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  Electronic and Active Countermeasures

Radar Warning Receiver

I decided to get a radar detector. I read several reviews and got some input from some friends and I decided on the Valentine One.

This radar "locator" will tell you what kind of radar it is receiving, signal strength, how many signals it is receiving, and most important where it is coming from. It also has a laser detector built in.

I try real hard to maintain a low profile appearance and did not want the flashing LEDs letting everyone know I have a radar detector. Cops just love to see this when they sneak up behind you. Don’t ask me how I know. I decided to get the remote display unit for the Valentine One. I mounted it just to the right of the steering column, above the ignition switch. It is hard to see from outside of the vehicle, but is in the perfect location to be seen by the driver.

Overall I am very impressed with the performance of the Valentine One. They have included everything you need to install it. It comes with extra fuses, wire, suction cups, and two different mounts. The overall quality and attention to detail is very impressive.

The Valentine One is also the last radar detector you will need to buy. As they come out with improvements you can send yours back to have it upgraded.

I have had other radar detectors in the past. They drove me nuts. The damn things would bleep if the wind blew. I never knew if it was a false alarm or real police radar. The Valentine One does a very good job of weeding out false alarms and lets you know when it is the real thing.

There are only two jurisdictions that have outlawed radar detectors, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

I recently called the headquarters for the Virginia State Police and inquired on how the enforce the bane on radar detectors. This is what I was told. The detector must be near an active power source and the officer must determine that it is a functional radar detector. If all that is confirmed the officer records the make, model and serial number of the detector and issues you a $50 ticket with no points and lets you keep the detector.

I was a police officer in the District of Columbia until December 1987. The way it was enforced at that time is that the radar detector was taken for evidence and if you lived or worked in DC you were issued a Criminal Citation. This gave you 10 days to present yourself at one of the DC police stations to be booked. You could plead guilty at the station and pay $50, or pay a $50 bond and come back for a trial. If you did not appear within 10 days, the officer was supposed to obtain an arrest warrant for you. If you did not live or work in DC you got locked up! Please do not go into DC with a radar detector.

If you are looking for a radar detector, I highly recommend the Valentine One. Even if you are not a speeder, of course I am not, get it for the entertainment value. It is fun to play with, especially on long trips.

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Laser Warning Reciever and Jammer

My Valentine One like many radar detectors has a built in laser warning receiver. The trouble is when it detects a police laser and sounds the warning it is to late for you to do anything. Police laser is instant on, very accurate, and very fast. The police laser guns have a gun sight like police swat teams use on their shoulder weapons. The units transmit a very narrow beam of infrared laser light that is invisible. This narrow beam and the high quality gun sight give the operator the ability to target any vehicle they want, even if you are in a pack of cars. The unit will give the operator a read out of your speed and distance in less than one second. Your laser-warning receiver simply can not give you enough warning to slow down. And NO, they do not have to pull everyone over to pull you over and give YOU a ticket.

Jay recommended that I get a Laser Echo. This is a nifty device. When it receives a laser signal it will sound an alarm to notify you and transmit a very broad beam of high power laser light. The beam is strong enough to confuse the laser unit and will prevent it from locking on to you. It will only transmit the signal for five seconds. This is plenty of time to reduce your speed. The unit will then take one minute to recharge for the next encounter.

The Laser Echo has two major components, the control unit, and the transponder.

The control unit mounts inside of the vehicle and has a display, on/off switch, and an alarm speaker. I decided to mount it on the roof of the glove compartment. I mounted it upside down do to the curved top. I have found that I do not need the visual display. When the vehicle is started it sounds the alarm so I know it is on. I can hear it just fine through the closed glove compartment. This also keeps it out of sight from prying eyes.

The transponder mounts on the front of the vehicle. It is about seven inches long and an inch wide. It should be mounted near as possible to the front tag. This is where police officers at trained to aim the laser as most tags are reflective and gives a good return the laser gun. There is an included license plate frame to allow you to mount the transponder directly on the top of the front tag. I thought that it covered too much of the tag and made it really stand out. I decided not to use the included tag frame and mount it just below the bumper and above the tag. I think it is much less noticeable this way keeping with my low profile approach. All of the included hard ware is theft resistant. It requires a special included tool to install it and remove it. The control unit is capable of driving up to three transponders. Extra transponders can be purchased separately if you want the maximum protection.

The day after installing the unit I had a great chance to test it. A police laser unit targeted me. The alarms on both my Valentine One and my Laser Echo sounded. The Laser Echo sounded to five seconds and then stopped. Two seconds after the Laser Echo stopped sounding the Valentine One stopped sounding. The Echo prevented a lock on by the police unit for five seconds. When it stopped transmitting he got his lock and stopped scanning my vehicle and then picked out another target and that is when my Valentine One stopped sounding. It was a great live test. It functioned "as advertised."

I have found that the yellow strobe lights from tow trucks will also set of the Laser Echo, but will not set of my Valentine One. It only seems to by yellow strobes not the red and blue from police vehicles, and not the red and white ones of fire/rescue vehicles.

Police use of laser in my area does not seem to be as popular as in other areas. I think it is because it takes more effort to use. The officer has to shoot it like a gun. He has to pick you out, aim it like a gun, and then pull the trigger and wait for a lock. Radar is much easier to use. It can be set up to scan an area of the road, and an alarm set for a certain speed. When the radar tracks a car going over the speed set by the officer it will sound an alarm. This gets his attention so he can wake up, or put down the paper and get to work. Believe it or not most officers in my area buy their own radar sets. Most radar sets are cheaper than laser units, which is why I think there are so few laser guns out there. This will most likely be changing in the future. I’ll bet that before to much longer the laser units will be cheaper and much more compact than the radar units and you will see more and more lasers out there. I am a sniper. I use laser range finders to determine range to target, which is critical. A few years ago these laser range finders cost over $3000. Now you can buy them for $300. I have played with both radar and laser guns. I will tell you if an officer gets you with a laser, you are got! Judges love to here that the officer got you at 83 mph in a 55 mph zone at 738 feet away. I have never seen anyone beat a laser ticket yet.

I have found no laws that specifically ban the use of laser jammers. The manufacture claims that the Laser Echo is legal and not controlled by the FCC like radar jammers. The use of laser equipment does not fall under jurisdiction of the FCC because they do not have the authority to regulate the area of the spectrum that infrared lasers use. A sharp police officer may be able to articulate in a charging document that the use of this type of device interferes with his official duties and also may be considered to prevent the the collection of evidence. I know that in Maryland it is a violation of common law to interfere with or hinder a police officer in the performance of his official duties. That is why I like the Laser Echo. After five seconds it will shut down and allow the officer to get a lock. This should satisfy him and look for someone else. If you do get pulled over the worst thing to do is to tell a police officer how to properly do his job. Believe me he already knows and you will only motivate him to look for every charge he can find. The pen is mightier than the sword or a sharp tongue. It really truly is.

So far I have been very pleased with the Laser Echo. If you are looking for protection from laser this is it.

Other laser warning receivers and jammers:

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The ECM master switch is the one on the right with the gray background. I will be installing a blackbackground soon.

Both the Valentine One and the Laser Echo are hard wired. I have it set up so it is controled by the ignition switch and the ECM master switch. The switch is used to deactive the ECM package when needed.

Lo-Jack Vehicle Recovery System

Even the best alarm system will not stop a determined professional theft or a car-jacker from getting your car. Once it is gone, it is gone. You might get it back when the police find if stripped or wrapped around a telephone pole.

I have seen the Lo-Jack system get cars back in amazingly short times, and in most cases, no damage. I am a police officer and I once responded to a car jacking call. The victim told me his car had a Lo-Jack unit and I called it in to the teletype section to have the theft of the vehicle entered into the National Crime Information Center’s computer system (NCIC) system right away. Once it was entered, the Lo-Jack unit was automatically activated and the police cars with Lo-Jack receivers started to get the signal. Police officers tracked down the car in just minutes and spotted it boxed in at a red light. Four armed robbers were arrested and one car returned to the owner undamaged. I had a Lo-Jack unit installed in my 4Runner as soon as possible after that.

The whole system is automatic. The only draw back is the system is only activated after you report the theft to the police. If you are away on vacation and you vehicle is stolen out of your garage, the Lo-Jack unit will not be activated until you discover the theft of your vehicle and report it.

The Lo-Jack unit is a small transmitter that is about the size of a pack of cigarettes that is hidden in your vehicle. It is connected to a constant 12-volt power supply. It also has its own backup battery to run the unit if the thief removes the vehicle’s battery. When your vehicle is entered as stolen in the NCIC computer, a signal is transmitted to the unit in your car. When it receives the signal it wakes up and starts to transmit a homing signal. Special receivers in police cars receive this signal. The receivers start to beep and an arrow points the way to your car. It is police proof. The receivers in the police cars do not have an off switch. The only way to make it shut up is to find your car.

I have seen Lo-Jack work and it does work well. There are other system that are better and use GPS and the cellular phone system to tell the police exactly where you car is, but they are mostly in Europe and have not made it to the US yet, hopefully soon. Until then get a Lo-Jack. I got mine from Jessica at Herb Gordon Nissan in Silver Spring, Maryland. Ask for the police price (it's worth a try) and tell her Gadget with the supercharged 4Runner sent you.

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Club Steering Wheel Lock

Ignition locks, especially on Japanese vehicles are very, very, easy to defeat. Probably the simplest thing you can do to protect you vehicle is get and use the Club steering wheel lock.

Yes there are ways to defeat the Club. In 14 years of police work I have personally seen only one car that the thief used a hacksaw to cut through the steering wheel and remove the Club. The steering wheel is softer steel and it is much easier to cut than the Club. I have recovered countless stolen vehicles that there was no Club or the Club was sitting on the floor unlocked. An unlocked Club shows that although the owners had one available, he did not apply it!

Please don’t be silly and think that the alarm you have is going to keep your car from being stolen, it won’t. Get a Club and use it. It may make the difference.

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