Monday, May 10, 2010

2009 SML Radar Detector Shootout

Originally posted 6/23/2009

The Duc at SML.

We were at Speed Measurement Laboratory's 2009 Radar Detector Shootout in El Paso, TX last week. We were there to test a few prototypes, and I'm happy to report that things went well and we are very hopeful that our "Remote Laser Unit" that we've been promising for a while will be ready by the end of this year. That's about as much as I can reveal at this time.

We also saw some cool new stuff (but not so cool from a motorist's point of view) from radar gun manufacturers. Stalker had this new slick radar set up for patrol cars that is being used by law enforcement agencies throughout the country as we speak. It is capable of picking up the fastest vehicle and the speed of the largest vehicle at the same time in both directions! I've never seen anything like this before and the capability of being able to pick out the speed of the fastest vehicle in a pack is a great arsenal for them. Drivers beware!

As for the trip out there, I rode the Little Monster out to El Paso from Los Angeles. Unlike last year, I didn't hit any bad weather, that is if you don't count scortching heat as "bad". This is my first long trip with the Monster and found the Monster to be a pleasant long trip bike. A bit buzzy, a bit under powered, and a small tank, but othen that, not bad at all. Would be nice if the bike can go a bit faster, as I found the top speed for the Monster is at about 120mph and it cruises comfortably at around 90mph. And it would definitely be nice if it had a bigger tank, as I got stranded near the Arizona-New Mexico border because I ran out of gas. A full tank of gas gets me about 125 miles before the fuel light comes on, and from my experience, I was able to get about 25 more miles before the tank is completely dry. My fuel light came on just as I had passed the last gas station in Arizona. I didn't think it was a big deal because usually if there is an extended stretch without gas stations, there would be a sign informing motorists. I didn't see it so I just assumed that the next gas station can't be more than 15 miles or so away. So I rode. About 15 miles later I came to an exit in New Mexico with a couple of gas station signs, but only to find both gas stations to be closed as I pulled up to them. To my despair, there wasn't anything else at the exit except for a Motel and a closed tire repair shop. I went into the Motel and asked where the nearest gas station is and the guy at the motel told me about 15 miles either way on the interstate. Not exactly what I wanted to hear. I told him that it's unlikely that my bike can go another 15 miles and asked if anyone in town might have some spare gas, and he told me that the owner of the closed tire shop might have some. So I went over to the tire shop. The owner lived right across from his shop in a RV and after waiting around for about half an hour, I finally got about 3/4 gallon of gas into the bike. Paid $10 for it but it was well worth it.

As always, I had the TPX with me. I was expecting the TPX to get a real good workout going through Arizona, but to my surprise, I didn't encounter as many DPS as last year. The state of Arizona have installed portable and permenant camera traps to catch speedsters, and they are all over the place once you get into Phoenix and Tucson. The portable traps does use radar, but the radar signal that they emit are so low that you won't be able to pick it up until you get real close. Bad news for radar detector users but the good thing is that they have to put up warning signs about a quarter mile out to let you know that you are approaching the trap, so you can just slow down when you see the sign to avoid getting a ticket. The permenant ones use sensors inbedded in the road. Same as the portable speed traps, warning signs are also posted a quarter mile out.

The TPX, however, did save me twice. Both on the way back. The first time was in New Mexico. I was cruising along at about 95 in a 70 when K band started to go off. As always, I backed off on the throttle and looked around for patrols. I didn't see anything and thought it might've been a false positive. I wanted to pick it up again but the signal stayed at 3 bars for a few more seconds and then started to go up, so I decided to stay at 70 for a bit longer. Sure enough, as I came over a little crest in the road a few seconds later, a trooper was parked in the median. Good thing I didn't speed up at all or else I would've been toast for sure. The second time was in Arizona, just past Tucson. I was riding along, around 95 again, when the TPX picked up a weak Ka. The traffice was relatively busy and there were numerous trucks, so I thought it might've been a fase positives from one of the trucks around me either using a radar detector or with their garage door openers. But unlike the usual false positives, the weak Ka signal didn't go away. It stayed. So I kept my speed legal and sure enough, a few seconds later, there was a DPS trooper traveling on the access road! If I hadn't been using a radar detector and paying attention, there was no way that I would've noticed the DPS and I'm sure that the DPS was trying to catch speedsters from the access road.

1,856 miles and two sure saves thanks to the TPX! Can't wait for the next trip!

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