Saturday, July 19, 2014

Deep Dive Review: Valentine One V1connection for iPhone or Android with Custom Sweeps, PART IV

Deep Dive Review: Valentine One V1 connection, Part IV

Valentine 1 v3.894, V1 Connection LE, Custom Sweeps

Detection Performance

The Value of Band Segmentation to Improve Alerting Performance

A little more than six years ago when was road-testing the first M3-based Beltronics STi-R remote radar detector, I first discovered and published what may turn out to be the most significant development in radar detection for decades.  That discovery was the performance gains that could be realized, in the real-world, when scanning smaller portions of the super-wide Ka band that was allocated for police radar use.  

In the U.S., police radar operates at 33.8Ghz, 34.7Ghz, and 35.5Ghz.  However, the entire spectrum allocated begins at 33.400Ghz and ends at 36.000Ghz.  That amounts to a total width of 2,600 megahertz or 2.6 gigahertz! That's really large when compared to K-band's width of 200 megahertz (24.050Ghz - 24.250Ghz) and X-band's paltry 50 megahertz (10.500Ghz - 10.550Ghz).

What this has meant is that all radar detectors historically had to scan through the entire width of the Ka spectrum to listen for what amounts to only three specific and much narrower frequencies or actual police radar transmissions.  In other words, detectors have been wasting a lot of time listening to frequencies where police radar doesn't exist.  Not only did this adversely impact the speed of detections (especially to briefly appearing weak radar), it increased the likelihood of detecting "false" Ka radar frequencies of non-police origin, such as older "leaky" radar detectors which can emit weak Ka-band RF.

Beltronics created the ability to segment certain frequencies out of the total spectrum of Ka for the purposes of reducing falsing to these other sources.  What the engineers didn't realize was that there were decided performance gains to be had to catch brief glimpses of weak Ka by improving the detector's chances of being able to detect them because of the significantly shorter time it took for the detector to scan Ka. Apparently this behavior wasn't easily observable in a lab environment, but for those aware of the benefits of the configuration, could be observed in the real-world.

While Beltronics and Escort were slow to realize the virtues of speed in detection (they now get it), the wizards at Valentine Research, quietly embraced the concept and incorporated their version of segmentation into the V1 in December of 2012.  But Valentine one-upped the M3s because they gave the savvy owner the ability to specify the actual frequencies the V1 listens to as well as allow for a prioritizing them by allowing more than one look at a frequency range in its overall sweeping pattern. VR allows the sophisticated driver up to six customized sweeps.

Furthermore, one has the ability to create named profiles, each having different configuration settings which allows for quick configuration changes at a push of one button.    Interestingly, I had made a similar feature request of Escort for their SmartRadar and its corresponding app several months earlier prior to the initial release of the V1Connection but they have as yet to offer such a useful feature in their software.

Clearly VR had not been sitting on their laurels as some had suggested over the years. Yes, the segmented M3s stole much of the spotlight over the years, but VR has made considerable improvements to the V1 over that same period of time.  The first version of the V1Connection and its accompanying mobile app appeared on the Android platform.  The V1Connection LE module and an improved version of the software came for the iPhone about six months later in the Spring of 2013.

Baselining the V1's Performance in its Default Configuration

For a couple of months, I drove with the V1 in its default configuration without the use of the V1Connection option.  I did this to get a very good feel for how the detector behaved without any tweaking.

What I found was, in its default standard configuration, the V1's performance was what I had come to expect. While not at the level of the segmented Escort Redline EE nor the other segmented M3-based remotes (Beltronics STi-R and STi-R+), the V1's X and K-band detections were exceptional and appeared to me to essentially be on the same level as the M3s. Ka band reception was where the differences were notable.  The V1 tended to trail the segmented M3-based detectors sometimes by a wide margin.

Lidar (police laser) reception continues to be absolutely dominated by the V1.  It is scary good.  No other radar detector comes even close to the sensitivity of the Valentine and no other detector ever has.  The V1 is the only detector that I have found that routinely provides advanced warning to laser when a vehicle ahead of me is being targeted.  No other detector has the ability to do that. Zero. Zip. Nada. Given the instant-on nature of laser and the fact that it is you that is specifically being targeted when a detector alerts, I consider it to be the most important reception "band," by far, of all of the others. The height of the detector both front and back plays an important in determining its laser sensitivity. Thinner detectors, while nice, have to sacrifice laser sensitivity because the size of the laser detection sensor has to be smaller and other detectors effectively have zero laser reception capability from the rear.  The V1's taller chassis,  allows for large laser sensors, helping to contribute to its stellar performance for both front and rear detections.

This is especially true for drivers (like myself) who rely on Veil, a passive laser countermeasure which diminishes the ability of police to obtain your speed during targeting.  When using Veil as part of your defense arsenal, it is absolutely essential that your detector provides more than adequate laser detection capabilities.

While detectors from Beltronics and Escort have been erratic with laser reception from model to model (the latest Max being absolutely atrocious at it), V1s appear to only get better.

Tapping the Potential of V1's Detection Performance with V1Connection

V1connection LE Bluetooth Module

Just like segmenting took the performance of the M3s to a whole new level, I am pleased to say, so does custom sweeping the V1. Anyone willing to invest a small amount of additional currency ($49) for the optional Bluetooth module and some additional time and effort into programming the V1 with the app, will extract huge dividends in performance.

On the detection front, X and K-band remain unchanged and are still basically toss-ups between a segmented Redline.  On 33.8 Ka band, the V1 appears to consistently dominate the M3 detectors. 34.7 Ka tends to favor the M3s and with 35.5 Ka, even a little bit more--in the most difficult reception scenarios--but the V1 is very much in the running now, out alerting the M3s on Ka enough for me to take notice.  When the V1 trails, it appears to happens with extreme off-axis radar which I found didn't typically lead to an actual speed-trap clocking encounter.  Which is to say, I believe both detector platforms have begun reaching a point of diminishing returns.  They are both that exceptional.

Valentine generally recommends setting the sweeps at 200 megahertz in total width--100mhz each side of the Ka center frequency.  That equates to:

33.8 Ka (low): 33.700-33.900
34.7 Ka (mid): 34.600-34.800
35.5 Ka (high): 35.400-35.500

The nature of the configuration of the unit, the 34.7 sweep must be broken into two partial sweeps, thereby occupying two of the six total sweep slots.

But even though these are the standard recommendations, VR doesn't suggest that these settings necessarily represent the most optimal settings either and they've expressed an interest in observing if other variations could return improved results in the wild.

To that end, I have spent a lot of time experimenting with different sweeping patterns and have settled on the following for the time being:

Sweep 1: 34.666-34.740 (tight, center weighted)
Sweep 2: 35.467-35.541 (tight, center weighted)
Sweep 3: 34.774-34.833 (tight, 2nd half of wide)
Sweep 4: 35.364-35.615 (wide)
Sweep 5: 34.666-34.740 (tight, center weighted, repeated)

Sweep 6: 34.563-34.770 (wide)

Original sweep pattern that I began to observe further improvement:

Sweep 1: 34.681-34.740 (tight, center weighted)
Sweep 2: 35.482-35.541 (tight, center weighted)
Sweep 3: 33.782-33.841 (tight, center weighted)
Sweep 4: 35.394-35.600 (wide)
Sweep 5: 34.774-34.804 (wide)
Sweep 6: 34.593-34.770 (wide)

Note: 33.8 sweep built-in to custom sweeping profile.

For those astute readers who notice that there exists no wide sweep for 33.8, you are correct.  It is not needed because the V1 automatically widely sweeps 33.8 no matter what additional sweeps are programmed.

Veil Guy's Center-Weighted Interleaved Profile
I am continuing to experiment with other variations (including one that drops the narrow 33.8 sweep altogether or replaces it with a narrow 34.7--which seems to be working quite well) to see if further performance gains can be had. The above profiles are balanced for each of the three Ka frequencies one will encounter throughout the U.S. and is good general profile for driving in all states regardless of what specific Ka bands are used.  As I continue to experiment with variations, if I find something that impresses me even more, I'll post an update.

Another very important benefit of custom sweeping, that I have also noticed, is that the V1 becomes lightning fast with its initial alerts--more so than any M3-based detector, including the Redline EE, and perhaps equal to the Escort Passport Max (a product marketed as being exceedingly quick at alerting).

Next: Deep Dive Review: Valentine One with V1connection, PART V
Previous: Deep Dive Review: Valentine One with V1connection, PART III
Post a Comment