Labradar
Labradar chronograph.

This report covers:

  • The problem
  • What is it?
  • Not new
  • Out of stock
  • Lots to tell
  • Setup time
  • Two things at once
  • Batteries
  • Operation
  • Airgun trigger
  • Sighting in the chronograph
  • No lights required
  • How close can you be?
  • What do I think?
  • My sister

Today we start looking at the Labradar chronograph from Independent Solutions. Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry them yet and I don’t know if they will, but I bought one after a frustrating day at my rifle range.

Several months ago (August?) reader Vana2 (Hank from Canada) told me about his new Labradar chronograph. It’s a Doppler radar that requires no special lighting, no skyscreens to get shot and nothing that has to be in front of the firing line.

The problem

I was at the range one rainy day recently and all shooters on line were under the metal roof that protects us from the weather. That is a problem for me. My Shooting Chrony (no longer being made) has skyscreens (photo cells) that look up at a uniform light source. When the shadow of a bullet or pellet passes overhead, screen one starts a clock and screen two stops it. The time the clock runs determines the velocity of the projectile.

When I’m indoors I shine a 500 watt photo light at the white ceiling to give this light. When I am outdoors, like I was at my range, the skyscreens have to be pointed up at the sky. A cloudy day is best because the light the screens “see” is very uniform. It was raining this day, so the clouds were there. But I had to place the skyscreens about 12 feet in front of my shooting bench to clear the roof. I used to have an Alpha Master Shooting Chrony that had a 15-foot cord from the skyscreens to the display/control box. I could run everything from the shooting bench, and the only danger was shooting the chrony box and skyscreens that were downrange. Well that chrony got shot up and finally failed.

I tried to find another Alpha Master unit on eBay (they are only available used) but no luck. So on this day my entire replacement Alpha Shooting Chrony box had to be downrange (by just a few feet) and I had to call the entire range cold to walk out to reset it after each string of 10 shots. I was shooting the .30-caliber Gauntlet, so any shot that hit the box this time would destroy it instantly. I also had to read the chrony’s display screen with binoculars.

This was not a good day for me! So when I got Hank’s email and went to the Labradar website I saw what I thought was the answer to my problem. Was it? We shall see.

What is it?

The Labradar is a Doppler radar chronograph that emits microwave pulses downrange and then receives their reflected pulses off the tail of the projectile. It calculates the velocity of the projectile from the delay in the reflected pulse. Actually I think it determines the velocity from the incoming frequency change, which the Doppler effect would cause (think train whistle going away from you).

The transmitter and receiver are in one box that either sits on a stand on your shooting bench or sits on a tripod nearby. No more going downrange.

Not new

This Doppler radar chronograph idea isn’t new. The FX Radar Pocket Wireless Chronograph, along with others, uses the same technology. But I tested the FX for you and found some problems mounting it on certain airguns (multi-pumps, for instance). Also that unit is limited to a top velocity that’s below where many PCPs shoot these days. The Labradar is a stand-alone unit and it works from 65 to 3,900 f.p.s. That is where I need to be.

Out of stock

Like the automobile industry, the Labradar was out of stock for many months because of the lack of computer chips. It came back in stock in early November and I got one of the first from that batch. While I waited I saw two used ones sell on eBay. One sold for almost $900 and the second went for $995. There was also a “buy it now” offer of a new boxed unit for $1,150, but that listing was taken down when the units started shipping. I think the person selling that one still has a lot of toilet paper in his garage from hoarding during the pandemic scare.

The new price of just the Labradar chronograph is $625 at the date of this publishing. It will go up because the demand is high.

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Lots to tell

As much as there is to this unit I’m not going to get it all into this one report. I am going to tell you the big things that I found important in today’s report.

Setup time

It takes me about two minutes to set up my Shooting Chrony Alpha model indoors. When I unpacked the Labradar it took me 30 minutes of reading the manual and connecting things for the first time. The next day I set it up a second time and, since I was somewhat familiar with the unit, it only took 10 minutes. That time will no doubt decrease over time but it will never go down to two minutes because the Labradar has more going on.

Time is very important to me because I have to knock out a blog every day. There is no time to waste.

Two things at once

Once the Labradar is set up, though, it starts repaying me in time. Because I can now shoot groups and also chronograph at the same time. Each time I change pellets there are some computer screens I need to update on the unit, but the overall time savings is a big plus.

Batteries

The unit runs on 6 AA batteries or on a 10,000 mAh rechargeable battery pack. That’s a no-brainer. I bought the pack and charged it right away. I suppose I can carry 6 AA batteries as a backup but hopefully I’ll never need them.

Labradar battery
The battery pack has an LED screen that tells you how much juice remains. The chronograph is very sparing of electricity.

Operation

Once the unit is set up and powered on, you have to arm the radar. A blue power light changes to orange to let you know the trigger is set (unit armed). The radar is triggered by the muzzle blast of your gun. There are specific instructions where to put the muzzle, relative to the chronograph so the unit will be triggered. You can set the length of time this trigger remains set (it draws more power when armed) and ten seconds before it shuts down it blinks.

Airgun trigger

I suppose big bore airguns are loud enough to trigger the unit, but most smallbores are not. There is an optional microphone that’s used when you shoot airguns. It sits on the side of the chronograph and so far I have found it easy to position it within 3-4 inches of the muzzle of the guns I have tested. They were the Webley Senior and the Crosman 1322 on 4 and 6 pumps. I only lost one shot out of 12, so far and that one was my fault.

Labradar airgun trigger
The airgun “trigger” is a microphone that fits on either side of the chronograph.

Sighting in the chronograph

The chronograph must be sighted in to work. Otherwise it won’t be “looking” at your projectile as it goes downrange. And this brings up a huge issue.  The startup guide says to make sure there are no obstacles on either side of your line of fire. They say to clear a path of 5 meters on either side of your line of fire. But that is for the outside. I wanted to shoot through a path that is lot narrower than that and, from the picture below, you can see that it worked. I would be shooting through a 30-inch doorway into my garage that is about 20 inches wide because it’s on an angle from the place where I shoot. 

Labradar sighting notch
Sight through that notch and center the target in it. That points the radar into the projectile’s path.

Labradar line of sight
Yep — that was my line of sight. The arrow points to the bullseye target that’s about 25 feet away. The Labradar had no problems seeing the pellet in flight because nothing downrange moved like the leaves on trees would  outdoors. The screen is too bright for the camera to pick up anything. Notice the airgun trigger microphone on the unit’s lower left.

The unit did pick up all my shots! I only lost one shot out of 12 that I fired and that one was lost because stupid BB had not armed the unit before firing.

I didn’t intend for this to happen but the Labradar informed me that my Webley Senior had fired an RWS Superdome at 395 f.p.s. Most went out at 350-355 f.p.s., so I knew the chronograph was reading as it was supposed to. I may need to test the Webley Senior again.

No lights required

Because of the microwave Doppler pulse, there is no need for special lighting when using the Labradar. This solves another of my major concerns.

How close can you be?

The Quick setup guide says you can be as close as 15 meters from your target and 25 meters is better. I have already shot at 25 feet, which is 7.62 meters. The Labradar isn’t something you can set up in three feet like I used to when I chronographed in my office. But I find that the instructions are on the cautious side.

What do I think?

This chronograph is not for everyone. It’s expensive and airgunners will need additional equipment. But it did solve several of my most pressing issues.

But we aren’t anywhere near finished with this report. There is still a lot to say and it will be coming up in future reports.

My sister

My sister is going into the hospital in Tulsa for a heart valve operation next Tuesday morning. It’s not open heart surgery, but it’s still a serious operation. I will drive up there on Monday to be with her before and after the operation. I should return late Thursday evening if all goes well. There will be no new blogs from me on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week. I’m asking the old hands to watch things as I will only be able to look in from time to time.