Sep 30

Best Radar Detectors of 2016 for any Budget

How do you figure out which radar detector is best? There’s lots of great options that would work well on your windshield so you could read lots of reviews to figure it all out, try out a bunch of detectors yourself, or check out my comprehensive radar detector buyer’s guide. In an effort to make this decision as simple as possible for you, however, let’s take a look at the very best radar detectors available at every price point so that you can decide based on your budget and easily see what you’ll gain by dropping more cash.

Now there are lots of other radar detectors available that aren’t on this list, but these are among the very best. There’s also many cheaper ones than what are on this list, but there’s nothing down there I’d solidly recommend below these price points. The two main issues with the cheaper detectors is that the range is very limited so you won’t get much advanced warning time, plus you’ll get a ton of false alerts and will wind up either wanting to chuck the detector out the window or you’ll ignore it when it really counts… so considering you’re looking to avoid the cost and headache of not only expensive speeding tickets, but also any insurance premium hikes, points, court costs, and lawyer fees that come with the ticket, I’d recommend you avoid the bottom of the barrel cheapy detectors. They’re simply not worth the money.

Additionally, no matter which detector you choose, you’ll also want to run Waze on your phone (free) so you can see where cops are setting up speed traps in real time as well as pick up a set of laser jammers to help protect you from laser. Radar detectors are designed for radar. Laser jammers are designed for laser. I’d recommend you get the AntiLaser Priority as it’s currently the clear winner, without question. If only choosing a radar detector was this simple. 🙂

So anyways, let’s take a look at the different radar detectors, starting from the most affordable and basic entry level radar detectors up to the top performing and most feature-rich detectors.

 

$200
Uniden DFR6Uniden DFR6

This is the least expensive radar detector that I’d recommend. It offers the performance of many of the higher end detectors and does a great job at filtering out false alerts from cars with blind spot monitoring systems around you which is unusual for detectors in the price range and is what makes it stand out. However, it’s a pretty basic detector and lacks a GPS chip to help it learn and filter out false alerts around town and it lacks some of the other helpful bells and whistles that other detectors offer. It’s a great entry level detector. It’s best suited for primarily highway driving.

Purchase the Uniden DFR6 here or here.

 

$300
Uniden DFR7Uniden DFR7

This adds a GPS chip to the DFR6, making it a very well-rounded detector for both city and highway driving. Again it offers the performance of many higher end detectors and blind spot filtering as good as or better than many other detectors, but the added GPS chip really helps out in the city so you can teach it where stationary false alerts are from speed signs and automatic door openers in shopping centers (or when you pass them driving down the street or highway), plus you get low speed muting to quiet things down around town and redlight camera alerts for added protection. I think this detector really hits the sweet spot for price/performance with all the different detectors around.

Purchase the Uniden DFR7 here or here.

 

$300
Escort Passport MaxEscort Passport Max

Think of this as an easier to use and more refined version of the DFR7 that may be a better choice for most typical drivers because the lockouts are automatic so it can learn where false alerts are around town without you having to teach it which alerts are false and which are real every time, the display is nicer, the redlight camera database is updated more regularly, and the colors can be customized to match your vehicle’s interior. The blind spot filtering is slightly less effective so I’d give the edge to the Uniden in that department so the Uniden ultimately will be a slightly quieter detector in the end. The Max’s forte is giving you an easy to use and plug-and-play experience. This detector is being discontinued so the price has dropped considerably from its normal price of $550. You can now pick it up around $300’ish.

Purchase the Escort Passport Max here.

 

Max2Note: Depending on where current pricing is since it does fluctuate, you can also consider the Max2 which is a Max with a bluetooth chip built in so you can pair it with your phone so you can not only use your phone as an external display or configure your radar detector’s settings more easily, but you can also share realtime alerts with other drivers in the cloud using the app Escort Live (Android and iOS). It’s only a couple bucks more to step up to the Max2.

Purchase the Escort Passport Max2 here.

 

$400
Radenso XPRadenso XP

If you took the DFR7 and added more refinement, more useful features, better customer service, you’d basically have the Radenso XP. It also offers good range, excellent BSM filtering, manual GPS lockouts, more advanced filtering and muting options to quiet things down better such as the ability to delete individual redlight camera alerts plus a feature I like to think of as “happy wife mode” where you can temporarily audibly mute all future X/K band signals while still getting high priority Ka and Laser alerts no matter what to minimize the audible nagging for other passengers in your car. It offers more fine tuned control over the experience than most other detectors and is quickly becoming popular among enthusiasts.

Purchase the Radenso XP here.

 

$400
Beltronics MagnumBeltronics Magnum

For maximum long range performance above all else on highways and backroads, the Magnum’s outstanding sensitivity makes it ideal for both flat open deserts and curvy mountain roads where picking up a signal ahead is the number one priority. It doesn’t offer the greatest filtering capabilities, plus it lacks a GPS chip, so you won’t want to use it as much in an area where there’s a lot of false alerts. That’s why I’d suggest it as a highway detector, especially for more rural highways without lots of other cars around with blind spot monitoring systems. Additionally if you drive in Virginia or Washington D.C. where radar detectors are illegal, this is a popular choice because it is fully immune to being detected by radar detector detectors.

Purchase the Beltronics Magnum here.

 

$450
V1Valentine 1 with YaV1 (Android) or V1Driver (iOS)

This is one of my favorite all-around setups. It’s rock solid reliable, offers great performance and lightning fast reaction times, provides tons of useful information, has the best arrows around, and effective BSM filtering. It lacks a GPS chip so you’ll need to pair it with your phone and run an app to add the functionality that other detectors can offer right out of the box. As such, it requires more parts like a phone, bluetooth adapter, and third party app, plus it involves additional setup and configuration so it’s best for those who like to tinker with stuff. Once you get it all set up, it’s an excellent all-around package. The apps will add the additional audio muting capabilities to help quiet down the false alerts, but the alerts will all still show up and blink on the V1’s display so it can be a very visually active detector with all the blinking lights and arrows, especially around town.

If you’re running iOS, you’ll want to purchase the iOS version of the bluetooth module called the V1C LE, download the app V1connection, and purchase the app V1Driver from the app store. If you’re running Android, you’ll need to purchase the Android only version of the bluetooth module called the V1C and then download the app YaV1. Note: The V1C LE is now also compatible with Android and you’ll see it recommended for Androids, but YaV1 is only compatible with the V1C so you’ll want to make sure you pick that one up to ensure everything works properly.

Purchase the Valentine 1 here.

 

$500
RPSERadenso Pro SE

If you want maximum long range performance comparable to the Magnum for driving on the highway or backroads plus a GPS chip to get all the filtering options you’ll need in the city, the Radenso Pro SE is the way to go. It’s a very compact detector that packs a powerful punch. When it was originally released it had a number of bugs that needed to be fixed, but now that it’s running well with the latest firmware updates, you’ve got a great all-around detector with really long range, good blind spot filtering, and advanced muting options for false alert filtering around town, backed by some of the best customer service in the business.

Purchase the Radenso Pro SE here or here.

 

$650
Max360Escort Max360

If you want a fully loaded detector packed with all the bells and whistles where everything works straight out of the box and is easy to use, take a look at the Max360. Other detectors may have the edge in one or two areas like all out range or blind spot filtering, but this is more like the jack of all trades. Plus it doesn’t require you to add a phone and use third party apps to get the necessary core functionality you’ll need. In one integrated package you get good performance with plenty of advanced warning time in most situations just like all the other detectors here, pretty good blind spot filtering, multicolored arrows, completely automatic GPS lockouts, low speed muting, redlight camera alerts and a frequently updated database, and a nice and customizable modern display. Like the Max2 you can pair it with your phone if you like (Android or iOS) and run the app Escort Live to add some extra bonus features like changing settings from your phone or sharing realtime alerts with other drivers through the cloud. I do wish the blind spot filtering was a bit better and more on par with some of the other options, but at the end of the day for your everyday driver going down highways and city streets who wants all the bells and whistles in one integrated and easy to use package, the Max360 is the one to get.

Purchase the Escort Max360 here.

Aug 31

How to Configure your Net Radar Radar Detector

The Net Radar is a remote radar detector designed to be installed in your grill and plugged into the AntiLaser Priority laser jamming system to offer you a fully integrated radar detecting and laser jamming setup. You can check out my impressions of the Net Radar here. Now there’s actually several different Net Radar antennas you can purchase, depending on your needs.

  1. Front antenna: Primary radar detector everyone will need
  2. Rear antenna: Optional to give you improved radar detection from behind. A firmware update is coming to add directional information, aka arrows, if you have both a front and rear antenna.
  3. Front MRCD antenna: Optional antenna for those who live in Edmonton, Alberta or around Quebec where the MRCD is in use.

Now to configure your Net Radar, there’s actually two ways of doing it. The traditional way is to configure everything on your computer via the ALP website, download the config file with your settings to your computer, take it over to your ALP in your car via a USB stick, and plug the USB stick so the ALP can apply those settings.

The second way is to do things through your phone if you have a Bluetooth module. You go into the app’s settings, find the section to configure your ALP online, click “Modify” to go to the website online, create all your settings on the website, save the settings, then download those saved settings through the app again to apply them to your ALP.

Bluetooth updates

Ultimately both methods require you to go the same website and so you’ll find the exact same options either way. For the sake of this example, we’ll assume you’re doing it through your computer.

Start off by going to alpupdate.com/Configure, select your region (ie. North America), and then if you’re running the HiFi module or Bluetooth module and not just the standard ALP control pad, click the “Use profiles” box over on the right.

Enable profiles

Profiles will let you build 3 different preset settings profiles that you can switch between on the fly using your phone or hifi module. These profiles affect both the laser jammer and radar detector settings. You can switch different profiles to do things like enable your jammers or set them to parking mode, change different filtering settings on your radar detector, and so on.

For now we’re going to dive down and just run through all the settings. To save yourself sometime, you can always choose all the settings you want, go back to the top and click the “options” button underneath “Use profiles,” and copy all the settings from one profile to the next, this way you don’t have to start from scratch with each different profile.

Advanced options

Under “Advanced options” make sure you select either “PDC & DLI” or “PDC & LID” in order to enable the radar detector functionality. If you have your jammers set to “PDC Only,” you won’t find any options for your radar detector and it will be disabled.

Radar antenna model

Scroll down to “Radar antenna model” and select “NET-Radar.”

Activate dual mode

If you’re running both the regular Net Radar antenna and the MRCD antenna up front, it’s recommended to mount them on opposite ends of the car at least 30-36″ apart. You can mount them closer if need be. If you do, you may get false alerts between the two antennas. To fix this, activate “Dual mode” which will reduce the sensitivity of your antennas but will take care of the false alerts.

Mark connected antennas

If you’re running the normal front radar detector antenna, turn “Front 1” on. (This will apply to virtually everyone.)

If also you’re running the MRCD antenna up front, turn “Front 2” on as well.

If you’re running a rear antenna, turn “Rear” on.

Note: The settings for each antenna are adjusted individually and by default all bands (X, K, & Ka band) are enabled. Some people have disabled certain bands on their front antenna but kept getting alerted on those bands because they didn’t also turn those bands off on their rear antenna. Make sure you adjust the settings for each antenna individually. 😉

Radar bands

Here you can enable/disable individual bands as needed.

If you’re wondering which bands are in use in your area, I’d recommend checking the RDFGS. I’m also working on a simplified version of that so you can see what settings you need across the country at a glance. To see the latest version of the simplified map, click here.

POP you can generally disable since it’s not actively used.

K-Traffic filter is TSR/TMF. If you have traffic sensors in your area (again reference the RDFGS if you’re not sure), enable this filter. Otherwise disable it for better K band performance.

K-filter is your blind spot filter. It’s very effective with the Net Radar and one of the best implementations of this filter around. It doesn’t filter out every false alert, but it does get most of them. Keep it enabled to cut down on false alerts from cars around you with collision avoidance systems and blind spot monitoring systems.

K band options

If you’d like to segment K band to disable certain sections, you have that option. However, legitimate K band can be seen all over the K band range so unless you have a specific reason to disable certain segments, it’s best to leave K band set to “Wide.”

Ka band options

You can also segment Ka band if you wish. The segments are set up the same as other manufacturers so you can simply set it up to scan for segments 2, 5, & 8 to get the standard setup for the US. There doesn’t seem to be much of a performance difference with different segments on/off so feel free to enable more segments to catch out of tune guns or disable segments if you know for sure that certain frequencies aren’t in use in your area.

Note: This is an advanced option so I’d recommend these standard settings unless you know what you’re doing. See this article for more in depth information on Ka band segmentation.

Ka band at full strength

If you’d like your Net Radar to alert at full strength for the first 3 seconds when you initially get an alert, enable this option. However, I prefer leaving it at the default setting of Off to hear the rampup of the signal and get a better feel for the threat level and what’s going on around me.

Radar filter profile

Here you can adjust the sensitivity of your detector to quiet it down around town. Highway mode gives you full sensitivity on all bands. The city modes will cut down on your sensitivity (you can adjust by how much) to filter out weak alerts.

If you’re using the standard control pad or the HiFi module, when the detector is picking up a signal that it’s filtering out, you’ll get no visual or audio alert.

If you’re using the bluetooth module, when the detector is picking up a signal that it’s filtering out, the City icon will blink on your phone but you’ll receive no audio alert.

Radar filter thresholds

Here you can set how strong the signal needs to be (from 1-9) before it alerts you.

Any signals that are weaker than your thresholds will be filtered out. When you detect signal at or above your threshold, you’ll get alerted to those signals normally.

Radar automute

To quiet things down, if you want your Net Radar to automatically reduce the alert volume after 6 seconds once it has your attention, enable the automute feature.

Mute car radio during radar alerts

If you’ve attached the stereo mute wire to your stereo, if you’d like your Net Radar to mute your stereo every time you detect a radar alert so you can hear the signal better, enable this option.

Finally, once you’ve configured everything the way you want, scroll back up to the top to “Use profiles” and click on the “options” button underneath.

Switch profiles

You can copy the settings you just created to the other profiles and then go in to the other profiles, change any settings as you wish, and switch between different settings on the fly.

Once you get everything configured the way you want, to download the settings to your computer, click the Download button at the very bottom.

Save and download

It’ll take you to another page with some additional instructions. Basically it’ll download a file called “config.alp” which you’ll want to copy to a USB drive and then plug into your ALP.

download config file

It’ll take just a few seconds to load the settings into the ALP and then you’re ready to go!

If you’re using the standard control pad which doesn’t support profiles, you’re all set.

If you’re using the HiFi module, you can switch profiles by double-tapping on the right button on the control pad. The LED will change colors and it’ll say “Profile A” or “Profile B” or “Profile C” to confirm your new profile. Here’s a quick video demo.

If you’re using the Bluetooth module, tap on the profile letter on your phone, give it a second to switch profiles, and you’ll see the next profile loaded on screen. Here’s a quick demo.

There you go! Now you’re up and running. 🙂

Enjoy!

Aug 12

Updated Blendmount R Series Review

Blendmount R Mount Max360

BlendMount recently released an updated version of their rearview mirror radar detector mount which they’re calling their BlendMount R Series. (Review of the original version here.) The updated R Series has a number of different improvements over the original design that bring some nice refinements to just about every area of the mount so let’s take a look at the improvements in the updated version.

Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 05

Choosing the Best Radar Detector for You, A Flowchart

So the most common question people ask is “What is the best radar detector?” To help answer this question, I have a radar detector guide I put together for you to help go over the main highlights of the best radar detectors on the market. The link is at the top of this website. To help simplify things even further, I’ve put together a flowchart you can follow to help determine what’s best for you based on your own personal needs, preferences, and budget. (Note: I’ve done one of these previously, but a lot has changed since with new detectors and updates to old ones so this chart has been updated.)

For more information about any decision or radar detector listed below, scroll down below the flowchart.

Which Radar Detector to Buy Flowchart August 2016

Windshield Mount Radar Detectors:

Escort Redline: 

RedlineWhen it come to performance, this is the benchmark that all other detectors are compared against. It offers long range monster performance to help you detect radar way up ahead of you, giving you plenty of time to slow down before your speed can be acquired. It is also immune to radar detector detectors so it’s a popular option for when an undetectable detector is required. The downside is that its filtering abilities are quite limited so you’ll get a fair number of false alerts. As such, it helps to pair it with your phone and run Escort Live so you can teach it where stationary false alerts are from shopping centers and speed signs. It’s not very effective at filtering out false alerts from cars with blind spot monitoring systems so if you’re in a pretty populated area, you may want to consider another detector. The Redline’s specialty is highway driving, especially in more rural areas.

Click here to purchase an Escort Redline.

Beltronics Magnum: 

Beltronics MagnumThe Magnum is essentially an Escort Redline with a different name, case, and sounds. However, there are two critical differences under the hood. 1) Performance and maximum range is just slightly less than the Redline, but still one of the very best detectors on the market. 2) Its ability to filter out cars with blind spot monitoring systems is slightly better than the Redline. Since its filtering is better than the Redline’s, it’s the preferred choice for people who want high end performance while offering the ability to filter more of the false alerts emitted from other newer vehicles nearby.

Click here to purchase the Beltronics Magnum.

Escort Live: 

Escort Live alertBoth the Redline and the Magnum lack a GPS chip to give them the ability to learn where stationary false alerts around town are located and mute them for you in the future. To compensate for this, you can buy a power cable with a bluetooth chip inside it, pair your phone to your detector using the bluetooth cable, and use your phone’s GPS and the app to tell your detector to manually mark false alerts and tell your detector to mute next time it sees this signal (aka lock them out). This makes the detector much more useful around town.

There’s other benefits to running the app as well such as making it easier to change your RD’s settings, using your phone as a secondary display for your detector, alerting you to redlight cameras and speedcameras, or sharing realtime alerts to/from the cloud. The cloud-based stuff is definitely cool, but you can run Waze on your phone which has far more users and thus many more alerts. Personally I find the lockouts to be the most useful feature in Escort Live.

Previously there were separate cables for Android and iOS users, but now you can get a cable that works for both platforms. You can either get one that plugs into your cigarette lighter for easier installation and more portability or you can permanently hardwire a cable (instructions here) for a more clean looking installation.

Click here to purchase an Escort Live cig. lighter cable for Android or iOS.

Click here to purchase an Escort Live hardwire cable for Android or iOS.

Uniden DFR6: 

Uniden DFR6This is the least expensive radar detector I would recommend. It offers long range performance that in some cases can rival detectors at double to triple the price. It also features one of the best blind spot filters on the market as well. There are less expensive detectors out there, but they don’t offer nearly the sensitivity and filtering abilities as the DFR6 so if you’re on a tight budget, this is the least expensive detector I would recommend.

Now it is missing a GPS chip so it doesn’t offer all the functionality you’d want around town. If you do a lot of driving in the city, I would recommend the DFR7 instead. The DFR6 is best suited as a highway detector.

Click here to purchase a Uniden DFR6.

Uniden DFR7: 

Uniden DFR7The DFR7 offers the best bang-for-the-buck and is a very well-rounded detector. You’ve got both great performance and the ability to filter out many cars with annoying blind spot monitoring systems (something many detectors struggle at these days) plus it adds a GPS chip to give you the features you’d want around town such as the ability to learn and lock out known false alerts, red light camera / speedcamera alerts, and the ability to simply mute the detector at low speeds to really quiet things down. This makes the detector far more manageable around town and at just $299, it’s hard to go wrong.

Click here to purchase a Uniden DFR7.

Escort Passport Max: 

Escort Passport MaxThis is the easiest to use, relatively inexpensive city detector. It’s got all the core features you’d want like reasonable performance and the ability to filter out many false alerts. It’s similar to the DFR7 except it can learn and lockout false alerts for you automatically so it requires less user intervention. I would give the edge in performance and filtering effectiveness to the Uniden, but the Max’s display is nicer, the redlight camera database is updated much more frequently, and the customer service is better as well. As a plug-and-play detector, it’s a recommended pick for being easy to use, especially if you don’t want to be a radar detector expert.

Click here to purchase an Escort Passport Max.

Escort Max360: 

Max360This is the most feature-packed, plug-and-play, all the bells and whistles detector. It’s got arrows like the V1, but it doesn’t require a cell phone to get all the features so it’s a self-contained package, better for traveling, and significantly easier to set up. It costs more than the V1 and its bluetooth module, but if you want all the bells and whistles in an easy to use package, this is the one to get. The Max360 is Escort’s best selling detector and it’s no surprise.

Click here to purchase a Max360.

Valentine One: 

V1This has long been the go-to detector among driving enthusiasts. It’s known for having arrows (the Max360 and others now offer this too) and offers great performance and blind spot filtering capabilities. It does require a fairly considerable amount of setup and configuration, it all but needs a cell phone and an app to add the GPS functionality, advanced display, and to take full advantage of the performance and configuration options that you wouldn’t otherwise get so it’s awesome for someone who loves to tweak and tinker around with a radar detector. It offers a lot of control and a lot of information to the user, more than any other detector. It’s great at letting you know what’s going on around you and that’s what I love best about it.

Click here to purchase a V1.

YaV1: 

YaV1 alert displayThis is an Android-only app that allows you to take full advantage of your V1, custom program it, and add important GPS-based filters like GPS lockouts and low speed muting. It’s the definitive V1 app to have and I’d consider it basically mandatory for using the V1 if you’re an Android user. Note: You need a newer version of the V1 (3.892 or newer) plus the Android only bluetooth module (V1C) to use YaV1. The iOS bluetooth module (V1C LE) is now compatible with Android too, but if you want to use YaV1, you need to use the V1C.

Click here to download YaV1.

Click here to buy the V1C bluetooth module.

V1Driver: 

V1DriverV1Driver is an iPhone-only app that adds important GPS functionality to your V1 such as GPS lockouts and low speed muting. It really helps quiet the detector down around town and if you use an iPhone, it’s the app to get with your V1. You’ll still need the factory app for programming your V1 initially, but for day-to-day use, you’ll want to run V1Driver to add the filtering and muting functionality. It can be run actively on your phone or simply run in the background, even while the phone is in your pocket, and your V1 will still benefit nicely from its muting functionality.

Click here to purchase V1Driver.

Click here to buy the V1C LE bluetooth module. 

Radenso Pro SE:

RPSEIf you do a lot of highway driving and want high end performance similar to what the Redline and Magnum offer, but you also drive in the city and want the ability to learn and filter out false alerts and alert you to redlight cameras / speed cameras without having to putz around with cell phones, the Radenso Pro SE is the one to get. It’s a high end city/highway detector. It admittedly still has some quirks like the lockouts take a few attempts to work and the frequency display isn’t as precise as other options, but it’s a well-rounded high performing detector that is quickly becoming more and more popular.

Click here to purchase a Radenso Pro SE.

Remote Radar Detectors:

Stinger VIP: 

Stinger VIPIf you want the most feature-packed remote mounted radar detector. It offers high end performance, effective blind spot filtering, automatic GPS lockouts, doesn’t require a phone to get everything working, immunity from radar detector detectors, redlight/speedcamera alerts, and so on. The detector still has some quirks that need to be ironed out and it’s taking a while to become fully refined, but nonetheless, it’s the most advanced and capable radar detector on the market. The standard setup comes with a single front facing antenna like most detectors. You also have the option of adding a second rear facing antenna to give you directional information (aka arrows) for added information. I run the two antenna version because I love the added situational awareness, but honestly the single antenna version works great too.

Click here to purchase a Stinger VIP. (Use the coupon code “VortexRadar” to save 10%)

Beltronics STi-R Plus (standalone):

STi-R PlusIf you want a well-rounded remote detector like the Stinger but don’t want to pay for it, the STi-R Plus is a great option. It offers many of the same features as the Stinger and is surprisingly comparable in terms of performance, you get your RLC alerts, low speed muting, automatic GPS lockouts without a phone, RDD immunity, and so on. The biggest difference I’ve found is that it’s not as good as the Stinger at filtering out blind spot falses so you will get more false alerts in practice. It’s also not doing to receive any more updates it looks like while the Stinger continues to be updated and improved, but it’s kind of like a budget Stinger without quite the level of blind spot filtering abilities.

Click here to purchase a Beltronics STi-R Plus.

Escort 9500ci head for the ALP: 

9500ci headIf you like the idea of the high end performance for highway driving, the 9500ci is going to be a top pick for long range monster detection. The standalone 9500ci is like the STi-R Plus except you get Escort’s not so great Laser ShifterPro laser jammers. If you get the AntiLaser Priority instead (much better laser jammer), you can actually get a 9500ci head and plug it into your ALP and get the same level of performance. You won’t have the GPS lockouts so it’s really best suited as a highway detector, and you won’t get the RLC alerts without using an app like Waze, but it’s a great way to get high end performance for even less than the cost of a standalone STi-R Plus. This is especially good in places like California where you can turn off K band, not have to deal with filtering K falses, and run with Ka only.

Click here to purchase a 9500ci head for your ALP.

You will also need an RGv2 module for your ALP.

Radenso HD+ for the ALP: 

Radenso HD+ antenna top frontIf you like the idea of the 9500ci plugged into your ALP but you want K band enabled, take a look at the Radenso HD+. It offers comparable performance but much better blind spot filtering, so it’s a better choice if K band detection is necessary. You won’t get your GPS lockouts and you will lose RDD immunity, but it’s a better choice for most places where K band is still in active use.

Click here to purchase a Radenso HD+ for your ALP.

You’ll also want an RGv2 module. A GPS antenna, HiFi module, and Bluetooth module are helpful too.

Net Radar w/ bluetooth for the ALP: 

Net Radar antennaIf you want a remote to pair with your ALP and you want the GPS lockouts, get the new Net Radar. It integrates nicely with the ALP and if you pair it with your phone using the Bluetooth module, you can run the app on your phone and manually teach the detector where the false alerts are so it can mute them for you in the future. None of the other ALP remotes can do this. Performance isn’t up to par with the 9500ci or Radenso HD+, but it’ll still offer you plenty of range in most situations so it’s a great all-around pick. Additionally you can add a second rear antenna if you want directional information (arrows) or even a third antenna if you need MRCD detection as well.

Click here to purchase a Net Radar antenna for your ALP.

Click here to purchase a bluetooth module for your ALP.

Decisions:

Windshield mount vs. Remote mount?

There’s two forms that a radar detector can come in. A little box that mounts on your windshield or a hidden custom installed detector installed in your grill. Each option has pros and cons. Let’s take a look.

Windshield mount benefits: Easier to install, less expensive, cheaper to install, more options for detector, can easily be moved between vehicles, easy to remove if you sell your vehicle, almost plug and play install, can be hardwired for a cleaner install without using your vehicle’s cig. lighter plug.

Remote mount benefits: Hidden install, not visible to potential thieves or police, nothing to take down and take off your windshield when you park, cleaner look in the cabin, no cig. lighter cable hanging down your dash, cig. lighter port is free for other devices, no black box on your windshield, looks much more OEM.

Do you live in VA or D.C.?: (Magnum, Redline, STi-R Plus, 9500ci, or Stinger VIP)

In Virginia and Washington D.C. (as well as every province in Canada except BC, AB, & SK), radar detectors are illegal and in those areas, radar detector detectors are used. Some people choose detectors with special stealth technology that makes them fully undetectable by radar detector detectors. Those detectors include the Magnum, Redline, STi-R Plus, 9500ci, and Stinger VIP. All the other detectors are detectable at varying distances.

Note: Radar detectors are also illegal on military bases anywhere in the country or in any commercial vehicle over 10,000 lbs or any vehicle over 18,000 lbs.

Budget? 

Radar detectors can help you avoid the cost of not only a speeding ticket, court costs, lawyer fees, and especially insurance premium hikes, not to mention the headache and stress of dealing with a ticket, so it’s worth making an investment in a quality product. $300 or so will get you a solid mid-tier detector. You can occasionally find some good detectors below that, but it’s not worth trying to cheap out too far, especially considering the issues you’re trying to avoid. Above that price you’ll start to run into the top tier detectors that offer the highest level of protection.

Do you drive in the city much?

If you drive in the city, you’ll want some features like GPS lockouts so the detector can learn where known stationary false alerts are located from speed signs and automatic door openers in grocery stores and drug stores. Using GPS, your detector can learn where these falses are located so it mutes them for you every time you drive past. That feature is pretty much a must-have feature in town. It’s also nice having low-speed muting so your detector is quiet when you’re driving around slowly or sitting at a red light. The GPS can also alert you to redlight cameras or speed cameras in the area, so if you drive a lot in the city, a GPS based detector is very handy. Some detectors have a GPS chip built in while others will pair with your cell phone over bluetooth and require you to run an app on your phone to use your phone’s GPS to add that functionality.

Do you want arrows to help locate the threat?

Radar detectors are all about helping you locate the source of the threat and know when you’re in danger. Is the cop in front of you or behind? Did you pass a cop but there’s a second one up ahead? Arrows can add some very helpful information in practice and while most of the time you can avoid a speeding ticket without arrows, they are a great addition to your radar detector if you want to better understand what’s going on around you.

Plug-and-play integrated RD or tinker with your cell phone? (Max360 vs. V1 w/ app)

Most people aren’t radar detector experts and don’t want to be. If that’s the case for you and you want an easy to use radar detector, go for one like the Max360 which is plug and play. It requires minimal setup, the GPS chip is built into the detector so it doesn’t rely on your phone, and you can put it on your windshield and you’re ready to go. However, if you’re the type of person who likes to tinker around with tech products and you want more control, the V1 is a great choice. You get a lot more fine tuned adjustments and even more information if you pair it with your cell phone and run YaV1 or V1Driver. The setup is more complicated with the V1 and you’re really going to need your phone and an app whenever you’re out driving, but that combo offers you the highest level of control if that’s what you prefer. For most, and even for people who just want to focus on driving and things other than their radar detector, a plug and play detector is the way to go.

iOS or Android? 

Pretty self explanatory. Whichever phone you regularly use, get the setup that matches your phone. A quick note about the different platforms:

Escort Live works better on iOS than on Android. iOS is pretty smooth while Android is kinda buggy.

On the V1 you have good options for both now. I’m an iOS guy in general and V1Driver is really easy to use and fantastic as a plug and play detector to add the GPS functionality to your V1. However, I still run a dedicated Android phone for YaV1 because I prefer the additional customizability and alert presentation since it shows me all the information for every signal. It’s not as automated, but it gives me a ton of useful information and so I love that. However, for simple driving, the iOS option is great and really offers the core features people would need and works great.

Plug-and-play detector? (Max vs. DFR7)

Most people really want a simple and easy to use detector. Put it on your windshield and it basically does the rest. Some detectors require more user intervention than others. One perfect example is the Max and the DFR7. They’re very comparable detectors. Both have the ability to use GPS to learn and lock out false alerts, but due to patent issues, the Max can do it automatically while the DFR7 requires you to do it manually. So the Max is great because you can install it and let it do its thing and for most people who don’t want to try and figure out if the beeping alert should be locked out, it’s a nice benefit. If my mom wanted to use a radar detector, and she’s not very tech savvy, I’d want a more automated detector for her.

Long range, monster performance or generally sufficient range? (Redline, Magnum, Radneso Pro SE vs. Max & DFR7

If you demand the highest level of performance because you drive in rural terrain, whether it’s on the highways, it’s on backroads with lots of radar absorbing hills, curves, and trees, or if you live in flat open deserts where your only shot at picking up radar is getting notified when a car several miles ahead of you is being clocked, then you’ll want a high performing detector that offers monster range. If you’re willing to sacrifice all out range for sufficient range in most situations while adding some other benefits like improved false alert filtering, a better experience for city driving (lockouts, redlight camera alerts, etc.), a more well-rounded detector would be a better choice over a long range specialist.

Willing to pair your detector to your phone? (Redline or Magnum vs. Radenso Pro SE)

Some detectors like the Radenso Pro SE have a GPS chip built in so they can give you the GPS functionality right out of the box. Others like the Redline and Magnum lack the GPS chip, but they have the ability to pair with your cell phone (if you add a bluetooth module) and use your phone’s GPS and run an app to add that functionality. It’s more hoops to jump through to use a phone every time, but there may be other benefits to using a detector without GPS built in such immunity from radar detector detectors, you want to pair your detector with your phone to get realtime alerts to/from other drivers in the cloud, and so on.

Mostly rural driving or lots of other cars around? (Redline vs. Magnum)

The Redline and Magnum are virtually the same detector, just with a different name, case, and sounds. However, there are two small but important differences. Both detectors feature a low noise amplifier to help boost the strength of weak signals and get longer range, but the Redline’s LNA is slightly better and so it has slightly better range. Realistically speaking though, both detectors offer outstanding performance. However, when it comes to filtering out false alerts from blind spot cars, the Magnum is more effective once you enable the filters. It’s for that reason that if you have a bunch of other cars around, the Magnum would be the preferable choice. If you’re in mostly rural areas where you don’t need the improved filtering, go for the Redline for maximum performance.

Basic, fully featured, or top end RD for max performance? (9500ci head, STi-R Plus, or Stinger VIP)

If you want a detector that gives you outstanding range, especially for rural and highway driving, you can plug a 9500ci head into your AntiLaser Priority laser jammer and get phenomenal performance in a remote detector without spending a ton of cash.

If you want high end performance but you also want improved filtering abilities in the city with GPS lockouts and whatnot, the standalone STi-R Plus is a great all-around package.

If you want everything including really good blind spot filtering, the ability to get a detector with arrows, and basically all the bells and whistles, the Stinger VIP is the one to get

Do you need/want the top end detector? (Stinger VIP vs. the rest)

If you’re the type of person who wants to go for the best option possible, the Stinger VIP is it. It offers all the bells and whistles, high end performance and filtering, and pretty much ticks every box when it comes to features.

Now I gotta say that it still needs some firmware updates and refinement to be a detector that fully satisfies most all of its customers, but nonetheless it still offers more than virtually any other detector out there.

Are you using the AntiLaser Priority?

Every countermeasure kit requires a radar detector to handle radar and laser jammers to handle laser. The best laser jammer on the market is the AntiLaser Priority and it’s basically the universally recommended jammer. I wish choosing a radar detector was this easy! 😀 Anyways, if you’ve already ordered your ALP or if you’re going to be getting one, it has the ability to pair with a variety of different radar detectors to give you an integrated radar/laser system in one very nice package.

Want good BSM filtering or arrows? (STi-R Plus vs. Stinger VIP)

One of the biggest differences between these two very good remote radar detectors, the STi-R Plus and the Stinger VIP, is that the Stinger VIP can do more sophisticated signal analysis to recognize and filter out those annoying false alerts from cars with blind spot monitoring systems while the Plus uses older technology that simply can’t do that. It’s a great radar detector, but it lacks the modern filtering that’s really needed these days. Additionally, if you want the ability to get arrows, the Stinger offers the ability to add a second rear antenna for directional information. These are two of the biggest differences between the Plus and the Stinger.

Jul 14

How To Hardwire a Radar Detector

Radar detectors need to be plugged in for power and generally ship with a cigarette lighter plug to make it easy to power your detector. However, it looks kinda ugly to have a long cable dangling down your windshield and dash and it can get in the way of using your stereo. It also makes it obvious to others while driving or parked that you have a detector so many people take their setups down when parking and put everything back together every time they get back in their car.

A good alternative is to hardwire your detector by creating a permanent power plug for it.

Hardwired DFR7

Rather than taking up your cig. lighter outlet, you power your detector from your car’s fuse box and run a power cable hidden along the trim of your vehicle to create a much cleaner and professional looking installation. It allows you to mount your detector high up near your headliner for better radar detection, your detector can be more stealthy behind your tint strip without the cable dangling down so it’s less visible to police or potential thieves, you can leave it in your car with less chance of someone else seeing it, etc. There’s lots of great benefits to doing this and it’s the preferred method to power your radar detector.

You can hire a professional to do this for you. Most any car radio installer can do this and it doesn’t take a lot of time or money, or you can do it yourself. In this tutorial I’ll show you how to do it yourself. Read the rest of this entry »

May 24

How to Set Up & Configure the Radenso Pro & Radenso Pro SE

Here’s a tutorial to walk you through the different features and options available on the Radenso Pro and Radenso Pro so you can set it up the way you want. 🙂

Purchase the Radenso Pro here.

Purchase the Radenso Pro SE here.

Apr 14

Radenso HD+ Setup & Pricing Options

So the Radenso HD+ is Radenso’s new remote mount radar detector. It’s basically the remote version of the Radenso Pro SE. You get high end radar detector performance like the Redline/Magnum/STi-R Plus/9500ci and even better blind spot filtering for less money… so it’s a pretty compelling package. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 10

Radenso HD+ Remote Radar Detector: First Look

Alrighty… so let’s take a look at the Radneso HD+!

It’s Radenso’s upcoming remote mount radar detector.

First off here’s the video that goes over the basics.

and here’s a series of photos you can skim through instead with the different key points I found interesting. 🙂

Radenso HD+ antenna top

Radenso HD+ antenna top front

Radenso HD+ antenna top closeup

Radenso HD+ antenna closeup with RPSEThe remote is a smidge bigger than the windshield mount, but not much. It’s has the same board and LNA as the RPSE, but the horn is bigger. Apparently that gives them an extra 2-3 dBm. The RPSE is already running right up there with the Redline in testing, and this larger antenna would explain why people have been seeing this thing outperforming the remote M3’s in early testing.

Radenso HD+ antenna horns with RPSE

Radenso HD+ antenna bottom

The antenna uses these waterproof twist locks, just like the ALP does. The cable is 1.7m (5.6 ft.) from the antenna to the connector and then another 2.5m (8.2 ft.) back to the CPU.

Radenso HD+ antenna back

It’s a little tricky to get the connectors aligned just right, but they’re keyed to help with the alignment process.

Radenso HD+ antenna connectors

Here’s a look at the wiring setup from the antenna to the connection cable to the CPU.

Radenso HD+ wired up

Radenso is going to be releasing an all new CPU for the Radenso HD+. It’s not the same as what was used in the Genevo HD+ and what was shared in the OP. I don’t have one of those, but here’s what it looks like.

Radenso HD+ CPU

You’ll notice there’s a couple different ports. You’ve got front and rear (!!) radar antenna ports so you’ll get directional information like the V1, Max360, K40 RL360i, or Stinger VIP.

There’s a port on the far left for a GPS antenna.

On the far right is a port to plug in your jammers. I know it’s already been mentioned that this head can be plugged into the ALP via the R/G module, just like we can already do with the M3’s. If you want you can also go the other way around. You can use the Radenso’s CPU to control your ALP’s. Your jammer heads plug into the ALP’s control box and the in place of the wired controller you plug in the Radenso CPU so the Radenso takes over with its own controls and messages, but the ALP’s are still doing the work. I guess the main benefit is that you can choose to have the Radenso sounds and controls if you want just like you can choose to have the ALP sounds and controls. I don’t know which one will be better or anything.

Here’s a few more pics of it that I was sent showing it next to an iPhone 6 for size comparison.

Radenso HD+ CPU

Radenso HD+ CPU rearUSB port on the back! Presumably for updates.

There’s also a new display coming. Here’s a few pics that I was sent to show that too.

Radenso HD+ display with phone

Radenso HD+ display split apart

Radenso HD+ display closeup

LED display and different buttons to adjust the settings. The display also pops off the mounting bracket, just like the Stinger VIP. Apparently the mounting bracket can be set up with the cable going out the left or right, whatever better fits your install placement.

Now this new CPU and display is still in development. What I’ve got in the meantime is the Beltronics 975 which is a CPU that is compatible with a variety of different detectors.

Beltronics 975It’s a pretty ancient control box, but it does the job.

On a side note, I’ve always wondered what the heck the 975 was when seeing what RD’s are compatible with the ALP. I thought it was just a communications protocol, but apparently it’s this little box. 🙂

Since I’ve never had a chance to play with one, plus I need to get familiar with it so I can properly set up the HD+ for testing, here’s a video showing you a demo of different radar and laser alerts with the Bel 975, as well as the buttons and different menu options it has.

ALP will be releasing a firmware update to support this HD+ so you’ll be able to integrate it directly into your jammers using the R/G module the same way you can do with a Plus or 9500ci head. If you look on ALP’s configuration site, you’ll already see an option available for the HD+.

ALP 975HD+

As far as the price and release date, that I don’t know. It may have been decided and mentioned on the forum, but I don’t know. @Hügel66 could tell us more of course.

So yeah, this looks really interesting…

We’ve got a detector that’s very likely capable of out ranging the M3’s. Currently the only other detector that can do that is the Stinger VIP, but this should be considerably less expensive.

I don’t know how well its blind spot filtering works, but it has TSR High and Low just like the RPSE. It also offers individual Ka segments for 33.8, 34.3, 34.7, & 35.5.

Here’s a look at all the different components I got in the kit. Antenna, Bel 975 CPU, the box in the middle from a Genevo HD+, the extension cable back to the CPU, some screws, and two different brackets. I’m not sure why I’ve got two. Maybe for different mounting options or something?

Radenso HD+ kit

The fact that this can plug into an ALP or your ALP jammers can plug into it, that’s a new one. I have no idea how comparable it will be with the ALP’s. Can it jam the DET and all the newest guns? No idea, but I’m definitely curious to hear more about how all that will work.

So yeah, that’s the latest on my end. A big big thank you to @Hügel66 for the opportunity to test this guy out, get familiar with it, and share what I find with all you guys.

I do have a remote test planned. Stinger VIP, Radenso HD+, K40 RL360i or RL200i, and assorted M3’s. That test won’t be for a few weeks since I’ve got other plans next week and I gotta get everything ready for that test, but now that I’ve got the HD+ on hand and I’ve heard about what it can do, I’m definitely eager to run all these detectors back to back and see how they compare… 🙂

Mar 03

noPhoto Review

Alright so time to take a look at the latest version of the noPhoto! 🙂

noPhoto

noPhoto on plate

noPhoto test cloudy noPhoto firing
The noPhoto is a device that attaches to your license plate and helps you avoid tickets from redlight cameras and speed cameras. It looks for the flash that comes from the camera wanting to give you a ticket. When the noPhoto detects that flash, it fires a flash of its own, overexposing the license plate in the image so that the camera can’t read the plate and so you don’t get a ticket in the mail. The noPhoto retails for $399.

I’ve had a chance to test the previous version of the noPhoto. That was a great unit except for the one tiny fact that it didn’t actually protect me from a RLC ticket… https://www.rdforum.org/showthread.php?t=30590 It turns out there was a timing issue with the ATS cameras in use where I live. Jon at noLimits did a great job troubleshooting the issue and it has since been resolved with the new version of the noPhoto. I retested this new version against the same camera and this time it passed with flying colors.

In addition to being more effective, this new version is improved in just about every way. Let’s take a look.

Let’s start with a hands-on video you can watch to get familiar with the noPhoto itself.

and here’s a quick video of how it works.

Here’s how it looks mounted on my vehicle:

noPhoto mounted on my car

I had a chance to test it with an RLC/speedcam and it does indeed work in practice.

The previous gen noPhoto was a big license plate frame that your plate slides into. This is a black bar, essentially, that attaches to the top or bottom of your license plate.

noPhoto thickness

The noPhoto has 4 circular light sensors to detect the camera flash and the noPhoto’s flash is right in the center of the plate.

noPhoto on plate

RLC’s often shoot two photos: one as you’re entering the intersection and once as you’re leaving it so this is designed to fire for both shots before needing to recharge. You’ll see the two shots in the RLC test video I posted above.

The previous gen noPhoto had two flashes, one on either side. I like this center mounted flash design better because it does a better job of obscuring the whole plate, especially if your plate only has a few characters in the middle.

Here’s everything that’s included with the noPhoto:

noPhoto included

In the box you get the noPhoto, a power cable, some mounting hardware, and a quick start guide. Pretty simple.

Now before I get deeper into the testing and reviews, I want to address what was my biggest concern with the original noPhoto, aside from its effectiveness. It’s what prevented me from wanting to run the noPhoto even if it did work in practice. It’s the same issue I saw with the ProDB I tested, a competing model. The issue is limited false filtering abilities.

See, both the first gen noPhoto and ProDB would false alert to lidar guns, meaning that if a police officer is targeting you with lidar, it’ll cause the noPhoto to go off and he’ll see a bright flash which is kinda weird. Given that I’m not the type of guy who runs red lights (I’m super cautious with those) and there’s no speedcameras here for me to worry about in the first place, effective filtering was my biggest concern day to day. I don’t want this thing to flash at a police officer who’s staring right at my plate while targeting me with lidar! That’s attention I definitely don’t want. I also don’t want it flashing other drivers when I’m out on the road either, especially at night when it’s more obvious. The previous units I tested would false to not only lidar guns, but also some HID headlights, construction lights, and sunlight filtering through trees, among other things. The filtering in this new version has been significantly improved and it doesn’t false to the PL3 I tested against or any of the other of the other lidar guns I simulated with my LI and AL pocket testers.

I sent my original noPhoto back long ago so they could take a look at it and my ProDB has been sitting in my closet ever since due to the falsing issues. It’s that big of a deal for me.

The newest noPhoto, I’m happy to say, not only works against RLC’s/speedcams, but it also doesn’t false to lidar guns. To me that’s a minimum requirement in order to be acceptable and this is the only license plate protector out there that meets this criteria. It’s now the best such device on the market. Because it’s something that meets my minimum criteria, let’s take a deeper look at the noPhoto. We’ll start with some test photos so you can see it in action.

Test Photos

It took a fair amount of trial and error with my DSLR and flash and talking to Jon at noLimits to simulate what an RLC would see and get it to match what Jon was seeing from his testing against actual redlight cameras and speedcameras. Just because you take a picture of your license plate with a flash does NOT mean that that’s the same way that an RLC/speedcam would expose the image. For you fellow photographers, please take a look at the discussion and testing in the noPhoto announcement thread to get familiar with the details. (You generally wanna shoot ISO 1600-3200, f5.6-f8, 1/500-1/1000 and you may need to shoot past your camera’s flash sync speed without resorting to high speed sync. You also want the car to be pretty small in the frame.)

Night Test:

Let’s take a look at how the noPhoto performs at night.Camera flash firing, noPhoto not firing:

noPhoto night test

Camera flash firing, noPhoto firing:

noPhoto night test noPhoto firing

For these shots, the car is actually pretty small in the frame which is how RLC’s are set up. Those photos above are cropped. Here’s the whole frame.

noPhoto night test full frame

(ISO3200, f/5.6, 1/500th)

Ignore that black portion at the bottom of the image. That’s due to me having to shoot faster than my 5D3’s flash sync speed.

Daytime Test, Shade:

Next let’s take a look at how things look in the daytime when there’s more light out. Here’s a daytime shot in the shade.

Ambient light only, no flashes at all:

noPhoto test shade no flash

Camera flash firing, noPhoto not firing:

noPhoto test shade flash

Camera flash firing, noPhoto firing:

noPhoto test shade noPhoto firing

and here’s the full frame image uncropped:

noPhoto test shade full frame

(ISO 3200, f/8, 1/1000)

Even in the daytime it is effective. You can slightly see the far outside edges of the license plate, but it easily blocks out the majority of the plate to prevent any sort of character recognition software from being able to read your plate.

In real life I think the car would actually be even smaller in the frame which would make the noPhoto block even more of the license plate than in my sample images.

Daytime Test, Direct Sunlight:

This is probably the toughest situation. The sun is bright and so the noPhoto has to overpower the sun for the fraction of a second that the camera is exposing. Let’s take a look at how it works in the daytime.

Ambient light only, no flashes firing:

noPhoto test sunny ambient

Camera flash firing, no noPhoto firing:

noPhoto test sunny flash

Camera flash firing, noPhoto firing:

noPhoto test sunny noPhoto firing

and again here’s the full image uncropped:

noPhoto test sunny full frame

(ISO 1600, f/8, 1/1000)

I dropped down from ISO 3200 to ISO 1600, cutting the sensitivity of the camera in half and making it even harder for the noPhoto. I probably should have gone down even farther, but you can see that even in the toughest situation against the bright sun, it is still effective.

Mounting

As far as the install is concerned, there’s two main parts. First is physically mounting the noPhoto. Second is the wiring. Let’s cover physically mounting first.

The noPhoto is designed to sit on top or on the bottom of the license plate.

noPhoto on GTR

Originally I wanted it to sit on top of my license plate for a more solid mount like in the photo above. (My car only has screw holes for the top of the license plate.) The noPhoto comes with a bunch of screws and nuts.

noPhoto screws

The screws go in from the front, through the license plate and noPhoto, and into your car. If you look closely at my car you’ll see a custom bracket holding my rear ALP’s that’s also using those license plate screw holes. Because I had to put that in as well, it made the whole thing too thick for the included screws so I went to the hardware store to get longer screws and that did the trick.

However, once I got it installed, I realized that the noPhoto physically blocked my hand from being able to hit the trunk release switch just up underneath the trunk lip. My trunk lip wasn’t physically blocking the noPhoto’s light sensors so it would still function there just fine, but it got in the way of me using my car. Note: On my last car I had a backup camera and I noticed that these license plate blockers actually blocked part of the view in my backup camera so keep that in mind if your car has a backup camera.

It’s for this reason that I mounted it on the bottom.

noPhoto mounted on my car

There’s no screw holes in my car for the bottom of the plate so I used the included nuts to grab onto the screws from behind. It also means that the bottom of the plate just hangs down. With the noPhoto attached underneath, the bottom of the plate gets heavier. When I hit a bump, the noPhoto can bang against my car which I don’t like. Fortunately noLimits has thought of that. The included some special plastic spacers (to fill the gap between your car and the noPhoto so it doesn’t flap into your car) as well as some padding to attach behind so that even if it does slap your car, it doesn’t damage anything.

noPhoto spacers and padding

I found the included padding to be pretty tiny so I added a little more of my own and now it’s better. The installation is all set.

Wiring

Wiring up the noPhoto is relative straightforward. There’s one weathersealed power plug under the noPhoto for the power cable to plug into. The other end of that cable needs to attach somewhere in your car.

noPhoto power cable

The part of the cable that will be exposed to the elements behind your license plate is protected with gray insulation. The part that will be inside your car is more exposed to make it easier to tap into.

I wound up tapping into my rear tail lights which I think is the ideal location. When I get in my car I always turn on my lights and when I do that, it also powers up my noPhoto. If I ever want to disable my noPhoto, I can do so by turning off my lights.

You can also tap your license plate lights, assuming they’re always on or do the same on/off thing with your taillights. Don’t use your brake lights because your noPhoto won’t always be powered if you do that. It took some Googling and probing with my multimeter to find the right wires to tap into in my car.

One thing that I really liked is that noLimits included the power wire without any sort of connector to tap into your car. The noPhoto end has a plastic connector that clips into place, but the other end is bare wire with removable insulation. Having a super tiny wire makes it really easy to run the wires through tiny crevices in your car. I used some spare T-taps I had lying around to tap into the power and ground wires I wanted to use.

noLimits actually doesn’t include T-taps or anything to splice into existing power wires. Apparently they used to but most installers were soldering the wires themselves and didn’t use them in the first place so noLimits has stopped including them now. You’ll need the tools on hand for crimping, stripping wires, splicing or solder wires, or whatever method you use for powering the noPhoto. You can also have a professional take care of this part for you. Most any stereo installer place can handle this task.

If you like, you can see my install photos here.

False Filtering

So I talked about this a little bit at the beginning in terms of filtering out lidar guns. This noPhoto filters out my PL3 as well as all the guns I’ve simulated with my lidar testers. This is really important. I wouldn’t want to run this otherwise. Here’s a demo noLimits put together showing the noPhoto recognizing but filtering out lidar gun pulses while triggering to a camera flash.

The false filtering on this unit is far more sophisticated than the previous gen noPhoto or ProDB. I tested a cheap chinese knock-off from eBay and the thing would trigger to anything.. even my little keychain LED. Just turning it on (not even flashing on/off quickly) was enough to trigger it. That thing lacked any safety systems too so it would be really bad in case of an accident. This one is fused and has safety systems built in which is really important.

It’s designed to recognize camera flashes and filter out other sources of light including halogen headlights, LED lights, xenon headlights you’d encounter on the road (it will not false if someone has xenon headlights on behind you, or even if they sweep on to the noPhoto), police lidar guns, sunlight, or shadows.

The only thing that I’ve seen it false to at this point is a flashing warning light on the side of a buildings that flashes to get your attention when a garage is opening or closing and a vehicle may be coming. Those things are essentially pulsing camera flashes so those do make the noPhoto go off.

With this version of the noPhoto I don’t actually have a way of getting notified when it goes off so driving around with it, I don’t get an indication of when it falses which makes it tougher to test. The previous devices I tested did have some sort of LED or audio warning that would go off when it went off. That was great for knowing if it triggered when passing a speedcam or when it randomly falsed to something on the road. Because of the lack of firing indication I’m not able to test this thoroughly, but from what I have seen so far, this does look to be greatly improved.

I know the filtering has been discussed here in detail and I’ll go dig up the relevant threads in a bit. 🙂

Controlling the noPhoto

So there’s really no controlling the noPhoto. Once it receives power, it starts charging up and it’s and ready to go in just under 20 seconds. It’s basically a set-it-and-forget-it design. There’s no controls for it.

The positive is that it makes installation simpler. No wires to run into the cabin, no control modules, LED’s, or speakers to install in your car. You just let it sit back there and do its thing covering your rear.

The downside is that you don’t know if it fired if you happen to encounter a speedcam and you also don’t know when it falses like I mentioned. Additionally, your abilities to turn it off are limited.

I have mine wired into my tail lights and if I turn off my lights, the noPhoto will lose power too. (The microcontroller will turn it off so it won’t fire even if the internal capacitors are still full.)

There are times when you’ll want to manually deactivate it. For example, when I cross the border to Canada, they take pictures of your car, front and rear. I want them to be able to get a photo of my plate then and not arouse any suspicion. In that situation I can disable the noPhoto by turning off my lights. That’s helpful during the day but not at night. Something to keep in mind.

Additionally, you don’t want to use it for toll booths. That’s not what these are designed for, it won’t be that effective given all the other flashes from other cars going around, and many toll cameras work differently anyways. Even if it does work, again you’d be raising some serious negative attention by abusing a device like this. Additionally, since the noPhoto retails for $399, you’d have to run a LOT of tolls to get your money back and by that point, you’d start causing some serious problems and start drawing unwanted attention to yourself. In the same way that you should JTK with a jammer to not arouse suspicion, I see the noPhoto as something that shouldn’t be used regularly with toll booths for the same reason. I see this as a device that’s there to protect you on the off-chance you encounter a speedcamera, something that is generally pretty rare and can have some hefty ticket costs to generate revenue while masquerading as being there for safety, you know?

Anyways, as far as controlling the unit is concerned, I would really like a way to manually turn it off without resorting to turning off my lights, that way I could do so at night. That’s the main improvement I would want. It would require the user to remember to manually turn it off and not forget, but I’d like the ability.

Is It Worth it?

I guess this is the big question then, isn’t it? Is it worth it?

The noPhoto retails for $399. Here in Seattle the cost of a redlight camera ticket is $136 with no points so it would take 3 tickets for the noPhoto to pay for itself. In California a redlight camera ticket is $490 and 1 point on your license so even one ticket would pay for itself. If I drive down to Oregon, apparently the cost of a ticket is $260-$1000. Holy cow… Click here to see how things look for your state.

Now again I’m not a guy who runs redlights. In fact I think that’s a terrible idea to do. If speedcameras are in your area with artificially low speed limits to generate revenue, that’s a different story and what I feel these are best suited for. Either way, you can always run Waze which is free and that’s a good option as well for fixed RLC’s/speedcams. I see this as another layer of protection. Depending on what’s in use in your area and the cost of ticket prices in your area, it may indeed be worth it.

Compared to the Competition

The only real competition to the noPhoto is the ProDB which retails for the same price. The noPhoto product has a similar’ish design, it has significantly better filtering (one of the biggest differences), and I’m finding the communication and customer service with the manufacturer to be much better. Having @noLimits Enterprises here on the forum is awesome as well, another huge plus. The only advantages I’m seeing with the ProDB is that it uses an ethernet port for its power cable (which means that it plugs into another box which you have to hardwire, though you now have a much bigger power connector to run with may or may not be an issue for your car) and that there’s an optional accessory (a $199 power control box) you can buy to give you visual and audible indication of when it goes off. That box also gives you the ability to manually kill the ProDB separately from your lights which is great. However, given that it costs an additional $199 on top of the $399 (so $600 total), I think it’s better to save the $199 and wire your own manual kill switch instead to get that feature.

So there’s similar products, but under the hood they’re pretty different. The noPhoto’s main flash functionality is patented and they have a patent pending for their filtering as well.

Compared to the previous noPhoto, it’s more effective in terms of blocking redlight cameras, the filtering has been significantly improved, it’s smaller and less bulky, and it’s compatible with international license plates too. The sensitivity has been improved and the flash detection has been significantly improved. They are also planning on adding an external on/off controller and bluetooth functionality to update the firmware, control it through your phone, and get notified of when it goes off which is pretty cool. I don’t know the details, if you’d always need to have the app running or whatever, but this is all stuff to come down the line at some point as development continues.

Additional Questions

There’s a LOT about the noPhoto that I didn’t cover in this review. I don’t pretend to be an expert in everything about redlight cameras and speed cameras. noPhoto has an FAQ you can check out to answer some additional questions. For example…

Q: Is the noPhoto legal?

A: Yes. There’s laws against physically covering your license plate, but this doesn’t violate any license plate cover laws. There’s no laws about flashing light on your plate.

 

Q: What if the camera shoots video?

A: Some RLC’s also shoot photo along with video, but the license plate reading always comes from the still photos. Videos are low res supplements designed to go with the photos.

Q: What if the noPhoto doesn’t work and you get a ticket?

A: They offer a ticket guarantee and will cover the cost of a ticket from an RLC or speedcam should the noPhoto not work.

If you have additional questions, check out the noPhoto discussion thread on RDF. There’s lots of great discussion there and it’s a great place for you to ask additional questions directly to noLimits themselves.

Conclusion

The noPhoto seems to be a very effective product. It worked against the camera I tested it against, it can now filter out many sources of false alerts including police lidar guns, it’s got safety mechanisms in place in case of an accident, and I like that noLimits is here on the forums to help answer questions and provide support.

In short, it’s the best license plate protector on the market.

Whether or not you feel that you need such a device is up to you, but it’s one of those things that can pay for itself and it’s nice knowing you’ve got the additional layer of protection should you ever need it someday.

They even offer a ticket free guarantee so should you get a RLC/speedcamera ticket from it, they’ll pay for it.

The noPhoto retails for $399 and you can buy one directly from their website at www.nophoto.com.

They also have a list of dealers who sell and can install the noPhoto for you. If you don’t have a dealer near you, you can order online and install it yourself or have most any professional installer mount and wire it up for you.

noPhoto on plate

Full Disclosure

So full disclosure, as usual. I received this production noPhoto for free from noLimits for testing and review purposes. I didn’t pay for it and I get to keep it afterwards. I don’t make any money if you buy one from them. Other than some proprietary technical information on how the product works that I was asked not to share, I’m free to share anything and everything I’ve experienced with you guys and am not bound on what I can or can’t say about it and as always, this is my own personal take on things and my opinion on the product.

For additional information about the noPhoto, check out the full discussion on RDF. This review has also been shared on RDF here.

Feb 29

Best Radar Detectors and Laser Jammers for Canada

If you live in Canada, which radar detector and laser jammer is best for you? Well my complete radar detector buyer’s guide will be applicable for you even though it’s geared towards US drivers. Adding to that, there’s a few things to go over that Canadian drivers need to focus on specifically.

Radar Detector Legality

Unlike in the US, radar detectors are illegal in most of Canada.

Radar Detectors are legal in the green provinces, Illegal in red provinces

Radar Detectors are legal in the green provinces, illegal in red provinces

If you drive in BC, AB, or SK, it’s legal to have a radar detector.

If you drive in the other provinces where radar detectors are illegal, you should be careful because the penalties may be pretty stiff if you get caught. Ontario comes to mind…

As far as the different types of radar and lidar guns that are used in each province, you can learn about the specifics by checking out the RDFGS Canada.

If radar detectors are legal where you drive, all the usual suspects apply. The main exception is that Valentine only ships the V1 to BC, AB, and SK so if you want a V1 in the other provinces, you’ll have to either get Valentine to ship it to a legal area instead or pay some third party person to flip it to you with a markup. You’ll get no warranty if you do this (ie. Amazon or eBay) so arranging to get it through Valentine would be the preferred way to go.

Radar Detector Detectors

Spectre EliteTo catch people who use radar detectors, police use a special radar detector detector called the Spectre. The Spectre is designed to alert the officer when it locates a nearby radar detector and then help officer figure out which car has a radar detector inside of it. It can be rotated to point towards different cars and the closer the officer gets and the stronger the signal is, the stronger it will alert.

Now there are a few radar detectors that are immune from detection from radar detector detectors because they have been specifically developed with special stealth technology that helps prevent them from leaking the energy that the Spectre can pick up on.

RDD-immune Radar Detectors

Most radar detectors are detectable by the Spectre. The only ones that are not are the M3-based detectors made by Escort/Beltronics, as well as the Stinger VIP. Let’s go over the different options.

Windshield-mount RD’s

The most affordable option for an RDD-immune detector is to go with a windshield mount option. These cost the least and are much easier to install.

Escort Redline & Beltronics Magnum

Redline and Magnum

For windshield-mount detectors, you basically have two options: the Escort Redline and the Beltronics Magnum. The two detectors are basically the same thing, each with monster performance. These are long range beasts and in radar detector shootouts, they are the detectors that all other radar detectors are compared to.

Between the two of them, they have a different name, different case, and different sounds. The Redline sometimes has a slight edge in performance, but generally not much. The Magnum you can often find online for less money. Both are top of the line radar detectors with some of the best performance in the business, and both are immune from RDD’s.

To learn about the Redline, check out my Redline review.

To learn about the specific differences between the two detectors, check this article out.

If you want to go for a Redline or a Magnum, here’s two places I would recommend that you check out:

Redline from BestRadarDetectors.net

Redline from Amazon.com

Magnum from BestRadarDetecors.net

Magnum from Amazon.com

Windshield-mount RD Accessories

If you go for the Redline or Magnum, there’s two helpful accessories that you can pick up.

Sun Visor Radar Detector Pouch

First is a sun visor pouch for your detector. Because you don’t want your detector visible to police officers, you can hide it in your pouch so that no one will see it.

Sun Visor Pouch

There’s a whole bunch of places online that sell these if you google for them. For example, here’s one I found on eBay. I haven’t used one myself so I don’t have a specific one to recommend and I can’t vouch for any one in particular, but I’ve seen a few different styles online. Any one should do the job.

Hardwire Cable

You’ll also want to get a hardwire cable. Rather than plugging your detector in to your cigarette lighter which will obstruct your vision and make it obvious that you’re running a RD, you’ll want to get a hardwire cable that you plug in to your fuse box.

You basically have 3 options for hardwire cables.

1. Standard Hardwire Cable:

This one will power your detector and can easily tuck the cable out of sight. It’ll run from your fuse box up your A-pillar, across your headliner, and finally down into your radar detector.

Buy the standard hardwire cable here.

2. SmartCord with a mute button and alert LED’s:

If you’d like to be able to mute your detector without reaching up to your sunvisor, you can get a cable that adds a little plastic controller than you install in your vehicle. It has a mute button you can press to mute your detector remotely plus an alert LED that blinks to let you know you’re getting an alert which is handy if you can’t see the detector’s display.

Buy the SmartCord here.

3. Escort Live cable with Bluetooth to pair with your phone

Finally there’s also a version of the SmartCord that has a bluetooth chip inside that lets you pair your detector to your Android or iOS phone. By doing this, now your phone becomes your display so you can see your signal strength, frequency information, and so on. Plus you get some extra functionality like the ability to configure your detector from your phone, realtime alerts to/from the cloud with other Escort Live users (similar to Waze), and perhaps most importantly, you can use your phone’s GPS and the app to tell your detector where the false alerts are in town so it can learn then and lock them out in the future, staying quiet next time you pass by that false alert source again.

Buy the Android Escort Live cable here.

Buy the iPhone Escort Live cable here.

Remote Mount Radar Detectors

Here’s where we get serious. When it comes to stealthiness, you can put your radar detector in a sun visor pouch or something, but if you really want to have an out of sight install, I’d suggest going for a remote detector. These are radar detectors that are custom installed somewhere in the grill of your car or behind your bumper. The idea is you have nothing hanging down off your windshield for a police officer or thief or anyone else to see. You’ll then put a little display and controller somewhere in your cabin and there ya go. It’s out of sight to police officers plus immune from detection from radar detector detectors so it’s the best of both worlds.

When it comes to remote mount detectors, there’s basically two good choices:

Beltronics STi-R Plus

STi-R Plus Components

The STi-R Plus is the remote version of the Redline/Magnum. It’s the same radar detector platform just repackaged for remote installation. You have the radar detector antenna which goes into your grill, a small controller and display that goes into your cabin, and a GPS antenna and main control box that you can tuck away inside your car somewhere.

This gives you a much stealthier setup than having a box on your windshield or hidden somewhere in your cabin.

This offers high end performance just like the Redline/Magnum in a more stealthy package. It also includes a GPS antenna which adds some helpful functionality like GPS lockouts (without requiring a phone), low speed muting to keep it quiet around town, and redlight camera alerts for additional protection.

The Beltronics STi-R Plus is basically the same thing as the Escort 9500ci except that the 9500ci comes with Escort’s not so great laser jammers that won’t effectively jam all the laser guns used in Canada. Because of this, I’d recommend skipping the 9500ci, getting the Plus instead, and putting the extra money towards an awesome laser jammer that is effective all over Canada. I’ll talk about my recommended laser jammers in the next section. If you’re looking for a good remote detector that’s immune to RDD’s, the STi-R Plus is a great choice.

Purchase the Beltronics STi-R Plus here.

Stinger VIP

Stinger VIP

This is the mac daddy of radar detectors. It provides you with the best performance available, period. Think of the Stinger VIP as like the STi-R Plus cranked up to 11.

Detection range will meet and exceed what you’ll see with the Plus so you get even better chances of picking up radar at a distance before you get clocked.

The false alert filtering is far more sophisticated and capable. The Plus isn’t that great at filtering out blind spot falses and isn’t being updated for them. The Stinger is being updated regularly to filter out more and more of those annoying falses as time goes on.

You can also add a rear antenna to get directional info and help locate the source of the threat.

More an awesome discussion talking about the differences between the Stinger VIP and M3-based detectors like the Redline/Magnum/STi-R Plus, check out this thread.

In short, if you’re going to be spending the money for a high end radar detector and you want the very best in performance and false alert filtering, especially if you want something that’s more futureproof, check out the Stinger VIP.

Purchase the Stinger VIP here. (Save 10% with the coupon code “VortexRadar”)

Laser Jammers

Police shooting lidar gun

Police also like to issue tickets using lidar guns. Against lidar, a radar detector won’t help. You’ll need laser jammers to combat laser. (Laser and lidar are used interchangeably.) A jammer will prevent the lidar gun from getting a reading off your car, giving you enough time to slow down, turn off your jammers, and allowing the officer to get a reading on your car. When you do this, the officer won’t know they’ve been jammed and off you go. This is the proper way to use them, no matter if they’re legal or not.

Like radar detectors, laser jammers are legal in BC, AB, and SK and illegal in all the other provinces.

Now there’s a variety of different laser jammers on the market. However, there’s some very difficult to jam lidar guns in use in Canada with advanced anti-jamming capabilities and it’s for that reason that you’re going to need the most sophisticated laser jammers in order to effectively jam the anti-jamming lidar guns. For these it comes down to just two laser jammers.

AntiLaser Priority

AntiLaser PriorityThe AntiLaser Priority is the most popular, most effective, and most commonly recommended laser jammer on the market. It is now the standard recommendation of what jammer to get. Yes there’s other jammers made by Escort, K40, Blinder, Laser Interceptor, and a few other companies, but with one exception, they are unable to jam the guns that are commonly used in Canada.

You’re always going to want coverage in the front of your vehicle and in many places you’re also going to need protection in the rear. Generally it’s recommended to protect both areas. The laser jammer heads are custom installed in your grill and near your license plate area, the main control box is tucked somewhere out of sight in your vehicle, and you have a small control pad that you install in your cabin.

Check out my complete AntiLaser Priority setup guide to give you all the information you need to know about what to buy, how to properly install your jammers, how to set up and configure your ALP’s, the different accessories you can add on to customize your system, and so on.

There’s two things I want to mention about that guide specifically for Canada.

First, ALP’s are region locked meaning that if you live in Canada you need to buy them from a Canadian dealer, not an American dealer. The Canadian dealer is Alex at kmph.ca so he’s the man to talk to to get you set up with ALP’s.

Second, if you live in Edmonton, they these difficult to jam anti-jamming guns from the rear more than from the front. It’s for this reason that rather than doing 3 heads in the front and 2 heads in the back like you’ll do in most locations (the standard setup), you will want to consider flipping it and instead do 2 heads up front and 3 heads in the rear.

Other than that, go through my ALP setup guide and you’ll be ready to rock and roll.

Stinger VIP

Stinger VIP laser fiber jammers

If you’re going with the Stinger VIP for your radar detector, you should also consider Stinger’s laser jammers. They are designed to integrate specifically with the Stinger VIP radar detector (unlike the ALP which is standalone and can therefore work with any radar detector) and it can also jam the tough to jam anti-jamming guns.

A big advantage with the Stinger VIP is that it offers the smallest heads available and they look even more like parking sensors so they are more stealthy and harder to see. Both the ALP and Stinger offer very small heads, but the Stinger’s square heads are smaller, especially with the optical super tiny fiber optic transmitters. Click here to see more size comparisons between the Stinger VIP and AntiLaser Priority.

Stinger VIP, fiber, ALP heads front, side labeled

Now Stinger’s engineers are still fine tuning their jammers currently to give completely solid performance. Currently they’re still having trouble getting their jammers to be able to completely jam guns and prevent them from getting a reading at any point, but their engineers are actively working on addressing that now and it’s something that should be taken care of shortly. You can read more about that here.

In any event, Stinger offers the smallest heads around and they are also capable of jamming the toughest anti-jamming guns around too so if you want something that is very small and hard to spot, these are a great choice.

Purchase the Stinger VIP here. (Save 10% with the coupon code “VortexRadar”)

Learning More

Finally, now that you’ve got a good idea of the equipment that you need, to learn more about the specifics of what you’ll encounter all across the different provinces in Canada, I would recommend that you visit the Canada discussion section at RadarDetectorForum.org. That’s one of the best resources you’ll find to talk to fellow Canadians running radar detectors and laser jammers.

Get the setup that suits you best, install it properly, learn how to use it, and you’ll drive with an awesome level of protection.

Enjoy!

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