This is a good article about radar jammers
that I found on the web:
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RADAR JAMMER TEST
We test the latest in radar
and laser countermeasures
denying the allure of a gadget able to make police radar or
laser guns dummy up. Place the countermeasure in your
vehicle, and, with an electronic shield now protecting
against incoming microwaves or light beams, you can stop
fretting about speed traps. A considerable number of drivers
are succumbing to this tempting premise-so many that,
whereas three years ago we found only a single company and
two products claiming to jam radar, today it's tough to pick
up a mail-order catalog or an auto enthusiast magazine
without noticing a blizzard of ads for competing devices.
countermeasure performs a role similar to that of an air
force standoff anti-radar missile. After launching it from
beyond the range of defensive weaponry, the attacking
aircraft retires to safety while its missile homes in on the
enemy's fire-control radar. When missile meets radar, well,
you can predict what happens next.
A police radar or laser
can likewise be countered, fortunately with somewhat more
subtlety. The countermeasure will preferably employ a
detector to tip you to the danger well before you enter
target range. Then, while you industriously lock the brakes,
it should be chopping the target range of the radar or laser
to a few hundred feet at most, preferably much less. Shaving
off a few hundred yards of maximum range won't usually help,
since few ambushes occur much beyond 250 yards. A
countermeasure's mission is to keep the threat at bay until
the driver can react.
But do the products really
To find out, we
gathered every jammer in four categories we could lay our
hands on: passive radar jammers that mix noise with the
incoming radar signal and reflect it back at the radar;
active jammers that transmit a signal to confuse the radar
or laser; license plate covers to foil lasers or photo
radar; plus a few gadgets that use none of these techniques
but still claim success in fooling Smokey's speed-measuring
We set up two series of
typical ambushes in rural eastern Colorado, one each for
radar and laser. For radar, we equipped our Chevrolet
Corvette target car with a test mount affixed solidly to its
dash. Placing one jammer at a time in this fixture, we drove
slowly toward our radar vehicle-a Chevrolet Suburban K2500
LS modified for police use. Using one radar at a time, first
we made five runs with no countermeasures in use to check
the range at which each radar could clock the Vette.
Measuring the distance was easy; our Kustom Signals ProLaser
II can measure distances with an accuracy tolerance of plus
or minus one foot. The average of the five runs determined
typical target range.
With one of the
countermeasures powered up, we next made five more runs
toward each of our five radar units in turn, beginning at
2500 feet-well beyond target range-and ending when the
Vette's speed was clocked. The range at which the active
jammers first spotted the radar was also recorded.
To check laser
countermeasures, we traveled to an industrial park blessed
with die-straight, four-lane roads and no traffic. Starting
at 2760 feet, our three target cars were driven one at a
time toward the Suburban, parked on the shoulder at a right
angle to traffic, the driver taking aim out of his lowered
window. After recording the average of five passes to
establish a baseline, we installed one product and made five
more runs each against the two lasers. After a week of field
tests, we've returned with some very enlightening results.
In 1993, we were first
to report on a new device called a passive radar jammer
["The Little Radar Jammer That Didn't," June 1993]. Invented
by Denver-area entrepreneur Mike Churchman and sold through
his company, Rocky Mountain Radar, its theory of operation
is simple: Receive the radar beam, add a bit of white noise,
then reflect the signal back to the radar, reportedly so
confusing it that no speed at all is displayed.
The U.S. Air Force has
successfully employed radar jamming for decades, but its
jamming transmitters pump out microwave energy at power
levels sufficient to bake a Thanksgiving turkey in perhaps
nine seconds. In contrast, a passive jammer transmits
nothing but is somehow expected to jam a sophisticated radar
with a minuscule amount of reflected energy. With that in
mind, here's how the passive jammers performed.
PATRIOT ($95). A new
model offered by Rocky Mountain Radar (a.k.a. RMR
Distributing), the Patriot is identical to RMR's Illusion
model and-save for the addition of a second front power
jack-to the Spirit, tested in our 1993 story and found
worthless. None of the radars was affected in the least by
PHAZER ($199). A new
model from Rocky Mountain Radar, the Phazer is claimed to
counter radar and lasers. Unlike previous models, this one
has a translucent end panel that permits a glimpse inside at
a pair of LEDs and a cheap, chromed plastic antenna. It's
also larger and weighs four ounces more-up to 6.5 ounces.
Placing it on the dash actually increased the ProLaser II's
maximum target range by eight percent. The Marksman radar
unit benefited even more: Instead of clocking the target car
at 1954 feet, we could reach out and pop it at 2327 feet. We
expect this will meet with approval among police officers.
THE WATCHFUL EYE
($279). Manufactured by Phantom Technology (a version called
the Mirage 2001 is offered by Jammers and others), this
peculiarly shaped device guarantees immunity to any type of
radar. A "temporary holographic-type computer virus"
accompanies the radar's return signal, supposedly afflicting
it with some sort of electronic Alzheimer's. We've never
heard of such a virus, nor have any of the microwave
engineers we queried about it. In our tests, the Watchful
Eye failed to do any jamming but did produce a measurable
effect on target range. Against four of our five radars, its
presence on the dash obligingly increased target range by an
average of eleven percent, no doubt because its very large
antenna efficiently receives the incoming radar beam and
sends it directly back to the waiting radar. The fifth radar
ignored the Eye.
ABSORBING MODULAR ANTENNA ($59.95). Ads from the maker,
MicroGuard, recommend using a minimum of two antennas, so we
ordered a pair, sending a cashier's check for the promised
second-day delivery. Five weeks and one angry phone call
later, two mailing tubes arrived. We found the antenna to
consist of a 28-inch-long,
one-and-three-quarter-inch-diameter plastic tube. There was
no operator manual, only a sticker explaining: "The ARA-2
module is a nonpowered, nontransmitting, self excited [sic]
unit. No power is necessary to operate."
Large decals warn
"Warranty void if seals are broken," but we couldn't resist
looking inside. What we found was a 120-volt, 50-watt
fluorescent light bulb with red electrical wire attached to
one of its contact prongs and then wrapped tightly around
the bulb, covering it down to the opposite end. That's it.
Testing the MicroGuard
antennas was a cinch. Positioning was unimportant ("May be
mounted in any position using plastic clips"), so we placed
them on the dash of a Chevrolet Tahoe and made several
passes against half a dozen radars. None was aware of all
that supposed microwave-absorbing action inside the plastic
tubes, courtesy of those three-dollar light bulbs.
An active jammer
combines a detector and a transmitter. When it hears radar,
an internal microprocessor quickly analyzes the signal, then
fires back a modulated signal at precisely the correct
frequency. The radar accepts the spurious return signal but
is unable to decipher it, going into an endless loop trying
to make sense of it. Net result: No target speed is
displayed. This is far superior to inducing radar to read a
preselected speed, say 55 mph, since any experienced traffic
officer can visually estimate vehicle speeds within a few
mph. Worse, if he's monitoring the radar's audio Doppler,
he'll hear the telltale screeching of the modified return
signal and know instantly that he's being jammed.
We offer two caveats
about active jammers. First, only X- and K-band are covered
at present. Run into Ka-band radar, a rapidly growing
threat, and you're on your own. Also keep in mind that
operating such a jammer is a violation of Federal
Communications Commission regulations and, in Oklahoma,
Iowa, and Kansas, it's also illegal under state law.
The first truly
effective active jammer was the Stealth/VRCD, a large, heavy
metal box stuffed with circuit boards, two large metal
waveguides, and a pair of varactor-tuned Gunn oscillators
that produce a powerful, modulated signal. All this was
controlled by a microprocessor programmed with fiendishly
complex algorithms. It came out in early 1993, and there was
no question that it worked; in several tests it proved
capable of making a Mack conventional-cab tractor disappear
from five of our six radars at almost point-blank range.
The Stealth is gone,
the victim of intense FCC scrutiny. The design has been
acquired by Phantom Technology and renamed the Phantom RCD.
Aware of its prowess, we were hoping to see our two active
radar jammers weigh in with Stealthlike performances.
From Advanced Radar Components in San Diego, the Interceptor
(now called the Evader) is a complex unit that depends on
two oscillators (one each for X- and K-band), a sixteen-bit
microprocessor, and two large and efficient-looking cast
performance was highly erratic. Against the Kustom Signals
KR-10-SP K-band and the X-band MPH K-55, both widely used
radar, the jammer achieved an average reduction in maximum
target range of 37 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Yet
in sixty passes, it completely blanked radar only once. And
these numbers don't tell the whole story.
The K-55, for example,
began clocking the target car at 921 feet in one test, yet
the Interceptor failed to detect the radar for another 151
feet. Once transmitting, it delivered a useful reduction in
range, but far too late.
The Interceptor was
adept at sniffing out the KR-10 at upwards of triple the
radar's target range, yet against the Kustom Signals HR-12,
another popular K-band model, a warning sounded barely 140
feet before the radar locked on. It also sometimes failed to
detect radar at all and exhibited a sporadic tendency to
pump up the radars' target range. In one test, it increased
the K-55 X-band radar's range by 20 percent and bolstered
that of the K-band MPH Python by 42 percent.
True, in an encounter
where the radar is transmitting continuously, an ability to
chop target range could buy enough time to spike the brakes.
But when we used the instant-on feature, keeping the radar
silent until the target was well within range, the ARC
Interceptor rarely reacted before a target speed had already
PHANTOM RCD ($595).
Because it's identical down to the last screw to the
Stealth/VRCD, we expected similar performance from the RCD.
Although it totally jammed the K-55 on one occasion and
chopped target range up to 81 percent in some other tests,
it inexplicably increased the HR-12's target range by eight
percent. Worse, it occasionally failed to detect radar at
all and other times showed an alarming tendency to inflate
target speeds by as much as 90 mph. Try explaining that to
the arresting officer.
Inventor David Sullivan
told us our test unit had not been properly tuned. We
believe him. We'll wait to see if Phantom Technology refines
this jammer and will let you know.
K40 DEFUSER ($199.95).
The only active laser jammer available, made by K40
Electronics. The Defuser is a black Lexan license plate
frame with an upper section housing a row of infrared
emitters behind a smoked plastic lens. Mounted over the
front license plate, it's hard-wired to the vehicle ignition
and continuously transmits infrared light at 904 nanometers,
the police-laser frequency. An LED in the cockpit verifies
that the K40 Defuser is operating.
The Defuser takes
advantage of the laser's affinity for vertical, reflective,
and light-colored surfaces. For this reason, officers are
trained to aim first at the front license plate. By placing
multiple, powerful emitters exactly where the laser is
aimed, K40 says the reflected signal returns so polluted
that the laser has difficulty picking out its own signal
from the clutter.
There are two major
weaknesses in this approach to laser jamming. First, it's
useless if your state doesn't issue front plates. Second, it
assumes the officer will continue targeting the front plate
even when his or her first few attempts fail to produce a
speed. Trouble is, at that point most officers will try for
a headlight or a bumper instead. We did likewise and found
both lasers instantly showed a target speed, Defuser or no.
Since the shape and
size of a vehicle's frontal area have a significant effect
on target range, three test cars were used: a 1990 Honda CRX,
a 1995 Chevrolet Tahoe, and a 1996 Infiniti I30. With each,
we first made five baseline runs to determine average target
range with the Defuser switched off and then, with the
Defuser switched on, made ten more runs against each laser.
We drove at varying speeds and looked for any changes in
Against the Marksman
radar unit, the Defuser trimmed maximum target range from an
average of 1954 feet to 1436 feet. It decreased the ProLaser
II's target range from 2673 feet to 2099 feet. Target speeds
appeared continually down to about 750 feet, at which time
both lasers began suffering from the Defuser's infrared
emitters, sometimes refusing to display speeds. Yet on other
occasions the lasers ignored the Defuser entirely and
clocked the targets almost to point-blank range. All the
while, the Marksman's anti-jamming circuitry enabled it to
detect the K40 Defuser and sound an alert. This same
circuitry was probably responsible for this laser unit's
frequent ability to shrug off the Defuser's jamming signal.
So does the Defuser
offer some protection? Well, sort of. Since typical laser
ambush range is perhaps 700 feet, the Defuser's ability to
begin hindering target acquisition at this distance means
that, used with a good detector, it might gain you enough
time for a few seconds of heavy braking. Conclusion: A
potential driver's license protector, but no guarantees.
In another attempt to
capitalize on the laser operator's preferred aiming point,
these plastic sheets that mount over the front plate claim
to absorb and attenuate the laser beam, weakening its return
signal and limiting target range.
THE T3 ALPHA LASER
LICENSE PLATE COVER ($49.95) from T3 Technologies is a piece
of green plastic that, when installed over our highly
reflective Georgia plate, cut the ProLaser II's maximum
range from 2589 feet to an average of 2320 feet. Still well
over three times the typical ambush distance, this is a
meaningless reduction. It slimmed down the Marksman's
maximum range from 1954 feet to 1193 feet, a useful decrease
if you're targeted at extreme range but no help in the
average short-range ambush.
THE LASER PLATE
($19.95), manufactured by Laser Stealth Technologies and
sold through catalogs and convenience stores, actually
increased the ProLaser II's average target range from 2584
feet to 2754 feet. It slightly hampered the Marksman's
range, shortening it from 1954 feet to 1636 feet. Feel free
to buy one if you're one of the few U.S. motorists pestered
by officers popping you at 500-plus yards.
THE LASER-GUARD FROM
TAYLOR-BELL TECHNOLOGIES ($39.95) also increased the
ProLaser II's maximum range, this time from 2584 feet to
2599 feet. It trimmed the Marksman's range from 1954 to 1571
feet. Entrepreneur Tom Bell suggested we use a target car
with retractable headlights, claiming the Laser-Guard would
perform better. Having tested against such vehicles, we know
it would. But not enough to save you, retractable headlights
Two plate covers are
offered as antidotes to photo radar. The Shadow ($89.95),
from Chimera, allows the plate to be read from straight
ahead but makes it unreadable when viewed from the side at
the 22-to-24-degree angle used by photo radar. One downside:
The Shadow's dark tinting makes it easy to spot. Since
cities new to photo radar invariably outlaw such covers, the
possible vehicle-code infraction must be weighed against the
cost of a ticket. We'd take the plate cover.
The other license plate
cover is manufactured by a Canadian outfit, Focus Auto
Design, and sold as the Eliminator ($29.95) by Redline, an
Ontario company, and as the Chameleon ($49.95) by Jammers,
Defense One, and others. We found it does mask the numbers,
but only when viewed at about 45 degrees or more from the
side. That's about twice the proper angle, making it
helpless to ward off photo radar.
Still lusting for a
magical counter-measure? Take our word for it-aside from the
few straight-up companies like K40 and Chimera, this
industry is teeming with basement inventors, engineering
wannabes, and outright charlatans and con men.
We'd have tested two
other jammers, but after we spent $400 to acquire them, both
companies simply disappeared. Don't be shocked if some of
the firms whose products failed to perform in our tests
likewise disappear, although some are bound to resurface
with different identities and new product names. Regardless,
their appropriate exit line might be: "Take the money and
run." Our advice: If bona fide experts haven't testified to
the product's efficacy, run in the opposite direction, fast.