Lidatek, LLC and the LE-10

Lidatek Laser Echo 10 (LE-10)

Article written by radardetectorforum.org member fatchick1o9

 

Introduction 

In 1996 I was working at Synrad, LLC. A manufacturer of high power CO2 lasers used for industrial applications. One day the CEO/Owner/Chief Scientist, Peter Laakman, came in and was a bit upset. He had just gotten a speeding ticket by a LEO using Lidar. Peter was also fascinated because he did not know of Lidar and lasers being used as speed monitoring devices. As an oldschool German with a leadfoot, Peter liked to drive fast in his Mercedes. He had a Valentine 1 radar detector in his Mercedes and loved the thing. It allowed him to drive fast. Peter was rich, owned his own company and was fascinated by technology and lasers. So he immediately charged his Research & Development team with the task of investigating the possibility of creating a device that could block the use of Lidar. Andy, Ben (IIRC) & myself began working. Andy was the Head of R&D. Ben was the genious electrical engineer. I was the lead Prototype and Test engineer (for Lidatek). After a design was settled on, I began building the prototype units and refining some of the components for proper firing times and power levels. I also submitted Rev changes to electronic components, PCB designs and lens shapes. Once we had a final electrical design hammered out & tested we began designing the solid machined aluminum case. It was at this time I was charged with setting up a manufacturing & testing lab in and empty wing of the Hughes Aircraft Building in Mukilteo, WA. Synard, LLC rented 2 floors of the building to move into. I began setting up manufacturing and testing jigs. Most notably the jig we used to precisely align the front lens with each laser diode. We also purchased a Lidar gun ( an LTI 20/20 I believe) and began looking for a 1 mile stretch of road to begin field testing every LE-10 before it was shipped out the door. After everything was up and running on its own. I was rolled back into Synrad, LLC and left the company about 6-8 months later to move to San Diego, CA. I only stayed with Lidatek until the 1st 400 LE-10’s were built and everyone was properly trained.

 

Facts and Myths

2 MHz or 4 MHz

Originally the LE-10 was designed to fire @ 2 Mhz. And this was not changed during the 8 months that I worked there as it worked quite well. It may have been changed after I left. I cant really say. Also, I was not the chief electrical engineer. Ben may have changed that and not notified us. However the parts list for the Surface Mount components going onto the PCB would have changed. And I never saw this during my time there.

 

JTG and Punch Through

Yes the unit did JTG and there was NO Punch Through. But keep in mind this was 1996-97 Lidar gun technology. Things may have changed since then as Lidar gun tech advanced. Also remember that the LE-10 only fires for 5-7 seconds. So a JTG would have to happen with the gun being fired pretty close to you. But we did testing on our 1 mile test strip at distances of .5 miles to 100′. In the test lab we put the LE-10 laser in a jig and fired the Lidar gun from a distance of 10′. If it passed that test it moved on to the Field Testing.

 

Firmware / Software / Filtering / Logic

There is no firmware. There is no software. There is no filtering. Peter wanted a simple device that worked as designed 100% of the time. He didn’t want to have to worry about the device not working due to some bug in the system.

The LE-10 is pure electronic logic.

“Do I see a 904nm input on my receiving diode” = NO = Don’t fire. “Do I see a 904nm input on my receiving diode” = YES = FIRE!!!!!!!!!!

 

Power Output, Jamming Technique and Pattern

 

Power Output 

The Laser Diode itself is a Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) diode. Directly from the patent docs “The diode laser 106 is implemented in the preferred embodiment by a gallium arsenide laser sold by EG&G Optoelectronics under the name PGAUISI6”. Just your average 905nm 13watt @ 15 amps, 150ns pulsed laser diode.

“Class IIIB laser diode. 14mW @ 904nm”

That was the sticker we put on the devices Control Head unit. In reality….the laser diode we used was rated for 35mW @ 905nm (in the configuration we were using it in). It was designed to operate @ 14-20mW for 5 seconds so as to promote longevity of the laser diode. There is also an electronic timer that prevents re-firing for 45-60 seconds. We actually included a test strip of material to verify the laser head was working. (Think back to the old Transformers that had the black sticker on them that was heat activated. Hold your finger on the sticker and it revealed Autobot / Deceptacon). Well once you installed our kit you could hold up the test strip in front of the laser head and trigger it to fire. The heat from the laser would activate on the test srtip. The problem…..you could hold the test strip up to 8 inches away form the laser head and still get a heat reading. The strips activated at 100 degrees F. Closer than 6-8″ away you could feel the heat of the laser energy on your skin. We never submitted any test samples to the FDA to verify our Class IIIB status. At least not that I know of.

 

Jamming Technique

Pure bruteforce. No fancy pulsing or anything else. It will throw error codes on damn near anything it jams. It is not stealth in the slightest.

 

Beam Pattern

Basically we designed the beam to be shaped like a rectangle. Almost the same dimensions as a standard license plate (for obvious reasons). At a distance of 6-7′ the beam pattern is the same size/surface area as a license plate. That is why JTG and Punch Through were so good. IIRC…the beam pattern was like 100′ wide x 50-60′ high @ 1000′ distance. Peter wanted roadside to roadside coverage width wise & vertical coverage if any LEO’s were shooting from overpasses.

 

Jamming Time

Why only 5 seconds? There were 2 reasons.

1)Peter was VERY conscious of the quality of the products he put out. A longer jam time would eventually start to compromise the lifespan of the Laser diode. There is a thermistor & re-fire timing circuit built into the design that makes sure the Laser Diode does not get over worked.

2) 5 seconds was determined to be a sufficient amount of time for a User to register a Lidar event and take appropriate action to reach the PSL. This part is clearly addressed in the patents mentioned below. This re-fire timer also prevents the LE-10 form raising suspicion by causing a JTG situation.

If you read through the patent documents, it is clear that Peter’s thinking was WAY ahead of it’s time. And that is why the parent company, Synrad, LLC, is still in business and an industry leader in the CO2 laser market. Long after Peter’s death.

 

Patents

5,767,954 and 5,793,476 and 5,793,477. You can plug these patent #’s into the Patent Offices search and pull up the patents to read them over. They are an interesting read.

 

Video Of the LE-10 In Operation

 

The LE-10 portion of the video starts @ 2:40:

The Lidatek LE-10 Jamming the DragonEye LIDAR gun known as the DALA:

 

LE-10 Gallery

LE-10

Package of LE-10 Contents

Inside view of the LE-10 CPU Box

Inside view of the LE-10 CPU Box

Inside view of the LE-10 lidar jammer

Inside view of the LE-10 lidar jammer