Note: This is an expanded duplicate of a post I made on the "other" forum since the topic came up.
Just before I flew out to SML, I was getting quite nervous regarding installing the 9500ci for the SML test and had a few questions since I have never installed a laser jammer before. Aside from wanting to know how long the various cables were (all are really long), I wanted to know whether or not I should check the level of the shifter heads by placing my small bubble level on the top or bottom surface of the shifter heads. So, I called Escort CS, explained who I was and that I had been approved to go to SML since their engineer couldn't attend SML, and that I had some questions. In truth I was beginning to freak out since I realized that it was going to be entirely up to me to assure that the Bel and Escort products were properly set up for testing -- and me knowing next to nothing about laser jammers!
Anyway, I got to talk to the engineer who originally was supposed to attend SML yet couldn't for whatever reason. He had been looking forward to attending SML and wasn't very happy that he couldn't attend. Yet he was happy to learn that years ago I used to work at a car stereo shop and had performed many custom car stereo installations and that I seemed to have a fully functional brain in my head.
Apparently the ZR3 and ZR4 front jammer heads are the same size and use the same external cases. The engineer mentioned that the top and bottom sides of the cases are not parallel but instead have a very slight slope or bevel relative to each other. This is due to the requirement for easy release from the injection molding die. The engineer told me to place my bubble level against the top side of the front shifter cases since the internal emitting LEDs are mounted parallel to the top side of the cases. The top sides of the cases have "THIS SIDE UP" stamped on them.
The level which I used at SML is a fairly small white pen level which I purchased from my local Ace Hardware store. It is a very accurate level considering its rather cheap price. We use them on our astronomical telescopes to indicate when the telescope is pointing straight up at the zenith. Using these levels, our telescopes are always pointing somewhere within their 20 arc minute (1/3 of a degree) field of view. That is pretty darned good for cheap levels!
I just got done measuring the front and rear thicknesses of the 9500ci front shifter head cases, and the depth of the shifter heads. I have calculated that there is a 1.7 degree angle difference between the top and the bottom sides of the shifter housings. That is significant. Assuming that you accidentally level your shifter heads by holding a level against the shifter case's bottom surface, then at 500 feet the most intense output of the head will be located at a point 14.8 feet below the installed height of your shifter head. This of course assumes that you are traveling on a flat roadway. At 800 feet (the average laser shot distance) then the most intense portion of your shifter head beams will be pointing nearly 24 feet below the installed height of your shifter heads!
I am heading out of town tomorrow to see my father one last time before he flies out of town, but when I return I will be taking apart one of the ZR4 shifter heads to confirm that its emitting LEDs are indeed aligned parallel relative to the top surface of the case. Nevertheless, I thought that I would pass this tidbit of information along to all of you who own ZR3, ZR4 or 9500ci systems. Escort's engineer said that leveling using the top side of the shifter cases results in very accurate leveling of the shifters.
On a side note, for those of you who must hold the Ace level against the bottom side of your shifters, I will slew one of our telescopes exactly 1.7 degrees north of the zenith and then take a photograph to show the exact displacement of the level's bubble. That way you can use the photo as a reference and level your shifters using the bottom side of the shifter housings.
Additionally, I want to create a spreadsheet which you can download. The spreadsheet will allow you to input the installed height of your front shifter/jammer heads, the average distance of laser shots in your locale, and the normal height of the laser gun (officer standing hand-held or officer seated in patrol car hand-held) in order to calculate the ideal very slight upward tilt for your shifter/jammer heads to assure maximum emitted signal intensity toward the laser gun. Hopefully this info will allow everyone, regardless of what shifter/jammer product they own, to fully tweak their present setup once they have their shifter/jammer heads installed in ideal locations.