The TMG Alpha-17 performs very well with only two standard jamming heads
Veil Guy’s TMG a-17 Laser Jammer Test & Review
This is a reprint of a review conducted by Veil
TMG Alpha-17 Review Summary
TMG a-17 Pros:
- Best performing 2-head laser jammer we’ve ever tested
- consistently high performance with only 2-heads
- Connecting cables are thick, durable, and allow solid connections to the laser jamming heads
- Cables support connecting two heads requiring only one cable (for the non-VPR standard operating heads)
- Supports up to six heads (four standard and two VPR)
- CPU control module has been upgraded for reduced RF and improved electronic stability over the TMG Alpha-15
- Higher rated fuses provided
- System can be powered three different ways
- Audi alerting volume is very good and easy to hear
- Bluetooth support allows for easy firmware updating and control via Apple of Android smartphone applications.
- Configurable laser jamming duration
- Reasonably priced and less components required as compared to the ALP laser jammers to achieve similar performance
TMG a-17 Cons:
- No parking sensor mode
- Jamming head placement can be tricky when mounting the optional VPR head
- CPU and control module are one in the same requiring more cables to fish through the firewall and connect to the CPU
- Package has comes with no separate control module
- CPU module is not designed to be installed under the hood
- Tolerances could be improved with the CPU module to allow easier dip switch changing
- Difficult to remove cable connections from CPU without a small flat-head screw driver
- Cable jacket connection point to control module could be jacketed better
- Connections of jamming heads to the control module requires paying close attention to details
- No system self-check at startup to indicate a failed connection or jamming head
TMG Alpha-17 Laser Jammer Introduction & Overview
Facets TMG, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer came on the US scene several years ago with their Alpha-15 laser jammer.
RadarBusters & Veil tested the 2-head laser jammer with good, but not consistently exceptional results.
We recently conducted a Adaptiv TPX laser jammer test and we were impressed how well the TPX performed right out of the box so we were quite interested to see how the new TMG Alpha-17 would fair in comparison.
At the time of our test of the Alpha-15 (watch TMG a-15 test video), the older TMG a-15 struggled with jamming the Stalker RLR and the Dragon Eye Compact but subsequently was updated with a newer CPU, updated firmware and an optional VPR laser jamming head (for a total of three) to improve its performance, something that we didn’t test.
But since that time, TMG Americas, the company responsible for importing the TMG Alpha-15, abruptly ceased operations, leaving both the manufacturer and customers stranded with little notice and options for continuing support, not a cool thing.
Facets TMG subsequently reached out to RadarBusters for them to continue selling and supporting existing TMG customers in the American markets.
During this transitional period, Facets TMG decided to further update their jammer for increased performance over their now discontinued Alpha-15.
The new laser jammer is called the TMG Alpha-17, or TMG a-17 for short, and Facets TMG sent us the first Alpha-17 to test.
The new TMG Alpha-17 is designed to operate with a maximum of four standard jamming heads and two variable pulse rate heads.
When configured in the four heads, both the front and rear of the vehicle can be protected. The typical setup is just the 2-head system and the 3-head system with the VPR head–an option for defeating the DragonEye police lasers.
We tested these two configurations.
At the moment our testing and test review is going to focus on the 2-head system.
Installation, Design, & Operation
TMG a-17 Control Module
The TMG’s Alpha-17 control module is designed to be installed inside the vehicle, unlike the TPX which control module can be installed under the hood.
As such, the TMG required more cables to be threaded through the firewall than the TPX.
The TMG Alpha-17 has the advantage, though, of being able to have its firmware and jamming algorithms updated via blue tooth using a smartphone app.
Construction quality of the jamming heads and cables are very high.
The CPU could have its assembly tolerances improved. We had a little difficulty removing the cable connectors once plugged into the back and the dip switches too were hard to move without the use of a very small flat-head screw driver.
While the extension cables have excellent connectors to the jamming heads, the end of the cables that connect to the CPU have their internal wires exposed. TMG has told us that they are very sturdy, but if anyone has experienced exposed internal wires in the iPhone’s power cable/lightening port, you’ll know what it resembles. At the very least, its not aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
TMG has acknowledged our observations and they will be looking into making improvements.
One unique and desired feature of the TMGs is that the lenses can be replaced on the jamming heads. This is a really nice thing as over time the lenses of any jammer head can get scratched or worn from the exposure to the elements and small road debris the you’ll inevitably encounter. Worn lenses means less jamming efficiency.
It should be noted during normal operation you should routinely check to make sure your jamming heads are cleaned and aligned properly as is the case with every laser jammer.
TMG a-17 Components
The Alpha-17 dual system consists of two standard jamming heads, two mounting brackets with screws, a CPU control module, one splitter cable, a cigarette power adaptor, hardwire kit, level zip ties, a couple of velcro strips, and a user guide.
The TMG A-17 laser jammer was a bit more difficult to install relative to the TPX laser jammer.
At least with the three-head VPR system, placement is critical.
The user manual states that 20 inches is the minimum spacing between each of the heads. We found this to not be correct.
When the third center-mounted high-powered VPR head is mounted at that distance, it caused the system to continuously alert (and jam) even when the police laser beam was no longer targeting the vehicle.
Interestingly, this only happened when targeting with the Dragon Eye and we have learned that this is because of how the system jams specifically in response to the Dragon Eye which is different from the other police lasers.
So with our moderately sized sedan we had to place the VPR head down very low at the base of the grilled air dam to get sufficient head separation.
That gets us a little nervous because being that low, which is a less optimal mounting position for performance also potentially subjects the head to damage as a result of the bottom of the air dam hitting something, like an inclined driveway entrance.
We have made several suggestions to TMG as to how that “interference” issue could be addressed and they thought our suggestions had merit and so they will experiment to see if the minimum distance requirements can be reduced with some revisions. We will keep you posted on an updates that come from this.
To be clear, we had no such mounting difficulties with the standard two-head system.
But until such time, we recommend using a minimum spread distance of 24 inches and if your vehicle’s front won’t allow the mounting of the three heads, we recommend that you stick with only the two standard head system, particularly since it tested so well.
The two TMG heads were mounted on a Mercedes C300 in the grill close to the headlights (a more favorable mounting position than what was used with our TPX jammer test). We had to fabricate something to allow us to mount the TMG in this superior location and we expect to retest the TPX in a similar fashion.
Like the TMG Alpha-15, in terms of head placement and orientation, the Alpha-17 heads can be mounted in either the typical horizontal position or vertically to support mounting on vertical grills found on vehicles like BMW. However performance suffered a bit when mounted vertically.
Also, in terms of performance, if your vehicle was targeted from overhead, laser jamming efficiency declined which could allow an officer to obtain your speed from an overpass.
TMG redesigned their jamming heads to now have two diodes, one being polarized for level targeting scenarios and the other diode being polarized for overhead shots.
This is a significant upgrade and should improve the consistency of jamming in a greater variety of targeting scenarios such as straight ahead on a level road surface, from overhead, with different road elevations, and dips in the road (situations that can create jammer punch through vulnerabilities).
In terms of mounting orientation, TMG recommends that the receiving portion of the standard jamming heads (the side of the head where the convex lens is the largest) be positioned closet to the headlights and the two small transmitting convex lenses be oriented toward the interior or towards the center of the vehicle.
This was actually counter intuitive to me as I would have expected that the desired orientation would have the jamming section of the heads be mounted closest to the head lights.
TMG suggests this theoretical and we haven’t specifically tested different orientations particularly since the a-17 was JTG in just about every testing run against all of our police lasers with the exception of the Dragon Eye.
Since the standard jamming heads are identical (there is no right or left version), it does create a situation where one head will appear flipped upside down due to the labeling. If you orient them the same with the labeling either on the bottom or top, the receiving and transmitting sections of the two heads will be inconsistent relative to each headlight.
Whether or not this would make a substantive difference we don’t know as we didn’t test it.
We did suggest to TMG that the labeling on one head be reversed as to make the relative orientations of the receiving and transmitting section the same.
The 2-head dual a-17 comes with a standard “splitter” cable which support two heads with one connection. The VPR head requires its on dedicated cable. the VPR head can not be used on a splitter cable with a standard head as it must be attached specifically to the VPR connection of the CPU module. Attempting to do so, will cause the system to perform poorly.
If you have opted for adding the high-powered VPR head to your a-17 system you need to be mindful of mounting it at least two inches higher or lower than the other standard two heads.
TMG prefers a higher mounting point than a lower one, although its relative position may have little impact on performance so long as a two inch minimum height difference is adhered to.
But, higher mounting may not be possible on some vehicles, particularly when minimum spacing distances are required.
Both the splitter and single cables come in two lengths, one 14 1/2 feet and the other 23 feet in length. The longer cables are designed to be used to connect the jamming heads at the rear of your vehicle and the shorter cables are to be used for front mounting.
Another thing we found that was counter intuitive was that the first set of jamming heads in the front should be connected to the CPU’s TP3 port, not TP1 as I would have expected. When I initially targeted the system, the unit alerted from the rear even though the heads were in the front. To make TP1 (or TP2) configured for the front, you need to change the dip switch positions. Instead, I moved the connection to the TP3 port and all was well.
The jammer defaults to a four-second jamming cut-off which we find too short, but jamming duration can easily be changed. We believe five to sevens seconds of operation is more practical. Fortunately, the cut-off mode can easily be disabled (as we did for the testing), allowing the user to manually stop jamming (ie; jam-to-kill).
When the a-17 is in test mode–which allows for continuous laser jamming all the way down to point blank range–the system was able to handle repeated test runs with no issues.
While jam to gun performance can often be achieved, we strongly discourage the practice. Every laser jammer owner should do the right thing and turn off the jamming when your speed is adjusted and to not attract any unnecessary attention to yourself–letting the officer obtain a speed reading.
The TMG Alpha-17 is capable of successfully jamming many police laser guns including the exotic ones found internationally.
TMG Alpha-17 Test Results
We tested the TMG Alpha-17 laser jammer against the very latest police lasers–the Kustom Signals PL4, LTI SXB, and two variable pulse jam-resistant police lasers, the DragonEye Compact and Stalker RLR.
These last two guns have been notoriously difficult to defeat with a jammer and at a time, only the expensive ALP systems were able to do so sufficiently to claim they were effective against the much talked-about Dragon Eye VPR police lasers.
But, times have changed and today there are number of less expensive alternatives to the ALPs, including the a-17.
Despite the fact that we only tested the standard 2-head system, we found the Alpha-17 performed extremely well.
We have produced a very detailed video review for those interested in witnessing its performance.
In-depth video review of the new TMG Alpha-17 Laser Jammer
We also provide this test in sections, one for each specific gun tested using the this link.
So here are our test results:
Mercedes Benz baselines, no laser jammer used:
- Kustom Signals Prolaser IV (PL4): 1344 feet at 23 mph
- LTI Truspeed SXB: 1650.3 feet at 23 mph
- Dragon Eye Compact (DEC) variable pulse rate, anti-jamming feature: 1620 feet at 21 mph
- Stalker RLR variable pulse rate, anti-jamming feature: 1574 feet at 25 mph
TMG Alpha-17 Dual vs Kustom PL4 (three runs each):
- Sweeping front : JTG
- Driver headlight: JTG, JTG, JTG
- Passenger headlight: JTG, JTG, JTG
- Center: JTG, JTG, JTG TMG
TMG Alpha-17 Dual vs LTI Truspeed (three runs each):
- Sweeping front : JTG
- Driver headlight: JTG, JTG, JTG
- Passenger headlight: JTG, JTG, JTG
- Center: JTG, JTG, JTG
TMG Alpha-17 Dual vs Stalker RLR:
- Sweeping front : JTG
- Driver headlight: JTG, JTG, 44 feet
- Passenger headlight: JTG, JTG, JTG
- Center: JTG, JTG, JTG
TMG Alpha-17 Dual vs Dragon Eye Compact:
- Sweeping front : 440 feet at 28 mph
- Driver headlight: 412 feet at 29 mph, 493 feet at 28 mph
- Passenger headlight: 225.8 feet at 26 mph, 283 feet at 27 mph, 243.6 feet at 27 mph
- Center: 415.1 feet at 28 mph, 515.8 feet at 21 mph, 206.3 feet at 22 mph
VPR Head Performance
TMG Alpha-17 VPR Head
Unfortunately, despite the impressive performance of their standard two-head system even when pitted against the Dragon Eye, when the VPR head was added, we experienced some unexpected results. We’ve shared out experiences with the manufacturer and they sent us a revised head to retest, which we did.
Even with the improved VPR head, we still experienced some unexpected results even though we often got jam-to-gun performance with the Dragon Eye with the revised VPR head.
Facets TMG believes now that a software update is also in order and we expect to receive one this coming week.
We are expecting a small tweak to the jamming algorithm for the VPR head and we will retest again to see if the performance is where it should be.
Until such time, the two-head system is our preferred choice since it performed so well against the Dragon Eye and the other police lasers we tested.
RadarBusters has put a hold on shipping units until all the updates are implemented and during this time have created a pre-order waiting list.
Alpha-17 Component Compatibility with the discontinued Alpha-15
A number of changes have been incorporated into the TMG Alpha-17 which requires complete replacement of many components and limits the usage of new Alpha-17 components with the older TMG Alpha-15 system.
For one. the revised CPU is able to connect to existing Alpha-15 heads, but the converse is not true, you can not connect the new Alpha-17 transponders to an Alpha-15 CPU.
Further more, the connecting cables have been beefed up and the older Alpha-15 cables can not be used with the new system reliably.
So, in our opinion, since improvements and support for the Alpha-15 are going to be limited, RadarBusters is suggesting to those who wish increased performance, to upgrade their existing systems to the Alpha-17.
Upgrading the TMG Alpha-15 to the TMG Alpha-17
Radar Busters has received some inquiries asking if there is going to be an upgrade path for existing owners of the TMG Alpha-15. In response to those inquiries, there is some very good news here on this front.
They’ve convinced the manufacturer to do so and is in the process of arranging an exclusive upgrade path, only available from RadarBusters, which should make the upgrade to the TMG Alpha-17 a very compelling and cost effective.
The details of this upgrade program will be made public, once the pricing and procedures are finalized between the two companies.
These test results with only two heads clearly demonstrate the updated TMG Alpha-17 is a big improvement over the previous Alpha-15 and turned in the best laser jamming performance we’ve tested with only two heads. We currently rank it as the #2 best laser jammer in our revised laser jammer review and rankings list.
We look forward to testing the 3-head VPR system again soon once some updates are made and we will post the results of that test and revise this review and its test results to reflect those changes.
In the meantime, our congratulations goes out to Facets TMG for making the best 2-head laser jammer we have ever tested.
Since the original importer has ceased operations, a new U.S. based operation called Facets TMG North America has been established for distribution and brick-and-mortar 12-volt installers operating in North, Central, and South America.
For consumers, the TMG A-17 laser jammer can be pre-ordered at RadarBusters.