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Digiplot Radar Aid

Digiplot Radar Aid

Who sailed with one of these ? This is the Raytheon Digiplot (Marconi had the Predictor I believe). It automatically acquires echoes from any conventional radar display. Could cope with about 40 ships traces within a 12 mile radius. This one was on the bridge of Princess Cruises vessel Island Prince

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"Digiplot" was the first "ARPA", although I don't believe that term even existed yet at the time. Although I never had the opportunity to work with one of these on a ship, I do recall reading about it, and I actually saw one demonstrated by the manufacturer's representatives during the mid 1970s. At that time this was considered real "Buck Rogers" stuff.

I believe Digiplot was also very expensive. Only the most posh of passenger liners could afford them. For the rest of us the industry attitude seemed to be that, since we were being paid to plot traffic on the face of a radar screen with a grease pencil, then we should simply be content to do what we were being paid to do. Although I had been sailing as a Licensed Deck Officer since 1975, I never actually sailed on a ship equipped with an "ARPA" until 1985. Even on that ship, the captain still required all new deck officers to demonstrate to him that they could solve a radar problem on a paper plotting sheet, before he would allow them to use the ARPA!

Incidentally, if that last sounds a bit far fetched, I should point out that I sailed on U.S.-flag ships, most of which were veterans of WW-II, and which were notorious for being way behind the state of the rest of the world's maritime technology. In fact, the first ship I ever sailed on that was equipped with an ARPA was Lykes Line's M/V Cygnus, which had originally been built in Japan as the Rabenfels, for Germany's Hansa Line. Technologically, she was light-years ahead of anything built in the States at that time. I believe there is a photo of the Cygnus in this web site.
 

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Here is one on a Chevron tanker I sailed on in 77 :-

http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/19343/title/bridge-radar/cat/530
 

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I sailed with the Digiplot on the Cape Thistle circa 1984. The previous R/O had lots of problems with it
but the only problem I had was cooling and heating depending on ambient temperatures on the bridge.
I seem to remember that Digiplot went bankrupt and Jardines bought this on liquidation of the company.
There was no chance of spares if anything was required. But it operated quite well all things considered. An unusual accessory was a cassette which gave instructions on fault finding, unfortunately like so many fault finding instructions it was of limited use.
 

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