Annual Radar Detector Test 2003
      This year we returned to El Paso, TX for our Annual Detector Test 2003, June 20-22. Things have changed since last year. New radar /laser guns have appeared and two new detector / detectors are in the market.
      Speed Measurement Laboratories, Inc. (SML) is uniquely positioned, serving as a consultant for radar / laser gun makers while maintaining strong ties to the detector industry. Both trust SML. This gives SML immediate access to new enforcement technologies. SML works on fact, not rumors or assumptions! During the year, SML was certified as a radar and laser instructor conducting certification classes for law enforcement SML travelled to China and Brazil assessing the status of speed enforcement. Upcoming trips are to India, Pakistan, Spain, and Mexico. The majority of SML's time is spent, not testing detectors, but developing radar and laser based products for public safety. See http://www.speedlabs.com/. Our detector tests are different as we invite detector makers, radar / laser gun manufacturers, and all testing is conducted by certified police officers, not SML. All detector participants pay SML the same testing fee. Field testing is expensive! This year we had 8 police officers and and 5 SML staff for three days. Personnel costs alone exceeded $5,000.00. Detectors makers want to see how their retail production models perform against the most current radar and laser guns. Radar and laser gun makers want to know what they are facing from the detectors. Off shore detector makers desire to field test their pre-production, engineering prototypes. They don't have current radar and laser guns. We do not report pre-production units. This year we tested six such models from Korea, Taiwan, and China.


How We Test
      Operation of radar and laser guns during field testing is conducted by certified police officers. This eliminates any hint of bias. Officers are instructed to operate the radar and laser guns as they do each day in Radar & Laser Testingissuing speeding tickets. All radar and laser guns are operated in accordance with operational guidelines of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). All radar and laser guns are approved by the IACP for sale and use by law enforcement (theiacp.org). Police officers and SML staff ride in each test vehicle to report and to verify the results of each detector's performance. Detector maker representatives ride in each test vehicle to make sure their product is operated properly. Identical models of those provided by the detector makers are secured from retail stores to compare the performance of those provided by the detector manufacturers. This eliminates any claim of "juicing" a detector for the test. This year the retail model test was conducted by four police officers on June 22. Participants were invited to inspect the retail models and the purchase receipts before testing. All detectors are given two tries in each testing category. All detectors, except the one being tested, are turned off to eliminate any possibility of "cross falseing." We report only the results of current retail models and not pre-production engineering prototypes. Products that perform "as advertised" are awarded SML's Performance Certification. The Performance Certification seal may be attached to packaging and used for other marketing purposes of the detector manufacturers. Several detector makers now use SML's Performance Certification seal in retail stores. This seal assures customers the product they are buying has been independently tested for performance and accuracy of claims. Look for this seal when making a purchasing decision. The certification is awarded for one year. This year we invited only radar and laser Speed Measurement Labs, Inc.gun makers with new technologies, i.e. Laser Technologies Inc. with their new Digi-Cam laser gun, Stalker (Applied Concepts) with their new direction sensing radar and speed stamping in-car video system-StalkerVision, and MPH Industries with their new Bee III and Z-25 POP modes claiming to be undetectable by radar detectors. Laser Atlanta's SpeedLaser was also used. In its Stealth mode, Laser Atlanta claims its laser gun can't be jammed. All radar detector / detectors were provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS). Do not expect us to test every radar detector from every manufacturer. The detector makers brought their best to the test. Please do not ask us about performance of their models not tested in this report or old models. This report is long, expect delays.


Th 1/4 mile Rule
The 1/4 Mile Rule
       A radar speed reading is seldom obtained past 1/4th. mile from the officer. True, radar guns can see much further than 1/4th. mile, but there are legal reasons for "The 1/4 Mile Rule." To establish a visual tracking history of a suspect vehicle the officer must be able to identity the vehicle by make and model. It is next to impossible to identify one vehicle in a group among four oncoming white cars at 1/4 mile. The officer must identify the target, estimate the speed, confirm the target is within range, listen to the Doppler shift of the radar gun, verify the visual estimation of speed with radar/laser, take and additional radar/laser reading for confirmation if possible, and lock the target vehicle speed or establish a speed tracking history trough lock (NHTSA Training Standards, Understanding Police Traffic Radar & Laser, Langford, Les, 1998, Speed Measurement In Traffic Law Enforcement, Morrison, Kevin, 1995). Further, Judge Reginald Stanton, New Jersey Superior Court, 1998 mandated no laser speed reading past 1,000 feet would be acceptable evidence of speeding due to the laser gun's beam divergence. In the moving mode, radar's range is dramatically diminished compared to operation in the stationary position seldom giving a speed reading past 1,000 feet. Why then have a radar detector with a range of five miles? To be effective, a radar detector must have a minimum warning distance at least five times the normal targeting distance of 1/4 mile. This would be 1.5 miles. This allows for safe speed adjustment and ample advanced warning. Many times, extremely long range radar detectors are prone to increased false alerts. To achieve such long range reception, the sensitivity of the detector must be increased inviting more false alerts. In this scenario, the driver is told of multiple radar gun encounters. What a paranoid situation! The chances of you being targeted by more than one radar gun simultaneously would be the same as you being the first human to walk on Mars! It does not happen. There are no secret radar bands! RF (radio frequency) bands used by law enforcement are allocated and supervised by the Federal Communications Commission. There are only three: X band (10.525 GHz, K band (24.150 GHz), and Ka band (33.4-36GHz). Within Ka band three frequencies are used: 33.8 GHz, 34.7 GHz, and 35.5 GHz with 34.7 GHz the most popular. Now, Ka band is the most used frequency accounting for 65% of radar guns sold in the past two years. Forty-two (42) state police organizations have standardized on Ka band. New Jersey is the remaining state using X band exclusively. For these reasons results of the 2003 Annual Detector Test will be reported using detector performance compared to The 1/4 Mile Rule.


New Enforcement Technologies
      A note on the new radar and laser technologies used during the test. There has been much discussion of LTI Laser Gun With CameraMPH Bee III's POP mode. This 67ms (millisecond burst) can't be seen by most detectors. POP mode will give officers a target speed reading. This reading can't be locked, but when the officer continues to depress the transmit button a "locked" speed appears with traditional instant on emission and this is a legal ticket ...maybe yours. New Speed Enforcement TechnologiesThe instruction manual is in my hand and the Bee III sits on my dashboard. First, the Bee III is approved for sale by the IACP and appears on their approved radar gun list. See for yourself at www.iacp.org. Second, the State of Nevada recently issued a RFP for Bee III guns for their state police cars. There are literally thousands of Bee IIIs buzzing on a highway near you. Maybe people who can't detect it, want you to believe it isn't so! Don't get stung. Visual evidence of speeding is coming to a police car in your neighborhood. All of us have seen police reality TV shows Stalker In Car Video With SppedStampingwhere the drunk or speeding criminal is shown and taped by the in-car video system. Now, radar guns are being interfaced with the video to show and tape the speed of the vehicle...visual evidence. We looked at Stalker's new StalkerVision with such a feature. Laser guns are being outfitted with digital cameras. LTI Digi-Cam, Kustom Signals, Laser Atlanta, and Stalker now offer such "Laser Cams." The purpose of both radar speed stamping and digital camera laser guns is to have irrefutable evidence of a speeding violation. Where used, the "plead rate", the defendant pleading guilty, percentages have approached 100%. This keeps the officer out of the court room. It also benefits the driver as there is evidence of a speeding violation on tape or Compact Flash and not just the officer's opinion. Acknowledging the popularity of effective laser jammers from Escort, Bel, K-40, and Blinder, Laser Atlanta has announced a new Stealth Mode in its laser gun claiming it can't be jammed. Both Stalker and LTI laser guns now tell the officer the gun is being jammed. Visual imaging of speeding violations is rapidly being implemented. This is not "Photo Radar" where the ticket is sent to your house. Judicial Notice of visual speed imaging is a reality. This development, above all others, demands a quality radar detector with at least five times the target range of a police radar gun. It is now the biggest threat you face!


Detecting Detectors
      If you operate a radar detector in a car it is legal except in Virginia, Washington D.C. or on U.S. military reservations where they are illegal. In Canada only three provinces allow detector use in cars; British Columbia, Radar Detector DetectorsAlberta, and Saskatchewan. In trucks (18 wheelers) it is a different story. Operating a radar detector in an 18 wheeler was made illegal in all states effective February 1995 per USDOT directive, Code of Federal Regulations, CFR 47, parts 392, 392.71. Much retail radar detector packaging space is dedicated to the issue of claiming invisibility to the VG-2. The VG-2, marketed by Kustom Signals Inc., was the first radar detector / detector (RDD). All radar detectors radiate some amount of microwave at a certain frequency. Many times you are driving on the interstate and your detector goes off. You look around for Smokey....no Smokey. It was the radar detector in the opposite lane of traffic keying up yours. VG-2 is looking for microwave, lo (local oscillator) leakage at 11.55 GHz. Detector makers did two things to defeat the VG-2. First they changed their lo frequency. Second, and most clandestine, was to detect the VG-2's microwave leakage, shut down the detector until the threat was passed, and then turn back on the detector. It is called VG-2 Alert or a radar detector / detector / detector. Checkmate right? Wrong! Two years ago a new RDD, the Spectre, landed from Australia. It looked for the expanded detector lo leakage frequencies. Detector makers countered by changing lo frequencies. A new Spectre with a wider lo window has entered the market along with an entirely new RDD, the MD-3 from Hill Country Research. All three RDDs were provided SML by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the state police, for the field evaluation. Texas troopers operated the RDDs and detectors started at a cone placed at 1/2 mile from the RDDs. Test vehicles drove at 30 mph and when detected, the test vehicle was told to stop and its range was determined by a Kustom Pro III laser gun. Rocky Mountain Radar's (RMR) new 150 and 250 models claim they can detect all RDDs. They were tested. The results follow:


Detector/Detectors- Detectors approached detector/detectors from 1/2 mile at 30 mph until detected and range determines by laser. N means not detected, Y means detected with distance in feet. Valentine One sn# 4469730688

 

VG2

Spectre II

MD-3

Valentine One
Bel 985
Passport 8500
Passport SR7
Whistler 1783
Whistler 1793
Whistler 3400
PNI Zodiac A
PNI Zodiac B
Cobra 9870
Cobra 9210
RMR DSL 102
RMR D 250

N
N
N
N

Y - 2022 ft.
Y - 1610 ft.
Y - 762 ft.
N
N
N
N
N
N

Y-889 ft
Y-1354 ft
Y-1290 ft
Y-914 ft
Y-1010 ft
Y-1517 ft
Y-546 ft
Y-1566 ft
Y-1598 ft
Y-1655 ft
Y-1605 ft
Y-1850 ft
Y-2061 ft

N
N
N
N

Y-1109 ft
Y-1255 ft
Y-407 ft.
Y-1169 ft
Y-1159 ft
Y-1332 ft
Y-1149 ft
Y-1245 ft
Y-1509 ft

*Spectre II is new model. Old Spectre was tested sn#149- PNI models and Cobra models
not detected by Spectre I.
Cobra models saw and reported Spectre II but were not invisible


The Finder
The Spectre II was the clear winner here detecting all retail radar detectors. It did not detect one pre-production, engineering prototype. The new MD-3 did not detect the higher lo frequencies of the Valentine One, Bel 985, Passport 8500, and Passport SR7. TXDPS will combine these findings with their field evaluations in making a purchasing decision. SML is publishing an article, "Detecting Detectors" at the request of a major law enforcement publication. The article will be published in the Fall. A new product was introduced by Dealer Marketing called the "Detector Finder". The Finder is a handheld device designed to assist police in locating illegally operated radar detectors in a vehicle. It contains low output, Part 15, CFR 47, less than 5 mW, emitters for X, K, and Ka band plus laser. Small enough to fit into a pocket, the officer simply depresses one of the radar buttons when questioning a suspect vehicle to key up the detected radar detector by the RDD.


Pop Mode
There are two POP modes offered by MPH Industries, i.e. Ka at 33.8 GHz in the Bee III and K at 24.150 GHz in their Z-25 handheld radar gun. Why is POP important? It is the first time since the invention of "instant on" radar, the radar gun industry has acknowledged the 26,000,000 radar detectors on US roads. They are using an anti-radar detector feature to sell radar guns. Watch for more introductions here. Test vehicles approached the radar guns at a speed they determined not telling the base vehicle counting down at the 1/4 mile cone. An officer then triggered the guns in the POP mode and told the driver their speed by radio.


POP Mode- MPH Bee III Ka 33.8 GHz, MPH Z-25 K 24.150 GHz) From 1/4 Mile
N means no detection, Y means detector detected and reported POP mode, each detector two tries


Valentine One
Bel 985
Passport 8500
Passport SR7
Whistler 1783
Whistler 1793
Whistler 3400
PNI Zodiac A
PNI Zodiac B
Cobra 9870
Cobra 9210
RMR DLS 102
RMR D 250

Ka POP
N
Y
Y

N
Y
Y

N
N
N
Y
N
N
N

K POP
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y

Y
N
Y
N
Y
N
N
N


The test vehicle then told the officer if the detector alerted to POP. Two tries each detector against each gun. We included two new detectors from Rocky Mountain Radar, RMR DLS 102, a detector and laser scrambler sold at Radio Shack and RMR D 250 which we purchased. Both claim to detect the POP mode. The Bel 985, Passport 8500, Passport SR7 remote, Whistler 1783, Whistler 1793, and Cobra 9870 saw Ka band POP. Valentine One, Bel 985, Passport 8500, Passport SR7, Whistler 1783, Whistler 1793, PNI Zodiac A, and Cobra 9870 saw K band POP.


Jammers
      Our test was the Annual Detector Test not the Annual Jammer Test. We test products that work! However, since we get hundreds of e-mails on the subject, things need to be said. Jamming, or attempting to jam a police Roy Reyer from Redarbusters.comradar gun is considered a Federal felony punishable with fines up to $75,000 and up to one year in jail, Code of Federal Regulations, CFR 95:422a. According to the Federal Communications Commission, Technical Rules Branch, "both active and passive jammers are illegal and punishable with fines and, in some cases, jail time. Manufacturers as well as jammer owners are culpable. You can not interfere with radio signals." I don't want your arguments here. Many products claim dramatic weight loss without exercise or diet. Coronado looked for the "Seven Cities of Gold." We still haven't found the "Fountain of Youth." Let's leave the Easter Bunny alone. See http://www.fcc.gov/ and enter key word "jammers." Ask them if jammers are legal. You can say anything on a package or on the phone. Due to lack of Federal enforcement of radar jammer regulations, an increasing number of states have enacted their own bans on radar jammers, i.e. California, Utah, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, Minnesota, Indiana, Washington D.C. We have been testing radar jammers for over ten years. In the words of P.T. Barnum of Barnum and Bailey Circus... "there is a sucker born every day." If you buy a "passive jammer" you are that sucker! Good Roy Reyerluck with your speeding tickets and the guarantee that guarantees to pay them. We have found only one, that's right ONE, active radar jammer to work. It only works on X and K bands. Laser jamming is another issue. Laser is controlled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for eye safety. There are no Federal laws restricting the use of laser jammers. However, Minnesota, California, and Utah have enacted laws specifically banning sale, use, and ownership of a laser jammer. Enough on this subject! We did test two laser jammers. Roy Reyer from radarbusters.com came to the test with his shinny new Harley, Peace Officer Special, Ultra Classic FLHTCUI. Roy is a retired police officer with twenty-five years service. His new Harley was stealthed out and we called it Stealth Hog!. Roy's Harley is equipped with an Escort 8500 attached to a chrome handle bar mount. Unique to this set up is the Legal Speeding H.A.R.D. (helmet assisted radar detection) system. A small microphone by the 8500 transmits radar warnings by wireless microwave to Roy's helmet and illuminates a led light letting him know when radar is near. The 8500 does offer an external audio output for motorcycle use. Roy also added a Blinder laser jammer to his arsenal with the front and rear transponders mounted in a concealed manner. Roy won't get lost as he put a GPS system on his handlebar. Roy ask us to test the Blinder and we did along with Escort's Laser Shifter. The Shifter may stand alone or be integrated with the Escort SR7 remote or Roy's Stealth Hog8500. Our test was attended by a writer for many major automotive magazines. He was very interested in the jammer issue, so we tested to see how stealthy Roy's Stealth Hog performed. With officers operating the laser gun's Stealth Hog approached the 1,000 ft. cone and then the 500 ft. cone. The LTI laser gun was fired and Roy was Stealth Roy. The Blinder jammed the laser gun at both distances uncovering at about 200 feet which is normal. We then cranked up the Escort test vehicle and ran it at the laser gun...same result. At the writer's request, we then tested four Rocky Mountain Radar, radar/laser jammers. The officers operated the guns, first radar and then laser. We had just seen Roy's Stealth Hog successfully jam the laser gun. The drama was short lived as all radar guns immediately clocked the test vehicle containing the RMR jammers. We then ran all RMR jammers against the laser gun. Same result. We ran the RMR jammers a total of sixteen times toward the police operated radar and laser guns. Not a hint of jamming. Then the writer was shown how to operate the radar and laser guns and he aimed them at the RMR jammers approaching the 1,000 foot cone. He saw for himself. Same result. The only "jamming" that took place with RMR jammers was the word "Jammer" on the box.


Straight Line Radar Testing
      Now to the meat of the matter. Remembering the "1/4th Mile Rule" we wanted to see how detectors responded to radar guns at distances beginning a 2.5 miles. Radar guns were triggered in the Instant On (I) and Constant On (C) modes. Officers were told to trigger the guns as they do each day in giving tickets. We were not looking for maximum constant warnings from the detectors. All detectors have different "ramp up" Straight Line Radar Testingmodes informing the driver. Detectors should approximate the signal strength of the radar received by giving a Geiger warning. This means the closer to the radar gun, the more insistent the warning. This Geiger warning for proximity is consistent with the "inverse square rule" of microwave transmission. This rule means the strength of the radar signal is inversely proportional to the square of the change in distance from the radar antenna. A vehicle located 1,000 feet from the radar antenna will only receive1/16th of the radar antenna's transmitted signal. A vehicle at 500 ft will receive 1/4th the transmitted signal. The further away, less radar signal is received. Take a flashlight into a dark room. The flashlight is the radar gun and its light the radar signal. Turn it on and aim it at your hand. Illuminating your hand is no problem. Put the flashlight on a table and walk across the room. Extend your hand. There is little illumination of your hand. The amount of signal, or light, is greatly diminished as you move away from the flashlight This illustrates the "inverse square rule." This diminishing reflected signal at greater distances supports The 1/4 Mile Rule. All test vehicles began at the 2.5 mile cone and radar guns fired in the Constant On and Instant On modes. Two tries each detector. Next detectors moved to the 2 mile cone, then the 1.5 mile cone, and finally the 1 mile cone. Remember, to be acceptable a detector must report radar at least five times the effective normal targeting distance of 1/4 mile. This means reporting radar at least 1.5 miles from the radar gun. Radar guns used X band MPH K-15, K band Stalker Basic, Ka band (33.8 GHz) MPH Bee III. XC means X constant, XI means X instant on, KC means K constant, KI means K instant on, KaC means Ka constant, KaI means Ka instant on. Y means detector correctly reported radar and correct band identification, N means detector gave not alert to radar. SR7 and 3300 are remote models with antenna behind grill and controls inside vehicle.


Detector

2.5 miles

2.0 miles

1.5 miles

1 mile

 

XC/XI

KC/KI

KaC/KaI

XC/XI

KC/KI

KaC/KaI

XC/XI

KC/KI

KaC/KaI

XC/XI

KC/KI

KaC/KaI

Valentine One
Bel 985
Passport 8500
Whistler 1783
Whistler 1793
PNI Zodiac A
Cobra 9870
Cobra 9210
Passport SR7
PNI Zodiac B
Whistler 3400
RMR DLS102
RMR D250

YY
YY
YY

NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN

YN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN

NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN

YY
YY
YY

YY
YY
YY

NN
NN
NN
YY
NN
NN
NN

YY
YY
YY

YY
YY
YY

NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN
NN

YY
YY
YY

NN
NN
NN*
YY
YY
YY

NN
NN
NN
NN

YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YN
NN

YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
NN
YN

YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
NN
NN

YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YN

YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YN
YN

YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
YY
NN
NN


*Zodiac A reported KaC as K band.


       The Valentine One followed closely by the Bel 985 and Passport 8500 showed the greatest straight line Straight Line Radar Testingrange. They were the only detectors to report X band at nine times the targeting range of 1/4 mile at 2.5 miles. Only the Valentine One saw K band constant at 2.5 miles. At two miles, seven times the normal targeting range of radar, it was a dead heat among Valentine One, Bel 985, and Passport 8500 with all detectors reporting all bands both instant on and constant on. They were followed closely by Whistler 1783, Whistler 1793 and PNI's Zodiac A. Neither Whistler model nor the Zodiac A reported instant on or constant on Ka band radar at 2.0 miles. *Zodiac A reported Ka constant at 2.0 miles as K band. Cobra 9870, Cobra 9210, and Passport SR7 reported the most important band, Ka, at 2.0 miles, seven times the normal targeting range of radar guns and PNI's Zodiac B cautioned to X band use. The "Failsafe" point for a detector to be acceptable is 1.5 miles from the radar gun, i.e. five times the normal targeting distance of radar gun of 1/4 mile. All detectors successfully reported both instant on and constant on X, K, and Ka band transmissions at 1.5 miles, five times the normal radar gun's targeting range except both Rocky Mountain Radar models, RMR DLS 102, RMR D 250. The table above confirms the "rule of least squares" as at 2.5 miles the detectors had little radar signal to detect. As they got closer with more signal received, detectors began reporting consistently.


Max Range of The Hill
       Now we changed radar guns and testing location. Remember radar guns transmit radio signals as RADAR stands for Radio Detection And Ranging. Your car's radio is a good example of this and a radar detector is a radio receiver. Radio stations transmit at different powers. This is why some of your favorite radio stations come in clear and some come in weak. Different radar guns, like radio stations, also transmit at different output powers measured in mW (milliwatts).....some as low as 5mW and some as strong as 50 mW. For our Maximum Range Over The Hill Test we used different radar guns than we did for the Straight Line Radar Test. This time Maximum Range Radar Testing Over the Hillwe changed Ka frequencies using a Stalker DSR 34.7 GHz, a MPH K-55 X band gun, and a Kustom Signals K band Falcon. All of these new guns transmit at different output powers compared to the ones used during the Straight Line Radar Test. We say this so you can understand the different maximum range reception of radar detectors during the Maximum Range Over The Hill Test compared to the Straight Line Radar Test. We selected a flat section of US 54 in New Mexico just north of our test track. We placed a cone at 5.2 miles from the base vehicle containing the radar guns. There is a 3 degree hill at 2.2 miles from the base vehicle. We wanted to see if detectors gave any warning as they approached the radar guns from over the hill at 2.2 miles. At 2.2 miles there is very little radar gun signal to detect as we learned from our discussion of the "Inverse Square Rule." Remember 2.1 miles is still seven times the normal targeting range of a radar gun using The 1/4th Mile Rule. All radar guns were operated in the constant transmit mode and test vehicles zeroed their odometer at the 5.2 mile cone. When a consistent radar gun signal was detected, test vehicles advised the base vehicle of their odometer reading which was subtracted from 5.2 miles.


Detector
Valentine One
Passport 8500
Bel 985
Zodiac A
Zodiac B
Cobra 9210
Cobra 9870
Whistler 1793
Passport SR7
Whistler 1783
Whistler 3400
RMR DLS 102
RMR D 250

X Band Constant
3.3 miles
2.2 miles
2.2 miles
2.3 miles
2.2 miles
2.2 miles
2.2 miles
2.2 miles
2.1 miles
2.2 miles
2.2 miles
1.9 miles
1.4 miles

K Band Constant
2.6 miles
2.5 miles
2.3 miles

2.1 miles
2.1 miles
2.1 miles
2.1 miles
2.1 miles
2.2 miles
2.1 miles
2.1 miles
1.4 miles
1.2 miles

Ka Band Constant
2.3 miles
2.3 miles
2.3 miles

2.1 miles
2.1 miles
2.1 miles
2.1 miles
2.1 miles
2.1 miles
1.9 miles
1.6 miles
1.1 miles
1.0 miles


      The results clearly show the Valentine One gave advanced warning on all bands before the hill at 2.2 miles on all bands. Both Passport 8500 and Bel 985 gave advanced warning on K and Ka bands before the hill. Don't over-interpret these results as a mere 1/10th of a mile is no big advantage and no banner for victory. All others, with the exception of RMR DLS 102 and RMR D 250, gave ample warning up to seven times the normal targeting range of police radar guns. To be acceptable here a detector must give at least 1.5 miles warning.


Radar From Behind
     New radar gun technologies now allow radar guns in moving police cars to target you from behind. That is the bad news. The good news is due to the moving gun's nature, i.e. low Doppler acquiring patrol speed, the effective range of a moving radar is normally less than 1,000 ft. from the rear depending on the radar gun maker.


Radar reception from the rear. Detectors located at 1/4 mile from radar guns
Y means detector reported radar-N means no detection
XC-X Constant, XI-X Instant On, KC-K Constant, KI-K Instant On
KaC-Ka Constant, KaI-Ka Instant On
1/4th mile

Detector

           

 

XC

XI

KC

KI

KaC

KaI

Valentine One
Bel 985
Passport 8500
Whistler 1783
Whistler 1793
Whistler 3400
Cobra 9870
Cobra 9210
PNI Zodiac B
PNI Zodiac A
Passport SR7
RMR DLS 102
RMR D 250

Y
Y
Y

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N
Y
Y

Y
Y
Y
Y

Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
Y
N
N

Y
Y
Y
Y

Y
Y
N
N
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y

Y
Y
Y
Y

N
N
N
N
Y
Y
Y
N
N

Y
Y
Y
Y

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N
N

Y
Y
Y
Y

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N


In the stationary mode, the radar gun's range is dramatically greater and direction sensing radar technology has revolutionized same lane targeting accuracy. Targeting opposite lane traffic with moving radar has much greater range, but when they come up behind you, targeting range diminishes.We can have an engineering discussion here about shadowing, speed doupling, same/opposite fast modes, tracking through lock, VSS vehicle interface, 3 mph pace window, etc., but we would lose many readers. This is not an engineering report. All dash mounted detectors, with the exception of the Valentine One, have one front facing radar antenna. They depend on providing rear protection from radar by the radar's signal bouncing off an object in front of the vehicle and reflecting back into the front facing antenna. The Valentine One has patented front and rear facing antennas. Remotes from Whistler and K-40 offer externally mounted front and rear antennas. We positioned all detectors at the 1/4 mile cone and fired radar guns in the constant on and instant on modes to see which detectors offered rear radar warning. The Valentine One, Bel 985, Escort 8500, and Whistler 1783 saw and correctly reported all radar bands when radar guns were fired from the rear at 1/4 mile.


Laser Testing
Laser Testing     
  Laser is not radar! Laser's one milliradian, monochromatic beam can target one vehicle in a group. Radar can't! Laser's beam is extremely narrow compared to radar and must be reflected back to the laser gun by a reflective surface on the vehicle...first aiming point the license plate and then the headlights. At 500 feet, laser's light beam is a mere 18" wide compared to an X band radar beam of 157 feet. Laser does not "scatter" like radar's bouncing off other vehicles, billboards, or buildings giving you advanced warning. Simply put, there is no advanced warning to laser's use like there is with radar. If you receive a laser warning it usually means you just got a ticket! To prove this point we placed a target vehicle at 1,000 feet and a car behind it containing a radar/laser detector. We first hit the 1,000 foot vehicle with Ka band radar and both detectors alerted. We then fired a Stalker laser gun at the 1,000 foot vehicle's license plate. The front vehicle's detector alerted to laser, the following vehicle's detector was silent! We did this ten times with three different laser guns. The results were identical. The rear vehicle's detector provided no advanced warning to laser. For the test we had all test vehicles locate at the 1,000 ft. cone.and we used Stalker's LZ-1laser gun.


Laser aimed at license plate at 1,000 and 500 feet
W means aim point windshield, Y means detector reported laser
N means detector did not report laser.

Detector
Valentine One
Passport SR7*
Passport 8500
Whistler 1793
Cobra 9870
Zodiac B
Bel 985
Whistler 1783
Whistler 3400
Cobra 9210
PNI Zodiac A
RMR DLS 102
RMR D 250

W
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y

1000 feet cone
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y

N
N
N
N
N
N

W
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y

500 feet cone
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N

*SR7 has laser receiver on license plate bracket


We first fired the laser directly at the windshield. All detectors reported laser. Then we fired the laser at the front license plate, the normal target for a police laser gun. Test vehicles then moved to the 500 ft. cone the test was duplicated. We did this for a reason. At 1,000 feet the laser's beam is 36" wide, but as your vehicle gets closer to laser gun the laser beam narrows. At 500 ft. the beam is 18" and at 250 ft. only 9" wide. The Valentine One and the Passport SR7 reported laser when aimed at the front plate at both 1,000 and 500 foot cones. Valentine One, Passport SR7, Passport 8500, Whistler 1793, Cobra 9870, and Zodiac B all reported laser when aimed at the front license plate at 1,000 ft.


Best Safety Feature
      Radar detectors offer a lot of features to entice you to buy their product; VG-2 Alert, Laser ID, compass, band elimination, 360 degree protection, safety alert, safety warning system, bogey counters, etc. None of these compare to the safety usefulness of Cobra's Strobe Alert. Thousands of American intersections are equipped with Optical Pre-Emption Systems (OPS). Ambulances, fire apparatus, and other first responders have a modulated white light strobe in their light bars...an optical pre-emption transmitter. When operational, this transmitter changes traffic lights from red to green resulting in greatly enhanced response times to emergency situations. Unfortunately, over 25,000 injury and property collisions occur each year as first responders transit to emergency scenes. Next to heart attacks, fire apparatus collisions are the second leading cause of death for fire fighters. Cobra's Strobe Alert detects the OPS signal from emergency vehicles and warns you of an emergency vehicle in the area. It makes you more alert and saves lives and injuries. On Sunday, 22 June we tested the range effectiveness of Cobra's Strobe Alert on their models and found them to have an effective reception range up to 1/4 mile.

Conclusions
Customers buy a radar detector for one reason...they don't want a speeding ticket! This means detector performance in sniffing out radar and laser guns and not finding your GPS position in Brazil. A detector should do one thing and one thing very well...find radar/laser. Our testing is based on this premise. Performance CertifiedWe do not discuss all the features of radar detectors. We do not discuss pricing. We provide you links to the detector sites for that. Please do not ask us about them. Please do not us to recommend a detector. We won't! Please don't ask us to compare this year's models to last year's. You want the "Best Protection Your Budget Can Buy." We will let the performance reported in this annual test be your guide. This is not "drive thru" research. If you are sincerely interested in making an informed purchasing decision read and re-read the results. If not, buy based on what is printed on the packaging. We do not recommend specific detectors, nor do we sell them. A detector must perform "as advertised." It must warn you at least five times the normal targeting range of a radar gun... "The 1/4 Mile Rule." Forget about any advanced warning to a police laser gun..it's like Big Foot. It doesn't exist! The major detector makers have done a good job and produce an honest product. Still, some promise everything, but have dismal performance. For these reasons the following radar detectors are awarded SML "Performance Certification": Bel 985, Valentine One, Escort 8500, Escort SR7, Cobra 9870, Cobra 9210, Whistler 1783, Whistler 1793, Whistler 3300, PNI Zodiac, Laser Blinder, Escort Shifter, K 40 RD 850. Look for SML's "Performance Certification" logo on packaging and advertising. Its an assurance of honest performance.

Beltronics
Cobra
K40 Electronics
Escort
Valentine One
PNI
Blinder
Whistler

Click on manufacturer's logo for link to their web site. Note K-40 new programming for their dash mount RD 850 deleting VG-2 alert was not ready for annual field evaluation. However, RD 850 with VG-2 alert was tested by SML 17 April 2003 in Fort Worth, TX to the same standards as others experienced in this year's annual evaluation.


Best in Category
      There is no one detector best at everything. The following are the top performers in each category alphabetically listed. See performance tables for details. Field testing conducted under ideal atmospheric, testing, and RF propagation conditions. Your results may vary.

Most Invisible To Radar Detector/Detectors-VG-2, Spectre II, MD-3
Bel 985, Passport 8500, Valentine One

Best At Detecting POP Modes-Bee III Ka, Z-25 K
Bel 985, Cobra 9870, Passport 8500, Whistler 1793, Whistler 1783

Best Straight Line Detection X, K, Ka
Bel 985, Passport 8500, PNI Zodiac, Valentine One, Whistler 1783, Whistler 1793

Best Maximum Range Over The Hill
Bel 985, Passport 8500, PNI Zodiac, Valentine One

Best Laser Detection
Bel 985, Cobra 9870, Passport 8500, Passport SR7, PNI Zodiac, Valentine One, Whistler 1793

Best Radar From The Rear
Bel 985, Passport 8500, Valentine One, Whistler 1783

Best Safety Feature
Cobra's Strobe Alert

Radar WavesRadar Waves

      Technologies change quickly in radar and laser enforcement. It's a continual battle for both detector makers and radar/laser gun makers to keep up. On September 1, 2003 the first issue of RADAR WAVES will be published. This quarterly newsletter will update subscribers on new law enforcement technologies and strategies, nationally and internationally. It will also showcase new introductions from the radar/laser detector industry in the continual chess game of the highways. RADAR WAVES will be published quarterly and mailed directly to you. Annual subscriptions including postage are $25.00 US, $40.00 Canada, $60.00 internationally. Don't drive without it. Make Speed Measurement Laboratories, Inc.checks payable to Speed Measurement Laboratories, Inc., and mail it to SML, 2300 Harvest Glen, Fort Worth, TX 76108 fax 817244-7630, speedy3@speedlabs.com. Texas residents add $2.00 sales tax, a total of $27.00. See our sister web site of http://www.speedlabs.com/. We don't take credit cards for a good reason. We don't trust the security of the internet. You can e mail questions to us. However, as our field research keeps us out of the office on average three weeks of every month, don't expect a speedy reply. We go some places that have just discovered electricity, let alone an internet connection.

Content/Graphics © 2003 Speed Measurment Laboratories, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

What's New

           The “What’s New” section will be changed as needed when new developments happen in the industry. stalkerCheck back each month to be current.

New Laser Camera’s Hit Market - Laser gun makers have announced new laser guns with digital cameras attached. When the officer pulls the trigger, what he sees in the gun’s HUD (heads up display) including distance and speed is automatically transferred to a Compact Flash card. He has evidence of speeding he never had before. Where used, the guilty plead rate approaches 100%. This development is fair to the motorist as well as the officer. In the past, the courts relied on the officer’s testimony of speeding with no visual evidence. With Laser Cameras there is no question as to the evidence.

MIRT Deamed Public Safety Threat - MIRT (Mobile Infrared Transmitter), www.themirt.com, is used to change traffic lights fromMIRT red to green. This is known as optical pre-emption. Use of optical pre-emption transmitters is limited to “authorized” agencies as designated by the cities using the system. Normally, EMS and fire departments are “authorized” to use the transmitters as it allows them to arrive at accident and emergency scenes quicker. There are some 26,500 intersections using optical pre-emption in North America. Now MIRT transmitters are being sold on the internet. Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio along with other states are drafting legislation banning the use of MIRT transmitters. Senator Mike DeWine, R-Ohio introduced legislation in November outlawing MIRT use with fines up to $10,000.00 and a year in jail. Speed Measurement Laboratories, Inc. and Traffic Safety Technologies, LLC have introduced a MIRT detector called EVA to law enforcement. EVA is designed to allow police to identify vehicles using MIRT. Motor Trend

Motor Trend Features SML Testing -The January 2004 issue of Motor Trend is featuring SML’s Annual 2003 Radar / Laser Testing. Get a copy.