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Civillian use of radar in a vehicle

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spadoinkle

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I appoligize if this is too far off topic, but I figured this was about as good a place to ask as any (And a radar detector board would probably kick me out for asking this). I purchased a surplus MPH Industries K-55 radar unit (X-band/10GHz) at a local hamfest. I was curious if anyone has heard of someone getting into trouble for having/operating a police radar unit in their vehicle? My immediate knee-jerk reaction when people ask if it's legal is "Only if I try to enforce it on other drivers" ;).

I'm not doing anything other than watching my own speed as well as that of other drivers, I don't see a problem. Any constructive comments?
 

jpm

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Several years ago I purchased a pile of old x band radar guns from my local police auction.
Handed the police chief my check for $20 for the purchase..now if anybody knows it would have to be a police chief if one in breaking a fcc rule.
 

K9JLR

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I had a similar radar that I picked up dirt cheap at a hamfest last year and I played with it for a brief period of time, so naturally I researched the topic to find the answer to the same question.

As of last summer, you were required to obtain an FCC license to operate a police radar gun itself (to get technical), since it is a radio transmitting device. Police agencies are covered if they have a two-way radio license, as the two-way radio license covers the use of radar guns if you read the FCC rules. I live in IL and no state statute applies here the prohibits private citizens from operating radar transmitting equipment, but it's basically a federal (FCC) issue anyhow.

You need to read this: http://www.freqofnature.com/index.php?m=Resources&p=FCC Radar Transceiver Licensing

Some other things that need to be considered: 1.) Radar jammers are illegal (including violation of some state laws too) and thus causing interference with police radar (intentional or not) while operating your unit could get you into some swampy waters.
2.) With the rise in the number of people impersonating police officers, possession of the gun tends to raise red flage with some in the law enforcement community and you may get some "slack" over possession of said device by some officer that is not familiar with the regs.
 

newbie

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jpm said:
Several years ago I purchased a pile of old x band radar guns from my local police auction.
Handed the police chief my check for $20 for the purchase..now if anybody knows it would have to be a police chief if one in breaking a fcc rule.
You would think but it is often not the case. Just look at the ex Detroit Chief of Police who failed to register his guns upon moving to detroit and tried to take a loaded gun into the sterile area of the airport in his carry on luggage.

Now those are some laws that you really would expect him to know.
 

Jeffn8wb

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I have had them in the past as well. Being an amateur radio op, they are in an area of the spectrum that we are licensed to be in (you can tune them with the small screw adjustment at the top of the unit). You do have to be careful with them though. I had a truck on my backside one day so I decided to light him up to get him to back off a bit. He hit his breaks and the truck behind him smacked his rear. No damage but they were a bit angry at each other for a few miles, honking their horn and fists out the window.

They are a blast though. Especially at night when someone goes flying by you.
 

spadoinkle

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KB9TMA said:
Thanks! I was hoping my new ham license would allow me to use it legally but I figured there was something special for radar, looks like my suspicions are confirmed. My main concern was that since I can't modulate the signal to somehow include my ham callsign it would still be considered an "Unidentified Transmission", aka illegal. Now lets see how much a radar license costs... :)
 
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k8tmk

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Although not really a radar gun, I obtained a device about the size of a garage door opener at a hamfest that causes radar detectors to go off. It has no affect upon police radar guns.
It works great on the expressway when someone comes flying up on you and you press the button. They usually slow down immediately. I played with one vehicle for about 25 miles on the expressway once. Each time he would approach me, I'd press the button and he would back off for a while.
Last week there was a Myth Busters program about police radar on TV. They tried painting a car flat black, coating a car in wrinkled aluminum foil, installing rotating mirrors on the roof, and even mounting two microwave ovens on the hood with their doors open.....Nothing worked!

Randy
 

K9JLR

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Jeffn8wb said:
I have had them in the past as well. Being an amateur radio op, they are in an area of the spectrum that we are licensed to be in (you can tune them with the small screw adjustment at the top of the unit).
This is a gray area that is basically still illegal. Since the radar was not designed to be used for amateur purposes it probably would not 'technically' be a type-accepted device for use by an amateur radio operator. Even if you were able to get around the type-acceptance issue, how are you going to ID?

The average LEO is not going to have any knowledge of this, and even if they do understand the law, no state or municipal LEO can confiscate the unit or issue a summons. It's like using an illegal CB or a modified ham rig on public safety freqs - only the FCC can enforce these regs, so it's basically your call but that doesn't mean you WILL NOT get caught and thus face losing your ham license. I did not keep mine in the vehicle for very long due to legality issues since I figured it was not worth risking the loss of my ham license IF I was unlucky enough to run into the wrong person.

Your best bet - go the legal route and get licensed to use the unit within legal boundaries.
 
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n4voxgill

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spadoinkle said:
Thanks! I was hoping my new ham license would allow me to use it legally but I figured there was something special for radar, looks like my suspicions are confirmed. My main concern was that since I can't modulate the signal to somehow include my ham callsign it would still be considered an "Unidentified Transmission", aka illegal. Now lets see how much a radar license costs... :)
FCC rules require you to hold a license under Part 90 of the rules. Hams are licensed under Part 97 so you are not covered.
 

dcg729

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One use for these are baseball speed timers

However if I were an LEO and stopped a car with a working visable radar I would assume that I had caught the king fish of all wackers, I would save it for the little league.
 
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You can buy a radar gun made by Bushnell for under $100. It's marketed for sports use, but obviously will clock cars. And of course there are other brands (Juggs, etc) sold for sports use, but obviously useful for other purposes. None of these require a license of any type to use. I don't know if they operate on the same frequencies as police guns, and that may be the difference between owning a "sports" gun and a "police" gun.
 

DaveNF2G

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jpm said:
Several years ago I purchased a pile of old x band radar guns from my local police auction.
Handed the police chief my check for $20 for the purchase..now if anybody knows it would have to be a police chief if one in breaking a fcc rule.
FCC rules are outside local police jurisdiction, so there is no basis for assuming that a police officer or chief would know anything about it. One cannot get away with violating the regs just because somebody failed to tell them about it. It is your responsibility to know the rules that apply to your activities.

That being said, a radar gun is a transmitter and as such the operator must be appropriately licensed. Normally, speed enforcement radar is licensed to the police department that authorizes its officers to use it. In the case of a privately owned transmitter, the individual must obtain proper licensing to use it.

Using a transmitter to interfere with police radar (radar jammers) violates federal law as well. Deliberately interfering with any licensed radio transmission is a crime, regardless of frequency or equipment used.
 

traumacop

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It's not a felony if it is a crime, and I'll bet I can pull the plug before they get to the drivers door.:lol:
 
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DaveNF2G said:
.

That being said, a radar gun is a transmitter and as such the operator must be appropriately licensed. Normally, speed enforcement radar is licensed to the police department that authorizes its officers to use it. In the case of a privately owned transmitter, the individual must obtain proper licensing to use it.
Um...Not. Read my previous post above. Anyone can buy a "radar gun", and there is no license required.
 

Al42

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KB9TMA said:
This is a gray area that is basically still illegal. Since the radar was not designed to be used for amateur purposes it probably would not 'technically' be a type-accepted device for use by an amateur radio operator.
Ham gear doesn't get type acceptance. If it did, no ham could ever operate a home-brew transmitter.
Even if you were able to get around the type-acceptance issue, how are you going to ID?
CW? MCW?

Or course, this assumes operation within the confines of a ham band, which means that the calibration as a speed detector wouldn't be worth much.
 

MacombMonitor

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Radio Shack is marketing the Bushnell Speedster Speed Gun. Cat No: 63-1233 @ $74.97. No mention of any license required.
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?parentPage=search&cp=&productId=2131206&origkw=radar+gun&kw=radar+gun&tab=summary

I also found this:

[SIZE=+1]Radar FCC License [/SIZE]
Microwave traffic radars used in the United States are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). FCC Rules and Regulations, Part 15, 20, and 90 cover Radiolocation Services (traffic radars) requirements. The FCC specifics technical standards such as operating frequency, bandwidth, power density, etc. The FCC Rules do NOT cover the CALIBRATION of radar units, radar ACCURACY, or OPERATOR capability requirements.
  • LICENSE REQUIREMENTS
  • State or local government agencies (including police) that have an FCC license for a communication system (Public Safety Radio Services) are not required to have a separate FCC license for traffic radar under part 90 of FCC rules.
  • Radar units may also be used under Part 90 [SIZE=-1](other appropriate FCC radio license required)[/SIZE] by non-public safety entities such as professional baseball teams, tennis clubs, automobile and boat racing organizations, private transportation firms, railroads, etc., to measure the speed of objects or vehicles.
  • Many public safety agencies operate unattended, low-power, transmit-only radar units under Part 15 of FCC Rules.
  • Non-public safety users are required to obtain a Part 90 license. [SIZE=-2]Source: FCC Public Notice -- FCC Regulates Radar Transmitters, but not Radar Detectors, DA 96-2040, 1996 DEC 9[/SIZE]
SUMMARY: Police do not need an FCC license to operate traffic radar (if their radios are licensed); however other state, local, or agency requirements may apply.

Link to source: http://copradar.com/preview/chapt7/ch7d2.html
 

K9JLR

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Al42 said:
Ham gear doesn't get type acceptance. If it did, no ham could ever operate a home-brew transmitter.
True...and you can play with semantics, but those devices were designed from the factory to measure speed withing a specific frequency range (what I refer to as type-accepted), in this case the X-band. The user can be held responsible if the device caused any harmful interference (ham bands or not) from the modification(s).
 

SCPD

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It costs $150 for a 10 year FCC license to operate in the microwave bands associated with police radar. Anybody can get one and anybody can purchase the radar units. I have had my license a little under a year. The application can be done on line with the FCC but if you do not know what you are doing then have a knowledgeable person do it for you. It can get technical. Thankfully 30 years as a ham made it a breeze for me. A word of warning to anyone living in Colorado. It is illegal to have anything in your vehicle that is either actual police equipment or resembles same. We are talking lights, sirens and yes, radar. The stuff will be confiscated and you WILL GO TO JAIL..... I personally use a Stalker DSR 2X KA band radar unit with dual antennas. The unit costs around $3,500 new and if you are like me and don't know which way you want to mount the antennas you can get all of the variations of mounts plus the extra remote control and you are pushing $4,000. Have fun.
 
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