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 X band is on a radar detector and show you how it may solve 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.
Here Does a Radar Gun and Detector Works?
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 considering 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, 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.
What Is X Band on a Radar Detector?
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 many 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 their class. With a beamwidth of 65 degrees, a police officer can detect the speed of your car even without pointing it directly at your vehicle.
This large detection width can only work against law enforcement when you are driving side-by-side with another car or there are more cars on a busy road. In such a 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 are 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. However, some police departments 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 the susceptibility to weather and atmospheric interference. 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.
However, some technologies 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.
The Pink Elephant in the Room
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 its 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 user 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 the 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 slow 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.