In a fit of ‘70’s nostalgia I bought a Fuzzbuster on E-Bay for $5. I mean a real "Fuzzbuster’ brand radar detector, from 1974 I think. The thing is the size of a bread box, and heavy as a brick! It looks like it was made by an 8th grade metal shop student. It only works on the older X-band, so me and my youngest son went out and found one of those radar/speed check boards that the cops put out, which broadcast on that band. We couldn’t believe what little range the FB had. The radar board displayed my speed before the unit beeped. Has anyone ever had their licensed saved by one of these? This is the one that started it all, but how did they stay in business?

Are they still in business? I’ve never even heard of a “Fuzzbuster”.

If memory serves the Fuzzbuster (I’m not 100% sure on the model) was so sorry compared to some of the newer units that came out afterward that in a Car and Driver Mag. detector “shootout” about 20 years ago they discovered that the “new” Fuzzbuster they were testing was in fact the competition’s electronics sealed inside the “Fuzzbuster” metal box. They were suspicious in that the Fuzzbuster box did not look like a production model but rather some tech’s clunky bench demo and they power sheared it open with an air hammer so see the guts. Pretty embarassing.

IIRC, those radar trailers are outfitted with Ka-band radar, at least in California. Fuzzbusters were designed to detect X-band, which was the original band approved by the FCC for law enforcement use. In the mid-80’s, I think, the FCC approved K-band, then later Ka-band. X-band is now rarely used in law enforcement, because it’s far too common - motion detectors and door opening sensors usually use X-band. Also, from a law enforcement perspective, K- and Ka-band are preferable because they have a much shorter effective range, thereby reducing the chance of alerting anybody with a radar detector who happens to be beyond the target vehicle.

You probably had to be right in front of the radar trailer before your Fuzzbuster went off, since it’s really designed to pick up another frequency.

I don’t know if my radar detectors have saved my license, but it’s a lead pipe cinch that they’ve kept me from getting tickets.

was the brand name of a radar detector manufactured by Dale Smith & the Electrolert Corp… It first came out circa 1974 or so when the Feds forced states to post 55 speeds on their highways.The Fuzzbuster sold very well, in fact, became the name sake of radar detectors in general (kind of like how all geletin is refered to as “Jello”, all tissues are refered to as “kleenex”, bandages refered to as “Band Aids”, etc.) It was not the first radar detector ever made, but it became the best selling one of all time. As far as I can tell, it didn’t do it’s job very well, which makes me question how Smith made hundreds of millions of dollars selling them!

Yeah, I remember that Car & Driver test, too, but as I recall, what really tipped them off was that their Fuzzbuster test model, provided by the factory, performed so much better than any other Fuzzbusters EVER had, and oddly enough, it’s performance was nearly identical to the Escort, I think. Talk about getting busted!

I know the radar board (it’s a courtosy speed check board, NOT photo radar. Photo radar is illegal here in Wisconsin) is X-band because I also have a Valentine 1 (according to Car & Driver the best detector around) and it detected the board as X-band. My question is if anyone ever got spared a ticket by one of these old things from the early '70’s. I just want to know how they sold so well when they work for shit! I know the current detectors work quite good. Also, some places do use X band, radar manufactures sell oodles of them. The Ohio & Alabama State Police use X-band almost exclusively. Why they do I can’t tell you.

Must be different in California.

I didn’t say ‘photo radar’, but yes, photo radar is Ka. MY V1 goes apeshit over those speed trailers as a Ka, not X.

Perhaps we’re even talking about two different kinds of radar set-ups, too. In California, it’s usually a trailer with a speed limit sign on it, and a huge digital display of the target vehicle’s speed. No cameras, altho I imagine it would be fairly simple to rig one up, but also Ka, according to my V1.

For the record, I do know that the effective range of a Fuzzbuster (ca. 1980) on flat, level ground is at least a mile. I once had access to an X-band unit, and tested a friend’s brand-new Fuzzbuster to see how well it worked. Of course, radar (and more importantly radar COPS) have gotten a lot more sophisticated in the last 20 years.

The “check your speedometer” radar boards in Cheeseland are almost all K-band, but a few are X band, none here are Ka band. Only a very small number of cops here have radar guns that are on the Ka band. Ozuakee and Waukesha county sheriff deputies have them, but that’s about it.

My research has revealed that the radar detectors of the early ‘70’s used "passive’ technology as opposed to the "superheterodyne’ technology that has been used since 1977. I know what superhet is, but what was a “passive” radar detector? Maybe that explaines the poor performance of my 1974 Fuzzbuster.

Uh…I dunno. Mebbe a signal that tells you something like, “Hey, that WAS radar you just encountered…”

My 2 cents as another Valentine One owner:

The police around here use those “show your speed to you and shame you into slowing down” trailers a lot. The older trailers were X-band, and DAMN did they paint the road with microwaves. The newer trailers, those they purchased within the past 2 years, are Ka, and they’re a little more reserved than their older cousins about blasting out the radiation.

Although, with the V1, I can still smell 'em from miles away. hehehe…


Radar detectors are illegal in Virginia, DC, or Connecticut.

IIRC, if a cop notices you slow down immediately after being radared, he has probable cause to pull you over and search your car for the illegal detector. Since they can be pretty small, that gives them free reign to search just about anywhere.

It’s best just to turn it off and slow your ass down until you get to North Carolina.

Not sure. But I do own a passive-aggressive radar detector.

It doesn’t beep, it just keeps saying “Do you really need to drive this fast?”

It’s called a “wife”. :stuck_out_tongue: