Labradar... to buy or not to buy
I've been kicking around the idea of getting a Labradar for some time but haven't pursued it as I already own a Pact Pro that has served me well over the years.
I have to admit that getting the Pact set up and running can be troublesome, but once it is in place it works very well. Another plus for the Pact is its onboard print capability. Not that I need that function that much, but it seems every time I set the thing up in a public venue, I draw a crowd of folks all asking me if I could chrono this or that for them. Its nice to shoot a string or two, print off the results and sent the folks away smiling. Not currently owning a lab radar unit I long for the ease of setup that it seems to enjoy, plus the multi range report that gives you all the extra data points for figuring BC's etc. Having to purchase an add on part to enable shooting airguns thru the Lab radar is a strike against it. Anyways I've been granted a kitchen pass from the war dept to buy myself whatever I like for Xmas :). So thinking very seriously about getting it, specially since they're on sale right now.
Thank for reading, and please respond with your opinion if you like.
I've spent several long sessions working with the LabRadar. It doesn't really have the "ease of setup" that you might think. Triggering with some airguns can be a problem (sound triggered), and since you're shooting along side the radar beam, it doesn't really start collecting data until the pellet is well away from the gun. I think that the first reading is at 10 yds. Muzzle velocities are extrapolated from that. Here's what LabRadar says about indoor ranges: "Labradar will work in most indoor ranges. You will need at least 50 feet since the beam is quite small at those distances. It may not work if you are shooting in a tunnel or tube as the radar will be reflecting off of those surfaces." That 50 ft minimum would make it a non-starter for my personal use, since I mostly do testing on my 10M (33ft) indoor range.
I have not used Labradar itself but I have used many multi thousand dollar doppler radars which work in the same way. What Doug Wall says is key, setting up one of these radars is critical. In my work I was using multiple radars sets and hence had direct comparisons from the same shot. Getting two radars of the Labradar type to agree was extremely difficult. Small changes in position or alignment of the radar set can give large changes in the value of the muzzle velocity given. Of course with one radar you will not know if it is giving the correct value or not.
I have also not been very impressed by some of the analised data I have seen from people who have used Labradar which has given unrealistic drag curves. This is almost certainly due to the curve fit routines built in as I have seen similar problems with other fixed head doppler radars.
The main problem appeared to be the extrapolation of the data points back to the gun to obtain the muzzle velocity. The value given would vary, sometimes quite markedly, depending on the algorithym used and the number of data points obtained by the radar unit. I do not know what curve fit the Labradar uses for its extrapolation.