The principle on which a radar detector works is that it detects a certain electromagnetic wave emitted by a speed gun or by a laser gun used by the police. Some expensive radar detectors named “laser jammers” do just what the name suggests. They send off a lot more electromagnetic waves towards the speed gun, confusing it and allowing the driver to drive by unperturbed or to at least slowdown.
These electromagnetic waves can be detected on five major bands: X, K, Ka and Ku. In addition, the laser guns used by the police have their own band. Each band has certain characteristics of its own which include the frequency on which they emit the electromagnetic waves and many others.
The X band
The X band was the original band on which the speed guns emitted the electromagnetic waves. The frequency on which it operates is 10.5 – 10.55 GHz. It was first used in the 1950’s and due to the fact that it was among the first ones to appear, it is also the easiest one to detect by any radar detectors. According to the readings, it can detect certain speeds of the cars from 2-4 miles. However, the environment plays a big part in the detecting process as well, because if it rains or if the temperature is very high or very low, it can have trouble detecting anything.
The K band
The second band the policemen used made its debut in 1978. It is currently one of the most widely used bands for all speed guns and its frequency is 24.05 – 24.25 GHz. In the beginning, the speed guns that used the K band could only detect while in a stationary position, but later, for obvious reasons, a “pulse” version was introduced which could be used from a moving car. As it is with the X band, the detecting process depends a lot on the terrain, because for example, if it is stationed somewhere behind or wall, it will find it more difficult to send the electromagnetic waves off and detect any person speeding.
The electromagnetic waves sent off by the K band are low and have a relatively small wavelength. They can be detected from ¼ to 2 miles.
The Ka band
The Ka band was first used in 1987 and it contains three other bands: Ka-Band, Ka Wide-Band and Ka Super Wide-Band. The radars that used the Ka band were the first ones that were able to take pictures of the driver speeding, which was quite the revolution at the time. The frequency on which it works is 34.2 – 35.2 GHz.
The so-called “stalker” guns began to be introduced on the market and this made it more difficult for the drivers that owned radar detectors to see if there are any threats ahead. The “stalker” guns used a frequency of 33.4 GHz to 36.0 GHz which made it quite impossible for the radar detectors which were designed to pick up the X, K and Ka bands to detect them. However, the manufacturers soon created the radar detectors that could sweep through all the bands and, with the “Super-wide technology” were therefore, able to detect even these stalker guns.
The Ku band
The Ku band is not very popular in the US, but it is well known in European countries. Primarily used for satellite communications, in the speed guns domain this band works on the 13.45 GHz. It has recently been brought to the US as well and it is being used today by the policemen here. It has also been used and still is by the NASA for communications with the International Space Station. Since it is a rather new band on which the speed guns emit the electromagnetic waves, the technology the radar detectors use is not as advanced to be able to pick it up.