SAR LabRadar Review

By Dean Roxby

It was a chance encounter with the engineer behind the intriguing LabRadar chronograph that led to this review. At SHOT 2017 I spoke with Mr. Guy Desbiens, the president of Infinition Inc., the maker of the LabRadar unit.

Marketed under the LabRadar brand name, it is made and assembled in Canada by Infinition Inc. Based in Trois Rivières, Quebec, Canada, Infinition has over 20 years’ experience with ballistic instrumentation radar systems for military users. Now this same Doppler radar technology is available to regular folks. (The Doppler effect is named after Austrian physicist Christian Doppler. It refers to the change in frequency of a constant signal or wave. The change in tone of a siren or train whistle as it passes by is a common example of the Doppler effect.)

The first thing I noticed as I unpacked the chronograph was that it is solid. It is molded from thick plastic, giving it a beefy feel rather than a flimsy sensation. Perhaps this is due to their military background.

There is a detailed 24-page manual included, and while the unit is simple to use once your settings are chosen, I would recommend that you read it. You will need to get familiar with the various buttons, then choose your preferences. These include velocity units (FPS, yards per second, MPH, M per second, or Km per hour), distance units, weight units, ranging distance, bullet weight, and so on. The same manual can be downloaded from the website as well (http://mylabradar.com).

The real beauty of this technology is its ease of set-up. Once you have entered all your parameters into the unit, it is simply positioned along side your firearm, pointed downrange, armed, and you are good to go.

The unit is triggered by the muzzle blast, so you will need to position it about one foot to the side of your muzzle. For airguns, there is an optional microphone available. For archery, set the Trigger Source parameter to Doppler. The reflected signal acts as the trigger in this case.

It transmits in the K-band, similar to police speed-trap radar. There are 12 different channels (24.080 to 24.168 GHz, in 8MHz steps). This is so that if there are other units in use at your range, you can avoid crosstalk interference issues.

As the bullet enters the area of microwave radar signal transmission, some of the radar waves are reflected back from the base of the bullet. As the bullet is moving, the frequency of the reflected signal is changed slightly. This allows the LabRadar to compute the velocity. Interestingly, it can do this over various distances. In fact, you can select five different distances to receive data from. I found myself grinning and thinking, “This is cool!”

The effective range is dependent on the bullet diameter, bullet base shape (boat-tail versus flat base) and power setting. The website suggests that .177 pellets can be tracked to about 30 yards, a .30 cal bullet to around 100 yards and a 9mm or larger slug to about 130 yards.

As expected, the output and range are far less than the military units. One model shown on the Infinition website claims to be able to track a 5.56mm bullet at up to 1000M. This is primarily due to the transmission power. The power on the commercial civilian LabRadar version is limited by government regulations.

The velocity range is 65 to 3900 fps, in three ranges. It must be noted that if you are in the wrong velocity range, it will not record the velocity. Fortunately, there is sufficient overlap between the three ranges to deal with ammo that straddles the crossover point. Perhaps future versions will do away with the need to pre-select the appropriate velocity range by having one continuous one.

The data collected is recorded on an SD card, or its built-in memory. The SD card allows you to transfer your data to a home computer later. A USB cord is included for the same purpose. This allows you to create MS Excel spreadsheets for various loads and guns. It also provides High, Low, Extreme Spread and Standard Deviation data. By entering the bullet weight, it will give you Power Factor and Kinetic Energy also. This “ain’t” your daddy’s chronograph!

In fact, the advertising on the company website and at its booth at SHOT proudly proclaims that this is not a chronograph. Well, of course it is … What it is not is an optical shadow sensor chronograph. Unfortunately, the optical shadow type can be prone to errors due to misalignment and changing light conditions. The optical shadow type also requires that the bullet pass over a fairly small zone to be recorded. The LabRadar is not concerned with any of these issues.

Simple set-up, no need for diffuser screens or auxiliary lights, a large shooting window and some great additional software data make this a winner. The suggested price is US $559.95.


This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N6 (July 2017)
and was posted online on May 19, 2017


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