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Radar, anyone?

Discussion in 'Audio, Video & Electronics' started by MWOQ, Nov 21, 2008.

    MWOQ guest

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    I'm new, and intrigued by Roundel's colorful ads for radar detectors, and naturally I want to feel like a fighter pilot. But are these devices discussed in polite company? Like old-time ads for vibrators, they don't come out and say just for what they are to be used!
    What are my questions?
    Legality--I think they're legal in Calif., but not in some states.
    Morality--Aren't these like burglar's tools? Possessing them is akin to breaking the law.
    Safety--"Speed kills!" Sure, you and I may be safe at 95, but what about the drivers with whom we're sharing the road? They do something stupid and it's all over. Isn't it true that excessive speed is involved in most accidents, certainly fatal ones?
    Practicality--Here's where I'm asking for feedback: If a device saves me just one ticket, it's worth the price. But are they really effective? Might not it detect police radar at exactly the moment it detects me?! Also, Smokeys are often parked beside the freeway. If I'm speeding, he's going to see me at least as soon as I see him, and he doesn't need radar. On last weekend's trip I twice spotted cops parked on side roads beside the freeway. They didn't need any radar to see who's flying down the fast lane.
    Anyone want to tackle this?
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    steven s

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    Illegal to use in Virginia and District of Columbia.

    No one says you need to go over the speed limit.
    It is easy to let your speed get away from you.
    Most highways I've been on, you can be mowed down driving the speed limit, even in the right lane.

    A radar detector can be a good reminder to check your speed.

    BMWtoyz guest

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    With proper operation and an attentative operator using "instant on" or a "Lidar" unit he can clock you well before you detect him regardless of what detector you get. But they are fun and as mentioned they can cause you to be more attentative. I have a Valentine 1 unit, it is old but reliable.
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    az3579

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    I had a Valentine One unit and found it next to useless, not because it never detected anything, but because it was constantly going off to false alarms. Every three seconds I would hear it beep for one reason or another and nowhere would I see the 5-0.

    I ditched it after my first and only run with it into New York. $350 down the drain (bought it slightly used).



    I've seen some pretty neat saves on YouTube though; there are lots of videos on saves from various radar detectors that people just happened to be filming. I did a search for Valentine One on YouTube and found this guy who like puts of videos frequently of times the V1 has saved him. Do a search for whatever detector you obviously aren't interested in buying and see if that'll change your mind.
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    mattm

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    As a counter-point, I'll swear by the Valentine One. I have been using them in our cars since 1994 (before they even offered laser protection). In Connecticut, DOT uses the older style (K-band?) to sense vehicle speeds on I-95. Most detectors are going off every 15 feet. I have programmed the V-1 to ignore that frequency, and alert to all others. The early blip or brap or laser warnings have saved me more often than not. On the local streets where the PD doesn't use instant on, gives me a ton of warning.

    Best bang for the buck. :)
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    MGarrison

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    Effective - yes, they certainly can be, although that may, in part, depend on you.

    Radar & Laser detectives are all about advance warning. If you get zapped at point-blank range and you're speeding enough for a ticket, you're out of luck (obviously). If you can get some advance warning, you may stand a chance; this is moreso true for radar than laser. Laser is difficult to get any advance warning because as a single beam of light, unlike radar, it barely scatters. More often than not, if you're getting a strong laser signal on a radar detector, you're getting clocked. I get the most false laser signals while driving from some vehicles' led tail-lights.

    On the old forums, we had a variety of radar detector discussions, plus common-sense driving tips. If you're out there speeding excessively, doing anything to overtly draw attention to yourself, or are the only target, no radar detector or anything else is going to help you. I rarely drive a block without plugging in the V1, and additionally use a CB radio and scanner on road trips; combining those with common sense and usually staying to 5 to maybe 10 mph over typically works out ok for road trips.

    I think the reality of the speed kills argument is that it's nowhere near that simple - there's just far too many causal variables in auto accidents, fatal or otherwise, to broadly generalize and peg high speed as the cause of most fatal accidents.

    It would be worthwile to read this in it's entirety - but, at least scroll to the end and read the Suspicious and Arbitrary Categories section.
    http://www.motorists.org/other/home/making-sense-of-highway-crash-data/

    These are also interesting -

    http://www.motorists.org/speedlimits/home/do-speed-limits-matter/
    http://www.motorists.org/speedlimits/
    http://www.motorists.org/speedlimits/home/the-truth-about-speed-limits/
    http://www.motorists.org/mi/stats.html

    http://www.motorists.org/blog/3-common-myths-about-radar-detectors/

    As far as stigma about using a detector - not that I know of. As far as I'm concerned, I could care less what anyone else thinks of my using a radar detector. If someone has a negative opinion, that's their problem.

    Radar detector usage is also illegal in Ontario, but I don't know what the status is for the rest of Canada. I don't think there's a Canada-wide radar detector ban, though.

    I recall reading years ago that the California Highway Patrol didn't use radar guns for speed detection, they used actual point-to-point time measurement, which means a radar detector would be useless (no radar signal). I do not believe this is the case anymore, and hasn't been for a long time now (maybe a Ca. resident will pipe up to clarify that).

    Although you aren't asking for recommendations, the two major players in the game are Valentine 1, and Escort. I've had a V1 since 93, and prefer it for a host of reasons. To address Botond's negative experience w/ it - the V1 is extremely sensitive, and, depending on which processing mode you choose for it to operate in, will provide alerts differently.

    The V1 website explains all this but, the basic mode is called 'All-Bogeys', which means every signal it picks up, it will display an alert. This mode might be useful on the out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere open highway, but in & around town, or highways adjacent to any area of development, it will be picking up every x-band signal that's out there and giving an alert. This may be what he was experiencing, unless there was a problem w/ the unit itself; it is possible the unit may have been malfunctioning for some reason and throwing spurious alerts, which might be difficult to discern without being familiar with it's normal functioning - but it would have to be checked at the factory to confirm any problems.

    The additional processing modes modify how alerts are delivered. the 'Logic' mode delivers all alerts, but x-band signals initially sound at the muted-volume level, until they are quite strong, and will then sound at the normal volume level you have set. This is the mode I use, as here in Ohio, occasionally there's still some x-band radar guns being used, but they're few and far between.

    The 'Full-Logic' mode will not show an x-band alert it is receiving until it gets to a very strong signal strength, after which it will alert, just in case the strong signal might actually be police radar.

    Escort, I think, is reasonably close to V1 these days in terms of raw performance, but I don't think the V1 has been bested in any well & properly executed test or shootout. Escort offers some electronic features the V1 doesn't (voice alerts & selective GPS false-signal blocking, for instance), but I'll take the V1's directional indicators any day (a patented feature Escort can't offer). The V1 may take a little getting used to, as you have to learn how to interpret all the information it can relay. The Escort is not a bad choice, but I like & prefer the V1 and would recommend it.

    I would not recommend the Escort solo - radar detectors are power hungry. The Solo extends battery life by, on a millisecond basis, shutting down for something like 90% of the time, then reawaking, scanning all frequencies, and shuting down again. The reason the V1 is corded is that's the only way to offer full strength receiving capability, 100% of the time.

    Oh.. and by the way - Welcome to the club! ;)

    MWOQ guest

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    Roger that...

    Thanks, all. This should be useful to me and others.

    lugnut guest

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    As a speeder that makes his living on the other side of the law I can vouch for the effectiveness of the V1 from both a personal and professional standpoint. My family has used V1's since about 93/94 after being mainly loyal to the escort brand since sometime in the late 1980's. I agree with Garrison about avoiding the Solo. I had one, and was never pleased with it. Currently I have a V1 installed in my rear view mirror, and I haven't been pulled over since (I am starting to notice a minor drop in sensitivity lately however-likely due to frost buildup on the CF roof). The only other radar detector I would even consider is a Escort 9500ci, but that is big bucks (around $2k installed). Doing my own testing the V1 routinely picked up signals (both legit and false) much earlier than most other detectors. Plus, the software in the V1 is upgradable, so you don't have to worry about it going out of date as easily.

    Like others have pointed out, if you get hit with "instant on" or laser, your dead in the water. Nothing you can do. Well, technically you have a slight chance to decrease your speed if you get hit with "instant on" because it still takes some time for the radio wave to leave my gun, hit your car, and bounce back to me. That being said the most you would be able to scrub off would be 3-5mph, but I am still watching the nose of you car dive down, and even though the gun may read 78mph, I know the car was doing 85mph (as an aside, you would be amazed at how good the human eye is at accurately guessing speeds. After about 15min running radar you will be guessing w/in 1mph of every car that passes). Laser, or Lidar, is instant and there really is no point in "detecting" it. If you Laser alert goes off, just pull over, roll your windows down, turn you interior lights on, and wait.

    Now Laser/Lidar shifters/scramblers/blinders/etc DO WORK. They are frowned upon in CA. and I would imagine that those wacky Canadians banned them as well. VA also bans them (odd considering any citizen can legally own silenced weapons in that state, yet radar detecters are a no-no). Again, these devices are expensive, but depending on how you drive, where you drive (NJ doesn't really use laser, yet NY State Police do use it occasionally), you may want to look into one of these systems. I believe the Escort 9500ci actually has a laser shifter included with it.
    Now as for the stigma of it, or whether or not you would be more likely to get a ticket if you get stopped with the detector, there is no real answer. When I had my V1 on my windshield the moment I saw the cop pulling out after me the first thing I did was take it completely off the windshield and stuff it out fo sight. However, once I became a cop and have stopped people for speeding I can tell you that I was evidently the only person that has done this. Everyone seems to leave the thing beeping away on their windshield as I stand there. Now, I also haven't had the fact that they have a radar detector influence my decision in anyway. Having a good attitude will make up for just about any motor vehicle transgression you may have committed anyway.

    If you have the cash, you can't go wrong with the V1. I am sure that you could even get a great deal on one off of Ebay no problem.

    Good Luck and happy motoring!!
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    Jeff Gomon

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    MWOQ,
    Perhaps you can offer to buy the "usless" V1 that az3579 was speaking about in his post.:p
    I think the only thing wrong with that unit is that perhaps he didn't learn how to use it properly....I mean no disrespect with that comment. With any piece of technology, it is only as good as you know how to operate it. Even then, nothing is 100%. A perfect example is idrive....great system if you take the time to learn how to operate it.
    I too have a V1 that I "use", not to just hang and listen for beeps. I spent a bit of time reading and learning to use it. If you are traveling, learn what types of speed tracking equipment are used in those states, especially your home state. You will then know what to have the unit looking specifically for and reducing your false alarms drastically. There are websites that will give you that information.
    In my opinion, you are looking for some moral reason not to buy a detector...in the end, only you can answer that question. For me, I sleep like a baby......

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