Labradar Tips And Tricks For Airgun Use
The HAM Team has been using the Labradar Doppler radar system for some time. So here are some Labradar tips and tricks that we have learned by experience. If you’re interested in determining the Ballistic Coefficients of your pellets and slugs, or understanding the performance of your airgun downrange, this is the way to go…
First a little background. The primary benefit of using Labradar is that it is able to record the velocity of a projectile at multiple distances downrange. Secondly, its accuracy is not dependent on light conditions or being exactly parallel to photo electric sensors – which can result in false readings. Both these things make it different from a traditional chronograph.
Generally we have found that Labradar performs better than the manufacturer claims. However, there are obviously some limitations to using it. We’ll cover these below.
HAM published a post on using Labradar back in 2017, when we first started using it. This post updates that with additional Labradar tips and tricks.
Labradar calculates FPS by recording radar waves as they bounce back to it from the pellet. For this reason, the radar waves can bounce back from a wall, ground or ceiling. That will cause incorrect FPS measurements. So…
Labradar cannot be used indoors. It’s best used outdoors in a “open field” environment. However we have found that it does work in a covered shooting range, even if located next to a vertical post or other roof support. (Than surprised us).
Also, it works best set on a shooting bench or tripod. Don’t sit low to the ground.
Usually, we’ll mount the unit on a Labradar Bench Mount and place that on the shooting table.
In order to work with an airgun, Labradar requires the use of an additional-cost microphone. This is supplied with a mounting bracket and plugs into the Labradar box. This microphone should be positioned just a little behind and to the side of the muzzle for correct operation.
We always use the foam wind guard that’s supplied with the microphone.
Before first use, you’ll need to set the Labradar unit to recognize the microphone as it doesn’t do this automatically. (Set the Trigger Source to “Trigger” instead of “Doppler” in the setup screen.
Use the sighting notch at the top of the unit to point Labradar in the correct direction – at the target, that is. This is pretty primitive and we experimented with using a short length of drinking straw in the notch as a “peep sight”. (Sophisticated, or what!)
But a little experience made sighting easier to do and we discarded the straw sighting system.
HAM testing has found that Labradar gives us valid data at different ranges depending on the size and type of pellet or slug.
For .177 caliber, we obtain good results out to 35 Yards. Some pellets record out to 40 yards as a maximum. That’s with lead pellets. Generally, we cannot obtain valid data from alloy pellets in .177 caliber. (That’s why the HAM Ballistic Coefficients database contains no .177 alloy pellets).
In .22 caliber, we have had good success out to 50 yards, even with alloy pellets. Larger calibers would almost certainly record at longer distances, however 50 yards is the maximum we’ve used to date. We have our Labradar set-up to display FPS at the muzzle and at 10-Yard increments out to 50 Yards downrange.
The unit’s screen displays data from the last shot. V0 represents Muzzle Velocity (941 FPS) in this case. V10 means 10 Yards, V20 is 20 Yards, etc. The pistol icon means that it’s set-up to record relatively low Muzzle Velocities between 246 and 1722 FPS – ideal for airgun use.
6. Recording And Manipulating Data.
Another huge benefit of Labradar is that it is able to record and store data onto a SD card. You don’t have to write it down or type the FPS numbers into a computer. (Although we do make written notes of the shot FPS data as that helps when analyzing the data later when multiple different pellets are being tested).
We use SD cards previously used for our digital cameras but replaced by higher capacity ones. As Labradar is generating data only, the file sizes are small and pretty-well any old SD card will have plenty of capacity.
The card can then be read using a PC. It appears as a .CSV file that can be opened, manipulated and organized using Microsoft Excel. Here’s how the raw .CSV file displays…
The columns headed Ke are an automatic calculation of Kinetic Energy using the Projectile Weight input by the user. Because we’re constantly testing different weight pellets, we make Kinetic Energy calculations in templates set-up in a spreadsheet (rather than resetting the Labradar unit each time) and so use only the first seven columns of data.
Unfortunately this Labradar output is next to impossible to open using a Mac 🙁
As HAM is produced using Apple computers, we find it necessary to load the .CSV data into Excel using a PC. It’s then saved as an .XLS file and exported to a Mac. The Mac is able to read the .XLS file and we then manipulate the data using the Apple Numbers spreadsheet program.
Trust us, that’s the easiest way to use Labradar data on Mac!
7. Power Supply.
Labradar can be powered using six common AA batteries. This does work, however our testing sessions usually last several hours and this eats batteries fast! So, we prefer to power Labradar either by using a separate battery pack…
… or, better, using a cellphone power charger connected to a 110 Volt electricity supply.
With the rapidly-increasing interest in airgun BCs, for both pellets and slugs, more and more people will be using Labradar in future. So that’s the HAM Team’s Labradar tips and tricks. We hope that you find them useful!