For years we've been receiving inquiries about a number of products
from Rocky Mountain Radar. A typical inquiry, this one e-mailed
from John Cassell, asked: "I was wondering if you've tested
the new RMR-C212 Rocky Mountain Radar. Apparently, it's a scrambler
of laser and radar. Do you know if it's better than the Escort Passport
Another, from Paul Schultz: "I ran across an item on eBay
for a radar detector called the Mini-D (RMR-D312) which they say
blows away the Escort 8500. They claim that the 'Mini' was not included
in your test but had a total score of '100?' Any comments to this
claim? Thanks for your help."
Naturally we were curious how a unit that wasn't tested could
claim top honors in one of our shootouts. And since the appearance
of new products from Rocky Mountain Radar always merits a look,
I decided to delve a bit deeper into the issue.
Our history with RMR dates from late 1992 when we began receiving
inquiries both from consumers and law enforcement officials regarding RMR's first products, the Spirit and the Eclipse. These little boxes, according to the company, could jam every type of police radar on
the planet. Ed Klump, a captain with the Topeka, Kansas Police Department
and a radar instructor of some renown, even stopped by our offices
with some sales literature on the jammers, urging us to investigate.
$190 RMR Eclipse (left) was all-plastic, weighed 2.5 ounces,
jammed nothing. Stealth VRCD weighed 2.5 pounds, cost $600 and
jammed only analog X- and K-band radar. Newer DSP radar and
Ka band both stymied it.
At first glance the claims looked tantalizing. Ads in auto-enthusiast
and trucker magazines and Denver-area shopping want-ad periodicals
read: "Radar Jammer, 'No More Tickets.' New technology makes
cars invisible to radar, yet 100 percent legal."
Invisibility to police radar may sound terrific but historically,
effective radar jammers have been nigh impossible to find. There are good
reasons for this. For one, they're blatantly illegal in all fifty
states, since jamming police radar requires broadcasting a powerful,
modulated signal. And precious few engineers are sharp enough to
outwit the sophisticated digital signal processing (DSP) universally
employed by modern police radar. Not to mention, radar jammers are fiendishly
expensive to construct.
In those pre-Internet days, making contact with RMR proved difficult
since the ads were from a distributor, with no phone number listed
for RMR itself. But in a stroke of fate, one night a local television
station ran a feature on a fellow named Mike Churchman, proprietor
of RMR and inventor of these radar jammers. According to the story,
the Spirit and Eclipse were so effective in thwarting radar guns
that it could only be a matter of time before authorities banned
the devices. And two days later the Denver Post's auto columnist
weighed in with a similarly breathless report that, fortuitously,
included a phone number. We called Churchman and arranged a visit.
We arrived at a split-level home in Highlands Ranch, southwest
of Denver. A woman greeted us at the door and ushered us past a
baby stroller and into a basement workshop, then the corporate headquarters
of Rocky Mountain Radar. There we met the inventor, mid-forties
at the time, of moderate height and sporting a badly fitting, curly
blonde toupee. Mike Churchman quickly listed his resume highlights:
former electronic warfare design engineer for Texas Instruments,
former radar detector designer, radar jammer inventor and holder
of a master's degree in microwave/optics, an academic combination
not offered by any university in the world, so far that we're aware
of. Churchman hinted that he had even more impressive credentials
in electronic warfare but bound by an oath of secrecy, he couldn't
disclose any details.
Churchman showed us his Spirit jammer, roughly the size of a pack
of cigarettes, only slightly fatter. Its plastic case had but a
single red LED on the front. No knobs, switches, no signal strength
meter, nothing else. Not much heft either: it weighed a feathery
2.5 ounces sans power cord. This seemed curious. Unlike most, at
the time we owned a serious radar jammer. It weighed four pounds
and had a control module the size of a Tom Clancy first-edition
hardcover novel. Its antenna was so large it wouldn't fit on the
dash of an average passenger car. And it worked only against X-
and K-band radar. Adding Ka band would have required adding another
antenna and even more bulk. In comparison, we could drop the Spirit
into a shirt pocket with room to spare.
"This is a passive jammer," Churchman explained, "and
it works against X-, K- and Ka-band radars. It doesn't transmit.
An active jammer transmits a signal back at the police radar. That's
illegal. What the Spirit does is take the incoming radar signal,
mix some 'white noise' with it, and reflect it back to the radar."
And the radar, confused, will simply remain blank, he assured us.
This statement is somewhat at odds with the entire body of scientific
literature, not to mention our own experience. A one-square-inch
antenna, no matter how efficient, is simply incapable of reflecting
enough signal back to a powerful police radar to jam it. For that
matter, we've tested $5,000 active radar jammers that pumped out 500 milliwatts
of microwave energy--50 times the power transmitted by a modern police
radar--that failed entirely to jam anything. Yet here Churchman
was offering legal, effective jamming for a mere $90 to $195, depending
upon the model.
Intrigued, we asked to peek inside a Spirit. Churchman handed
us a unit without its cover and we found ourselves looking at a
crude, hand-soldered circuit board with one integrated circuit,
a couple of diodes, and a half-inch-by-two-inch strip of sheet metal
at the front of the case, angled back 45 degrees from the vertical.
"That's the antenna," Churchman said. "See, it reflects
the signal right back at the radar."
How did he test his jammers? we inquired. "Well, I just shoot
a Doppler source into the Spirit and then to the spectrum analyzer.
Here, you can listen to the white noise yourself," he said,
and he switched on the analyzer while powering-up a Spirit, then
pointed them at each other. A faint screech was heard.
"You could ship an empty box with a weight in the bottom and only get 22 to 24 percent back [returned]," he confided to us.
"I use tuning forks, too," he added. "And a lot of customers tell me that they drive right by police radar and nothing
happens. Sometimes they even see the cop pounding on his radar,
real mad because he didn't get their speed." Churchman also
offered testimonials. Sort of. All appeared to have been written
by the same hand and there were no last names, just initials. They
all loved his jammers.
Surprisingly, later in the conversation Churchman volunteered
a most amazing analysis of the consumer's ability to tell a working
radar jammer from a bogus box. "You could ship an empty box
with a weight in the bottom and only get 22 to 24 percent back,"
he confided to us.
When we later conducted an extensive test of RMR's first jammers--the
Spirit and Eclipse--they jammed absolutely nothing. None of the
half-dozen radars was fazed in the slightest. We couldn't help but
remember Churchman's observation about shipping empty boxes.
Soon after we broke the story on Rocky Mountain Radar in the national
press [Automobile Magazine, "The Little Radar Jammer
That Didn't", June 1993] we received a threatening letter from
Churchman's attorneys. Lay off, it said, or we'll sue. Our attorneys
responded: Be prepared to demonstrate the effectiveness of your
products in open court--or get lost. And that was the last we heard
from Churchman and company.
Over the years we've tested and reported on other RMR jammers
and found a common denominator: none of them works. Meanwhile, Churchman
has become wealthy from his ever-expanding line of magic boxes.
And ten years on, here he is with a completely new product line.
Not only do some of these promise to jam both radar and lasers,
they're also touted as being high-performance detectors of both
types of enforcement technology.
Curious to see if newer RMR products work better than those of
old, we decided to run the latest models through a full test. And
since Churchman's distributors, such as 007radardetectors.com, claim
that even their least expensive model, the RMR D-312, is superior to
the winner of our last high-end detector shootout, the Escort Passport
8500, we tested that unit again for comparison purposes. Here's
what we found. [Click here for the complete test
($179.95 suggested retail)
Apparently positioned as the company's entry-level model, the
Eclipse is a very small package. A trio of top-mounted buttons operates
the three-step dim/dark function, manual mute and city/highway controls,
Signal strength is indicated audibly by beep frequency, visually
by three green LEDs. There are separate tones for band identification
but like other RMR products, this artless collection of tweets,
chirps and whistles is unintelligible even to dedicated bird fanciers.
That's why it's especially unfortunate that there's only one LED
for both K- and Ka-band ID.
The Eclipse has settings memory and dim/dark but no auto mute,
voice alerts, text display or other features generally to be found
on models in this price range. And although the box claims it has
an X-band delete function, there's no mention of it in the manual
and in the days we spent evaluating the Eclipse, no one could find
The Eclipse weighed in with decent X-band range and mediocre K-
and Ka-band range. The last was so weak that in the difficult Curve
Test site, the radar had already locked-in a speed before an alert
As a laser detector the Eclipse was a non-starter. It was unable
to spot the lasers at all, regardless of range. Considering the
performance and features offered by the competition at this price
level, we're unable to think of a single compelling reason to purchase
this detector--although bird-call aficionados might find
the audio alerts interesting.
($399.95 suggested retail)
As one of the pricier detectors this unit, aka Phantom III, promises
to justify its high tariff by promising, according to the packaging
blurb, to "scramble ALL radar bands (X, K Ka Superwide)"
and "scramble ALL laser radar." We'll have to assume that
whoever wrote the ad copy is clueless to the fact that there is
no similarity at all between radar and laser. The former uses radio
waves and Doppler shift to determine speed, the latter employs amplified
light and time-of-flight calculations to achieve the same goal.
But no matter.
The RMR-C212 has four buttons atop the case to control all functions.
From the far left are the self-test, dim, manual mute and city/highway
switches. On the left side of the case near the front is the power/volume
The C212's case is of translucent plastic, allowing a blurry glimpse
inside at its circuit board and waveguide antenna. Unfortunately,
the status and alert LEDs concealed behind the front plastic simply
disappear in sunlight, forcing total reliance on the audio alerts
to identify threats. Worse, the audio band ID tones, an artless
collection of bird whistles, chirps and tweets, are so indecipherable
that we can guarantee that unless you can tune a piano by ear, there's
no hope you'll be able to learn what this detector is trying to
We might be inclined to overlook some of the RMR-C212's shortcomings
if it were a standout performer. Unfortunately, it's critically
deficient in several areas. At the easy Straightaway/hills Test
site it delivered adequate X- and K-band detection range but failed
to notice the Ka-band radar until some 400 feet after the radar
had locked-in our speed.
We also tested the RMR-C212's jamming ability, running it against six different laser models and five types of radar on all three radar bands.
The final score was radar and lasers: 11, Rocky Mountain
Radar: 0. In no case did the unit have the slightest effect on any of the radar
or lasers. Its performance mirrored that of another RMR product we tested, the
Black Widow, a $239 (retail price) laser jammer. (For
a look at what real laser jammers can do, read our most recent laser jammer test.)
In jamming effectiveness the RMR-C212 ranks up there with the original
Spirit jammer, about which we said in one magazine story: "You
stand a better chance of jamming radar with a box of Kleenex on
($399.95 suggested retail)
Somewhat more conventional in appearance than its sibling, the
RMR-C212, the Rocky Mountain Radar C302 has a slate-colored plastic housing that sports
a trio of buttons across the top for dim, mute and city/highway.
A thumbwheel switch on the left side of the case controls power
Radar and laser band ID are denoted by differently colored LEDs--there
is faint lettering etched on each--X, K and Ka--that can be read
when they're lit, although you'll need to hold it up to your eyes
to decipher them, and there are three more for signal strength.
Like the RMR-C212, this model offers a hopelessly confusing medley
of audio alerts which, coupled with its unreadable band ID and lack
of tutorial mode, makes it a challenge to interpret what information
the detector is trying to convey.
Same as the RMR-C212, this model has fewer features than the typical
$79 K-Mart Special. And we them to be similar in performance--decent X-band Highway mode and K band range--but there were
holes in the performance envelope large enough to drive a Caterpillar
D8 dozer through. If you're looking for advance warning of radar
traps you'd do better to invest in a pair of prescription eyeglasses.
Like the RMR-C212, this model promises to jam all radar and lasers.
And like its stable mate, it does neither. (To see what
a real laser jammer looks like, go to "Tested:
Six Laser Jammers".) Barring a major rewrite of some of
the basic laws of physics, there's no way these devices will ever
jam radar or lasers. Priced at $19 we might consider buying one
if it were the only detector available; as a $319 detector/jammer
it's an industry joke.
($199.95 suggested retail)
Dubbed the Mini-D, no doubt because of its diminutive size, the
bite-sized RMR-D312 model has three buttons atop the case to control all
functions. From the far left are the dim, manual mute and city/highway
switches. On the left side of the case near the front is the power/volume
Its list of standard features is brief: city mode, dim/dark mode,
manual mute and settings memory. Although the box claims it has
"7-User Selectable Features" [sic] and "15 Band Detection",
we counted only two selectable features: VG-2 on/off and an alternate
set of audio tones. Forget about 15-band detection, well.p>
Features absent are auto mute, tutorial mode, text display, voice
alerts, digital compass, external speaker jack, user-programmable
options and other items usually found on detectors in this price
range. (We purchased ours from 007radardetectors.com for $169.95
Unlike most other RMR products, the RMR-D312 doesn't claim to
jam radar and laser, just detect them. And according to some of
the retailers selling it, the Mini-D is the equal of the
Escort Passport 8500 in sensitivity. So we concentrated on examining
What we found was predictable, given the tiny packaging and commensurately
tiny antenna. In the Straightaway/hills Test it delivered 7,002
feet of range in X-band Highway mode (Escort: 26,916 feet), 221
feet in X-band City mode (Escort: 5,750 feet) and 5,647 feet on
K band (Escort: 40,013 feet). By the time it belatedly issued an
alert at 3,358 feet on Ka-band (Escort: 40,020 feet) the target
vehicle was already well within radar range. And while it was able
to sniff out lasers at 3,385 feet (Escort: 5,284 feet), at our standard
test-measurement range of 1,000 feet its field of view averaged
a paltry 6 inches (Escort: 83 inches). In the real world, the Mini-D's
near-blindness to lasers means only a direct hit will set it off,
making it essentially useless as a detection device.
The disappointing test results demonstrate the risk in unfairly
comparing a mediocre product to an industry-leading model: experts
may actually run a side-by-side comparison test. And to Radartest.com
readers and RMR dealers poised to bombard us with e-mails doubting
the veracity of this test we'd say fine: Bring your own test samples,
drop by for four days and we'll be happy run it again. Just be sure
to bring along some cash; we ran this test on our nickel but when
the heavily-hyped Mini-D turns in
similar test scores next time, we'll be asking you to pick up the
five-grand tab for the test.