Ever wonder why petrol heads and gear nuts often take time to consider which radar detector would best fit their needs and blend in with their dashboard? Ever wondered what does a radar detector do exactly and what else is there to know about this futuristic device?
This electronic device that often sits at the center of the dashboard usually gets the flak from conservatives who feel that it only enables individuals who are only out to break the law and cause trouble for everybody else. Their concerns are not really off track, but not everybody who wants or is using a radar detector has a criminal mind to speak off; some of them just want to get to their destinations faster.
In a nutshell, radar detectors filter out radio waves until only the signal profiles of the different frequencies that law enforcement agencies use with their radar guns are left. Once radar detectors receive signals from the said frequencies, they then notify the driver that they are nearing or have passed an area that is being monitored for speeding and that the driver should slow down to avoid being apprehended.
Speed detectors work by sending out radar or laser beams through the air and whatever is reflected towards the source is measured for its relative distance and the speed to which it approaches the point of origin. This effectively measures the running speed of a target object, and this is an accurate way of catching speedsters and people who are up to no good, with their cars, of course.
The signals that radar guns send out usually travel in a straight line and stops once it hits an object going in a different direction. This means that moving vehicles directly behind another moving vehicle has a lower chance of being detected. This also means that radar guns are ineffective if placed near corners or when there is a hill in its path.
Commonly, police radar gun is the handheld radar speed gun that you would usually see in movies and police serials. It's shaped like a gun, hence the name, and consists of a radio transmitter and a receiver. It applies the basic principle used for radar systems--sending out a radio signal in a narrow beam and then parsing the returned signals via the receiver through a computer that calculates the distance and estimated speed of an oncoming object.
Radar guns can come in the following models:
These radar guns are used while the person holding it or the vehicle it is installed in is motion. This model contains a more complex algorithm as it can compute the relative distance and speed of the target while it is in motion.
These radar guns are often used while the operator is parked somewhere, maybe on a bridge spanning across a freeway or behind a huge ad that hides them from aspiring speedsters.
These radar guns are used to measure the relative speed and distance of vehicles moving towards and past a fixed point. This kind of radar gun can be modified to block out signals coming from the opposite direction to address false alarms.
On the other side of the road lies radar detectors, the chief nemesis of radar guns and the best device in a gear head's arsenal. These devices can be best classified into three types:
These radar detectors are typically plugged into the cigarette lighter port of your vehicle and then mounted on the windshield using suction cups. Corded radar detectors are easy to install and can detect all frequencies and do not need batteries.
These radar detectors are just like corded detectors sans the cord. They are also mounted on the windshield using suctions cups although cordless detectors have a shorter range and battery life. It is not that effective when detecting POP frequency signals.
These radar detectors often include signal jammers in its features and are usually mounted by professionals as it can be hidden from plain sight. Most remote mounted detectors are undetectable, almost stealth-like even.
Each of these three radar detector types may have their set of features that vary from model to model, maker to maker.
Aside from knowing what does a radar detector do, understanding the different misconceptions about radar detectors can also be worth your while, especially in the following:
Radar detectors are a good way for drivers to remind themselves of how fast they are going, so they can pay close attention to the way they drive. Most speeding accidents result from carelessness, and the speed to which the vehicle has been going affects how much damage would result from the impact.
In the US, an average cost for a speeding ticket is $150, and annually, around 41 million speeding tickets are issued. Whether on a personal or political standpoint, that is a lot of money. If you are looking to dodge the fine, then we understand why you’d want to have a radar detector. But are these devices even legal? If not, then how to hide radar detectors and still enjoy them?
If you have heard that radar detectors are prohibited in some areas or have come across an article saying that modern radar guns can detect radar detectors, then this article comes to you at an opportune time to set things straight and to provide you with essential tips on the matter.
The obvious answer is that radar detectors may be illegal to use on your side of the world or be in possession of someone in the country.
All over the globe, different federal or state laws apply concerning radar detectors. Several countries are clear about their stand regarding these devices. Japan, Iceland, New Zealand, and the UK, for example, allow drivers to use them; whereas, in countries like Finland, Belgium, Italy, and Germany, they are deemed illegal.
However, other countries have a complicated relationship with radar detectors. Australia and the United States, for example, have different state laws to follow on top of the instituted federal laws.
Case in point is the US where the device is legal in all states except for Virginia, Washington, D.C., and military bases. On top of that, while it is legal to use them in other states, you have to make sure you are not using one with a non-commercial vehicle or a vehicle that is more than 18,000 pounds. Interestingly, in Australia, all states except Western Australia prohibit the use of radar detectors.
Other countries are so strict about radar detectors that possessing one is considered a violation of the law. Confiscation or fines may apply depending on federal and state provisions. If you are in Finland, and you have been caught with one in your vehicle—whether you are using it or not, then you will be slapped with a fine in proportion to your income.
If you are unfortunately living in or traveling to a place where radar detectors are illegal, and you are not ready to give up on the idea of going without one, then you’ll find the tips or tricks below helpful:
So, where exactly is that invisible area? Obviously, it is not in the middle of the windshield or on the dashboard where it can be easily spotted even without the help of a radio detector detector.
One less visible spot is right above the rear view mirror. While this still lends the radar detector visible upon close inspection, at least it is not a vulnerable spot. Additionally, you can add a three- to four-inch tint strip on top of your windshield to hide that radar detector.
Adding that tint strip also takes care of other things. One it allows you to put your radar detector in a good position to catch radar signals. However, there are some concerns about the film cutting back the efficiency of a radar detector. A second advantage to using a tint strip is that it helps protect your radar detector from the heat. Thus, you can expect a radar detector behind a tint strip to last longer than one that is directly exposed to heat.
If you want to eliminate suspicions of you using a radar detector, then remember not to slam on the brakes once you get an alert. Doing so will just cause the police officer to suspect that you got your ‘Intel’ from a device while being targeted by a radar gun—most probably the instant-on type—thus, the sudden brake.
Make it a habit to slow down instead of suddenly stepping on the brakes when your radar detector goes off. This will up your chances of getting off a speeding ticket fine than if you would suspiciously put the car to an immediate stop.
Another thing you can do is to buy a really good radar detector. While radar detector manufacturers are upping their game, so are those working to upgrade the speed detection tools of police enforcement. That explains why some departments have moved on to the more accurate and stealthy laser guns.
But going back to the radar detection field, it is believed that some radar guns are equipped with radar detector detecting technology. Like radar guns, radar detectors leak out some signals that can be caught by these radar guns. Thus, merely hiding a regular radar detector behind a tint strip can be a futile effort.
What you need is a radar detector that can hide from such RDD-equipped radar guns. Thankfully, there are a few stealthy types. Among them are the Beltronic STI Magnum, the Escort Redline, and the Uniden R3 and R1. But, of course, since they belong to a special class of radar detectors, you’ll have to be ready to raise your budget. That will be around $400 to $500.
So those are three of the ways on how to hide radar detectors, from the most practical to the most effective yet expensive. If you are looking to up your radar detection game regardless of the existing laws of the area, then these are the tricks that may work for you. Again, these are not fool-proof ways, and neither are radar detectors 100% effective all the time.
Nevertheless, while it is easy stepping on the gas and finding loopholes in the system as some form of revolt to an income-generating provision, speed checks remain to serve an important purpose, and that is to keep the highways and roads safe for everyone. So, use radar detectors responsibly.
Got another speeding ticket? It’s high time to slow down and perhaps consider getting a radar detector—that’s if you’re not ready to give up the need for speed yet. In this article, we answer what is x band on a radar detector and show you how it may provide you with the solution to your problem.
But first, it’s important to know how that radar gun caught you red-handed in the first place, and see how a radar detector can work for you.
A traffic police officer who fires a radar gun towards your vehicle is releasing a concentrated radio wave. When it hits your car, it ripples some of the electromagnetic energy back to the radar device which then calculates your speed by taking into consideration the time it took for the radio signal to return.
Now, radar guns use different bands of radio frequencies. Among them are X, K, and Ka bands—in the same way that radio has AM and FM stations. If your car is equipped with a radar detector and can sense these ripples, then it sends off an alarm, alerting you that speed checks are nearby.
Radar guns may be in the X-band (8.0 to 12.0 GHz), K-band (24.050 – 24.250. GHz),) or Ka-band (26.5 – 40 GHz). Each type has its pros and cons. Now, how efficient a radar detector provides alerts depends on what frequency it is tuned in and its ability to accept those signals.
X-band was the original band used in speed guns. It’s in the 8.0 to 12.0 GHz range, with 10.5 as the most commonly used frequency in the US and 9.4-10.6 in Europe.
Now, your radar detector when tuned in to an X band may detect radar guns operating within four miles. But that’s only applicable if the X band radar gun has been switched on the entire time, providing you sufficient warning before you enter speed trap areas. Still, since a lot of technological advancements have occurred since the introduction of X band radar guns in the 1950s, they are now the easiest to dodge with the help of radar detectors that can catch X band signals.
Here are a few more things you need to know about the X band on a radar detector:
• Bigger size
Compared to radar detectors tuned in to other frequencies, X band radar detectors are high-powered and big. For one, they require a bigger antenna. So, they tend to be bulky.
In principle, the smaller the band frequency of the radar detector the bigger is the size of its hardware.
• Large detection width
Older X band radar guns are known to have the widest detection width of its class. With a beam width of 65 degrees, a police officer can detect the speed of your car even without pointing it directly at your vehicle.
The only time this large detection width can work against law enforcement is when you are driving side by side with another car, or there are more cars in a busy road. In such case, the reading may not provide sufficient evidence for a speeding ticket. It can be argued that the wide beam may have picked up the speed of the nearby vehicle even if it’s evident to the police officer which car was going faster.
• False positives
A common complaint about using the X band is the frequency with which you can get false positives. It appears that automatic doors operate in the same X-band frequency. So, depending on how many establishments equipped with automatic doors you will have passed by, your radar detector tuned in an X band may annoyingly set off that many times.
That’s why some people who have the option to shut off the X band in their radar detectors decide not to use them. Some police departments, however, capitalize on this tendency to shut off the X band amongst radar detector users. The police can catch some overspeeding drivers using radar guns in the X band frequency.
• Stronger rain-fade resistance
Another principle you have to remember with X band radar guns or detectors is that the lower the frequency, the lower is the susceptibility to weather and atmospheric interference, too. While there’s greater weather resistance for the X band than higher frequencies, this means that rain, snow, and ice still have the power to weaken the absorption of microwave radio frequency signals.
There are technologies, however, that have been developed to mitigate the effects of rain fade across frequency ranges.
• More affordable
Since radar detectors in the X band frequency are considered old technology, they are more affordable than their younger counterparts. Added to the K and Ka-band, there’s now the Ku-band that’s used in Europe.
A question you might have hanging over your head right now is why X band radar gun detectors are still in use when you already have those in the K, Ka, and Ku bands? While it seems like using X band radar detectors is archaic, it has its advantages. And as dictated by some situations, they’re the choice of some departments.
As mentioned earlier, the higher-frequency radar guns come at a heftier price tag. So, if a department aims to have most—if not all—of their personnel equipped with radar guns, then the goal becomes more attainable with the cheaper X band radar guns. Besides the cheaper equipment, using the more familiar old technology also means less need for usage training. This makes radar guns using the X band—or the K band—the more practical solution for some departments.
Thus, you’ll find the X band radar guns more commonly used in rural areas where funds are somewhat limited, and traffic is less dense. Therefore, in such settings, you’ll find switching on the X band on your radar detector to your advantage.
It’s also worth mentioning again that some police departments even in the metropolitan areas are deliberately using the X band radar guns because of the tendency of some users to switch this band off to avoid getting false positives.
So, what is X band on a radar detector? It’s a relatively old band of radar wave frequency that allows your car to detect the presence of X band radar guns and that may provide you enough warning to slow down before you enter a speed trap area.
But because it’s old technology, it’s a bit rough on the edges. X band equipment is expected to be bulkier and more prone to false positives. Still, if you’re not looking to slowing down, then you’ll find an X band radar detector handy, especially in areas where X-band-radar-gun-trotting traffic police officers are aplenty.