Mike Valentine Responds

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About a week ago, I did an article (here) about my V1 radar detector being triggered not by police radar but by the radar (and laser) signals emanating from many new cars – specifically, cars equipped with lane departure and blind spot warning systems. I asked Mike Valentine, who runs the company and designed the V1, to comment on the issue. He most graciously did so, at length – and answered some questions I’d never even thought to ask. It turns out I was not imagining things, the problem is real. And it’s more than just the latest gadgetry being installed in new cars. Not surprisingly, there’s a government aspect to this mess, too. MIke Valentine 1

Without further ado, I turn the floor over to Mike:

Hi Eric,

You are quite correct that there is a profusion of sensors congregating on and around our highway travels these days. More signals being received that are not due to speed traps certainly complicates detector usage and is a spur to detector improvements. Let’s talk about some of the new trash-signals and what can be done about them.

1) “Blind-spot-warning” or “lane-change-assist” radar sensors mounted in the rear of new cars. These devices transmit on K-band because of world-wide radio-wave regulations. But, because they are used for short range sensing and need to measure range to function, they differ in signal type (FMCW) from the radars used by police. These signals can be significantly reduced in annoyance by making programming adjustments to the V1. Our latest version of V1 (with “ESP” markings below the volume control) does a pretty good job of eliminating the majority of these signals by engaging option “t” in the function list.V1 image

2) Speedinfo.com traffic monitors. These devices are presently installed in only a few states, but where they operate they cause considerable mayhem. They operate on K-band to periodically sample travel speeds along major thoroughfares. They produce 1/3 second bursts every several seconds, imitating instant-on speed traps for detector users. Again, our software programming selection “t” does a great job of eliminating these K-band nuisance signals.

3) Radar-based cruise controls. These devices operate on a completely different frequency band from police radar and don’t cause any trouble for V1 users.

4) Laser-based cruise controls. These systems are most often found on Infiniti cars and SUVs equipped with the premium electronics package. Unfortunately, the pulse repetition rate of the laser output is pretty similar to that employed by speed-trap laser guns. We’re working on a solution, but it will require significantly more complex processing and is not an easy task.V1 graphic 2

These signals present a dilemma for detector makers: How to reduce the annoyance from non-speed-trap signals and yet not diminish dependable warning for real speed-traps. Of course, the world was ever thus.

When detectors were quite new 40 years ago, separating police radar from radar security and door-opening sensors was already an issue. With the poorly performing detectors of the day, few non-police signals were detected. Escort in 1978 advanced the warning range so much that it necessitated a “city/highway” switch for reducing the annoyance from non-police signals that was promptly imitated throughout the industry. Even so, some users thought that the Escort beeped too much and preferred more poorly performing detectors since the “city/highway” switch was not perfect in totally eliminating extraneous warnings. They wanted perfection in an imperfect world and would trade less warning range for more “quietness.” However, the challenge of detecting “instant-on” radar traps far in advance made modest detector range obsolete.

Once the Valentine One’s level of warning range was achieved, the need for more information became obvious. The number of automatic door sensors within detection range increased to the point of confusion. Radar location by indicator arrow gave users a new way to sort the wheat from the inevitable chaff. The ability to locate the signal source also gave the V1 new capabilities for algorithms to help automate the signal sorting task, providing automatic muting of alarms once they had passed behind the vehicle.radar girl pic

Then, with the continued proliferation of K-band automatic door sensors, we introduced Savvy. Connecting the V1 with a car’s under-dash diagnostic port, it uses the speed signal to reduce door-sensor annoyance while traveling at slower speeds without completely blocking real speed radars.

Newer radar- and laser-based signals sources alongside or traveling on the roadways increase the challenge to effective detector use.

My basic philosophy for designing our products is to emphasize dependable warning while reducing annoyance from non-speed-trap signals. However, I am not of the mind to reduce dependable warning as a price of lowering annoyance. The quest is technically challenging but it drives what we do and I like to think we are up to the job. We have some competitors that emphasize “quietness” at the expense of dependable warning and that difference is what sets us apart.

We’re always working to improve V1’s performance and our engineers are hard at work on new developments. When, not if, they will become production-ready is the only question.

Questions cheerfully answered!

Postscript: I also asked Mike about the possibility of having older V1s like mine updated with the “ESP” filter he discussed above. Herewith his response:

To obtain an upgrade, one must return the V1 to us.  Please go to our web site (here) and enter your V1’s serial number at the upgrades prompt. That action will lead you to an explanation of what upgrade we suggest and the price of the upgrade. If found satisfactory, one proceeds to fill out the upgrade web order form, print it on your printer and enclose the finished form with your V1 as you send it to us. It should only take several days, plus two-way transportation, to turn it around.

Throw it in the Woods? 

PS:This site is almost entirely reader supported now. No Google. (They blacklisted us – so we dumped them. See here for the full story about that.)

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Copper Hill, VA 24079

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  1. Hi every one I got my Valentine One but I think it’s weak in K band in my country I tried to make it more response in K band it’s working very good with laser I wish anyone can help me to increase K ‫band response with my v1
    My version is 3.8945
    For your information v1 is prohibited not legally in my country so I can’t got what kind of K band they use.
    Thanks for everyone

    my best regard

  2. Can anyone explain why when I purchased my V-1 it was marketed as never to become obsolete and fully up-gradable? I recently found out that this is NOT TRUE as they cannot update my unit because the new panel will NOT fit. Valentine one is asking for my unit back stating that they will scrap it and I have to spend nearly $300.00 for another upgraded unit.

  3. Can we get an updated picture of Mike that is not from 1976? He is probably much older looking now. I’d also like to see a current picture of Dr. Winnifred B. Cutler holding her Athena Pheremone 10x for men. Thank you. -BB

  4. Since detectors are illegal here in Oz, for some years I had a small unit buried in the right side of my bike helmet, the console with the lights in the helmet foam just above my right eye, a LiPo battery buried in the left side and a push on/off switch reachable with my tongue.

    All nicely concealed, could run all day off that battery and a cursory glance would reveal nothing. Only the switch stuck out a few millimetres.

    Cops had pulled me up a few times alleging I had a detector, but searches of the bike were fruitless. Suckers.

  5. 30 years ago it was easy to see X and K bands would be the coming thing for all types of signals since they were increasing willy nilly even back then. I once called Valentine and spoke with Mike himself so they had to be easily accessible at one time. Several years ago I often came on the same K band radar site, a big trailer thing with lights and solar power, in the middle of nowhere. One day I got the signal but it seemed stronger and there was another vehicle between me and it. Just to be safe(for not getting a ticket)I slowed down and sure enough, a state trooper hung out behind it with gun out the window. In Tx. they have guns mounted front and rear and their units can get your speed going away, coming to them or coming up behind them. Never let it be said initial costs of units is ever a factor to collecting revenue in Tx.

    • Never let it be forgotten that Texas LOVES to screw with people. If there is money to be wrangled out of you by the badged highwaymen then they’ll gladly do it. I pretty much know where they all sit on I-20. They have their favorite digs and they’re too damn lazy to wander anywhere. Why should they when fresh meat comes wandering into their territory!

  6. I knew that Mike Valentine is aware of the threats and tasks in front of him. The V-1 has always been conintinuously improving over the years, filtering out BS threats while at the same time providing warnings of relevant ones. I don’t currently own a radar detector. Our speed limits are 75 mph on two lane roads and 75 mph on many interstates. Traffic around Houston travels quickly and I don’t stand out too much here. If I was in the DFW area, I would own a detector. If I did a lot of rural interstate driving, I would likely use one as well. I can’t stand the proliferation of technology in modern cars, but I don’t see that stopping. Americans are too sheepish to stop it.

  7. Valentine One (V1) Radar Detector -vs- New York State Trooper Running Ka-Band Radar

    Passport Max vs. Valentine One (Straight on to Hidden Cop Running Constant on Ka Band)

    Valentine One Unboxing Video

    • I commented on that second video. “Not sure that is a fair test. The V1 is on the far right. Perhaps another test should be done with the placement of each detector switched. Dunno tho”

  8. Can I get a cop car radar gun on Ebay? Then I could drive around with it on and send them their own signals. But that would be like mounting a .50cal on the dash. 🙂