I'll be talking to Customer Service at Escort tomorrow, and while I hope it turns out there is just something wrong with my particular unit, so far, the new 9500i is a disappointment.
The problem is, when I lock out a K-Band false alarm signal, it then seems to be filtering out all K-Band signals in the area.
Last night I drove to a local Walgreens store. I had set the unit to the SpecDisplay mode so I could see the exact frequencies being detected. The Walgreen store’s automatic door opener put out a typical K-Band signal at 24.177 GHz. I hit the Mute button three times, storing and locking out the signal of that frequency at that particular geographic location. Then I drove down the street and came upon a Police car – and got no alert. As I approached the Police car, I turned off the GPS switch on the 9500i – and immediately it went to full strength K-Band alert at 24.179 GHz. I thought to myself, “Maybe the 24.177 GHz signal I locked out is too close to 24.179 GHz that the Police radar is putting out, and the unit got confused. Oh well, nothing's perfect.”
I know at this point some of you might be thinking that the Police car might have hit me with Instant-On coincidently at the same moment I turned off the GPS system on the 9500i. But that is not a possibility, as the Evergreen Park Police department does not use Instant-On – they just leave their radars on all the time (it’s clear they don’t need to use Instant On, as it is almost impossible to drive 95th Street for the two miles it runs through Evergreen Park without seeing at least one, if not two or three people pulled over – Evergreen PD has got all the business it can handle along that stretch without any need to resort to Instant-On!).
To be sure, I made a u-turn (carefully and legally :wink: ) and followed the Police car for a while. Every time I turned on the GPS system, the alert went away, and every time I turned off the GPS, the alert came back, until we were nearly half a mile from the site where I had originally locked out the Walgreen’s door signal, and then as expected, the unit alerted me regardless of whether the GPS system was on or off.
Today, I decided that further testing was in order.
I drove to another known false alarm site (the automatic door opener of a local Homecenter) and drove right up to the door. As I already wrote, I had previously set the display to the SpecDisplay mode where it gives the exact frequency being detected. The automatic door opener was at 24.188 GHz. I locked it out. As it should, the alert went away and the little revolving satellite icon began revolving showing that a signal was being filtered.
Next, I drove away and down the road about a 1/4 mile. In the meantime, the satellite icon had stopped revolving (as it should) as soon as I was about 200 yards away from the store and out of range of the weak signal being put out be the door. But then, as I continued I came upon a Police car at the side of the road. He had pulled someone over (I was on 95th Street in Oak Lawn, Illinois, aka "Radar Alley").
Instead of sounding an alert, the little satellite icon had begun revolving again showing it was filtering out an alert (obviously the Police car’s signal!). I thought it to be a pretty unlikely coincidence that the Police car's radar unit was at the exact same frequency as the store's door opener. I turned off the TrueLock/GPS filter button and immediately, the unit started sounding a full strength alert - but the alert was for 24.212 GHz!
At this point, I considered the possibility that perhaps when I had locked out the automatic door opener's signal, the Police car's radar, though a good distance away, had put out a signal that though weak where I was, still had enough strength that when I hit the lock-out button, the detector had sensed it and locked it out as well as the signal from the door opener. To double check this possibility, I went through the following thorough and long procedure:
While I was still all the way over by the Police car (about 3/8 of a mile from the store and well beyond the range of the very weak signal generated by the automatic door opener), I parked behind the Police car and turned the 9500i’s GPS system back on, and as expected the alert when away and the little sattilite icon started revolving again. Now, I hit the mute button twice, effectively erasing the stored signal from the unit’s memory – and just as it should, the unit started sound a full signal alert (I was sitting directly behind the Police Car).
Now in theory, since I was no where near the weak signal of the automatic door opener that was nearly a half mile away, the 24.188 GHz signal of the door opener should still be in the 9500i’s memory as a locked out (filtered) frequency in that area. But it wasn’t! When I drove back to the store’s parking lot, sure enough, I got an alert from the 24.188 GHz door opener. In other words, when I locked out the door opener’s 24.188 GHz signal originally, the Police car’s 24.212 GHz signal got locked out as well (in that geographical area). And then, when I double checked the situation by unlocking (unfiltering) the Police car’s 24.212 GHz signal, I found that the door opener’s 24.188 GHz signal got unfiltered as well, even though I was far enough away when I unlocked the Police car’s signal that there was no possibility of the 9500i being able to sense the signal of the door opener.
In addition to the above, I found that after locking out the 24.188 GHz signal of the Homecenter hardware store, the 24.148 GHz signal from the K-Mart across the street was also being locked out.
So it seems to me, that on my particular unit at least, the Lock-out feature seems to be locking out a whole lot more than just one individual frequency. I did talk to a salesman at Escort this evening (Customer Service was already closed) and he thinks it is a possibility that the unit was detecting the extremely weak signals of the other things (including the Police car) when I locked out the Homecenter’s (and the Walgreen’s) signal(s). He told me that when you hit the lock out, it is not just the displayed frequency that gets locked out, but all frequencies the unit is detecting at that moment.
I will call Customer Service tomorrow, and tonight I have another test in mind:
This time I am going to set the unit to the ExpertMeter setting where instead of giving the exact frequency of the strongest received signal, the unit will tell me how many signals it is receiving. This way, when I drive up to the door at the Homecenter and lock out it’s 24.188 GHz signal, I will know that there are no other signals being received at that moment. Then I’ll drive up and down 95th Street until I find a Radar Signal emitting Police car (it won’t take long). Hopefully, the 9500i will detect it.
But at this point, I’m having my doubts.
Well, at least the salesman emphasized that the unit is supposed to be able to differentiate between different frequencies within different spectrums (X, K, Ka, and Ku). My first fear was that in the advertising hype when Escort claimed that it would only filter out the frequency the user told it to filter out, they used the word “frequency” to describe what really should be referred to as “spectrum.” But according to the salesman this evening, that is not the case.
Perhaps the unit I bought isn’t quite right – after all, they just started shipping in the past few days. I sure hope if there is a problem, that is all there is. I have been selling radar detectors to people in Europe and the rest of the world for six years now. I mostly sell Valentine Ones. If this 9500i turns out to be all that Escort claims it to be, it is going to be a FANTASTIC unit for city use, where false alarms can drive a V1 owner crazy. I used to live in Germany, and in Berlin there were stretches where my V1 was recording 6 or 7 different alerts continually. Also, on the German Autobahns they have these metal bridge structures over the road about every 5 kilometers in places that have sensors to charge road taxes to the trucks that go under them by sensing the trucks’ transponders – and though most of them do not actually measure and record a car’s speed, every single one of them has a K-Band emitter on it – I think the only purpose is to drive the users of radar detectors crazy. If the 9500i turns out to be what it is claimed to be, it would be fantastic on those stretches of the Autobahn! The first trip down a particular road, the drive would just have to hit that Mute button 3 times in a row every 2 or 3 minutes – then he’d have blissful silence from then on when on that road (except for when the Autobahn Polizei set up their tax-collecting cameras (Blitzen auf Deutsch).
I’ll report back when I know more.
John at RadarDetectors1