One of the most useful gadgets used by the team is the RF Scanner or, as it’s often referred to, The ‘Pig Radar’ because of it’s ability to track police vehicles. It’s first appearance is in chapter 10 when Deborah rescues Dillan from a Manchester pub fight and they realise that they will have to evade the police.
Deborah touched “RF Scan” on the touch screen and a radar screen appeared. Dillan noticed that some of the blips were little pig faces.
“Those piggy faces have to be the police !” confirmed Dillan.
“Oh yes, our black-hats have a silly sense of humour. We call it the ‘pig’ radar !” laughed Deborah.
“How do you track them ?” asked Dillan.
“Even though their comms are encrypted, they can be tracked just like any other radio transmission. The car can sense the direction and transmission type but isn’t very accurate at the moment. We even managed to crack the encryption on some of their channels.” Deborah proudly announced.
Deborah uses the ‘pig radar’ for real in chapter 13 when she believes she has evaded the Italian police but quickly learns she is driving into a trap. She uses the ‘pig radar’ to escape the trap and takes her car for flying lessons off the Stelvio Pass (where parts of the classic movie “The Italian Job” were filmed) :-
Deborah loved her car but it was now very necessary for them to part company. As the car sped along the high, narrow mountain road she looked for a weak point in the stone wall. A few hundred yards later she found one on a sharp hairpin and steered the car straight through it. She was presented with a magnificent panoramic view as the car started its long arc towards the ground hundreds of feet below.
The penultimate task for the on-board computer was to blow the car doors off. She noticed the touch screen was showing a self-destruct sequence from Star Trek. As she dived out of the car she thought “Geek humour !! but thanks boys !” remembering those same geeks had make her impossible escape possible.
You will have to read the book to see how (or if) Deborah escapes that !
Deborah gets a peek on how the ‘pig’ radar’ works and it’s limitations when she visits one of the secure workshops in chapter 17
“These two are working on a new improved RF Scan system” said John pointing to a table with a mix of circuits and what looked like a very flat radar-like device spinning very fast.
“Oh the ‘pig’ radar, that has been very useful. Pity it’s rather inaccurate.” said Deborah.
“It’s a basic geometry problem.” explained John “Your car can sense the direction of a transmission but to get an accurate coordinate requires a distance and the only way to get that is signal strength which isn’t very constant. That said, we have improved the accuracy with a few mathematical tricks.”
“Cool.” said Deborah wishing she had paid a bit more attention to maths at school.
“This chap is working on LCD glass that can be opaque or transparent at the flick of a switch.” said John pointing at a sheet of glass with some wires attached. The engineer flicked a switch and the glass turned black. He flicked the switch again and the glass turned transparent.
“Awesome !” said a very impressed Deborah.
“We’re trying to link it up a camera-flash detector so when a speed camera tries to take your picture, the windshield goes opaque for a few milliseconds to hide your face.” said John.
“Very good !” said Deborah with her attention pulled to an engineer working on a weird sheet of metal that seemed to go semi-transparent, opaque and then different textures and colours.
“What … the … hell … is … that ?” said a totally stunned Deborah.
Deborah gets a guided tour of the workshop and their various projects. When she leaves, she sees how ingeniously it has been hidden in plain sight.