Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day (Decoration Day) 2007

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to the brave men and women who are fighting/defending our freedoms and to those comrades that have "fallen."

The same goes to all of our allies who serve to help ensure peace for the benefit of all mankind.

May GOD bless all of you and your families for the sacrifices that you have made.

U.S. Memorial Day History and Information on U.S. War Memorials

Veil Guy

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ohio Really Does Have "Everything"

And that includes some of the highest gas prices I have seen [in the U.S.] -- $3.29 for regular and $3.49 for mid-grade, ouch! Am I glad, I don't drive a gas guzzling SUV.

Ohio also has the distinction of being the home to the three leading high-end radar detector manufacturers -- Beltronics, Escort, and Valentine Research. The state also appears to have a good quality road system, especially when compared to Pennsylvania. It makes me wonder why our state's tax dollars aren't be channeled as effectively in maintaining our highways. Smooth roads equal safe roads!

We also encountered just about every form of speed enforcement currently out there including instant-on X (10.5 Ghz), K (24.1 Ghz), Ka (34.7 Ghz), Ka (33.8 Ghz), and police lidar (904 nm) all in the course of a couple of days! WOW!

We certainly don't have that kind of action in PA...In fact, PA almost feels tame, in comparison, although I did run into a very tricky police radar speedtrap [in PA] on our return (more on that later). The only thing we didn't see in Ohio (and northern Kentucky) was VASCAR, Ka (35.5 Ghz), and aerial traffic surveillance although we understand that each of these additional methods are alive and well, there.

My wife and I covered about 1875 miles total over the course of our trip to Ohio (actually Kentucky) and back.

We were well received by each of the three leading radar detector manufacturers (thanks, each of you for your kind hospitality) -- we'll have to do it again, some time.

In the course of our visits, we were able to get our Escort Passport 9500i firmware updated, our Valentine 1 (V1) v3.826 dropped-off for a "tune-up," purchase a new retail model of the V1 (v3.861 /w digital temp compensation circuitry) directly from Valentine Research, and purchase another retail model of the Beltronics (BEL) STi Driver directly from BEL's/Escort's retail store. All told, it was almost $900 in total expenditures [all in the name of 'testing' of course!] We're going to have to hold off sending a check to Greenpeace, this month. (TA) :)

The most notable speed trap encounters were...

We "stumbled" upon a police laser speedtrap on our return trip on I-70E in Ohio about 30 miles west of Wheeling, WV. At the time of our initial laser hit (with an LTi Ultralyte at about 750 feet), we were traveling in excess of 95mph, to be honest. The traffic was fairly light, at the time, and we would have been toast, had it not been for our battery of laser countermeasures -- which, of course, included VEIL and a laser jammer.

My particular metallic silver sedan has a pretty lousy (in terms of stealth) frontal profile -- even without a front state license/number plate. At the distance we were initially targeted, we may not have had sufficient time to completely peel-off all of our additional 25-40mph speed had we used either VEIL or a laser jammer alone (due to the potential for punch through with this particular vehicle), however since my Dinan'd Bimmer was equipped with both laser countermeasures working in unison, we had more than enough time to safely slow down to a more sedate speed.

Both the BEL STi Driver and Valentine 1 alerted to the laser hit, as did the laser jammer. Once we got slowed, I turned off the laser jammer, to give the trooper his speed -- no sense "rubbing his nose in it."

I was so excited, I tried pulling a Jason maneuver, but by the time I made the return pass, the officer had already moved on to his next victim! I can understand how some guys have gone from fearing these police laser speedtraps to looking forward to them! Too bad Pennsylvania doesn't have this kind of action!

The other speed trap, that we encountered, worth mentioning was a tricky one -- either by design or coincidence -- in which a PA state trooper had left his K-band radar gun in steady-state (constant-on) mode while positioned between several radar-drone signs!

It was in the early evening and it was almost dark. In western PA on the PA Turnpike traveling eastbound towards the Reading/Morgantown exit. I was west of Breezewood when I stumbled into this trap. Of course, both of the radar detectors were screaming with strong K-band signals, but I almost completely disregarded them, as I incorrectly assumed that the K-band source was just another drone sign.

That could have been a very expensive mistake. Fortunately, I drive with "eagle eyes" and managed to spot the trooper's radar antenna on the side of his vehicle which was sticking out from the embankment that he was hidden behind. I was fortunate to get my speed down to a margin over that was not too excessive and managed to "squeak" by -- gotta love those effective BMW disc brakes (upgraded to cross-drilled with ceramic pads).

Another speed trap, worth noting, was an instant-on X-band hit from a rolling Ohio state trooper (white vehicle) from the opposite direction of I-270E. Steve (who lives in Ohio) is right. X-band is still alive and well in Ohio just like it is in New Jersey. If you drive in either of these states better not disable X-band reception -- that could be very costly, indeed.

Finally, I must write, Sheffield Village police really know how to use instant-on radar while cruising. They are prudent, quick, and lethal with their trigger-pulls. Be careful if you ever find yourself on River Road. A radar detector, alone, will likely not save you. My advice is to obey the posted limits.

The good news is that after almost 1900 miles of driving at speeds that would most certainly warrant speeding tickets (all in the name of real-world testing), we managed to successfully avoid every potential one [and it wasn't because we weren't trying, mind you] with our trusty radar detectors and laser countermeasures.

While I personally don't advocate speeding or the willful violation of traffic laws, it's nice to know that these products, can indeed serve to save your bacon and pay for themselves many times over, in the unfortunate event that you happen to be traveling a bit faster than the posted speed limit at the time you find yourself in a speedtrap.

Next week, we will continuing our long-term radar detector review series and comparisons, when we travel to Georgia and back (about 2200 miles round trip). Looking forward to taking our BEL STi Driver to a land "where 'no detector' has gone before."

Happy and safe motoring!

(Especially during this Memorial Day long holiday weekend. And please remember to buckle-up and watch the booze! Please celebrate our fought for/defended freedoms by driving safely, responsibly, and courteously. :))

Veil Guy

Saturday, May 26, 2007

How (I Think, in Part) my BEL STi Drivers Occasionally Outperform my V1s in RADAR (not LIDAR) Reception

I continue to notice, that on occasion, my Beltronics STi Drivers outperform my Valentines and I believe I have formulated a possible reason for this that may go beyond simple model to model variance that is inevitable in production.

While my V1s tend to consistently outperform my STi Drivers from the rear and extreme sides (likely due to the antennae [one rear-facing] and their relatively large/wide shape(s) that uniquely are housed inside a Valentine's casing) my STi Drivers appear to occasionally alert sooner to police radar sources that are farther down the road which more directly face my vehicle front. (These are the kind that I am most concerned about when I drive on the highway).

And I think that this is probably due to the actual design and shape of the STi Driver's front facing horn antennae. It almost feels like these radar detectors "look" at [frontal radar sources] objects with a 600mm telephoto lens versus the Valentine's 550mm lens. At least that is the impression I am forming after many many thousands of driving miles with each.

While the V1's dual antennae arrangement and radar/laser locating arrows are awesome and unique, this design also tends to create a higher initial false rate from the side or rear, as well, so it is to some degree a double-edged sword.

The STi's somewhat "narrower" field of view appears to naturally assist in spotting radar slightly bit farther out, in some cases, while at the same time tending to false a bit less to other radar sources which emanate from shopping centers and outlet stores that are routinely adjacent to the highway. This is true even in "highway mode" and has nothing to do with the advanced radar signal processing that this radar detector is capable of.

It appears the both the Beltronics STi Driver and Valentine 1 provide stellar reception sensitivity in controlled test chambers, however the performance, to which I am writing, goes beyond mere lab numbers and these differences may only be observed in actual use with all the signal-reception-imperfections that real-world environments provide over an extended period of time -- which don't occur in a "vacuum."

This is why we pioneered our unique approach to long-term radar detector testing against real police radar speed traps. Some aspects, of radar detector performance, can not be revealed with mere performance charts.

Next week, we will be driving to and from Atlanta, Georgia, along I-95 and continuing our long-term evaluation of the top-performing best radar detectors.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Escort Passport 9500i: Performance Update

Last Tuesday evening when my wife and I were returning home from our Ohio trip (during which time we visited Beltronics, Escort, and Valentine Research), I happened to briefly evaluate the latest version of an Escort Passport 9500i. I have been resisting the temptation to performing a full analysis and review until more time has elapsed since it's introduction at the beginning of the year.

At one point during my travels, the 9500i alerted to the presence of K-band at a point the was farther [away from the source] than at the position than either the STi Driver or the Valentine 1, did.

After that experience, I got to really thinking about this new radar detector again -- the things I like about it; the things that I hope will improve over time as this new model gets "shaken out;" and I believe I am starting to see and understand what Escort is attempting to accomplish with their new flagship windshield-mount radar detector.

When a radar detector approaches/exceeds -120 dBm in reception sensitivity, it's going to have a propensity to "false" at a [much higher] rate to legitimate radar signals which are not bona-fide police radar (like X & the K band door openers, other cheaper radar detectors which leak RF, and certain ACC/ADAS systems which utilize either police radar bands or police lidar wavelengths).

This is very true with both the Beltronics STi Driver and the Valentine 1 when operated in their respective "highway" modes -- the modes I generally use. (Fortunately both Beltronics and Escort provide auto-muting -- which successfully mitigates this annoyance to a large degree).

The easy thing for a radar detector manufacturer to do, once they have achieved these sensitivity levels, is to report everyone of those "falses." The problem with that is that the radar detector owner will soon tire of the excessive warning alerts and begin to disregard them (perform his/her own filtering), which can be a "self defeating" dynamic.

This situation is not entirely unlike driving a high performance vehicle which has an incredible suspension and provides stellar handling characteristics (on the track) but becomes punishing to the kidneys on the great public road surfaces of states like PA and MI.

Escort, certainly, is cognizant of this fact and, I believe, is attempting to accomplish a most difficult feat -- providing extreme sensitivity to bona-fide police radar speed traps while at the same time providing the highest levels of signal rejection ever accomplished on a radar detector.

They are, in effect, attempting to climb mount Everest without an oxygen tank or (perhaps a better analogy) are attempting to create an all-season tire which is equally adept in both dry/rain and snow conditions.

The amount of complex signal processing that must take place and in such a short amount of time must be daunting challenge for Escort's firmware designers, indeed.

Without a doubt, this is a bold initiative and not one for the light-hearted.

Given the resources of a manufacturer like Escort and their desire to continue establishing benchmarks by producing radar detectors that are easy to live with, I trust they will "summit"...even if it takes some time to do so.

Kudos to the fine folks at Escort for even attempting such a climb!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My Valentine 1 (v3.826) Was in Need of a 'Tune-Up." Does Yours?

As it turns out my Valentine 1 was in need of a "tune-up." For the sake of saving some time and for our drive back home from Ohio, my wife and I decided to purchase their latest V1 (v3.861) [bringing our total ownership to four V1s over 15 years] instead of paying $85 and having to wait for a couple of days to have my existing unit updated -- I am certain to get top-dollar for my trusty V1 on Ebay when I get my 3.826 back and tuned-up. (Update: As of 30 Jan 08, I still have had the heart to put it up for sale. This brings me to owning four Valentine Ones since they were first introduced in the early 90's.)

This experience has further re-enforced my notion of the potential value of driving with two top-of-the-line radar detectors, concurrently -- specifically the BEL STi Driver and the Valentine 1 -- as they can each serve as a check and balance to each other. Had it not been for the fact the I had been driving with multiple radar detectors, I would not have known that something was awry with my particular V1. To my knowledge the V1s do not have a self-diagnostic mode or "re-calibration required" alerting feature -- as do the top-of-the-line BELs and Escorts -- to alert their owners to the potential of reception problems -- sort of the equivalent of a "check engine" light.

Fortunately the latest V1 models have apparently corrected this particular situation with the incorporation of digital temperature compensation circuitry which may, in the long-term, help to stabilize any potential "drift" in the reception of the different radar frequencies. Only time will tell for sure.

Owners of models prior to v3.861 may want to consider having their models "updated" as the cost to do so may be quite reasonable. You can check directly by visiting, V1 upgrade.

Hey, even my high performance BMW needs a tune-up from time to time...It's just the cost of doing business.

More on our 1900 mile Ohio trip to come...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Does my particular Valentine 1 have an issue?

As part of continuing series of driving with the top-of-the-line radar detectors, while out in Ohio, I managed to hook up with Steve (co-founder of GoL). He rode shut gun as we compared the relative performance of my particular models of the V1 (v3.826) versus his (v3.861) and my STi Driver versus his STi driver (both rev: A4m9).

The purpose of these "experiments" was to explore the possibility of model/model product variance between them. During one pass through Sheffield Village, yesterday, we got a brief shot of instant-on K radar from a cruiser coming the opposite direction on River Road. Both STi's alerted to the K-band V1 stayed silent.

We drove around for another hour or two and were unable to duplicate the V1's behavior, as it alerted to X, K, and Ka (34.7) appropriately.

During our drive we compared the performance of Steve's v2.909 and v3.861 to my v3.826. Again it appears that my 3.826 appeared to lag, somewhat, behind either of his two units on K-band.

A couple of things may have accounted for the observed performance "gap" in my V1's K-band reception. Either 1, there was inter-detector interference going on (which I still highly doubt, considering the STi is a non-radiator in areas that would likely cause such interference) or 2, (I am more inclined to believe) that my particular V1 is either in need of a tune-up or an update or both.

Given this experience and my recent ones with the STi Driver (relative to the V1 on X and K) I have decided to purchase their latest model when I venture out to Cincinnati. When I get an opportunity, I will send my 3.826 into the lab to have it's specs checked.

This experience, in no way, curbs my enthusiasm for BEL's STi Driver, which is still, without a doubt, an awesome performer. But, if my particular V1 has an issue, I want it corrected along with the record.

I believe, my particular V1 also showed less sensitive at one GoL testing venue relative to other V1s tested that same day. I also have the feeling that my particular STi Driver is also a very sensitive one. My STi appeared to outperform the other detectors on Ka (34.7 Ghz) by a pretty good margin in one of our encounters around Sheffield Village to a cruiser who was approaching us off to our left at an intersection.

At any rate, if it actually turns out to be related to inter-detector chatter, I will report this as well.

Veil Guy

Friday, May 04, 2007

An Examination of Technology, Driver Inattentiveness,Traffic Controlling Devices, and Their Impact on General Highway Safety


Several days ago, we had several interesting questions posed from two members of the premier online forum dedicated to the discussion of radar detectors on which Veil, participates.

Ray had asked if another collision avoidance system that was appearing on certain Volvo models named Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) -- which appears to provide a similar function to Audi's side-assist on its vehicles as a $595USD safety option -- has the potential to create the same kind of interference, as does the Audi system, at least, in it's current form as other traffic controlling devices, such as bona-fide police radar speedtraps, radar drones that routinely adorn schoolbuses, commercial trucks, traffic safety vehicles, construction vehicles, and construction zone signs.

In direct response to this question:

As for as I know, Volvo's BLIS system, while similar in purpose to Audi's side-assist, appears to utilize digital photography and a comparison system of multiple frames digitally to obtain information about approaching vehicles in its blind spots, called BLIS zones.

It does not appear to utilize RADAR to determine this information so I expect that this particular variant of an accident avoidance system would be radar detector friendly.

I would hope that means if FoMoCo would ever begin to deploy such systems in their vehicles, that they would use a similar system, which does not utilize K-band radar -- at the specific frequency of 24.1Ghz (more generally known as 24Ghz) -- as does the current version of Audi's side-assist and other traffic controlling devices, ACC and ADAS systems, which have been legally created under the established guidelines of the FCC, harmonized standards of ETSI CEPT/ERC 70-03 EN300440 (1 to 25Ghz) and the German Frequency Allocation Authority, RegTP.

But that suggests another unrelated issue: Does the BLIS system have to ability to store a history of such images, which could later be used to do post-accident forensic discovery? And if so, who owns that information? The owner of such an equipped vehicle or the manufacturer? And is it protected by existing privacy laws in today's post-911 environment? Can the likes of such information collected by it or other post OBD-II information be used against the vehicle's owner in the event of an accident?

It would appear, that ignorance is not BLIS. We'll leave that discussion to another day.

With respect to the second observation made by Rob about inattentive drivers, my direct response is:

I suppose there is a good bit of truth to your assertion. But when you consider the potential for distraction when you factor in cell phones (primarily), Blackberry-like devices, i-Pod players and music systems, GPS navigation systems with integrated real-time traffic reporting, Audi's MMI, BMW's i-Drive, Mercedes' COMAND, and yes DVD video players up front (a long-haul truck driver friend of mine tells me he routinely observes other drivers WATCHING DVDs while driving the route of I-95!) and the like, I could see the real need for such a system on busy multi-lane highways that seem to exist everywhere, these days.

I would like to briefly digress for a moment, to express an opinion about about a closely related topic: the new menu-based multi-media control systems, initially created by BMW and subsequently duplicated by two other large German automotive manufacturers and now appearing with Lexus.

I would hope they reconsider the application of such devices inside their vehicles.

BMW used to resist the marketing pressure [from certain automotive journalists] to include cup-holders and the like inside most of their models by rightly asserting that a vehicle's primary purpose is safe transportation and not entertainment -- in the sense of being movie theater-like.

Their assertion was that drivers should stay absolutely focused on the singular task of driving and not be distracted -- in this case, with eating or drinking. A salient point, indeed. In fact, it was that philosophy, that enticed me to become an owner of a BMW 540iS in 2001.

But something unfortunately happened when BMW introduced their revised 7 series in 2002. They began responding to these pressures of the US automotive market, and as a result, lost that focus, in-part, in the process.

This change of philosophy has created, in my opinion, a series of dynamics -- that has already begun cascading throughout much of the automotive world, affecting even the Far East multi-national automotive manufacturing titans -- which actually contribute to increasing driver distraction while in motion and create a whole new set of complications to highway safety world-wide, as result.

Is it merely a coincidence that Audi is offering vehicles, for the US market, such as the RS4 and RS6 which have managed to successfully challenge the long-standing exalted status of both BMW's M3 and M5 models respectively? Perhaps, not. I, myself, have resisted the temptation to purchase a newer 5 Series for these very reasons. At least models like the Z4 and some of their latest 3 series vehicles (like the 328xi wagon) retain more of BMW's original purposeful character.

My suggested solution to correct this unhealthy trend is a very simple one:

If manufacturers like BMW, Audi, Daimler/Chrysler, Lexus, etc. are going to provide owners with multi-media-menu-driven control systems, they should also provide conventional buttons to accomplish many of the simple tasks -- like the changing of a radio station -- while driving and restricting their usage while in anything other than PARK and abandon the unnecessarily complicated burden these new-fangled systems place on drivers.

I believe these new systems require the driver to take his or her eyes off the road repeatedly and for potentially longer periods of time as well as requiring more conscious thought to use! This is not a good thing in any event.

And if I may address one final closely-related issue, before moving on:

If you have never sat in the cockpit of a late model BMW 7 Series, try doing so. Without anyone assisting you, try starting the vehicle and placing it either into reverse, drive, and then back into park. Be ready to bring a large cup of hot coffee with you now that your can place it in one of the big cup holders that are now installed the front, but make sure you drink it first, because by the time you figure out how to do these seemingly simple tasks, without actually being shown by the salesperson, your coffee will likely be too cold drink! If you managed to figure out these ostensibly easy tasks, here's another one. Try powering on the radio or changing the radio station to one of the preprogrammed radio stations (assuming someone was capable of actually programming them in the first place).

I trust, by now, you get the very real point I am making. If it takes you that long to perform just one task, while being entirely focused on it and in a stationary position, imagine attempting to do it while driving at the same time! What these and other high-tech systems lack is an ergonomic purpose. And without that, these new purportedly high-tech "solutions" actually create more problems. These systems are being marketed as 'ergonomically friendly, utilizing minimum complexity while providing maximum usability.'

I wonder what they have been putting in their coffee?

They may be ergonomically friendly if one were sitting in front a computer, but they have very limited practical utility to the driver of his/her vehicle while driving. What has happened to this company's focus?

If such multi-media systems are going to continue to appear inside the cabins of automobiles, at least provide single button alternatives which can be used more efficiently and with less distraction and thought, for the most common tasks, than these new systems, alone, provide. And please, do not unnecessarily increase the complexity to do something simple, like putting a car into Reverse or Drive.

Now that I have cleared the air with those related issues, let's come back to the matter immediately at hand.

According to the news reports, Gov. Corzine of NJ was seriously injured recently in an accident with their SUV and another pick-up truck on the GSP. Yes, he may not have been wearing a seat-belt. Yes, they may have been speeding excessively -- relative to the rate of surrounding traffic -- at the time. BUT, perhaps if this sort of collision avoidance and/or SWS technology was deployed -- in either or both vehicles that were involved -- the whole situation may have been completely avoided. I am fairly certain that these similar dynamics are a primary contributing factor to the rate of multi-vehicle-accidents. Some reports which suggest this: Investigation of Highway Workzone Crashes conducted by the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center and Driving Distractions Take Their Toll.

There's no doubt, there is a bona-fide and good purpose, accident avoidance, ACC, and ADAS systems can serve to actually reduce the likelihood of many collisions which often occur on crowded highways and therefore significantly improve general highway safety in a wholesale fashion. If implemented properly, these systems can effectively smooth the flow of traffic -- which is the intent of their design.

And perhaps finally, the authorities may begin to channel their resources on promoting alternative ways to reducing traffic accidents in a manner that doesn't point the broad finger of culpability at "speeders" to the degree that they routinely do now. Now that would make a hugely positive impact on traffic safety.

Historically, "speeding" tends to always be cited as the "underlying" cause of accidents in studies which in turn often leads to heavy-handed speed enforcement campaigns (aka the hiking of alternate "tax" revenue streams), ostensibly in the name of "improving safety."

It's not at all surprising to see that German automotive engineering has historically established, benchmark automotive technology for the sake of enhancing true safety innovations world-wide. This is a country which has fortunately resisted the PC pressure to eliminate the "no restrictions zones" of the Autobahn -- with which multi-national automotive companies, such as General Motors, often travel -- to shake-out new models prior to their introduction into the marketplace.

The following articles provide fascinating insight into subjects that are often over-looked, skewed, or rarely reported:

What these reports and others like them suggest, run counter to conventional wisdom:

Drivers who use radar detectors are actually safer drivers than drivers who do not.

Anyone who drives with one of the top performing radar detector from the makers of Beltronics, Escort, or Valentine already knows this and, in general, is more situationally aware and engaged with what is going on around them while they are driving -- in otherwords, they are less distracted! And you know what? It makes a whole lot of sense, when you really think about it. Indeed, the ultimate purpose these and related products like VEIL, actually serve to the motoring public is an increased amount of time to safely slow down and in a manner that minimizes abrupt braking behavior and maximizes the continued natural flow of traffic patterns - regardless of whether or not a driver is traveling at a somewhat higher rate of speed than the surrounding traffic.

I would also suggest that owners of such detectors, are generally more in tune with the operating condition of their often high performance vehicles (which tend to include leading traffic safety systems), as well, including knowing when they had their last oil change, tire-inflation check (as per Mario's recommendations), and knowing the handling characteristics of their vehicles in most circumstances. Put another way, they are better and safer drivers.

And not to put too fine a line on this point -- radar detectors, drivers who use them, and their manufacturers are not the villains, they are part of the solution (and always have been). For several years, the leading four radar detector manufacturers (Beltronics, Cobra, Escort, Whistler) have incorporated into their top models the ability to operate with certain steady-state radar transmitting devices (drones) that adhere to the protocols of the Safety Warning System (SWS) for the purposes of enhancing driver safety by alerting drivers to potential safety hazards that may exist ahead of them that may be initially unseen. The idea being, the sooner the driver is informed of a pending safety condition, the better the chances the driver will have at exhibiting a measured response. This initiative started more than a decade ago and the radar detector companies have building products with these capabilities for years, as the good corporate citizens they are. Why, more than ten years later, hasn't this promising system yet been implemented to it's full potential?

I suggest that the cynical view: that 'radar detectors are only made for people to speed and break the law' be abandoned finally for a more balanced one.

I also suggest that the cynical view: that 'traffic speed enforcement is merely a means to generate revenue' be abandoned for a more balanced one, as well.

The truth lies somewhere in between these two extreme and inaccurate beliefs. There, I said it.

In my opinion, the whole idea of "controlling speed" as the sole or primary means of reducing accident rates should be channeled more productively to actually creating circumstances to steady the overall flow rate of traffic. This can be accomplished a number of different ways without resorting to using devices which provide very little advanced warning to their use, thereby creating the very dynamic that contributes to undermining that goal.

It would be interesting to learn if accidents rates that can solely be attributed to speeding are statistically lower in places where detector usage is outlawed (such as certain Canadian provinces, Australia, and the Commonwealth of Virginia) versus places where they are not. I may be going out on a limb here, but I seriously tend to doubt it. Why? I will speak for only myself -- the speed at which I drive is not dictated by whether or not I happen to have a radar detector in my vehicle, it is dictated by the operating condition of my vehicle and the surrounding environment.

There is one speed, that I am concerned about and that is the speed at which new technology is being incorporated into our daily lives and at a rate that may be too fast for our collective society to appropriately adapt to them:

Do we really need cars that can park themselves?

Is it really wise to develop new technologies to replace skills which we all should innately possess?

What will be the long-term impact of increased reliance on automated systems, such as, ACC and ADAS on the overall level of driver attentiveness?

Is the combination of these technologies and existing traffic enforcement techniques a suitable replacement to the enforcement of an newly established rule-set of universal driving etiquette?


Upon some additional reflection in the time since we initially broke this story, I have formulated some additional thoughts which, I believe, should be openly discussed -- because this goes well beyond the mere need for certain radar detector manufacturers to re-program or re-engineer their existing radar detectors.

In their current form -- non-police operated radar-emitting devices which function right in the heart of police K-band radar -- a band that is still in considerable use throughout the world -- could devices like these create another potential safety "hazard" for drivers of such vehicles and/or even more likely other vehicles in close proximity, who are following, or who are being overtaken by such a vehicle, so equipped?

I am suggesting there may be a potential for the many drivers (often of high-performance vehicles) who are equipped with radar detectors in other vehicles close by who receive falses from these systems who may be inclined to stab their brakes abruptly and sharply as a result, since these systems create falses unlike any other and will either appear like a strong blast of rapidly increasing steady-state radar -- when making an approach from the rear -- or even worse, like instant-on police K-band radar at full strength when being passed.

In deference to Audi's side-assist collision avoidance system, this potential has already existed for some time now, with other similar traffic controlling devices which are in widespread use throughout the USA. We've recently learned there already exists radar drones that can sense motion prior to engaging their radar transmission in a manner that would appear, to an unsuspecting driver, like a genuine speedtrap.

This isn't entirely unlike the situation many years ago when certain drivers -- who illegally operated steady-state analogue radar jammers from within their vehicles -- would experience the same abrupt braking behavior from vehicles ahead of them -- as they made their approach from the rear -- by setting off every radar detector in the immediate area.

Imagine having to deal with a lot of drivers -- whose radar detectors you set-off with your radar jammer -- who constantly were stabbing their brakes immediately ahead of you every time you were overtaking them. A very scary prospect, indeed, and at the end of the day, a self-defeating one.

It would seem possible that a similar situation may be created for drivers of vehicles equipped with such technology, or at least to drivers immediately behind them or, even more likely, for drivers who were behind drivers who were behind such vehicles. See the dynamic potentially being created? This suggests the possibility of creating the opposite effect on the smooth flow of traffic -- again, a self-defeating purpose not much different from the radar jamming example previously mentioned.

In summary, in their current form, it appears these systems have the very real potential to create a unique set of new complications to highway safety, while at the same time, providing a very real potential to improve traffic safety -- essentially a proverbial high-tech Catch-22.

I am certain that the manufacturers and the users of such systems would not want the kind of bad PR, let alone even the slightest suggestive hint of liability that could arise from having such a system be potentially attributed to even one chain-reaction multi-vehicular-accident (MVA) particularly in today's litigious societies. At least one automotive manufacturer has already been down that unfortunate road once before, years ago, when on the receiving end of what likely were completely baseless "charges."

That most unfortunate negative experience led to the positive development of the brake application requirement prior to starting or engaging reverse or drive -- commonplace today with new automobiles equipped with auto gear-boxes. That bit of engineering genius came guessed it...Audi, in the wake of that fiasco.

Collision avoidance, ACC, and ADAS technologies are simply too important and too relavent, in my opinion, to have them potentially undermined or blemished by even a hint of such hypothetical events, particularly when it may easily be avoided altogether [by simply shifting the frequency a bit northward, out of both USA and European established police radar reception frequencies regardless of the modulation method] -- even if it means at a higher cost.

This situation also applies to the makers of these new advanced radar drones that adorn many moving vehicles, which also operate like instant-on speedtraps.

While certain radar detector manufacturers may be successful in re-engineering their new radar detector models to function effectively around these new ACC and ADAS systems, as well as, other radar drone traffic controlling devices, there will still be many 10s of thousands, if not 100s of thousands or millions of radar detectors throughout the world -- and therefore millions of drivers and their occupants (who don't drive with them) -- vulnerable to it's emissions.

Therefore, I sincerely hope that the movers and shakers within the halls of Audi , Bosch, Hella, Continental or any other manufacturer of these particular radar transponders nip this potential issue in the bud while this promising new technology is in its nascent stages of deployment before having to wait for the international guidelines to be revised. The private sector has all ways been able to move more quickly with cooperative self-regulation and I trust this can happen in this instance, as well, which in the long-run, will likely be the lower cost route.

So, I'll leave you here with several parting thoughts:

I welcome collision avoidance, ACC, and ADAS systems with open arms...but, for those employing radar to do so, at a DIFFERENT FREQUENCY than established international police radar bands, please.

Since these devices which have been legally defined under the established guidelines of the FCC (at least for usage in the US market), we hope that their manufacturers work more closely together with their automotive manufacturing customers and other commercial enterprises, such as TÜV Product Service Ltd; international automotive associations such as SEMA; other government and non-profit agencies which specifically deal with the consequences of some of these guidelines such as NHTSA, IIHS, and the IACP; as well as the leading related international and European Agencies such as the ITU and ETSI and EEA; and involve institutions of higher learning like MUARC and Georgia Institute of Technology in an effort to perhaps craft an improved revised comprehensive set of guidelines, while ensuring the freedom of allowing drivers the safe use of their radar detectors.

Provocative as it may sound, perhaps it's high-time to conduct empirical new studies on highway safety with respect to all of these traffic controlling devices -- both new and old -- including these developing collision avoidance systems (ACC/ADAS), radar drones of several types--including steady-state, motion-sense-instant-on, SWS-capable, and bona-fide speed enforcement traps -- such as steady-state and instant-on police radar, GATSO, Multanova, and to include the latest automated systems (which lack any direct feedback to drivers to immediately change their behavior at any given time and location) -- such as red light cameras, speed-on-green cameras, photo radar, and photo lidar -- as well as more conventional VASCAR systems (whose use minimizes the propensity of abrupt braking) -- to access their impact that stems from their use on potential causation of accidents and multi-vehicle-accidents on our ever increasingly crowded highway systems of ever increasingly distracted drivers and whether or not there truly is a reduction of accident rates as a result of all this technology designed merely to control speed while at the same time, disrupting the smooth flow of traffic, in the process.

Further, I believe these studies must also make an honest assessment of the condition of driver attentiveness in today's technology rich vehicles and it's potential contribution to the level of accident rates so we can consider the entire picture, instead of just pointing the finger at drivers who either speed or who use radar detectors as a tool to assist in safe driving.

These studies should be undertaken without regard to political bias, environmental, economic or international-trade factors, or be agenda-driven - like so many "studies" appear to be today. That kind of data collected may be very illuminating, indeed.

To that end, we have enlisted the assistance of Carl Fors of Speed Measurement Labs, who is capable of doing just that. Thank you Carl, for your contribution.

I would like to thank the following organizations for making this article possible: DARPA, CERN, Google, Wikipedia, and Merriam-Webster.

And one final point: The speed for which I am not concerned, is the speed in which new ideas can travel through the collective knowledge of Cyberspace to effect positive change.

Happy and safe motoring!

Veil Guy

Additional Related Reading:

©2007 Veil Corporation. All rights reserved. No part may be duplicated without expressed written permission of the author.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

24Ghz ACC/ADAS Systems Causes Most Radar Detectors to False with Very Strong 24 Ghz K-band Alerts


Since we first observed the falsing behavior of K-band with a late model Valentine 1, when in the proximity of an Audi Q7 last week, we have been working non-stop on improving our understanding of the dynamics of the Q7's system and believe now to have a much better handle on the situation.

Thanks to the participation of Don Rosen Imports - a respected Porsche and Audi dealer located in the Delaware Valley of Pennsylvania - that I am able to report these findings.

Here's what we've learned after an intensive two days of field-research driving with an actual 2007 Audi Q7 SUV, which was outfitted with the optional side-assist system.

The Good: As of today, the Valentine 1 does appear to have the ability to filter out, most effectively, the falsing that is attributed to this system (by giving up POP reception to both bands as K-band POP can not be programmatically disabled on an individual basis), the STi Driver in either reception mode does almost equally well while retaining POP-reception capability (appears primarily limited to Ka-band only) as did the Escort Passport 9500i (appears completely limited to Ka POP only) which did not alert in any event.

As VR had personally suggested, by disabling the J-feature (both-band POP reception capability, called POP2) the Valentine 1 will cease to alert even when one is extremely close to the vehicle and that includes inside the confines of the Q7, itself. We may have gotten a brief warning from the rear side with J-disabled as we made an approach from behind and once from inside the cabin itself, but as it happened only two times throughout out entire testing of both days, so we weren't really concerned. It appears to essentially be a non-issue with J-disabled.

So, no need to go out and get another radar detector (mea kulpa), if you've own a late model V1, just for this vehicle.

The reason that both of the other detectors (STi Driver and Passport 9500i) can operate with POP reception enabled without much fuss is both of them possess a much lesser sensitivity to K-band POP signal profiles than does the V1's with POP2 reception and is by far the most sensitive radar detector currently available to K-band POP police radar -- which the Audi's side-assist most closely emulates.

The Bad: All other late model radar detectors tested (which includes the Beltronics RX-65 Pro, Escort Passport 8500 X50, Cobra XRS-9700, Whistler Pro 73) do not appear to have the ability to filter out this signal. We tried every combination possible with all these radar detectors and were not able to stop the falsing in any event. Here's what we found, specifically:

Beltronics STi Driver: in either autoscan or highway mode with either POP enabled or disabled, the STi did, in fact, alert only occasionally to the presence of the Audi during our driving route - in which we followed the Q7, in our own vehicle, on the highway. Of all of the other detectors which alerted one or more times, the STi appeared most resistant to falsing for reasons already stated.

Beltronics RX-65 Pro: in either autoscan or highway mode with either POP enabled or disabled, with either Ka USA or KA Intl (remember side assist operates on K-band), the RX65 Pro did, in fact, alert almost continuously, at high levels, to the presence of the Audi during our driving route when we followed from behind.

Escort Passport 8500 X50: once again, in either autoscan or highway mode with either POP enabled or disabled, the 8500 X50 did, in fact, alert almost continuously, at high levels, to the presence of the Audi during our driving route when we followed from behind.

Escort Passport 9500i: we were not able to get the 9500i to alert in any event, but our particular detector is so new, I believe it may be going through a "tweaking" period. It could also mean that this latest detector from Escort is the most adept at discerning this signal and is effectively filtering it out, but if VR's assertion is correct, as we believe it is, it's more likely due to the fact that this new radar detector does not appear to possess the ability to detect K-band POP.

With the V1 (J-feature enabled -- it's default operating mode), RX-65 Pro, STi Driver (to a much much lesser extent), and the 8500 X50 the signal ramp appears to rise for a period and then fall briefly before rising again from time to time when in a consistent distance to the Q7.

The Valentine tends to report the source of the signal as if originating from the rear and then moves between the side and front even when the Q7 is well ahead on the road. This is probably due to the fact that vehicles behind us, made good reflectors of the radar signal back to our rear.

In deference to both Cobra and Whistler we examined the behavior a one detector model from each manufacturer and this is what I found:

Cobra XRS-9700: regardless of whether the detector was set to either highway or city mode with either POP enabled or disabled, the XRS-9700 did, in fact, alert continuously to the presence of the Audi with strong K-band when in close proximity to the Q7's rear. Further it sometimes alerted to the presence of SPECTRE (RDD) when enabled to do so.

Whistler Pro 73: regardless of whether the detector was set to either highway or any of it's city modes with either POP enabled or disabled, the PRO 73 did, in fact, alert continuously to the presence of the Audi with strong K-band when in close proximity to the Q7's rear and sometimes mis-identified the band at this range as Ka making it appear that two bands were present, both K and Ka. We even got a brief alert of X-band one time.

Also to be absolutely thorough, we accessed the behavior of an older Valentine 1 (v1.7) that was fabricated prior to POP reception and hence it remained absolutely quiet in all cases. We did notice again a brief strong-alert to K-band from my 3.826 version when J was disabled a couple of times, but certainly not the extent that it would have any real negative impact.

And for the sake of curiosity, we accessed the performance of an original and still functioning Escort Passport radar detector from the 80's. It appeared to briefly alert to the presence of K-band when the Audi's system was initially engaged and then remained silent.

Since the Beltronics and Escort radar detectors have the unique ability to display the actual frequency that is causing an alert, we tried to ascertain that additional information from the Q7's system as well.

When in threat display mode, the Bel and Escort models generally showed two bogies at continuously varying signal strengths and the Valentine had alerted up to 6 distinct radar sources, particularly when very close to the Q7's rear.

The distance, behind the Q7, at which point the V1, 8500 X50, or RX65 Pro initially alerted, appeared to be in the range of about 400 feet to 1000 feet apart, depending on factors such as curvature of the road; how many vehicles were between us and it; and appeared to last only about two car lengths once we passed by the Q7.

Unfortunately, all of the detectors we tested, also briefly alerted to the Q7 when it traveled in an opposite direction on a divided highway as we headed the other way.

Both the Beltronics RX65-Pro and the Escort Passport 8500 X50 where able to identify most if not all of the radar frequencies that were transmitted from each side of the Q7's side-assist radar transponders. We believe there may be approximately six of them and they are each tuned to a slightly different frequency (in the close-range of K-band) or there are only several of them which utilize an ever-changing frequency center.

According the Bel RX65 Pro, when in TEC display mode, were receiving five distinct signals each separated by about .020 Ghz at: 24.089 Ghz, 24.109 Ghz, 24.129 Ghz, 24.150 Ghz, and 24.169 Ghz.

According the Escort 8500 X50, when in TEC display mode, we were receiving six distinct signals each separated by about .016 Ghz at: 24.082Ghz, 24.085 Ghz (probably the same as the previous one) , 24.100 Ghz, 24.116 Ghz, 24.150 Ghz, 24.166 Ghz, and 24.182 Ghz.

In either case, it appears that Audi's side-assist utilizes multiple frequencies and transponder heads to perform its function.

The Ugly: Our worst fears were confirmed when we actually drove with the Q7 with side-assist enabled. Other than the Valentine 1 (when its J-function was set to disable) and the STi Driver (which doesn't appear to consistently spot these waveforms) each and every other production detector from the premium/ultra-premium group (the Escort 8500 X50, RX-65 Pro) was unusable inside the vehicle as they alert continuously to multiple K-band sources at high signal strength levels. Had it not been for the V1's J-function disable ability, the Valentine 1 would also be unusable in the vehicle when the side-assist is enabled.

We couldn't get the XRS-9700 to alert when mounted on the windshield inside the Q7 while the side-assist system was engaged. The Pro 73 alerted for short periods of time when mounted on the windshield inside the vehicle when the system was engaged. This was due to the fact that these more affordable 2nd tier performance group of detectors, generally provide reduced sensitivity as compared to the more expensive premium or ultra-premium group of radar detectors that will likely find there way into the interiors of these high performance vehicles.

I would expect the top two best remote installation radar detector lines -- which would be entirely appropriate with this caliber of vehicle -- the Beltronics RX75 and the Escort Passport SR7 -- would be OK as long as they were installed or enabled with their FRONT sensors only. I suspect even with the super-sensitive forward facing radar antennae these two systems provide, when mounted low in the front would likely not pick up the signal from the rear of the vehicle, as the vehicle itself would block just about any stray signal that could possibly find its way to them from the rear facing side-assist transponders.

On the other hand, I would expect the concurrent operation of side-assist and the rear radar antennae of these top-performing remote install detectors to actually cause a perpetual false.

Install shops, should be aware of this high possibility before they end up with very angry customers who just dropped a $1000 (for detector only) or $1500 (for detector/jammer combination) for installation of either models into their Audis.

Fortunately, for drivers of the Q7 who own one of these high-end radar detectors (either windshield mounted or remote installed), the system can be easily disabled with a quick push of a button located by the driver's side left door handle making their usage possible.

The side-assist system -- which is distinctly different from the Distronic system that is making it's appearance in other models and marques -- will be appearing in other future Audi vehicles, we've been told. The next vehicle slated to have it available, will be the 2008 Audi A6, again as an option (perhaps packaged along with Audi's Tech packages).

And since Audi is the a technological leader of German engineered vehicles, I would not be surprised to see a version of this system appear with perhaps a future model of the Porsche Cayenne; the likes of a Lamborghini Gallardo or Murciélago; VW vehicles such as the Touareg or Phaeton; and perhaps a future Bentley GT.

It's not clear whose system Audi uses, at this moment, but these new systems will be continuing to come online just as ABS braking did when it was first introduced -- which is so common-place today as a safety enhancement feature. One very knowledgeable forum member of RD.NET has suggested that the actual transponder module may be manufactured by Hella and after subsequent research, this appears to be the case (under FCC# NBG009014) . Other similar models are by Valeo , Continental, Siemens, Tyco, and Visteon will be some [they're more] of the additional manufacturers providing systems to other automotive companies, as well. Most of these devices appear to coming from manufacturers located in Germany -- a country which has little use for radar detectors -- which may explain why the interference potential has been overlooked and/or not taken into account.

Upon further research, it appears the selection of 24Ghz for certain ACC/ADAS devices by their respective manufacturers may have been, in part, driven by a well-intended cost savings measure, without much regard to it's potential impact upon other radar detector equipped vehicles and therefore, the natural flow of traffic these systems intend to enhance. To be frank, using 24.1Ghz (more generally referred to as 24 Ghz) with an automated cruise control mechanism, could potentially create more problems, than it solves. Better to leave such devices operate outside of the bands that radar detectors have been designed to receive for decades. Fortunately for us, Audi wisely uses an ACC system which utilizes a frequency well beyond that at 76.5Ghz.

It appears that the system only performs its function when the vehicle is traveling in excess of 35mph, however, we found that even when the vehicle was parked, the system emitted radar and even though the sensitivity of the system is designed to cover a range of fewer than 200 hundred feet behind the vehicle, it's emissions can be picked up by top-performing radar detectors much farther than that.

I can only hope that the engineers of such systems refrain from using K-band (centered at 24.1Ghz) to perform it's function. A lot of drivers of such vehicles from Audi, BMW, or Porsche routinely use one of these high-end radar detectors in their vehicles and it would be a total mess, if this system's use were to compromise the ability of these drivers to do so.

We will attempt to research this further and inform them of these issues, to see if an alternate series of radar bands could be utilized -- to stay out of the way of all the thousands, if not millions of radar detectors that are used throughout the world.

So for now, my recommendation is to either utilize the V1 with J-disabled, the STi Driver, or quite possibly the new 9500i as these detectors appear most resistant to falsing with these systems.

For others who use other detectors, or who choose to leave the V1 in its default setting, be prepared for this type of false. It is definitely different from any other false you will have likely experienced previously, so I hope our description here will serve to prepare you for it so you won't be alarmed, as we initially were, and so you won't over react and brake abruptly, particularly if you are ever passed by an Audi Q7 SUV with it's side-assist system activated.

My recommendation for existing owners of Audi Q7s which have this feature, please share this information with your local Audi dealer, so that they can consider the practical implications of incorporating these developing technologies -- which are based on radar or lidar -- into their vehicles.

I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the car guys of Don Rosen Imports (Alex, Greg, Tarik) who contributed and helped make this ground-breaking field-report as thorough and illuminating as possible. While they more than graciously lent a hand and a driver/vehicle, they sacrificed a good number of hours, across two days, in doing so. It turns out that Alex drives with an Escort 8500 X50 and Tarik with a V1 and were as interested as I was in learning as much as we could about this new technology that Audi has incorporated into their Q7. If any of you are considering a purchase of an Audi/Porsche in the near future, please show your appreciation and give Alex a call at 800.814.0681 or visit their showroom in person or online at If you mention this article, he'll be pleased to learn that they helped another enthusiast driver, like himself, and will personally see to it that you'll receive the attention and care that you deserve. Alex informed me that he can make arrangements for vehicle delivery to individuals who live out of the area, as well.

Finally, I would be remiss, for not crediting Mr. Valentine and his engineering staff of Valentine Research for being entirely candid with me -- by sharing some information that may not have been widely known in our industry -- about the true reason for the V1's superior sensitivity to this phenomenon.

I sincerely hope that something good will come out of this field-research and shared knowledge for all parties involved, especially Audi [and any other manufacturer considering implementing 24 Ghz ACC/ADAS/LDWS [or even 904nm infra-red] technologies into their vehicles]. And please, remember, what industry sounded the alert.

We'll be keeping a close eye on this one as we've been in the process of bringing the potential of this issue to the attention of the major automotive manufacturers -- who purchase these systems from the automotive electronic manufacturers -- as well as the manufacturers of these devices. We'll post follow-ups at the appropriate times.

Veil Guy

Additional Related Reading:

©2007 Veil Corporation. All rights reserved. No part may be duplicated without expressed written permission of the author.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Another Look at POP RADAR


For all the headaches that POP has created, I have yet to encounter a single speed trap actually using it.

This situation is not entirely unlike the problems created -- for the detector and jammer industry -- by stealth-mode police lidar from LaserAtlanta.

Like K-band POP, stealth-mode LIDAR is not consistently detectable by any other radar detector than the Valentine 1 and up until fairly recently wasn't detectable (and jammable as a result) by any jammers other than Blinder. It just so happens that VEIL is extremely effective against this form of police laser, so not many worries here.

But, I haven't actually come across a speed trap where stealth-mode has actually been used, so having a detector not being able to detect it or a jammer not being able to detect/jam it, isn't really a handicap. I am feeling more and more like this each day I drive about POP RADAR.

For all the fanfare that has been generated by POP RADAR (for which the technology has been around for some time), it has done nothing really positive. It has instead, has upset the whole radar detector industry, which is most unfortunate, because I very much doubt many of us will actually ever encounter it. The dynamic that this technology has created may be contributing to another potential problem...radar detectors built to detect POP RADAR are susceptible to radar emissions of a similar nature -- some of the new ACC/ADAS systems coming online, today. These systems, while well-meaning, are misguided in their design as they operate on the same frequency band as police K-band radar.

In fact there is one form of POP that operates four times quicker than regular POP RADAR -- at a blistering 16ms. The only detector that has been able to sniff this form out is again the V1, but it generally has about a one in ten chance of doing so. I was concerned initially about it, but no longer. As Steve has correctly stated in one of the comments below, you probably have about the same chance as getting hit by a bolt of lightning as being tagged with POP in either form (16ms or 67ms)!

*Reprinted with permission from the Guys of Lidar.

The threat of POP today is feeling more like a marketing ploy to sell certain police radar guns, than a bona-fide tool to measure speed in a furtive manner and I can only hope that it will fade into the history books of ideas that looked better on paper than in actual practice.

For that there is police laser, with which drivers may legally be ticketed.

Further, one doesn't need POP to obtain speed readings with minimal chances of alerting many other drivers. I have seen it [and so have you] and its called instant-on radar (which has been around for decades) from behind. I have seen very capable troopers in NJ utilize an older but effective K-55 X-band police radar from behind in a manner which provides very little advanced warning to approaching drivers and only the best detectors at X-band (V1, RX65, STi Driver) provide the greatest chance of spotting it before it's too late.

I seriously doubt that officers equipped with such guns feel the need (or are actually trained) to take the additional time to navigate through menus and take additional steps to properly engage POP and use it in their day-to-day monitoring of traffic in a manner that is consistent with the manufacturer's own guidelines. Perhaps when they first got them and there was this initial "buzz", but not any longer.

Why do I think that is a fair assessment? Because there are plenty of drivers out there who either do not drive with a detector nor possess a premium or ultra-premium radar detector. In otherwords, there are plenty of fish in the pond, so to speak, so there really is no need to take the extra steps or deal with the additional aggravation of operating radar in POP-mode. I really think it is that simple. Traffic enforcement has had plenty of business deploying radar for decades against drivers who have used radar detectors for about as long a time, so the likes of POP really won't change that.

In fact, I would argue that the deterrent traffic departments wish to achieve occurs when speeders are pulled over and receiving a ticket in plain view of everyone and not prior [by their particular method]. I know from experience to respect certain stretches of highway regardless of the traffic monitoring mode utilized, as I am sure you have, regardless of what radar detector is used.

I feel the same way about automated speed enforcement technology -- without the officer actually pulling over the offender in plain-site for everyone to see -- there really is no direct feedback mechanism to other drivers to let them know that a certain area is being monitored. If the name of the game is to slow drivers down, then what better way to do that than with traffic stops with lights blaring. Again that is where the deterrent lies and not with the technology, per se.

It is painful to see detector manufacturers spend the time, money, and resources on coming up with solutions to problems which really don't need to exist nor serve a productive purpose.

Veil Guy

©2007 Veil Corporation. All rights reserved. No part may be duplicated without expressed written permission of the author.

Interaction Between POP Reception in Radar Detectors and certain Collision Avoidance Systems


According to AudiWorld, the Q7's side-assist system is located in the rear bumpers on both sides of the vehicle and monitors traffic to the side and rear of the car.

As of this morning, the feedback I have received from Valentine Research concerning this issue is that the side assist systems employed on the Audi Q7 utilizes a K-POP-like signal profile and since the Valentine 1 is the only radar detector that can actually detect K-band POP consistently (67ms variety, not 16ms), it alerts to the presence of this system - which is a bona-fide source of K-band radar - where other detectors less capable of this reception mode, can not.

*Reprinted with permission from Guys of Lidar

I would expect that the V1 would tend to alert frequently to this radar-source from within the confines of the Audi Q7, which would not really be a workable situation, IMO. In this situation, V1 owners who drive such equipped vehicles could disable the side-assist option and/or disable the J-function as a workaround for the near-term.

On the surface, this may appear to be a "flaw" in the Valentine 1, but that is not the case. In fact, the opposite holds true - it is actually a reflection of the high sensitivity this detector has to K-band POP mode. I haven't been able to confirm whether or not disabling the POP reception (J-function) will eliminate this alerting.

This type of "falsing" is more of a challenge than the typical alerts one gets from stationary K-band door openers and the like that are readily identifiable as such -- by listening to the signal ramp and observing the arrows (from front to side to rear) as one passes these sources.

These kinds of alerts appear more like a bonafide threat -- in the form of a cruiser operating K-band radar in the flow of traffic -- making it much harder for the driver to make a relatively quick distinction.

Fortunately, this system on the Q7 that operates in the K-band range is pointed towards the rear. It's cruise control (Distronic) apparently operates at 76.5Ghz. Had that system been designed to operate on the same frequency as the side-assist, the problem for us drivers, who use the V1, would be compounded further as additional alerts would appear from the back initially and one would have to slow down and wait until one was overtaken by a vehicle so equipped before realizing that it was not a cruiser or unmarked vehicle operating K-band radar to nab would-be speeders from behind.

Suffice it to say, Valentine Research is aware of this potential issue and is working on addressing it in a manner that does not compromise the detector's performance and I trust they will do so -- long before this technology becomes more commonplace.

To read more about the particulars of Side-Assist technology -- which, at the moment appears to be a $500USD option -- one may refer to the following online sources of information:

Animated Video of Side-Assist in Use
Audi World

Veil Guy

©2007 Veil Corporation. All rights reserved. No part may be duplicated without expressed written permission of the author.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Audi's Q7 side-assist and K-band POP Reception Don't Mix Well


Last week my wife and I were returning home from a night on the town; I treated Lisa to a nice birthday dinner at Fogo de Chão in downtown Philadelphia. If you are interested in an interesting dining experience, I recommend this venue, just watch the L'Esprit at $685 a glass...and I thought that Louis XIII was a bit pricey at $185!

As we were making our way west on Route 422 towards Reading, my Valentine 1 started alerting fiercely to a K-band source and continued to do so for about five minutes. Its arrows hunted around indicating the source of radar was from the front, then side, then rear, then front again and repeated this sequencing over and over again. I never experienced this kind of behavior from this detector when there was clearly no state trooper in our direction of travel. In PA, state troopers are only permitted to operate radar from a stationary position.

I powered up the Beltronics STi Driver and to its credit, it remained totally silent. Repowering up the Valentine 1, it began alerting to this unknown K-band radar source. By now, I had discounted the possibility that the Valentine 1 was defective and began to search out what was the likely source of this alert.

It didn't take too long to do so. As I came behind a dark gray SUV the Valentine 1 alerted to K-band at full strength. When I changed lanes and/or backed enough for another vehicle to pull in front of me and behind this mysterious SUV, the signal strength dropped considerably.

Hmmm...What kind of vehicle could possibly cause the V1 to go haywire? I got my answer as I passed this gray SUV. On the back I saw the logo - Q7. So this was the Audi Q7 SUV, a vehicle which has two radar-based driver assistance options. One is an adaptive cruise control--which is stated to operate at 76.5Ghz and side-assist--which aids drivers with alerts to objects/vehicles in blind-spots. According to AudiWorld's Q7 Review, this side-assist operates in the 24Ghz range which appears very close to K-band's 24.1Ghz. Jeez...and I bet you thought door openers were bad enough.

At any rate, be advised that if you ever get very strange alerts from your Valentine 1 on K-band that you can't seem to identify or locate in the usual fashion, keep an eye out for an Audi Q7 . You will probably be overtaking it fairly quickly. Once past it, things quiet down to normal.

And if you are considering a purchase of a new Audi Q7 in the very near future, you may want to consider arming yourself with a Beltronics STi Driver or another top-flight radar detector that won't alert to the Q7's radar-based sensors or disabling the system (which I trust is possible) until VR comes up with a solution. I will pass my findings on to the fine engineers at Valentine Research to see if there are alternative options.

UPDATE: 3 MAY 07 - It must be noted, since this issue may be tied to K-POP reception, and to be absolutely fair to the V1, POP reception on the STi was OFF, at the time I powered it up to see if it would alert, as well.

Additional Related Reading:

Veil Guy

©2007 Veil Corporation. All rights reserved. No part may be duplicated without expressed written permission of the author.