Translate

Monday, 1 January 2018

JRC Radar CX Bite Alarm Review

"As in all my reviews I'd like to start by stating that I'm in no way connected to JRC Tackle. This is an independent write up that I hope might help you out if you've been thinking about purchasing the JRC Radar CX bite alarm."

I have a real soft spot for bite alarms and through the years I've built up a rather impressive collection, I use them all and will continue to do so. I go through stages, sometimes I get completely stuck on my old DXR's, and as quick as the wind changes I'll find myself digging out my old TLBs or Micron SX's. The main aspect I always look for is reliability, this is far more important to me than endless fancy features that, most of the time, I never really use. I've always swerved the latest fashions and 'buzz' items, opting more for what I personally like the look of, both names and brands really don't mean a great deal to me. Regarding bite alarms, I think it's very easy to get blinkered by the mainstream companies such as Delkim and Fox, that many just don't consider looking elsewhere. I find that overtime 'in any industry, not just angling', the mainstream companies can get complacent with their standards, but they know that on 'name' and past 'reputation' alone', whatever they bring out they're still going to shift shed loads.
  
This is where I feel that it can pay off looking at what the smaller companies have on offer, they've got something to prove so it's within their interest to bring out something of quality. I've always brushed my eyes over the JRC bite alarm range and the one feature that always caught my eye was the LED bar, I loved the idea of the LED moving in the direction of the line. Would this feature help me catch more fish? - of course not, but it's something very different to anything I'd seen before and I genuinely really liked it. The thing that always put me off buying them was the shape. However when I saw that they'd released a new model, the Radar CX, I was instantly taken with them. Visually they're very understated, and I really liked their unique design. The CX range are slim, sleek and very clean looking, I understand the way a bite alarm looks comes down to personal taste, but for me they ticked all the boxes. 

The RRP on a single head is £49.99 but if you scout around you can get them much cheaper. Both mine, brand new cost £23.99 from ebay and for that price you get one hell of an alarm, even for the original price I believe you're getting a product that equals those of double, even triple the cost. So where do I start? - firstly, the alarm comes with its very own hard case that slips off and on with ease. On closer inspection of the alarm itself, it's all very minimal, on the back you have an 'easy to access' compartment that houses a single square 9V battery. Once the battery is in, the head feels very solid in the hands, it doesn't feel cheap and tacky.

It has volume, tone and sensitivity, the knobs are large, perfect for those with fat fingers, and they're very easy to turn. Its on/off switch is located on the bottom left. Switching it to the right turns the alarm on, you'll get 3 bleeps and the LED will travel upwards. This indicates that the alarm is now functioning and ready for use. If you click the switch to the left, this puts it into 'manual night function', meaning that the LED strip omits a softer light, this setting makes it easier on the eyes when using it in the dark. Having now spent a lot of time out on the bank using them, I've had ample opportunity to mess about with the settings. There's an array of different tones ranging from the very low, through the mid, right up to the high range, the volume can be set to near silent or cranked right up if need be. Taking into account that it's a roller wheel system, the sensitivity is very versatile and more than you'll ever need. On its most sensitive I've found that it detects the smallest of liners and, having recently been braving the banks in the current gale force winds, I've had no issues with false bleeps when using the lower regions of the sensitivity settings.

Slim & Solid

Moving up to the top section of the alarm, you have the LED strip housed on the left, it's very easy to see and even on bright days it's very clear. I've found on some alarms the brightness of the LED can be effected negatively in the sunlight, this is not the case with the CX. The little 'groove' that holds your rod is nice and snug and it has small rubber pads built in, these help to grip your rod. One downside I'd like to mention is the use of snag ears, due to the shape of the alarm around the battery housing, it's not possible to use snag ears with them. To be honest though, you'd need to be fishing locked up and super tight to either your left or right to stand any chance of the rod being pulled off, I personally don't think you need snag ears with these alarms. Moving onto the Radars sound, the clues in the name, it literally sounds like a radar or a sonar blip. I haven't heard another bite alarm like it, for me this is yet another aspect that really separates the CX from other alarms out there. The other thing that I'm really impressed with is the clarity. The sound is super clear, to get this clarity JRC state the alarm has a "Magneto-dynamic speaker with digital amplifier for superior sound quality". I'm not quite sure what that means but I can confirm that the sound is super clear and clean.

Blue - Red - Green - Orange
So now I'd like to move onto the finer details of the alarms indication - bare with me, there's a lot to explain and I didn't realize they were so technical.

Firstly, when the line pulls forward the alarm will sound and the LED will move in unison upwards. If it's just a single bleep, the LED will shoot to the top and stay fixed for 20 seconds. When you get a small single 'drop-back' the bleep is a semitone lower and the LED drops to the bottom, it will then flash for 20 seconds. When you get a full blown take forwards, the LED travels from the bottom to the top and repeats. When you get a full blown drop back the LED travels from the top to the bottom and repeats. It might sound all a little 'overkill' but with all these little features combined, it gives you a very clear indication of what's going on. To my knowledge I'm not aware of another bite alarm on the market that communicates things in such detail. Truth be told, you don't necessarily need all this, I've always said that you know full well when you've got a carp on the end of your line, but it's all very impressive and well thought out. There's a short video below to demonstrate what I've explained in this paragraph.

Alarm Specifications

Designed, engineered & tested in the UK
Traveling colored LEDs
20 second latching LED
Step-less adjustable volume, tone, and sensitivity
Magneto-dynamic speaker with digital amplifier for superior sound quality
Housing made from high impact ABS material
Range of 150m+
Manual nightlight function
All weather proof, double sealed electronic parts
Long battery life
Rubber inserts to keep the rod from sliding
Low battery warning
Operates on 1 x 9V Battery (not included)
Manual power on-off
Power out socket
Rolling code ID function
Prevents interference by other alarms on the same lake


            

Moving away from the alarm itself, another huge advantage to the CX range is the capability of being able to use a wireless receiver. JRC have designed one dedicated to the Radar CX alarm range. The RRP on this is £34.99 but if you scout around you can find it cheaper, I purchased mine for £26.99. The unit is small, compact and solid in the hands once the batteries are installed, it runs off 3x AAA. It's capable of pairing up to 4 alarms. Just like the CX heads, it's very understated, it has a single volume knob that's very easy to adjust. The on and off switch is located on the top of the unit, if you flick the switch to the left the receiver will beep three times and all four LEDs will flash in unison. This indicates that it's ready for use, on 'volume' mode. Switching it to the right sets it to 'vibration' mode, all four LEDs will flash once to indicate this, the receiver will vibrate three times in unison. When it's set to 'vibration', no sound comes out the speaker. It's very easy to pair up with your CX heads, this is done using the small button that's located on the top right of the unit.

Radar CX Multi LED Receiver

The volume settings are very versatile, it can be set to silent so no sound comes out at all, however the LEDs will signal any occurrence. On those really windy days when alerts can be hard to hear. You can crank the volume level right up, it's highest setting is really loud. The receiver has the same sound technology in it as the alarms so it's super clear and crisp on all volume settings. In regards to indication, I've found it to be spot on. When you get a forward take the tone is high and the LED flashes at a super fast rate. When you get a drop back the tone is low and the receiver gives off a sound that's very reminiscent of an old mobile phone ringtone. When you turn the alarm off, the receiver will notify you with a short sustained 'bleep' followed by a flashing LED. All in all it's a great addition to the CX range.

Receiver Specifications

Designed, engineered & tested in the UK
Traveling colored LEDs
20 second latching LED
Step-less adjustable volume
Magneto-dynamic speaker
Digital amplifier for superior sound quality
Housing made from high impact ABS material
Range of 150m+
Manual nightlight function
All weather proof, double sealed electronic parts
Long battery life
Operates on 1 x 9V Battery (not included)
Manual power on-off
Power out socket
Rolling code ID function
Prevents interference by other alarms on the same lake


Finally I'd like to mention that the alarms have a 2.5mm power out socket. This is so you can use the JRC Radar DS illuminated swingers. I cannot comment on these because I haven't purchased a set. I'm still using my trusted Matrix swinger arms, however, if the design and build quality of the CX range is anything to go by then I'm sure the illuminated swingers would be a reliable edition to your Radar 'weaponry'. So to sum up, I can't recommend these alarms enough, they're spot on in both theory and practice and I have no doubt that I'm going to be using them for many years to come. I've tried to find faults but to be totally honest there aren't any. 

             

As mentioned before, bite alarms, as with every item of tackle, always comes down to personal preference, one mans gold is another mans tin, it's all down to the individual. If you're an angler that follows the fashions and has to be seen with the latest 'cool' product, then these alarms obviously aren't for you. However if you have your own mind, want something different, and don't care about trends, then the JRC Radar CX range is definitely something you should look into. For the price they really are mind boggling, they're high spec and provide you with more than most alarms at twice the price. I really feel like JRC have nailed it with this product. This might just be the 'coolest uncool bite alarm' to hit the market for quite sometime. The choice is yours but it's a 10/10 from me.