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Quadro QRS 250G "Detector"

"If it works, I think it could be a real good tool and deterrent in our school system," said one high-school principal. Gastonia Gazette, April 6, 1995

The Quadro QRS 250G "Detector" (the Quadro Tracker) is a plastic box with an antenna which was sold by Quadro Corp of Harleyville, South Carolina, as a detector of just about anything: drugs, weapons, golf balls, even lost coon dogs. Wade Quattlebaum's invention sold for about $1,000 each. Some schools and government agencies spent as much as $8,000 for the device which turns out to be good only at detecting suckers who can be easily parted with other people's money (i.e., our taxpayer dollars). Sandia Labs of Albuquerque, New Mexico, took one apart and discovered that there is nothing inside. It probably costs about $2 to make. For their trouble, Sandia labs was threatened with a lawsuit by Quadro. Quadro did not threaten to sue the FBI, however, when its tests determined that the Quadro Tracker was incapable of detecting anything. According to the FBI, the device was little more than a piece of plastic. Quadro may have had nothing in their Tracker but they certainly had chutzpah in their marketing: the FBI was one of their target markets.

On January 19, 1996, the FBI Economic Crimes unit seized the merchandise and records of the Quadro Corporation and arrested its officers. In April, 1996, a federal judge issued a permanent injunction against Quadro Corp, which was convicted of engaging in a mail and wire scheme to defraud customers, under statutes 18 U.S.C. 1341 and 1343.  In court it was pointed out that the Quadro Detector had been carefully examined and that no "inductors, conductors, or oscillators" were found, though Quadro advertised those as the working parts of its "secret technology." Quadro claimed that theirs were not "ordinary" inductors, conductors, or oscillators. Theirs are of an advanced sort not yet known to "regular science."

The FBI sent out a bulletin to their branches warning that "A device marketed to law enforcement agencies nationwide, the Quadro Tracker...is a fraud. All agencies should immediately cease using the device...." Even so, several law enforcement officers, as well as several school principals, still swear by their QRS 250G Detectors.

How could such smart people be so easily deceived? Perhaps it was the technical sounding literature sent out by Quadro Corp. Quadro claimed that the device uses "tuned frequency chips" to hone in on its target:

The frequency chip is oscillated by static electricity produced by the body [of the user] inhaling and exhaling gases into and out of the lung cavity. This static electricity is propagated on the surface of the body to the tracker which utilizes the charge to oscillate the chip....[A]ll matter contains exact molecular frequencies. When a magnetic field is created by a contained electrically charged body moving through space at a perpendicular angle moving to its direction, and that field is brought into alignment with another exact field, resonating at the identical frequency modulation, then both objects attract, just as two bodies are attracted toward each other in a gravitational field.

Most purchasing agents would be ignorant of electrical engineering and would not know that the above gobbledygook is gibberish.

Perhaps potential buyers were impressed by the names of the people who endorsed the device:

William Koopman, Val-Comm Inc., Albuquerque, NM

Steve Lassiter, Drug Task Force, Albuquerque, NM

Larry DeWees, Principal, Farmington High School, NM

Clifford Weber, School Supt., Bloomfield, NM
Nancy Radford, Vice-Principal, Bloomfield H.S., NM

Troy Daniels, Resource Officer, Bloomfield H.S., NM

Ralph Navarre, Principal, Mesa Alta H.S., Bloomfield, NM

Capt. Ben Boozer, Dept. of Corrections, Crozier, VA

Raymond Gomes, Inspector General, Richmond, VA

Sgt. Marilyn Chambers, National Guard, Richmond, VA

Jim Morrison, National Guard, Richmond, VA

Brian Clements, Dir.of Security, Galena Park, Houston TX

Lt. Bill Munk, Police Department, Austin, TX

Don Plybon, US Customs, Charleston, SC

Cpl. Billie Johnson, North Charleston PD, SC

Bruce Parent, FL Dept. of Trans., West Palm Beach, FL

Pip Reaver, Adlerhorst Training School, Riverside, CA

Pete Blauvelt, Nat. Alliance for Safe Schools, Lanham, MD

Michael Ferdinand, Interquest Group, Inc., Houston, TX

Any intelligent investigator should know that testimonials are not scientific evidence. Such testimony should be considered  worthless when considering the purchase of allegedly high-tech commercial products.

James Randi, in one of his Hotline reports, noted that he had heard from Interquest Group, Inc., Vice President Michael Ferdinand. Interquest, says Randi, is "a reputable and well-known company which train dogs for use in contraband detection." Their endorsement of the Quadro Detector quoted them as saying

"Using the Quadro as a stand-alone unit certainly locates the drugs..."


"Since I discovered the Quadro unit, I have introduced it into my K-9 teams with great effect. In fact, I am now helping schools to acquire their own units..."

Randi continues:

But after Interquest personnel attended the mandatory training session in Harleyville, S.C., and had the device examined by Southwest Research Institute (SRI) in San Antonio, Texas, the tune changed. Says Ferdinand now:

We, too, fell victims to the hustle of the 'Quadro Tracker'.... we now recognize that the entire training mission was staged.... based upon the conclusions of [the SRI] report and our inability to achieve any form of consistent results with the product, we disassociated our company from the Quadro Corporation. At present, we remain some $10,000 in the hole as a result of our encounter with the Quadro Corporation as well as sustaining a certain degree of damage to our otherwise flawless reputation....

The SRI lab report stated in its conclusion that:

the tracker is not functional and the operating principle suggested by the manufacturer is scientifically highly questionable at the very least. Both analyses support the suspicion that the tracker is a fake device.

SRI tested the two "Training Samples" sold to Interquest with the Quadro, and found nothing inside but "epoxied scrambled dead ants."

One of the other people listed in the Quadro list of testimonials denies he ever said what they say he did. Corporal Billy Johnson, a K-9 officer with the North Charleston police department, was quoted by Quadro as saying, "There is no doubt that the Quadro Tracker can do everything the dogs can do, and from a much greater distance." Corporal Johnson told Randi that he never said any such thing and that his department did not purchase the Quadro Detector.

Randi also heard from the boss of Don Plybon, the U.S. Customs agent listed as endorsing the Quadro toy. Writes Randi:

Quadro had published a quotation from Plybon in which he related an account of a "positive for gunpowder alert" that the stick gave him when pointed at a Russian plane at Charleston, SC, airport. The customs agent, said the Quadro ad, decided that "the plane was loaded with used guns." But when they then unloaded the cargo and searched the plane, they found nothing. So, says the ad, they "checked the grease on the ramp" and decided that the Quadro couldn't be wrong, that there must have been "something in the grease" that made it "alert." What really happened? Gee, could it be that the customs agent made a boo-boo, because he was naive enough to think that the thing actually worked? Why else would his boss call me and forbid me to write to agent Plybon any more? And where does he get the colossal nerve to forbid me to do anything? I made my opinion quite clear to him, I assure you. When the boss has to call me to tell me to stop challenging his employee, I begin to wonder... In any case, Quadro has been warned to stop using agent Plybon's name in the advertising they can no longer send out.

Quadro may be closed down but there are others waiting in the wings to surpass even Quadro's wildest claims. DielectroKinetic Laboratories (DKL) brought out its LifeGuard, with models ranging from $6,000 to $14,000. DKL claimed its device could identify a human heartbeat 500 yards away, through concrete, earth, or water. The DKL LifeGuard was tested by Sandia Labs in April, 1998. The device failed to perform any better than expected by chance. In October 1998 Sandia took a DKL LifeGuard apart and found that the electronic components could not possibly function as advertised.

Finally, there is the Super-Sensor Dowsing Rod which can be ordered from Psi-Tronics Visions. Here is what Psi-Tronics says you can do with their device:

You can dowse the past, present or future. Future events are subject to the laws of probability and free will so it doesn't always work for the lottery. But in other uses you are limited only by your imagination. Locate underground water, pipes, minerals, oil, etc. Locate fish and game animals, or missing persons. I know people who use it to predict the stock market, marketing trends, business opportunities, and to isolate production problems. I know mechanics who dowse to determine mechanical problems in cars, and other machinery and maintenance workers who use dowsing to find underground water lines, leaks, and electrical problems. Professional health workers, chiropractors, dieticians, and people who diagnose illness use dowsing to check their findings. Holistic healers and herbalists use it to prescribe vitamins. In the home, use it to find lost articles and to make decisions. Dowse the telephone book to find a number or the yellow pages to determine who will serve you the best. Check up on your kids to see if they are all right. Check to see if the weather will be good, and what clothes you should wear.

How many public agencies will spend taxpayer money on this magical dowser or other equally useless devices marketed with equally preposterous claims?

further reading

"Dowsing for Dollars: Fighting High-Tech Scams with Low-Tech Critical Thinking Skills" by Robert Todd Carroll

news stories

Federal judge bars sale of [Quadro Tracker], labels it a fraud

Physicist testifies that tracker lucky to find anything

Last updated 31-Dec-2013

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