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Now before you all lynch me this is not a recommendation to obtain a device which acts as a licence to drive dangerously.
Back in 2000, I had a very nasty incident involving me unknowingly breaking the speed limit on the A454 between Wolverhampton and Willenhall, and a GATSO camera going off. Now fortunatly it turned out that the GATSO camera had in fact caught another motorist going the other way but some conversations and research later persuaded me to purchase a Radar Detector.
So me and my friend visited the Motorshow at the NEC back in 2000 and each purchased one of these for the sum of £250 each from Networx Automotive down from £325.00-deal or what?
After getting home and opening the box, the following was enclosed
1 x Bel 980 Radar Detector
1 x Cigarette Lighter Adaptor + cord
1 x Case
1 x Set Instructions
1 x Spare Fuse for the Adaptor
1 x Holder for the unit to be mounted onto a Windscreen
I chose the Bel 980 for several reasons,the compactness of the unit, it's legendary effectivness against GATSO cameras etc, choice of modes (Motorway or City modes), variable intensity display (automatically varies the brightness of the display which may prove distracting at night) and the ability to be 'flash upgraded' i e sofware could be updated to cope with new Radar threats etc.
The unit is a small compact affair made of high strength plactics and featutes an AlphaNumeric red LED display, buttons on the top of the unit to change the mode etc and a groove to attach the unit to a windscreed via the adaptor supplied. On the right hand side is a socket for the Power Adaptor and the left features a mini speaker.
Operating the 980 is easy, it is attached either to the windscreen via the adaptor supplied ot left on the dashboard and fixed via a non-slip mat (which is also supplied by Networx Automotive and is surprisingly effective). It is then turned on via a button on the top and the apprproiate mode ie Motorway or City mode is selected. The LED display lights up displaying the mode until a Speedtrap is detected. This is usually in the form of a GATSO camera in which case it emits a short loud BUZZ and then gives an audible warning in the form (in the example of a GATSO camera) of "K BAND!". It then continues to buzz, the frequency increasing as the trap is approached and the LED display also shows a bar code going in nine seperate increments, when the trap is reached the bar shows full.
The 980 can be set for Motorway (for maximum range and sensitivity) or City (lessens the risk of false alarms) though I tended to leave mine set on the Motorway mode.
It is effective against K-Band sources (Gatso Cameras and some Police hand-held radar guns), Ka Band (older Gatso cameras-only used in the Thames Valley area) and also Laser traps...a special mention has to be made about this. The laser alert will go off when the unit picks up diffused laser light-usually a sign that the Police have fired a laser gun and probably caught an unsuspecting motorist. Unlike radar sources, laser light isn't too common so if an alert does sound you are almost certain to be approaching a speed trap soon-so be aware! Of course, if you can see a Police officer holding a speed gun pointing towards you and the alert goes off-if you were going too fast-then it's too late. But a least you have a sporting chance!
Well thats the theory but what about the practice. In a word, BRILLIANT!
I've been saved on several occasions when I let my speed creep up and wasn't aware of a nasty GATSO camera sighted behind a Street Sign-I reacted just in time. On another occasion I was almost caught on the A449 by Dunston village on the way to Stafford from Wolverhampton-another GATSO camera sited behind tree foliage (and that breaches Police Guidelines as well!). Effective GATSO warning as about 250-500m enought to check your speed and react accordingly.The Laser alert has gone off and warned me to drive slowly on several occasions and yes the police were present on the A5, the A449 and the M6. On one of those occasions, a motorist had been stopped.... Range of the Laser alert is up to two miles.
Well the 980 cannot detect Ku band sources as used by Mini Gatso's (one of the resons I changed to a Valentine One), there is the occasional false alarm and it is occasionally caught out by siting of GATSO's in dips etc. It cannot detect passive detection devices such as SPECS,TRUVELO etc-to be able to detect these you have to have a GPS based system such as Road Angel etc. And the Government are planning to make this type of detector illegal in 2006 as they can tell you where the ACTIVE speedtraps are. This has a lot more to do with losing revenue IMO than anything else.
Overall I can recommend the Bel 980-it has been relaunced as the Euro 330 at about £300 but it maybe worth getting the Euro 550 at £50 more -as it has that all-important Ku band coverage
Check out the Euro 330 (the 980's new name) on
and a load of other sites selling Radar detectors...
Copyright peterkinxl5 11/04/05
Pictures of Beltronics Bel 980
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