(See our latest 2005 laser jammer test and learn how the newest jammers fare against both U.S. and European laser guns like the Jenoptic Laser Patrol and the Laveg.)
yourself lucky that the speed laser is more expensive and tougher
to use than a radar gun. For if police used lidar (Light
Detection And Ranging)
technology as widely as they now use radar (there are about 100,000
radar units in the U.S. versus perhaps 15,000 lasers), the number
of tickets issued each year would likely make a steep spike upward.
The laser is a major headache for any speeder targeted by its
invisible light because the laser's tightly concentrated beam--it's
barely more than three feet across at 1,000 feet--can pick out just
about any target it chooses. (In comparison an X-band radar's microwave
beam can be up to 250 feet wide at the same distance, making target
Even the best detector is hard-pressed
to spot a laser beam unless hit nearly dead-on. Our past tests for
Automobile Magazine, Car Audio & Electronics, BMW Roundel, Corvette
Fever and other national magazines prove conclusively that many
detectors, regardless of price, offer no protection at all against
lasers. Using a variety of target vehicles and varying target range
from 2,000 feet down to as little as 200 feet, we found that when
the laser operator took a bead on the front license plate--the favored
point of aim for most officers--many detectors were unable to spot
the beam at all when target range was 1,000 feet or less.
while difficult to detect, the police laser can be very susceptible
to interference. For example, most early lasers got confused if
the target car's high-beam headlights were on, cutting effective
range. For this reason a motorcycle was an extremely difficult target
with its lack of vertical, reflective metallic surfaces and its
continuously-on headlight which, ironically, would also be the best
aiming point were it not already bombarding the laser with its own
light waves. Unfortunately, the latest lasers are so good that even
a motorcycle is fair game today, headlight or no.
There are over two dozen gadgets on the market that claim to foil
lasers. They fall into three categories: license plate covers, passive
jammers and active jammers. License plate covers are sheets of plastic,
some of them clear, some tinted, and mounted over the plate. They're
claimed to absorb and attenuate enough of the laser beam to chop
target range. We have yet to see one that works.
laser jammers like those sold by Rocky Mountain Radar are claimed
to jam lasers by mixing so-called "white noise" with an
incoming laser beam and reflecting it back at the laser, so confusing it that no speed is displayed. Our tests have proved that none of them
An active jammer transmits a powerful infrared light beam at the
correct 904-nanometer frequency, hoping to make the laser unable
to pick out its own return signal from the clutter.
So do these laser countermeasures actually work? To find out we
gathered up six laser jammers for a full test. Then we spent a week
testing them at our remote field-evaluation site 30 miles northeast
(See our test of the latest laser jammer models at New Laser Jammers Tested)
were mounted on a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban, chosen because its vast
frontal area makes it an excellent target and the greater separation
between the front plate and headlights makes it tougher for the
jammer to provide total coverage.
With one jammer at a time powered-up, the Chevy was driven to
a staging area 1,250 feet away. The lasers were placed on the opposite
side of the two-lane county road, a position chosen to induce a
three-degree angle to the vehicle's direction of travel. This also
would complicate the jammers' mission since most of them concentrate
the bulk of their light directly to the front. One laser at a time
was used after being tripod-mounted to reduce the effect of operator
shake and make the test regimen more uniform.
With the Suburban driven at a constant 10 mph toward the laser
(past tests have proven that target speed has zero effect on jammer
performance), we noted whether the jammer could reduce target-capture
range from 1,000 feet to 450 feet, our threshold. This would give
the driver fully 550 feet to notice the laser attack; in our opinion,
anyone too dull-witted to react in that amount of time would deserve
to suffer the consequences.
In all, it took us six man-days to run this test. With the results presented alphabetically, here's what we found:
BEL LaserPro 904 ($349.95 suggested retail)
The BEL LaserPro 904 is a four-piece unit: a cockpit-mounted display/control
module linked to a pair of front laser transceivers and one for
the rear. Installation was straightforward, aided by the use of
snap-in connections and clear directions. The biggest challenge
was to find a suitable mounting location for the twin front transceivers,
a similar situation to what we found in the Blinder and Escort units.
Although for the test we rigged temporary mounts using Velcro to
avoid having to drill holes in our GM-owned press vehicle, for permanent
installation we'd suggest positioning the units far enough back
to keep them safe from both impact damage and prying eyes. And it's
important to keep each unit as close as possible to the halfway
point of an imaginary line drawn between front plate and headlight,
providing equal protection for each.
The rear transceiver was a cinch to mount since it employs the
license plate retaining screws. Once mounted, we aimed all of them
parallel to the vehicle centerline and used the supplied bubble
level to get them level with the ground. Like the Escort, the BEL
had only two bare wires to be connected, one each to power and ground,
making it one of the simplest to get hooked up.
A nice touch with the BEL is its diagnostics (also to be found
in the Escort ZR3), tell-tale audio and visual alerts that warn
of malfunctioning or improperly connected transceivers. In contrast,
we struggled for nearly an hour to isolate a connection problem
with the Lidatek jammer and a similar amount of time to troubleshoot
a faulty ground connection with the Blinder M-10 Twin.
The LaserPro 904's visual alerts were easy to interpret and its
piercing audio alerts impossible to miss, even in a noisy vehicle.
Once powered-up, we found the BEL to be highly effective in jamming
four of the five lasers, sometimes down to as little as 60 feet.
The exception, the Stalker, was jammed down to 537 feet, still a
remarkably consistent performance. For the price, we've never seen
a more effective laser jammer than the BEL Laser Pro 904.
Blinder M-10 Twin ($300)
Like the BEL and Escort jammers, the Blinder M-10 uses two transceiver
modules and, like the others, intends for one to be mounted midway
between front license plate and headlight on each side, a scheme
intended to provide coverage to both of these preferred aiming points.
Cockpit controls are basic, just a miniature on/off rocker switch
and a piezo warning buzzer. There's no status LED; you'll have to
take it on faith that the unit is powered-up and ready for action.
When a laser beam is detected it shrills an alert and transmits
a jamming signal until the threat disappears.
We found the Blinder M-10 to be constructed of good-quality materials
and the transmitters are accompanied by a generous assortment of
brackets and other hardware. Installation directions are adequate
but it's up to the buyer to figure out how to get everything mounted
on the vehicle, not to mention getting several yards of wiring and
a handful of connectors correctly linked. For this reason we'd say
installation is best left to an experienced technician.
The Blinder M-10 Twin jammed three of our five laser guns acceptably well but failed entirely to jam the Laser Atlanta gun and it could reduce the LTI Ultralyte LR's range by only 35 feet. Both of these guns had the latest anti-jamming software and it appears that Blinder may be a bit behind the technology curve. Until they catch up, we'd
advise taking a pass on this model.
Escort Shifter ZR3 ($449.95 suggested retail)
Escort doesn't use the J word, choosing instead to diplomatically
christen their jammer a "shifter". Terminology aside, we found it to be a tie with the BEL LaserPro 904 for user-friendly operation and ease of installation. Like the BEL, its twin front and single rear transceivers simply plug in to a junction box whose two wires attach to power and ground. The bulk of the installation
time, as in the BEL and Blinder, is consumed by mounting the transceivers.
Figure on a couple of hours for a proper job although it doesn't
take a graduate engineer to get it done.
The Escort Shifter ZR3 uses the control/display module, sans a
few features, from their high-end remote detectors and we found
it to be the class of the field. Audio alert volume can quickly
be adjusted using the simple thumbwheel control that also is used
for power on/off chores. Better yet, the ZR3 can be linked to Escort's
superb Passport 8500 detector using one thin cord with telephone-style
connectors at each end. Once coupled together, the 8500's text display
will spell out warnings of laser attacks and also tell you when
it's doing its laser-shifting routine. Of the units tested, we found
this to be by far the most elegant way of conveying information.
The ZR3 proved to be quite adept at confusing lasers, achieving
a remarkable 99 percent efficiency rating against the five guns.
In fact, had it not missed our 450-foot threshold by a scant two
feet against the LTI Ultralyte LR gun, it would have scored a perfect
100 percent, the best jamming ability we've ever witnessed. If you
want better protection against lasers, most likely you'll have to
buy a judge.
K40 Defuser Plus ($299.95)
Unique by virtue of having its transceiver module integrated with
a license plate frame, the K40's exterior hardware is fairly simple
to install: Just bolt it on over the front license plate holes.
If the vehicle's bumper is tapered, as was our Suburban's, you'll
need to shim the bottom of the plate frame to keep it vertical.
If remote mounting is desired, the transceiver can be removed from
the plate frame.
With transceiver installed, the next challenge is to find mounting
locations inside for the piezo speaker and red LED. Like some of
the other units this is accomplished with butt connectors and spade
terminals and using wire-crimping and -stripping tools. Not surprisingly,
K40 recommends professional installation.
Another indication that K40 sells this unit primarily through car
audio installers is the absence of a power-on status LED and on/off
switch. Instead it's wired to the ignition and comes on automatically
with the engine. At least it's supposed to. If it doesn't, you'll
have no way of knowing that you're driving unprotected.
The Defuser Plus can be integrated with K40's remote detectors
and this clearly was the design goal for this jammer. Used as a
stand-alone model it suffers from the same lack of user amenities
as the Blinder and Lidatek.
The performance of this unit belies the fact that it's the elder
statesman of the bunch. It performed brilliantly against the old
Kustom Signals ProLaser I, jamming it down to point-blank range.
And it did well against the much newer Stalker laser, defeating
it down to 273 feet. But when it faced off against the other three,
the K40's jamming performance fell off the charts. It had no effect
at all against the Laser Atlanta Speed Laser and only jammed the
ProLaser III down to 984 feet. It succeeded in jamming the LTI Ultralyte
LR, one of the top-selling models, only to 690 feet, a fairly unimpressive
Scarcely a few years ago the K40 Defuser Plus was one of only two
active laser jammers on the market, making it a hot seller. But
with newer, much more effective competitors on hand, we'd say it's
time for K40 to invest some money in updating this product.
Lidatek Laser Echo LE-20 ($349.95)
Lidatek has been in the jamming business longer than anyone and
the LE-20, like its forebear, the LE-10, employs a gallium arsenide
laser, much higher in power than the LEDs used by its competitors.
The transceiver is a quality piece of extruded aluminum, nicely
powder-coated and linked by a stout, water-resistant cable to a
cockpit-mounted LED and piezo speaker. Like the Blinder and K40,
various wires must be linked by crimp-on connectors and, like those
two units, it has far more of a hobby kit appearance than the BEL
But in one aspect it clearly scores a big win over the competition:
size. The tiny transceiver, when laid on end, is smaller in cross
section than a three-quarter-inch-tall stack of business cards.
This makes mounting it a breeze--for the test we mounted the transceiver
with Velcro, using shims to level it--and more important, makes
it easy to conceal from inquisitive eyes. (Expect this to become
more of an issue as laser jammer sales increase and the cops get
wise to them.)
The controls for the Lidatek LE-20 are basic: a toggle switch for
power and a red LED and ear-splitting piezo speaker for alerts.
Unfortunately, there's no status light, meaning you'll have to take
it on faith that the unit is powered-up and ready for business.
In fairness, there is an audible power-up indicator so you'll know--at
least when the vehicle is first started--that it's in good health.
But if something goes awry once under way, the first indication
of an electrical malfunction may come when a state trooper pulls
up behind you.
One design touch of which we heartily approve is the LE-20's duty
cycle: once it spots a laser beam it transmits for five seconds
and then shuts off for one minute. At speeds below Warp level, five
seconds is plenty of time to get down to legal speed and by shutting
off automatically, you won't be raising the suspicions of the police
officer by continuing to prevent him from getting a speed reading.
Lidatek was rushing to complete an early production run of the
new LE-20 and could spare only a single transmitter for our test
(a second transmitter is available for an extra $100). This may
help explain why it failed so badly on our large vehicle, perhaps
having been stymied by the challenge of shielding the big Chevy's
substantial frontal area. Whatever the reason, the LE-20, although
it detected each laser, proved incapable of jamming any of them,
even when we shifted their aim directly toward the jammer on its
perch just above the plate. We found that it sometimes prevented
them from acquiring a speed at extreme distances--1,500 feet-plus--but
at our 1,250-foot test range it failed entirely to do so. Having
found the earlier Lidatek jammer to be highly effective, we'd say
that either we got a bum unit or more likely, that Lidatek, like
Blinder and K40, has been blind-sided by the latest anti-jamming
software by the laser manufacturers.
Rocky Mountain Radar Black Widow ($389.95 suggested retail)
Credit Rocky Mountain Radar with creating the market for radar
and laser jammers, never mind the fact that we have yet to see one
of their products jam a police radar or laser gun. For more about
that history see "FaceOff:
RMR versus Escort" story.
The Black Widow claims to jam both radar and laser and mimics other
multi-piece jamming systems by virtue of having a control/display
unit in the cockpit linked to one front-mounted and a rear-mounted
jamming module. (Actually, RMR calls them "remote units",
apparently inferring that they both detect and jam.) But there are
major differences. The control/display unit, for instance, has only
a power switch and two rows of LEDs labeled "scrambler scanning".
There's no provision for mounting it other than a strip of double-sided
adhesive tape. Once powered-up, the LEDs light up progressively
and endlessly in a clockwise pattern, at first producing an amusing
light show before becoming unbelievably distracting.
The two remote units likewise have no brackets or attachment points,
leaving it up to the user to figure out a method of mounting them,
possibly through the use of Krazy Glue or duct tape. Each remote
unit attaches to the display unit via household telephone wire and
telephone RJ-11 connector. We also noticed that both modules were
adorned with a large dab of clear RTV sealer at the point where
the RJ-11 entered the module, as if someone was concerned about
water intrusion. For our test we mounted one remote unit in the
grille area of the Suburban, level with the ground.
It's a tall claim to be able to jam both radar and laser from
a single small box, since these totally different technologies demand
completely different jamming techniques. But we gave RMR's expensive
jammer its due and made multiple runs against all eleven radar and
laser guns on hand. The results were in keeping with past tests
of RMR jammers: none of the radar and laser guns had the slightest
difficulty in clocking the jammer-equipped vehicle. And at no time
did the Black Widow indicate that it was being hit with a radar
or laser. The control module did continue to reliably produce its
light show, however.
Now we know why there are no brackets for the jamming transceivers:
for all the jamming they were doing out there on the road, they
could just as easily have been left in the FedEx box.
Click here to
see test results>>