the Display/Parameters button is pressed, the following menu options are available:
||Change the units used when displaying velocity measurements. The user can choose from the following units:
- Feet Per Second (fps)
- Yards Per Second (yps)
- Miles Per Hour (mph)
- Meters Per Second (m/s)
- Kilometers Per Hour (Km/h)
||Change the units used when displaying distance measurements. The user can choose from the following units:
- Feet (ft)
- Yards (yd)
- Meters (m)
||Change the units used to enter the weight of the projectile. The user can choose from the following units:
|Select Vel Range
||Select the velocity range for measurements by the LabRadar. Each velocity range is specified to weapons types as a reference:
- Rifle (984 fps and up)
- Handgun (246 fps to 1722 fps)
- Archery (66 fps to 738 fps)
|Set Proj Offset
||Input the maximum distance between the muzzle and the side of the radar to optimize the precision of the measurements. A shorter distance will provide more precise measurements.
||Specify the distances at which the velocity measurements are made: Dx1 to Dx5. The values can be selected in increments of one. After you select your first distance, press enter and the second distance can be selected. Repeat and select up to 5 different distances.
Note: the Power Factor is calculated using the velocity at Dx1. Set Dx1 according to the distance at which you want the PF to be calculated.
||Set the projectile's weight of the next shot. This value is used in some calculations (power factor, kinetic energy) and written on the file on the SD Card for future reference.
||Change the amount of time the radar stays in transmission before it stops transmitting. This count is reset each time a trigger is received. You can select between 10-600 seconds in increments of 10 seconds. During the last 10 seconds, the LED will begin to flash warning you the armed time is about to expire. If the LED turns blue and you wish to continue, press the arm button one time and it will return to the armed mode (orange). The longer the armed time, the faster the batteries will be depleted.
||Select the idle time before the screen is turned off. This is an energy saving feature. The device will continue to operate while the screen is off. Pressing a button or triggering the unit will wake up the screen.
||Select the source of the event triggering the measurement. The user can select from the following:
- Trigger : use the internal microphones built in the product's enclosure or an external trigger device
- Doppler : use the signal returned from the projectile to trigger the unit. This mode should be considered with large projectiles traveling at really slow speeds only. Do not use this mode for firearms, it will affect the precision of the measurements.
||Select the sensitivity of the system to detect the trigger event. The user can select level 1 (more sensitive) through level 5 (least sensitive). This setting affects:
- The internal acoustic trigger level
- The external trigger level
- The doppler trigger level
||Select the frequency of transmission of the radar. In order to use multiple radars close to each other, use a different frequency for each.
||Select the LabRadar transmitting power (standard or low). While standard power offers longer range, the low power mode can be useful and perform better on shorter ranges and on ranges where objects create reflections.
||Set the system date
||Set the system time
||View the radar's information (serial number, firmware versions)
Using the LabRadar
Turn on the LabRadar by pressing the power button (7). You will see a blue light (13) to indicate the unit is on. The series information will appear.
If you want to create a new series, press the series button (2) and confirm that you want to start a new series by pressing the enter button. If you want to continue recording shots in the existing series, skip the new series creation and continue to the next step.
To start recording shots, press the arm button (8) twice and the light will change from blue to orange. The radar is now armed and you are ready to shoot.
When you are finished shooting, you can press and hold the arm button (8) to return to the series information. The light will change from orange to blue. You can also wait for the arm time that you set to expire.
Aligning the Radar
To properly align the radar, look through the sighting notch at the top of the unit and aim the radar at your target.
The LabRadar should not be in front of your muzzle. It is acceptable to place your muzzle in front of the LabRadar. Ideally it should be in a position where you can see the screen from your shooting position.
Individual Shot Review
Individual Shot Review - In this view, you can look at the individual shot and it's results. As you can see in the image at the right, Shot 0001 of Series 0001 shows velocities in fps for the preset ranges of 0, 10, 25, and 50 yds (75 and 100 showed no results).
The range at which the LabRadar can detect a bullet varies with the size of the bullet. For a .22, it says 40-60yds is about the the maximum. This goes up to 80-100yds for a 30 caliber bullet, and 100-130yds for a 9mm.
As you can see in my results it lost it after 50yds which is exactly as expected. While the range is certainly a limitation, it is much more information than a traditional chronograph could provide.
Range is affected by projectile's diameter, tail design, shape, position in the air, and sub projectiles (sabots, wads, etc.).
Series Stats - In this view, you can see the series statistics.
- average velocity
- highest velocity
- lowest velocity
- extreme spread (lowest subtracted from highest)
- standard deviation (how spread out are the values, lower means most are very close to average)
- number of shots in the series
So as we've mentioned above, we did our initial testing using a .22LR suppressed rifle. Figured this would be the toughest challenge for the unit, so why not jump in.
Suppressed CZ 455 in .22LR used in testing
Ammunition used was Remington Target Standard Velocity .22 Long Rifle Round Nose 40gr bullet with a published speed of 1150fps. I have found these to be subsonic out of this rifle most of the time, and accurate.
Initial attempts to trigger with sound failed, even at the most sensitive level, so I had to resort to using the doppler trigger mode. This worked reliably, and I believe the data is good though it would require a traditional chrono to verify.
The data shown above in the screenshots represents a 5 shot series. As shown, we had velocities at various ranges, and the LabRadar picked up the tiny bullet at 50 yds which is impressive considering the size.
However, it records much more detail than what it shows in the display. This is saved to the SD card, and is available for download and further evaluation.
I have published a zip file of the folder written for this series here for those of you that want to dig in and see what it provides.
Briefly looking at the data, it saves it by series, so there is a folder for SR0001. Within that folder is a SR0001 Report.csv file, which has summary info for the series. It looks like this: