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A radar detector detects radar. :D

They are looking for specific radio frequencies. When they "see" a given frequency, they let you know about it. They are designed to search for the frequencies most commonly used by police speed detection devices. A good detector will also alert you to laser or lidar. Again, it's looking for a specific frequency, or wavelength of light.

The nature of what they do makes them susceptible to false alarms, since not just police radar will be operating on a given frequency. They're not 'cop detectors' though that's how I had to explain it to my little brother. (Later that day I drove him to the mall, and the automatic doors were making my V1 show 6 bogies and he's yelling "Cops!" 8-year olds are fun. :lol:) The best detectors have sophisticated on-board software algorithms to try to prevent false alarms, they look at things like signal strength, frequency and intermittency to decide if it's a threat or not.

I have a Valentine One as mentioned above, and imo it's the king of the market.

A radar jammer emits erratic frequencies designed to prevent the cops from getting a good reading on your speed. These can be detected by radar detectors, and they're a good way to get false alarms. Basically junk if you ask me, and cops will probably know when you have one.
 

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V 1 is clearly the best, but driving max 5-7 miles over limit is a good idea anyhow. It does not protect you from the unmarked car tailing you.

I am not challanged as much here is Washington with I5 limit at 70.
 

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Minor correction jfro, radar uses microwave frequencies.

This subject came up on HT on the 06 Civic forum a while ago, here's what I wrote about the differences between the X50 and the V1 (I've used both extensively):

I've used many different radar detectors from Escort, and of course the V1. My best friend loves his V1, and I have a couple other friends with them as well. I always had escort detectors growing up, I'm pretty sure my family has had at least one of every model since they came out (no joke), Cincinatti Microwave called my dad when the X50 came out in blue to see if he wanted to trade up for it.

Anyway, last winter I tested my then-new X50 against my friend's V1 (about 2 years old). They were very close, it was usually imperceptible which would pick up first. The V1 picked up a lot more false alarms (X coming as K at distance), but with POP turned on the X50 is about the same with that, just with more annoying noise. I keep X turned off on all my detectors, it's pretty much useless (even according to the X50 owner's manual). At distance X can come across as K, which I noticed years ago when I used all bands, I would get K blips far away and then when I got close to whatever the source was it would go to X, this is most likely the source of false alarms.

Although I use the X50 in my CRX, before I had my car I lived with my friend, and just about daily drove his car with the V1. I know V1 owners say they can't live without the arrows, I understand that, you do get addicted to knowing where the signal is. I liked that a lot, and I also liked the size and style of the V1 (retro!) because it's less conspicuous and doesn't look like it's worth much to theives if you do leave it in the car. There are a few things I don't like about it. First off, it's far too quiet. You just can't use it effectively in a loud car, or with a loud stereo on. My CRX is very loud, and my friend's car is a 71 Datsun 240Z with a 280ZX turbo motor, not really luxury/cruising cars, but definitely something you want to have a radar detector in. I also didn't like the bright display at night, but that's not a problem with the concealed display unit. I don't like people behind me (like police) seeing the detector.

Like I said before, I have grown up with the Escort detectors, and I will continue to buy them. The X50 is much louder and more irritating than the V1, so you don't miss an alert. It has dim settings as well, and a dark mode at night. The concealed display unit is very small and easy to integrate into many cars (in my experience so far). I also like the display. The V1 will beep and tell you how many signals it's picking up, but the X50 will show them individually, with the intensity of each next to it (one of the display options). Though it does have a smaller profile, I don't particularly like the shape/size of the X50. My car has 650/550 springs (and it's a CRX ~2000 lbs), so it's pretty harsh, and when I hit the occasional large bump in the winter when it's cold, it's fallen right off the windshield. I think it's just so long and it's putting a lot of torque on the suction cup thing. Also, in contrast to the V1, the X50 looks like it wants to be stolen.

Also, last I checked, the X50 was considerably cheaper.
 

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jfrolang said:
microwave frequencies and radio frequencies are all on the same electromagnetic spectrum, so it's just syntactics.
No, they aren't. Radio waves have longer wavelengths/lower frequency than micro waves. Some suggest they share a slight overlap at the end of the radio spectrum, radio ranges from ~3Hz up to 200 or 300GHz, while Microwave ranges from 1GHz up to 1000GHz. It's a bit of a loose definition, depending where you get the info from. Still, microwaves that fall in the radio range are designated SHF (Super High Frequency) or EHF (Extreme High Frequency), just above old school TV UHF (I remember those!). Traffic radar falls into the overlap, but they are generally referred to as being microwave due to their relatively high frequencies for radio. FWIW, the company that makes Escort (and the one Valentine left) is called Cincinatti Microwave.

Common Radar Frequencies
X - 10.525 GHz
K - 24.150 GHz
Ka - 33.4 - 36.0 GHz
LIDAR - 332 THz :p

-tom, a few liberal arts credits away from a BS in Physics
 

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I realize that waves deemed 'microwave' don't overlap with waves officially dubbed 'radio' but they're all on the same scale. Every frequency or wavelength you can think of is on that spectrum. I said radio waves because I think that's the easiest for people to understand.

So like I said, it's just syntax. :p
 
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