VASCAR and the Kustom Tracker

The Mighty Four Banger

Time efficient
Advanced User
Joined
May 25, 2018
Messages
829
Reaction score
881
Location
Texas
So what I’ve got here for all of you today is a 2 in one VASCAR manual and Tracker review. I’m not the most technically inclined so I’ll provide as much documentation as I can for those that are.

First: the absolute basics of VASCAR: a Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder is nothing more than a $1,500 stopwatch with some extra bells and whistles.

It is for this reason that VASCAR can be as simple or complicated as you make it. You can go measure a distance, input that, and start and stop the stopwatch as the cars go by and mindlessly stare at the blinking display that saved you all the inconvenience of having to do simple multiplication and division. This is VASCAR in its simplest and most well understood form. A cop in his car has a unit and is flipping the time switch on when the target hits the first landmark and turns the switch off after the car passes the second landmark. Because the distance is already input, the computer does the intense labor of speed=Distance/time (plus some conversions) and gives you your reading. Now let’s take a second to make sure we’re all on the same page. You can only target one car at a time, it’s a physical limitation for these things and multiple cars would be way too complicated to work with when I get more into methods later. You input the speed, it is not a defined distance. Longer courses will be more accurate but shorter courses than you might think can be set up - my unit had several distances around 100 feet programmed in. The only thing that makes the landmarks significant is the operator, it doesn’t have to be a painted line on the road - it can be a pole or tree or whatever as long as you know the exact distance between the landmarks. The main weak point is your consistency with starting and stopping the stopwatch when the same point on the car passes the landmarks, messing up the time will mess up the speed. Now some people might say that we can’t trust cops with these things because a cop will intentionally cut the time off short to get a faster speed for the course, and well you’re an idiot because it’s just as easy to lie about a radar reading. As an aside, Kustom Signals advises a cop is fine to use one if they can keep the inaccuracies within +/- 2mph.

Now the biggest takeaway is the direct comparison to almost all other types of speed enforcement:

This is taking the average speed of a vehicle over a specific time for a specific distance, It can’t get an instantaneous speed like radar or laser can. Now who would possibly care for that? You may ask yourself, and I might answer with some impractical reasons such as Pennsylvania only letting cops use VASCAR or to beat radar detectors. But I might also answer with the most practical answer: because it’s a computer with switches on it, the measurement device is the operator itself, it doesn’t need to be pointed directly at the target or you don’t even need to have a complete line of sight. Why is this important? Well aside from not having a cosine error, maybe you are a few thousand feet away from the target in a, I don’t know, maybe an airplane?

Ah the scary word: airborne. Well here’s how it works: the main complication is landmarks, you don’t want to just be flying around a tiny little course all day for several reasons I’ll mention later, but you will have lines on the road painted at regular intervals that probably look something like one of these
7170C620-D3E8-411E-8624-2A86DA047D63.jpeg
2D81AEDE-8024-478B-A40A-F929C62C94CE.jpeg

and BAM - you’ve got a recurring set of known distances aka courses. So you punch your distance in (mostly 1/4 mile courses, sometimes half or double that) and wait until you see a target vehicle behaving erratically. Once you do it’s just like stationary ground VASCAR, flip the time on and off with the landmarks and you have an average speed. VASCAR executed from the sky needs chase cars to go write the tickets so the plane will focus on small areas with chase cars waiting ahead that the plane will radio in to. VASCAR is not a threat to me so I have not tried using my scanner to find said frequencies but I’d imagine that would work just as well as tracking a tail number if done properly. This brings me to countermeasures. I don’t know much about these because like I said, it’s not a threat to me. However there are two main methods that I know of: one being a flight tracking app where you plug in tail numbers of suspicious aircraft and it will tell you when they’re in the air or close to you or you can use a device like this that alerts to the broadcast from anti collision transponders in the aircraft. Because these transponders send info you can limit yourself to the low flying aircraft that run VASCAR. With this being said you can identify VASCAR traps based off their low circular patterns, a flight is shown below.
6775B752-DA77-479C-9DD5-96199BBC0467.jpeg

now let’s get into some advanced topics, not the ones that are going to get me banned from the forums but the ones that you learn after you learn the basics. Believe it or not, you can run VASCAR while mobile. No I’m not talking about aerial VASCAR again, we’re done with planes. I mean cop rolling down the interstate mobile. I’ll allow a few seconds for your feeble minds to accept this as a reality. Oh yeah and now I’ll mention why it’s possible: the missing piece. There is a secret input that connects to your Vehicle Speed Sensor output or VSS out on most cars. Because of this, you can use your car as a measuring stick by counting revolutions of some shafts in the transmission. The VSS sends out a pulse for every rotation and the tracker converts that into a distance. So side note real fast, you can drive distances and save the distance in the tracker to set up stationary courses which is why you haven’t seen cops setting up traps with measuring sticks. But because you can take your distance from your car you can set up courses on the fly by playing with your two variables. You have become familiar with the time switch but there is also a distance switch that you turn on and off and it will start taking the distance off of your vehicle. Here is where the fun comes into play: if you flip both switches on at the same time and then both off at the same time you will get the distance you traveled and the time it took you which will give out your average speed. But who cares, you have a speedometer for that. The trick is using your critical thinking skills to get from two variables to one variable on a car that isn’t yours and you do this by playing with switches and landmarks that you make up on the fly. I’ll just throw you into it and I’m sure you’ll pick it up pretty fast. there are a couple more ways to get speed than I’ll mention but here’s the main ones.

1). Note that the T and D in the chart are for the time and distance switches
C5CA73CA-731C-47DD-A0D6-C8B5DEF5EE32.jpeg

showing pictures is way easier than having me explain it so I hope you can grasp that. When you’re sneaking up on someone and don’t want to pace them: You’re basically finding a landmark, timing them to get to a second landmark and then using your distance switch to find the distance by driving the course yourself with your handy $1,500 stopwatch/calculator/measuring stick. So in this case it’s backwards from stationary operation, you find the time it takes them between two landmarks and then you measure the distance between the known landmarks that you just made. Hopefully you’ve got it now because there’s more.
2)
Note that there’s a few other ways to do this but that’s beyond the point.
B8C199C4-55B5-4065-A5A4-B47029F27EF0.jpeg

shouldn’t be too hard to grasp if you understand and can interpret the first photo.
3)
B1BF0613-7F73-40EA-9778-3A90A872644B.jpeg

So there it is, VASCAR can be more versatile than even radar. Same and opposite lane tracking with stationary and moving mode.

my main reaction to this knowledge is nothing short of: damn, that’s some distracted driving right there. I can’t wait to go try this out and have some cop get me for a DUI.

so armed with knowledge, this review should go over quite easily for everyone. What I purchased was a gently used “VASCAR” computer. That acronym is actually a trademarked brand name but that expired so everyone can say VASCAR now. There are a couple other units that look a little complicated but I assure you it’s nothing special compared to what I have, which would be the Kustom Signals Tracker by Patco. Why it’s called that, I don’t know so don’t ask me about it. I will refer to it as a Tracker everywhere else in this article. I have mentioned their new price a couple times, here’s my source and a spec sheet:
99AF516A-6CDE-44E1-A562-3F0EA6CEE268.jpeg
BF50C349-231A-46D4-BA3F-A5D7E2C361CA.png

the marketing kind of gave me a good chuckle.

let’s start with appearance. It just looks like it’s missing something on the back. Now why would I say that? Well besides my snake of an ex that shook up my insecurities, anxiety and ruined my general trust of anyone and my terrible outlook on eBay sellers, it might also look like a certain other Kustom product that has a massive control unit attached to it, comparison shown below.
image.jpg

but I assure you, that is all there is to the humble tracker. Also unlike Kustom Radar guns there is only one connection on the whole thing and that is this that I got for basically nothing.
D5B8C219-4008-401C-A62C-DF36B70253D1.jpeg

In fact it is because of the lack of a power cord that I got the unit for $15 over the normal going rate of $80 on fleabay.
There is a red and black for 12v power, the green for your VSS connection and then a white wire which you are told to just not use. The front has a power switch, not sure why it’s not a button, your distance and time switches that come with a very tactile clicking, a +/- switch for manually entering distances (which sucks btw) and a mode button that only does two things. Overall while it’s an awkward shape it’s built like a tank. I’ll include a basic teardown that I hope will help others as it shows how easy it is to replace components and maybe that some smarter members will pick up on anything out of the ordinary.
This is what happens when you get the back screws off
29F5CEA5-83FF-4794-8E9E-B02B35D34BB6.jpeg

Here is all the hardware that comes off but it’s mainly to show that to advance in the process you have to know that the brass hex things are bolts.
F6189FD7-A63F-4D00-AA9B-AC6223C7221E.jpeg

And you’re left with this, which is a sandwich that you can pull apart.
91F89F1E-E9B4-4220-BAA6-12AAF173934F.jpeg

Some more pics
FC583EC9-F9DC-43B6-881D-0967EAAAC7E3.jpeg

3E7B15FE-D9C6-445B-9D66-51363DA55A3C.jpeg

So nice and easy switch and button changes. Also notice the dip switches in the first pic. #3 seems to be enabling/disabling the VSS input and #4 seems to change MPH to KPH but the distance stays in feet. I have no idea what the #1 and #2 do so don’t ask me questions about that either. It’s also not in the manual and I couldn’t find it anywhere.

Note: I plan on adding videos or other media detailing basic operation in this paragraph.
so now some on the operation. Power switch turns it on, I don’t even know why I mentioned that. Distance and time switches are very obvious as well and you have nice counting windows for both. The blue +/- switch is for manually entering distances and let me tell you again, that sucks. There is a little auto dimmer ambient light sensor by the mode button which can be pressed at any time to switch between feet and miles for the distance and pressing it at any time does not disrupt your readings (I’ve tried to get it to mess up) but when held down with the blue switch it lets you go into your stored distance presets. if you turn a distance or time switch on it starts counting, turn both off to get your calculations. By turning either one back on it wipes your previous reading and starts counting, no other button pushing needed. This is great if you’re constantly clocking cars but not great when you accidentally flip the distance switch when you’re halfway done with trying to use the blue switch to bump the reading up to a mile in increments of one foot. Pressing down the blue switch and simultaneously hitting mode will enter you into your preset menu which you scroll through with the blue switch, select with the mode button, or wipe over and reprogram by flipping the distance switch over the target preset.

Powering on your unit will first get you to the calibration screen. Press anything except the power switch to get it off this. Unlike radar guns, the calibration refers to the unit's calibration with the VSS output. but while we’re here the unit has dual oscillating crystals that check each other against your measurements for accuracy as a fail safe and if they don’t line up with each other the unit basically goes into limp mode, so that’s neat. The VSS output from a transmission consists of tens of thousands of pulses per mile. It is tied to your transmission to get distance, not to your speedometer like radar guns are. These pulses per mile change between makes and models of vehicles but can even vary in the same vehicle depending on things such as your tires. It is for this reason that you have to calibrate the thing every now and then and not just once on your vehicle. The pulses passing through the VSS are standard between cars so you tap the VSS wire directly into the VSS input on the Tracker. The only adapter that there should be out there is one for old cars that converts old mechanical odometer wire revolutions into electronic pulses. If I am wrong in that last sentence someone please correct me. If you are like me and you do not have a labeled VSS wire then you should be able to make something work from your OBDII CAN bus output. I am in the process of getting that rolling and I will bring back an update when it does featuring a paragraph on how that worked.

I will be going into more detail about how to set up the calibration and how hard it is to get good at using this thing while mobile when I can get it to work with my car. If I can't get it to work then I'll do my best to explain. (boring) I was originally going to not do this article until I had it working with my car but I’m tired of waiting and decided to post this now and consider it a work in progress. Note that Epstein did not commit suicide.

I will continue with my revisions after lunch and I'm going to try to go set up some courses.

other than that, hopefully it was worth the read. Don’t be afraid to ask me something if you want it.

Current article revision: 1.3
 

Attachments

Last edited:

radarrob

Newcumber
Advanced User
Premium Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2010
Messages
8,630
Reaction score
3,181
Location
USA
I have one of these. Been collecting dust for 9 years lol. One day I’m free I’m going to power it up.
 

Got Jeep

Just another Two weeks....
Advanced User
Lifetime Premium Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
2,542
Reaction score
4,515
Location
Metro Detroit , MI
Well done. Thanks for taking the time to do this.
Remember folks there are at least two free App's that track and alert to Aerial VASCAR.
:thumbsup:
 

GTO_04

Advanced User
Premium Member
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
4,571
Reaction score
5,346
Indiana State Police still have VASCAR.

GTO_04
 

The Mighty Four Banger

Time efficient
Advanced User
Joined
May 25, 2018
Messages
829
Reaction score
881
Location
Texas
Last edited:

dchemist

Advanced User
Lifetime Premium Member
Joined
Jul 26, 2017
Messages
3,270
Reaction score
6,130
Age
41
Location
Benton, AR
First off, I literally LoL'd at your Epstein note! That included, what a wonderful review!!! I too had absolutely no idea VASCAR could be used in moving mode and you successfully taught an old dog a new trick. Thanks for taking the time to share with us.
 

GTO_04

Advanced User
Premium Member
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
4,571
Reaction score
5,346

The Mighty Four Banger

Time efficient
Advanced User
Joined
May 25, 2018
Messages
829
Reaction score
881
Location
Texas
Also, I have two big plans for this thing:

One would be an average speed over the trip computer, just something fun to have I guess.

The second would be a bulletproof tape measure for countermeasure testing that would probably be more accurate than anything now used because it measures actual driven distance and not just GPS coordinate displacement.
 

sdrawkcaB

Defender of Light
Security
Advanced User
Lifetime Premium Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2018
Messages
4,557
Reaction score
8,847
Location
Here
Good examples @The Mighty Four Banger of the different designs of VASCAR painted lines. They do look different depending on the area you're in, so it is important for drivers to be familiar with the different styles of them throughout the country.
 

The Mighty Four Banger

Time efficient
Advanced User
Joined
May 25, 2018
Messages
829
Reaction score
881
Location
Texas
Good examples @The Mighty Four Banger of the different designs of VASCAR painted lines. They do look different depending on the area you're in, so it is important for drivers to be familiar with the different styles of them throughout the country.
You’re saying that like you would like to share some more examples....

it’s mainly the idea that there is no legal requirement for what a landmark is, so there’s some diligence involved on the drivers end for finding them. The second one just surprised me that the NHSTA didn’t get pissed for them drawing white lines the wrong way on a road
 

sdrawkcaB

Defender of Light
Security
Advanced User
Lifetime Premium Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2018
Messages
4,557
Reaction score
8,847
Location
Here
You’re saying that like you would like to share some more examples....

it’s mainly the idea that there is no legal requirement for what a landmark is, so there’s some diligence involved on the drivers end for finding them. The second one just surprised me that the NHSTA didn’t get pissed for them drawing white lines the wrong way on a road
I’m saying that I like that you showed a few different styles of it. I’ve noticed that it is a regular question here as to what they look like, but I haven’t yet come across a page of various styles all organized together. What you’ve gathered here so far is great! Bothe the arial overhead photo, the dashcam screen shot, and the black and white drawings, all demonstrate at least three different types of painted VASCAR lines.
 

The Mighty Four Banger

Time efficient
Advanced User
Joined
May 25, 2018
Messages
829
Reaction score
881
Location
Texas
I’m saying that I like that you showed a few different styles of it. I’ve noticed that it is a regular question here as to what they look like, but I haven’t yet come across a page of various styles all organized together. What you’ve gathered here so far is great! Bothe the arial overhead photo, the dashcam screen shot, and the black and white drawings, all demonstrate at least three different types of painted VASCAR lines.
ah yes, for legal purposes they are perfect handmade drawings lol

thanks for the support everyone. Actually running VASCAR has escaped me recently as I've been pretty loaded down
 

Discord Server

Latest threads

Forum statistics

Threads
79,902
Messages
1,215,693
Members
20,227
Latest member
Pinhook
Top