Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Most Lethal Form of Police RADAR and How to Protect Against It

Most Lethal Form of Police RADAR & How to Protect Against It

Updated: 23 Apr 14, By Veil Guy

Lately there has been some buzz online concerning a form of police radar, which I'll refer to as instant-on police radar (including all of its variations).

Since, I believe, instant-on police radar is the most lethal form of police radar that exists, I thought it might be helpful to share my perspective on this topic.

What exactly is instant-on radar?

Instant-on radar is a method of measuring speed when the officer turns on (and then off) the transmitter of his/her radar unit for a discreet (often limited) period of time for the purposes of targeting a particular vehicle or series of vehicles that is in close proximity to the radar operator and in a manner which provides limited advanced notice (to those who drive with radar detectors). It can be used in either a stationery or moving position and is generally used as an "ambush" tactic with patrol vehicles routinely hidden from plain view until the last moments (or even from a hidden position from the rear).

This is opposed to constant-on radar operating mode, where the radar transmitter is left on continuously (or for an extended period of time) and not used in a manner that particularly targets any one vehicle or series of vehicles.

What defines an instant-on trigger pull of radar is not so much the time of the trigger-pull (ie; the duration of radar transmission), but the when the triggered is pulled (regardless of the radar transmission duration).

It is the when, that makes instant-on, such a lethal threat to us drivers.

Why? Because if you are the one being targeted with instant-on (even with a radar detector), then the great likelihood is the officer will have been able to clock your speed before you (and your detector) had enough time to react (in the event you were "speeding").

Instant-on radar was specifically created decades ago, to foil radar detectors and to make it harder on us drivers, who chose to use a radar detector to outwit police radar enforcement while adding to driver situational awareness within the cockpit.

This effort has continued, particularly by one police radar gun manufacturer, MPH.

POP™ is a "feature" that was originally introduced (in prototype form) by MPH in 2002.

These first prototypes were designed to transmit a brief burst of radar signal for a duration of 150ms or 0.150 seconds. It was believed (by MPH) that this duration would be quick enough to beat-out radar detectors whose potential reaction times had increased from 50ms (0.050 seconds)—in the days of X-band and K-band only produced detectors—as a consequence of the incorporation of Ka detection and the additional time required to scan/sweep this superwide Ka band as well as an extension of time required to see some brief Ka-emissions (as a means of reducing falsing) from a huge amount of cheaply produced 9,10, and 11-band Cobra radar detectors (a problem that exists to this day).

It is not unheard of that some radar detectors require or are designed to require a radar transmission to exist for a period of 800ms to 1500ms ( 0.8-1.5 seconds!) before alerting to it.

As it turned out several companies (namely Whistler) were still able to detect these prototypes' transmissions. Having been made aware of this fact, MPH then adjusted their models to operate at 67ms (roughly half their initial design). It was at this time (2003) that MPH produced their Bee III 33.8Ghz Ka POP radar gun.

The technology was then produced in a K-band gun in 2004 at also 67ms (0.067 seconds).

Over time the radar detector manufacturers responded with models that were able to detect these brief transmissions. In 2005, MPH released another POP-enabled K-band police radar capable of transmitting at a blistering 16ms (0.016 seconds). Even now, the mighty Valentine 1, can generally only alert to this about 1 out of 10 times (10% of the time).

Why does all this matter?

In so far as POP is concerned, I don't believe it matters much, as POP mode is not an IACP approved form of measuring speed, nor does it provide a tracking history, technically procedurally required for the operation of police radar. Furthermore, police laser, I believe, is better suited to the task of allowing traffic enforcement to measure speed in a way that minimizes advanced alerting to other drivers who operate a radar detector while providing the tracking history in accordance with IACP guidelines.

However in so far as being able to detect brief glimpses of radar, it matters a lot.

Quick-trigger, is a term applied to radar operators who operate instant-on radar in a manner that amounts to about 500ms (or 0.5 seconds). Generally performed by radar operators using hand-held guns, like POP it is intended to outwit radar detectors.

While not necessarily providing the tracking history required, some (particularly younger) officers operate their radar using quick-triggering instant-on, others (generally older and more experienced) officers tend to operate instant-on (or constant-on) in a manner that is more in accordance with IACP guidelines (requiring a tracking history and therefore additional transmission time to obtain that history).

The ability of a radar detector alone to save you from a quick-triggering as you are being targeted is no different than being the only car subjected to even longer durations of instant-on when you are the only vehicle on the road.

The value of a radar detector in alerting to, what I believe, this most lethal form of police radar is not when you are being targeted, it is when another vehicle ahead of you is being targeted and your radar detector is alerting to that fact.

The value then becomes you don't have to worry about out-braking such an encounter as you have already been afforded the additional time to gradually (and more safely) adjust your speed because you already know he is there.

That is the value of a quick radar detector over a slow(er) one, regardless of its sensitivity or long-range detection ability (to constant-on or longer-pulled instant-on) and its (relative) quietness.

There are instances when a downstream radar detector can get a brief glimpse of instant-on radar (or even constant-on radar) which amounts to a similar situation to being exposed to a quick-trigger instant-on encounter.

This routinely happens from reflections that occur for brief periods of time (around curves) or from other moving vehicles (or stationery objects when you are in motion) which are portions of the original radar beam (regardless of its original transmission duration).

So the question becomes: is it worth having a quieter (ie; slower and/or more heavily filtered) radar detector that doesn't provide advanced alerting to such encounters?

From my perspective, it's the balance that matters.

That's what I appreciate about Whistler's approach to the design of their radar detectors. They've got balancing, and the fact they give the user the choice of what that balance is (filter, filter 1, and filter 2) and the Beltronics approach with their Beltronics STi-R (R.I.P.) that provided additional performance, by way of user-selectable band-segmentation and reduced filter processing overhead or delay, and of course, Valentine Research, for what they have always been and continue to do (ie; Valentine's continuous evolution and refinement of that balance).

It's really a simple matter of personal preference (and choice): risk versus reward.

I certainly wouldn't choose to belittle or denigrate someone (or group) personally for choosing, accepting, or even questioning a different balance.

Happy and Safe Motoring.

©2009 Veil Guy. All Rights Reserved. No Portion May be Reproduced Without Expressed Consent.


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised the "Redline" was not more sensitive in picking up the Ka. Especially with Escort's claims of "blistering" sensitivity and latest technology.

Veil Guy said...

That's because it's not a matter of sensitivity, it's a matter of quickness to alert (or not alert) to the sensitivity that it obviously has. :)

Unknown said...

Oddly enough I've been hit with 33.8 from time to time on a certain stretch of highway but yet to see an officer but it has caused me to be more aware of my speed. Are the cops doing this with 34.7 also? I have the whistler xtr695 btw.


Veil Guy said...


Would you clarify your question please?

Unknown said...

Sorry, I meant to ask "Are the cops using both or favor one (Ka)frequency over the other? I have never encountered Ka 33.8 until recently on a stretch of highway on I-580 in the bay area in Cali. Hope this clarifies my question.


Unknown said...

To further explain,

The Ka 33.8 I pick up on this particular stretch of highway is there maybe a third of the time when I pass by. I'm not sure if a cop is somewhere ahead or behind me, or just a stray frequency I'm picking up. It definitely has me watching the speedometer even though I'm only doing 75.


Veil Guy said...


Thank you for your clarification

My understanding is that radar units the operate using 33.8Ghz Ka are utilized less as a percentage than their 35.5Ghz or 34.7Ghz counterparts.

That is why you are likely seeing them to a lesser degree in your encounters.

I suspect departments make their decision on what brand to use contractually as opposed to a specific frequency.

Although, NJ has conducted internal analysis of the efficacy of Ka (in varying weather conditions) as they slowly transition away from X-band (that they have used since the 80s).

I hope this provides a sufficient answer to your query.


Unknown said...

Based on your lastest test, which radar detector would you go with? Did you also leave out the top Whistler models because it belonged in a different class?

thanks for all your help,

Veil Guy said...

No, I did not leave out the Whistler for that reason. I have a fair number of Whistler videos exposed to similar (~same) circumstances.

That is one of the reasons that I repeat my "test cycles" using similar same driving routes and enforcement techniques.

The purpose of my videos or my writings is to present my experiences as unvarnished/influenced as possible so that you can make an informed choice as which one or ones are right for you.

Because what's "right" for me, may not be "right" for you.

What attributes of these detectors or videos do you prefer or can identify most with?

Anonymous said...

Did you ever get a chance to turn around and find out what that LEO was doing? If so, then is there a link to the video?

If I understand your blog correctly, to detect QT it's not about a detectors sensitivity per se, it's more about the detectors "circuit speed" and ability to pick up extremely short bursts of radar, correct?

Veil Guy said...

Specifically did go searching for that particular LEO only to find him sneak up on my six. There is a video of him passing me (speeding) entitled hypocrisy of traffic enforcement.

Yes you are correct. This really has nothing directly to do with sensitivity and range as many manufacturers and consumers alike are fixated on.

This has everything to do with scantimes coupled with how many scans per band are required before alerting.

What the Redline lacks in its pre-release form is the capability to unleash that speed that clearly exists with the M3 platform.

The Beltronics STi-R holds the key to unlocking the speed to alert to IO Radar, well, with the incorporation of segmented Ka-processing and the RDR OFF(filtering) features.

If the Redline ultimately does not provide this (quickness to alert) fine tuning in its configuration then it will be an extremely sensitive, but relatively slow and false-free detector, but it won't be the V1-killer some have been hyping it to be.

Max said...

So are you saying that for quickness to an alert the Redline still is no match to a V1?

How did you enjoy both for daily driving?

Does the quietness of the redline make the increased risk of I/O worth it?

Anonymous said...

I Was driving on I78 WB around 1AM, driving very confidently with the V1 almost constantly 90-95mph then all of a sudden the V1 went off when I saw him - I had to hit the brakes pretty hard!! WTH was that all about...I wanted to throw the V1 out the window...did that cop use that instant on feature?? Why didn't he pull me over?? This was the 1st time I used a radar detector...I read the owners manual and I had the sensitivity level set appropriately for the type of highway...but that was scary and I kinda lost respect for radar detectors...I was less than 500' from him when it went off

Veil Guy said...

That's not the radar detector's fault. It sounds as though the officer was employing instant-on radar...In that, he waits until you are close and then he switches on his radar. Instant-on has been used for decades and is the most common form of radar used throughout much of the country. Your radar detector can not alert to a radar signal that is not present. That was the primary reason I/O radar was make it much harder on radar detector owners. The best way to defeat I/O radar is to have your detector alert to its use on a vehicle ahead of you. If at 1am you are the only one on the road, then you won't have that luxury. Every seasoned radar detector owner is aware of this. My advise to you is to not throw your detector away, but instead become more aware of the technology that is out there that can work against you and your detector.

Thoai said...

To anonymous,

Try purchasing some veil from radar busters. If applied correctly to your front end, it should give you more reaction time. The cop didn't pull you over maybe because he didn't get an accurate reading and if this is the case, your V1 just saved your ass. Veil can prolong an accurate reading for the future. You're lucky your radar even alerted because 90/95mph is not hard to detect visually. Hope this little experience I have helps.