The portable Dragon Radar was designed, and built by Bulma to help locate Dragon Balls. Although the Dragon Team's Dragon Radar was developed by Bulma, Bulma is not the only one who developed the concept of a Dragon Radar, as Emperor Pilaf, as well as the Red Ribbon Army, possess Global Dragon Radars that are implied to have been invented before Goku and Bulma met each other. Dragon Balls emit a faint electromagnetic pulse, which Dragon Radars can detect. The Dragon Radar developed by Bulma points arrows in the directions of nearby Dragon Balls. Pressing the button on the top can cause the view to zoom out and show a more detailed map of the area.
Under certain circumstances the Dragon Radar can't detect Dragon Balls, as shown in Dragon Ball when Pilaf puts a Dragon Ball he found on a Dragon Radar-proof box, and in Dragon Ball Super when Emperor Pilaf's radar can't locate the Dragon Balls because they're hidden inside a certain type of metal which interferes with the electromagnetic pulse.
The Dragon Radar is first shown in Dragon Ball right before Bulma meets Goku on Mount Paozu. She uses it during their first adventure to find the Dragon Balls, after which she gives the radar to Goku so that he can retrieve his grandfather's Four-Star Dragon Ball. After the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament, Goku accidentally breaks the Dragon Radar on the Muscle Tower, so he goes to West City in order to find Bulma and repair it. He breaks it again while fighting General Blue in Penguin Village. During his search for a capable mind to fix the radar, Goku meets Arale Norimaki from Dr. Slump, who asked her father/creator Senbei Norimaki to fix it, but Senbei could not make heads nor tails of it. Senbei's genius baby boy Turbo fixed the radar while nobody else was looking, but General Blue steals it, so Turbo builds a new one using material from Senbei's airplane.
Before the Fortuneteller Baba Saga, Emperor Pilaf creates a box that disrupts the electromagnetic pulse given off by the Dragon Balls, which obliged Goku to visit Fortuneteller Baba in order to find Pilaf's Dragon Ball and revive Bora.
In Dragon Ball Super, Emperor Pilaf uses a Dragon Radar to find the Dragons Balls, which were on Bulma's ship during her birthday party. Pilaf later uses the Dragon Radar again and manage to gather six Dragon Balls before Sorbet and Tagoma decide to take control. They use the Dragon Radar to find the final Dragon Ball so they can revive Frieza. At least a year after the battle with Frieza, Bulma gives Vegeta the Dragon Radar to find the Dragon Balls to summon Shenron to look for the final Super Dragon Ball before she creates a Super Dragon Radar.
In Dragon Ball Super: Broly, two weak Frieza Force soldiers are sent by Kikono on a covert mission to steal the Dragon Radar from Bulma's lab at the Capsule Corporation on Frieza's orders. Frieza made sure to send soldiers with low power levels to prevent his men from being detected. The two soldiers managed to find not only the Radar but discovered Bulma had already collected six Dragon Balls. After learning of their success the soldiers were tasked with finding the last Dragon Ball on the Ice Continent as Frieza wanted to wait until all seven had been found before beginning another invasion of Earth. However, Bulma, Vegeta, and Goku are alerted to the theft by Trunks and by reviewing the surveillance footage they learn of the Frieza Force's involvement leading Bulma, Vegeta, Goku, and Whis to head to the Ice Continent to stop them.
In Dragon Ball GT, the Dragon Radar is assimilated by the robot Giru, giving him the ability to find the Black Star Dragon Balls for Goku and the others. Unfortunately, the usage of the Dragon Radar has severe consequences; due to the massive overuse of the Dragon Balls, the negative energy within them accumulated and resulted in the birth of the Shadow Dragons.
In Super INFINITY, Bulma uses the Dragon Radar after she meets Goku on Mount Paozu during their first adventure to find the Dragon Balls, after which she gives the radar to Goku so that he can retrieve his grandfather's Four-Star Dragon Ball. Because the old one in Goku's hands, Bulma created a new radar for herself.
The Sailor Guardians are aware of the usage of the Dragon Radar has severe consequences; due to the massive overuse of the Dragon Balls, the negative energy within them accumulated and resulted in the birth of the Shadow Dragons. After Sailor Moon cleansed the Dragon Balls to prevent the release of the Shadow Dragons, the negative energy were extracted and used by the Demon Gods to create the Dark Dragon Balls.
- Main article: Global Dragon Radar
Bulma's Dragon Radar is not the only device capable of locating Dragon Balls. Throughout the series, many other devices that work much the same way are also seen. One often seen is a Global Dragon Radar.
Red Ribbon Army
During their hunt for the Dragon Balls, the Red Ribbon Army have their own version of the Dragon Radar, kept in the Red Ribbon Army Headquarters. While this radar contained rough drawings of the continents on the planet to assist in knowing where to look, the radar contained two fatal shortcomings. The first was that it was not portable. As such, soldiers looking for the balls had to rely on instruction given to them by the HQ, rather than being able to search on their own. The second, and perhaps most crippling, flaw that this version had was its inability to zoom in. This effectively meant that the radar could only give the dragon ball's general location within a 100-kilometer radius, whereas Bulma's dragon radar could be adjusted to focus on much smaller areas until the precise location of the ball was pinned down. As such, large groups of soldiers have to be dispatched to the area involved, resulting in many man-hours of backbreaking labor and invading of innocents' homes.
Emperor Pilaf eventually built his own, superior Global Dragon Radar version. It is shaped like a globe in order to minimize map distortion. It is installed in his floating airship, and is able to show the Dragon Balls' exact location on the planet.
In Dragon Ball Super, Pilaf has his own handheld Dragon Radar modelled after Bulma's Dragon Radar design. Unfortunately, Bulma had collected the Dragon Balls and developed a Dragon Radar-proof security system on her cruise ship the Princess Bulma to protect them. However, Trunks unplugged the security system to show Goten the top bingo prize is a wish from Shenron causing Pilaf's Radar to detect the Dragon Balls. Unfortunately, Trunks plugs the security system back in, causing Shu and Mai to think Pilaf is imaging the Dragon Radar detected something apparently having little faith in Pilaf's Dragon Radar. However, Pilaf's Dragon Radar is apparently as good as Bulma's and during the Golden Frieza Saga, it was used by the Pilaf Gang to find the Dragon Balls for Sorbet and Tagoma so they could revive Frieza, leading to the tyrant's resurrection and Frieza's revenge.
In Super INFINITY, Pilaf has his own handheld Dragon Radar modelled after Bulma's Dragon Radar design. Unfortunately, Pilaf loses this radar to Cheelai, he built another radar.
Other Z Fighter Radars
Along with radars invented by villains, the Z Fighters also had many different Dragon Radars. Although these radars did not differ in form or function from one another, they were still different items. In fact, the Radar used in the majority of Dragon Ball Z is actually not the one Bulma introduced in "The Secret of the Dragon Balls" (that one having been stolen by General Blue, and given to Colonel Violet and later to General Copper).
- Turbo Norimaki created a new radar for Goku when the old one was stolen by General Blue.
- Bulma created a new radar at Master Roshi's prompting during the King Piccolo Saga.
- In the movies Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn, Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon, and the beginning of the Shadow Dragon Saga, the Z Fighters split up into seven groups, each tasked with finding one Dragon Ball. It is presumed that Bulma made Dragon Radars for each of them, otherwise, they would not be able to find the Dragon Balls so quickly.
- Sailor Mercury's Mercury Goggle had the same function as the Dragon Radar.
Video game appearances
Dragon Ball: Xenoverse
The Time Patrol have access to their own Dragon Radar, used by the Future Warrior in certain Parallel Quests where they must collect several Dragon Balls and carry them to a waiting Time Machine while fighting off various enemies (from PTO soldiers to Cell Jr.) trying to steal them. In the GT Pack 2 DLC, in the alternate history of Age 790 (GT Era), Giru detects Eis Shenron's 3-Star Dragon Ball shortly after they (Giru, Goku, & Pan) encounter his brother the 4-Star Dragon, Nuova Shenron. Giru runs off with Pan following him, confused when he states he has detected another Dragon Ball.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
The Time Patrol continue to use their own Dragon Radar which is used by the Future Warrior (Xenoverse 2) in certain Parallel Quests. It also plays an important role in Guru's House Quests where the Future Warrior uses it to locate the Namekian Dragon Balls to protect them from the invading Galactic Frieza Army. In Xenoverse 2, Dragon Balls after found more out in the open and do not appear inside building or behind obstacles as they were in Xenoverse (presumably this was to make it less frustrating for players who fail are had a hard time realizing Dragon Balls could be hidden within parts of a stage in Xenoverse). The range of Time Patrol's Dragon Radar can be changed to show how many are in the general area or precisely pinpoint a Dragon Ball's location (just like it can in the original series).
In Parallel Quest 44: "Dragon Balls of the Future", the Power Radar used by Future Android 16 is shown to be capable of detecting the energy signature produced by Dragon Balls allowing it to act as a primitive Dragon Radar. In this parallel future timeline, the Earth's Dragon Balls are mysteriously restored without Future Kami and are detected by Future 16 who informs his companions Future 17 & Future 18 who decide to collect the Dragon Balls and make a wish. The Future Trunks of this timeline, though unsure how the Dragon Balls can exist in his timeline without Kami is determined to prevent the Androids from misusing the Dragon Balls. The Future Warrior can assist Future Trunks by using the Dragon Radar to locate the Dragon Balls before the Androids. Additionally, the Super Dragon Radar appears as a non-functional accessory.
Dragon Ball Fusions
In Dragon Ball Fusions, Bulma creates a robot named CCFDR49 "Ziku" who is capable of detecting both ki and the energy signatures of Dragon Balls, allowing it to function as both a Scouter and Dragon Radar. Like the original Dragon Radar, a blip on Ziku's bottom screen will show the Dragon Balls location.
- Dragon Ball: Shenron no Nazo
- Famicom Jump: Hero Retsuden
- Gokuden series
- The Legacy of Goku series
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3
- Dragon Ball Z: Sagas
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2
- Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai - Another Road
- Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World
- Dragon Ball: Origins
- Dragon Ball: Revenge of King Piccolo
- Dr. Slump: Arale-Chan
- Dragon Ball: Origins 2
- Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi
- Dragon Ball RPG: Shōnen-hen
- Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z (equipable item)
- Super Infinity
- In the Dragon Ball episode 84 entitled "Rivals and Arrivals", the monk running the registration for the World Martial Arts Tournament is looking at a clock that closely resembles the radar.
- The Dragon Radar in the Live Action Korean film is an old handheld LCD game. Possibly a Nintendo Game and Watch.
- In 15th episode of the French anime Dofus: The treasures of Kerub, the titular character briefly brings up a Dragon Radar that he has in his possession.
- The iPhone/iPod Touch application named DRadar emulates the Dragon Radar.