Radar “Clutter”

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Anyone who drives in an un-Clover way is crazy to do so without a good radar detector riding shotgun. And not just to avoid a ticket for “speeding,” either. To avoid cops – period. They are dangerous, the greatest actual threat to the average person’s safety. The less contact you have with them, the better.Hero with detector

My personal unit, as regulars here know, is the Valentine 1. Because it’s the most sensitive unit out there – superior at sussing out porkers in the mist (so to speak).

But, there’s a rub. That same sensitivity means – lately – more false positives as the unit picks up radar (and laser) emanating from other cars.

Or from your car.

Many new cars have some form of “collision avoidance” or “active” cruise control that uses radar (or laser) to sense the presence of other vehicles (or objects) in the vehicle’s path. In the case of the “active” cruise control, the radar detects traffic ahead and tells the system to reduce the vehicle’s speed automatically, which it does. “Collision avoidance” (also sometimes marketed as “automatic braking”) works essentially the same way. Radar or laser detects something in the car’s path and the system applies the brakes to slow or even stop the car if the driver does not respond to visual/audible warnings.

Anyhow, the radar used is – typically – K band, which happens to be one of the bands (the other being Ka) also used by police to nail you for speeding. And the radar detector can’t separate out the “noise” (not-cop radar) from the real-deal because both are the same. The result is more false alarms.

Those caused by other cars’ radar/laser will be triggered as you get within range of those cars. You’ll find your unit going off when such a car approaches from behind or is coming toward you in the opposite lane. Just like a cop radar warning, the signal will increase – and decrease – with proximity.in car radar

If your car is radiating its own radar signal, the radar detector will probably be warning you constantly of a threat that’s not really there. I test-drive new cars each week and have experienced this with increasing frequency as more and more new cars are factory equipped with some form of in-car radar.

One can turn down the detector’s audible alarm, but the visual alarms will still be there – and the lack of sound (plus the perpetual warning light dance) can make you less attentive to real cop radar – which makes it more likely you’ll be issued a piece of payin’ paper.

Or worse (see first point made about avoiding “hero” cops at all costs; we live in the land of Forget Probable Cause and “officer safety” justifies anything).

All radar detectors are affected, but the V1 remains the most effective at helping you sort out the real threats (cops). For openers, Ka band is always a cop. And the V1’s sensitivity is superior. The V1 also has the ability to track multiple radar targets simultaneously – as well as tell what direction it is emanating from. You learn to ignore the not-cop signals, which manifest differently.V1 picture

A signal generated by your own vehicle, for instance, will typically be a steady or regularly intermittent blip (and beep) that you’ll learn to ignore. If cop radar is also nearby, you’ll get the additional audible and visual warnings (the V1 can track up to 8 different radar sources at once) and the cadences of cop radar are different enough (varying signal strength – a function of proximity to the radar – causes the unit’s warning tone to increase in frequency) that it’s still possible to sift the pork from the not-pork.

Mike Valentine tells me they are working on fine-tuning the V1 to be more effective at ignoring the radar signal generated by many new cars’ “safety” systems – and one of the really cool things about this is that when they do figure it out, you’ll be able to send your unit to them to be updated. You won’t have to buy a new unit. No other radar detector manufacturer offers this service.

Nor the V1’s sensitivity and it’s unique directional (and signal strength) audible/visual warning display (including an optional remote display, so the porkers squinty eyes can’t see that you are watching them).

Which is why I continue to use it – and recommend it.

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27 COMMENTS

    • I don’t really give a flip what “the law” says, Radu. What matters to me – as far as whether I do so something or not – is whether the thing is morally ok to do or not. If it is morally ok – and if I can get away with doing it – I will. And to hell with “the law.”

  1. Nearly all radio receivers (all a radar detector is, after all), use a design known as “superheterodyne.” The receiver itself has a local radio frequency oscillator, which is mixed with the incoming signal from the antenna. When they mix, the “carrier” frequency (104.7 on the FM band, for example) is subtracted. All that’s left is the signal sent (voice or music).

    With a modern radar, a carrier is transmitted. When it reflects off a moving object, because of the Doppler effect, the frequency increases. The radar gun measures the difference in frequency and calculates the speed of the object traveling. It is likely that radar guns use a modulation scheme that maximizes the ability to measure the Doppler shift and prevent false positives.

    Now comes the tinfoil-hat part: Radar gun manufacturers get Uncle to force a standard modulation and frequency scheme for collision-avoidance radar systems, and require it to be in all cars because SAAAAAFETY. Now all a cop needs is a receiver, since the vehicle itself is emitting a known radio signal on a known frequency. The receiver just needs to measure the Doppler shift. In fact such a design would likely use the exact same equipment as the avoidance radar, just modified for police use.

    • Sorry. Hit reply without completing my edit. First paragraph was intended as an explanation of how radar detector-detectors work. They listen for the local oscillator in a vehicle. I imagine they won’t be anywhere near as reliable as they are today as the number of collision avoidance radar systems increase.

  2. I am convinced that the auto companies are using these radars to confuse radar detectors, and so to generate revenue for the nazis. Just as the auto companies are subverting all our transport freedoms in collusion with the nazis. the auto companies are no better than the state, worse because they have made cars so good now but do not want us to benefit from their creations.

    • Hi to5,

      My 50:

      I a convinced the car industry has accepted idiot-proofing as preferable (and profitable) and the autonomous car as inevitable. I am working on a column about V2V and what GM – via Cadillac – has on deck for model year 2017.

      You guys are not gonna like it.

  3. Ticket for going 66 in a 35 mph zone as determined by VASCAR PLUS is reduced to 43 in a 35…

    Introduction:

    OFFICER: I had the occasion to observe a 1991 Toyota sedan, gray in color, go across my two references which were two painted white lines, at an average speed of 66 in a 35 mile-an-hour zone.

    Q And how is it that you ascertained his speed, using which device?

    A Vascar-Plus.

    VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder) is really a stopwatch coupled with a calculator. Once a distance is entered, the operator pushes a button to start then stop the stopwatch. VASCAR displays the speed calculated from the distance entered and the time measured.

    Thus, a VASCAR measurement depends on human input.

    VASCAR is BS how to fight it in court

    In § 3368 of Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Code:

    (4) No person may be convicted upon evidence obtained through the use of devices authorized by paragraphs (2) and (3) unless the speed recorded is six or more miles per hour in excess of the legal speed limit. Furthermore, no person may be convicted upon evidence obtained through the use of devices authorized by paragraph (3) in an area where the legal speed limit is less than 55 miles per hour if the speed recorded is less than ten miles per hour in excess of the legal speed limit.

    This paragraph shall not apply to evidence obtained through the use of devices authorized by paragraph (3) within a school zone.

    VASCAR is a device authorized by paragraph (3). Looks like even Pennsylvania lawmakers acknowledge that VASCAR is not a precise method for measuring speed.

    – Our man was pleased to find the section reproduced above.

    All he had to do to convince the judge that 100 feet in 1.54 seconds is not 66 mph but about 44 mph, with no error. The judge should dismiss the case.

    But will the judge listen? Although the math “problem” here is rather trivial, perhaps the judge will be more likely believe someone with a degree in math. Thus, our man enlisted the help of his friend, who is a CMU graduate with a degree in mathematics.

    Transcript (4 pages)
    http://travel.3dresearch.com/transcript1.html

    Conclusion
    THE COURT: The point is this. You have said — your witness said you were going 43.9 miles an hour. You’re in violation of the law. I’m going to find you guilty of 43, over 35. You have a right to appeal to the Superior Court.

    THE DEFENDANT: Thank you, Your Honor.

    (Hearing concluded.)

  4. copy of email:
    K-band false alams driving you nuts?

    V1 has the solution

    Here’s the problem: K-band false alarms–which were merely nuisances back when automatic store-door openers were the most common source–have recently become major-league irritants, both in their frequency and their persistence.

    What changed? A safety feature that’s becoming common on new cars–the lane-change, or blind-spot, warning systems–often use weak K-band radar to “see” other vehicles nearby.

    The door-opener problem was self-limiting–it was stationary and you soon drove out of range. But you may be driving in a pack with a blind-spot system, and you’re stuck there for miles, not knowing which is the offending car so you don’t know which one to maneuver away from.

    V1 responds. If your V1’s serial number ends in 1179 or higher, you already have our best solution built into your detector. It’s a software revision we call the Junk-K Fighter, created to exclude mobile sources of unthreatening K signals. You need only to activate it.

    How to activate this feature. The Junk-K Fighter is paired with another software feature, Traffic Monitor Filter, and they both turn on with the same software switch.

    For older V1s, the Junk-K Fighter is included in our latest Upgrade

    LINKS:
    How to activate Traffic Monitor Filter and Junk-K Fighter from V1’s front panel (animation): TMF and Junk-K Fighter activation

    How to activate Traffic Monitor Filter and Junk-K Fighter (Written step-by-step instruction: Tech Report 3

    How to Customize V1 against Junk-K signals using your smartphone—this requires V1connection, an optional Bluetooth module available from us, and a free app called V1Connection, the app, available from your app store. (Android / iPhone)

  5. In Pennsylvania, only the Pennsylvania State Police use radar. City, borough, township and county LEOs use VASCAR, against which radar detectors are useless.

    Parallel white lines on the road are a dead giveaway of a speed trap. Problem is, you can’t see them until it’s too late.

  6. I have to wonder about the safety of all these emissions…

    My sister-in-law’s father was a career cop who did a lot of speed traps.

    He sat with speed detecting radar in his lap many days.

    What do you know? He passed away due to cancer, that his family believes was caused by the radar detector.

    I never knew the man, but if radar detectors can cause cancer, what are all these emissions doing to us?

    Just a thought…

    • Radar guns emit, the old ones did cause cancer with prolonged and close exposure.

      Radar detectors are receivers, like a radio. They won’t.

      • ‘Sail fawns’ emit also dispute whether it is enough to be a problem. Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer, spent a LOT of time with that thing up to his ear.
        Bluetooth may be only marginally better.

        • PTB 2 of my workmates died from brain tumors caused by heavy cellphone usage, this was 10 years ago. Both were under 45, and were athletes. I used to play basketball with them 3X a week.

          • In re sail fawns: I hate them on principle. This whole business of being “reachable” at all times is sick and evil – as well as ironically impossible, because the fucking things don’t work! Every time I speak with another person who is on dey sail fawn, the call either drops or the conversation becomes hard-to-impossible due to interference. My $12 wall phone is completely reliable. True, I cannot carry it with my everywhere – thank fucking god! The world has gone stupid. People gulled by social pressure and narcissism to believe they just have to be gabbling away about The Bachelor (or whatever) all the got-damned time. And pay $90 a month to do it!

            So, maybe brain cancer for them is a blessing.

  7. That brings up a good question I had with regards to laser jammers. These are deemed “illegal” (yes I throw up a little in my mouth every time I utter that word) pretty much everywhere from my understanding (correct me if I’m wrong).

    So I was told if a person does have one of these jammers installed and they get shot with laser from one of the hero’s, there is a certain procedure one has to follow in order to not give away the fact they are using a jammer (i.e. they have to get a signal back on their end otherwise they’ll know you’re jamming their signal). That procedure would go something like this:

    -cruising along, not bothering anyone or violating the NAP, when a hero decides to violate the NAP and shoot his frickin’ laser beam at you
    -your radar detector, preferably a V1, shows you’re being hit with a laser (oh shit hysteria ensues)
    -slow down to a “legal” speed
    -now that you’re down to speed, switch off laser jammer so the cops get a reading back on their end
    -turn laser jammer back on after the coast is clear

    Because if they don’t get a reading back on their end, they will know you’re jamming the signal and thus come ruin your day. So depending on the circumstances/situation, it could be very difficult to keep your wits about you and follow that procedure in time for the porkers to get a signal back.

    Am I wrong on this? Anybody have experience using a jammer? If so, is that the proper way to go about it?

    • C_Dub, there are plenty of laser jammers on the market but few of them actually work. Barely any radar jammers work at all irrespective of their marketing blurb.

      The cops will fire the laser at your front plate and expect a reading within a second or so. Some laser guns have jamming detection as well. It’s a difficult thing to thwart without them knowing.

      Because most laser guns fire a 904nm beam of light pulses at anywhere between 100 and 800 pulses per second, you need a particularly strong laser at the same light frequency pointing down the road and pulsing at them in order to interfere with their signal.

      You can order these lasers custom built but they’re not cheap. I bought 4 of them some years ago but have no concrete evidence they work, since I haven’t been pinged by a cop in years.

    • In the US lasers as I heard fall under some department other than the FCC federally.. Jamming laser speed measurements would fall under state law.

      • Lasers are only regulated by OSHA rules and regulations, for now. That’s why there’s a stupid warning sticker on your cheap laser pointer warning you not to look directly into the laser. The visiable pointers have such low output that they’ll never really do any permament harm to your eyes, but because it’s a LASER you have to have a warning.

  8. I remember many earlier detectors were “active”, meaning they’d be outputting a signal and receiving it back, sifting through it to find what interfered with it.

    Is the V1 active or passive?

    • It’s passive. I think “active” jammers/detectors run afoul of the FCC. Anything that emits RF, the FCC will find a way to get its grimy hooks into.

      Also, slightly related, laser emitters for blocking laser detectors are banned by statute in several states.

      • But would be AWESOME paired with a passive system.
        Hear the chirp, speed up.
        Porky sees you, of course, but the Active kicks on, and EVERYONE on the road goes apeshit from your active system giving them STOP, SWERVE, TURN, , etc, messages. Porky can sort through the details, IF he can even follow you any more, and you’re LONG gone.

        Better yet, link the passive detector to an ALARM array… Would it then be a SARM? Roast Pork.

        I’m getting nasty in my “old age.”

      • Except for detector detectors the cops use. I had an older setup years ago the cops keyed on and pulled me over, but never found it. It was small enough to fit in my helmet running off a battery pack. That detector used to pick up other detectors all the time.

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