So I had an opportunity to meet up with some fine folks at today's GA Lidar Test. Since they had a lidar test going on already, I brought a couple detectors and a few other people added theirs into the mix as well so that we could see how well the different detectors alerted to lidar.
There were some unexpected surprises in this test, particularly what I saw with the various M5's/M6 variants.
We ran two different tests:
1) Every detector run individually against the DragonEye Compact
2) Multiple detectors run simultaneously against the PL4
Both tests were very illuminating.
Here's the detectors and firmware versions we ran:
Max360 1.2 (@Vortex)
Max2 1.6 (@nicholat)
GT-7 1.0 (@Vortex)
Redline BS/RDR (@Hügel66)
Magnum BS/RDR (@notblake)
Uniden LRD950 1.51 (@Vortex)
Radenso Pro SE US9 (@Hügel66)
K40 RLS2 (@RadarNinja)
V1 3.8945 (@Vortex)
Guns tested: DragonEye Compact, Kustom ProLaser IV
Here's the results of the two different tests, grouped up as appropriate:
Test 1) Running each detector solo against the Compact
Every detector was mounted in the same spot, low on the windshield near the dash. This made it better for front detection but made rear detection nearly impossible because they were down below the headrests. This made things apples-to-apples in terms of placement, but there may be some run-to-run variation depending on any movement of the lidar gun. @notblake did a good job shooting my vehicle center mass with the gun resting on a tripod for stability. The test course was ~2,000 feet.
Here's the highlights:
V1: Lidar monster
The V1 is insane and rightly deserves its reputation. It was the only detector that could pick the signal up the signal as @notblake was shooting me from behind with the Compact. It didn't alert the entire time, but the vast majority of the time. No other detector picked it up at any point. (It was the last detector I ran in the set and the only one to do this which is why I went "woo!" at the start of the video.) From the front it was also sensational. It even alerted up to point blank while other detectors would sometimes lose the signal once you got closer and the beam got more narrow and thus less detectable.
I had issues with my V1's suction cups. They've become flattened over the years and no longer stick well. As such it kept falling off my windshield and I had to press it against the windshield from underneath. I was really concerned about that somehow impacting the results, so I'd let it run on its own as much as possible, quickly remounting it when it fell off. It was a bit of a mucky run, the only detector with this particular issue, but the performance should be clear nonetheless. Here's a video showing it in both directions.
Max360, Max2, GT-7: Not all M5's/M6's are created equal?
The Max360 did a surprisingly stellar job. It's no V1, but it did significantly better than the Max2, which did significantly better than the GT-7. It may be too early to say yet, but this is something that I think definitely deserves some more testing.
The Max360 alerted soon after turning around and alerted down the majority of the course. It stopped alerting a fair distance before reaching the shooter as well.
The Max2 took longer to alert initially and also stopped alerting far earlier than the 360. Take a look at the difference.
After those two, I figured that maybe the Max360 really has been upgraded beyond the Max2, much to my surprise, despite the same looking internals as far as I could tell. Then I ran the GT-7 and it performed significantly worse than the Max2 even. It didn't alert until nearly the end of the course. uhhhh... What? Shouldn't those two perform similarly at least? Here's the GT-7 run.
So yeah, I have no idea what to make of this. Run-to-run variation? Maybe. Would I see the same results with additional test runs? I don't know. Rewatching the Max2 and GT-7 runs, I noticed the GT-7 actually picks up the signal after the Max2 drops it, and the GT-7 holds it much longer. It's possible the lidar beam it was seeing was itself different between runs. This isn't like exactly like radar testing where a more sensitive detector will give you longer range, you know? Either way, this is way more of a difference than I was expecting and it's something I want to test further and I'd love to see others test this as well so we can compare notes.
Redline and Magnum:
Again not totally identical, but far more similar with the two M3's than with the two M5's and the M6.
The Redline was about as perfect as they come from the front. As I was in the process of turning around, the Redline went off and it continued to alert until I passed the shooter. Excellent stuff.
The Magnum went off a few seconds after I started driving back towards the source and started dropping it a second or two sooner than the Redline, but that may have easily just been a latch difference. Either way, very similar performance and a good show by both detectors. Here's a quick comparison showing just the initial alerts with the two detectors.
Uniden LRD950: Nicely done
The detector lots of people are looking at the LRD950 lately. It did a good job. It alerted right after I turned around to face the lidar gun and continued to alert the entire time, but it did drop the alert as I started to get closer in.
K40 RLS2: Respectable performance
Again did very well. Alerted as soon as I turned around. It dropped the signal before it got to the shooter so it didn't do as well as the V1 or M3's, but it still turned in a very respectable performance.
RPSE & 9500ix: No alert
Unfortunately neither the RPSE nor the 9500ix alerted to the Compact at all, even when shot directly. The 9500ix I can understand being older, but the RPSE needs to get on board. Realistically it's not a make or break thing and you'll still want jammers to handle the Compact in the end, so we could certainly argue how much of a difference (or not) detecting this gun is, but nonetheless...
I didn't redo this test with another gun due to time constraints, though I would love to another time.
Test 2) Running multiple detectors at the same time
This was the very end of the test and we were pretty ready to head out and grab a bite to eat by this point. We talked about running multiple detectors simultaneously and all of us immediately kneejerked to the whole "don't test multiple RD's at the same time" thing, haha. Laser is different though since detectors shouldn't interfere with one another the way they do for radar. Placement will be a few inches apart for each detector so again it's not perfect, but I've never tried this before and was curious to see if it was a legitimate testing technique or not.
I ran 5 detectors here, the Max360, Redline, RPSE, Max2, & V1.
Since the RPSE was on board, I wanted to use a different gun I knew it would alert to so I asked for the PL4. @GA Speed was the shooter and shot me as I was reaching the end of the little side road we were on and then kept shooting me as I turned around and headed back towards him. This was a pretty quick run so I'll let the video do the talking.
V1 is the champ again, but the Max360 jumps in with a rear detection as well, beating even the Redline. Very nice!! Redline jumps in as I turn around, then the RPSE, and then the Max2 decides it may as well join the party as well.
So again the 360 does better than expected, and better than the Max2. Is it definitively better than the Max2 on lidar? I can't say for sure. Maybe a detector on the outside does better than a detector that's on the inside and has other detectors blocking its signal. I dunno. GA Speed was directly behind me but just a hair off to my left at this point so it's likely the 360 had a placement edge here. Just speculating here and trying to think of all the variables. More testing is needed to rule out any other possibilities.
Again I think it's totally worth trying to swap detector locations to see if that changes anything, try other detectors, try other guns, etc. Just a matter of doing it.
Either way, I think it may be likely that the Max360 is indeed better than the Max2 at lidar, but given what I saw with the GT-7, I can't say for sure because those two should have most certainly been identical and they weren't... so maybe there's something else going on that additional testing and test runs may help us determine. This is really just a sample size of one, but it's got my curiosity piqued.
A big big thank you to the GA testing group, to everyone who hung out and who provided detectors, to @notblake to @GA Speed who did the shooting for this particular test, and to @Stinger and @GA Speed for providing the test equipment. This is a great crowd of folks here.