9500ix Review and TrueLock/AutoLearn Info

Introduction: Escort Passport 9500ix

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Over the years I have owned: two-K40′s, one-Beltronics, one-Escort 8500, and three-Escort 9500I’s. Although the 8500 was my favorite radar detector above all previous, I decided to upgrade and try the 9500I which I later had turned into an ix (Escort offers an upgrade option for 9500I’s to 9500ixfor $130). The 9500I/ix is simply a great tool, however it’s only as good as the user allows it to be.

The 9500i/ix is of a completely different breed of radar detectors and certainly is in the top three if not number one of all detectors on the market. I have done extensive testing on the 9500 series and find it to be one very impressive unit. The features are truly awesome, and they are what make the 9500I/ix a top notch choice. From GPS & speed sensitive filtering, marking of known speed traps, to the USB port that gives the user the ability to update their detector. The 9500i/ix is so quiet at times it’s as if the 9500I/ix knows the difference between a real threat and a false alert. It’s amazing quietness when driving through towns, cities and suburbs, ensures virtually every alert is real police RADAR. The key point of the 9500 is knowing that nine times out of ten a 9500i/ix alert is real means that you will pay attention and react to the alert appropriately and immediately. I’ve had a few instances where I didn’t get a single false for a week and when a real alert happened I almost fell off my seat. Don’t get me wrong, you will still have some falsing but they will be dramatically decreased.

The 9500I/ix should be mounted straight, level and as centered as possible with a clear view of the sky for the GPS. The horn on the 9500I/ix angles down so I prefer to keep it very high in my car, but would probably keep it lower on a tall vehicle/truck.

What is TrueLock?: TrueLock allows you to “mute” a specific false alert signal at a single location. This allows you to “silence” common and known false alerts in your area without the extreme risks and tactics found in other detectors that do this by users turning off an entire radar band or blindly ignoring/muting the presence of radar in that area. The GPS capability allows the 9500i/ix to know specifically where the stationary false it is located and thus lockout the false signal frequency in that very small specific area (~1/2mi) without increasing the risks associated by turning off the entire X or K band. TrueLock is nothing more than a very advanced means to “mute” a false alert area and not to have to physically press your mute button every time you pass that area. I drive through TrueLocked areas with caution, proceed with discretion using my best judgment. No more having to listen to countless local false alerts, and no more repeated pressing of your mute button. Now when your detector does go off you will know it’s because there is a real threat in your vicinity.

Laser sensitivity:I have had a few laser saves, even though the rule is: if you’re alerted to laser, they already have your speed. I saw a LEO with a customer(car pulled over) with no radar on so I assumed he was possibly using laser. I couldn’t wait to see what happened on my way back. Just cresting over a hill and on my way down, I get “laser alert” from my 9500I and slow to about 63. About two seconds later, I received another “laser alert” from my 9500I and there he was, tucked into some trees on the right side of the road; my girlfriend saw him first. The first alert was about a half mile and the second was about quarter mile. He may have been waiting for bigger fish to fry, or didn’t get my speed the first time, but I certainly could have been going faster if I didn’t have my RD.

Save or luck, I was very happy about not getting a ticket and my girlfriend’s comment “another save that pays for itself again” was priceless. :D

K & Ka Sensitivity: The sensitivity to enable saves on the 9500ix is truly amazing. I am always alerted before I see the LEO and sometimes miles before. A few times I’ve had a Ka alert going full on then nothing, full on than nothing about two miles later around a bend on the highway there was an off axis LEO shooting I/O at everyone whom passed. I’ve have had a few alerts less than a quarter mile, but as long as I’m alerted before the encounter and before I see the LEO I’m happy. Terrain even weather and curves, in the road will greatly affect your detection range. The horn on the 9500I appears to be designed to help filter out those useless off axis falses like automatic door openers. The slightly narrower field of view of the M4 antenna reduces the falses being emitted from strip mall door openers, yet maintains the long range detection.

The antenna/horn actually seems to take into account for “Cosine error/effect” any radar more than 40 degrees off axis will show less than 80% of your speed so this is considered a low threat.

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My install: I have the 9500ix hard-wired high to the left of the RVM. The top half under the tint strip so it’s pretty stealthy, yet just peeks out so the laser sensor has full visibility. I also have it hooked up to Escort’s optional amplified speaker. I took apart the hard wire smart cord and drilled three holes into a blank switch spot, then covered it with a black rubber peace to allow depth for the LEDs and keep the mute button more flush where i placed it below.

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What the 9500ix features add over the 9500i:

- USB Data Port & Safety Camera Database: This allows you to update your database, (red light and fixed position speed cameras) and other software from Escort’s website. All marked locations in the database will be reported as you approach them. Or you can set it to Selectable Markers (on/off). This allows you to customize which markers are monitored and you are alerted to.

- AutoLearn-TrueLock: AutoLearn works just like the 9500I’s TrueLock with the addition of the AutoLearn feature analyzing (over a period of time) the source of radar signals by location and frequency. The ix automatically locks out a source it sees at a particular location after three passes. AutoLearn is supposed to [I]Unlearn[/I] signals if a particular signal is no longer present at a location that was previously locked out. I found it’s best to lock out your daily commute or areas you know well and have surveyed thoroughly. This will help your understanding of the falses in that area. I prefer using AutoLearn initially for the first few weeks to lock out frequently driven routs and falses, then turning it off if not in a low risk area. TrueLock AutoLearn thread: http://escortradarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=68

- AutoLearn Bottom line:

(1) - AutoLearn will unlock signals that are no longer present after five plus passes of no signal being detected. Those passes must be above ~35 mph to enable AutoLearn to unlock. (there is no notification of Un-Lock, it will just notify you the next pass). Note: AutoLearn stores a location and if later on it doesn’t “see” it for a couple of passes it will unlearn it. If, later on, it starts “re-seeing” the false at that location again it will re-store it. If you have a location that is intermittent you can manually lock it out. Auto doors frequency can drift so instead of Auto learning and adding another 30MHz block and creating a wider locked out range it re-learns the location.

(2) – at 35mph and below AutoLearn does not unlock. This is to decrease the amount of locking and re-locking of falses.

(3) - AutoLearn will review locations that were auto locked for any changes in the presence of the radar signal on every pass. However, manually locked out locations are weighted differently when being reviewed by AutoLearn. LIDAR can also be locked-out.

(4) - AutoLearn typically needs to see the exact frequency in the same location approximately three times to lock it out. Since some door openers are turned on and off routinely, some variations may occur.

(5) - GPS lock, mark… features require over one mile or a power down, to confirm and commit to memory the marked, locked information.

A few improvements for mark locations:

Once marked and assigned a label, the ix provides the following alert distances:

• Red Light Cameras = 250’ or 10 seconds

• Speed Cameras = 250’ or 10 seconds

• Speed Traps = 1/3 mile (needs to be larger)

• Other = 1/3 mile

AutoPower: This feature automatically turns PASSPORT off if the vehicle has not moved for 4 hours. This is especially useful if your vehicle has a hot plug (12 volts all the time). See the Preferences section for details.

Auto No X setting: In addition to adjusting sensitivity according to speed like the 9500I, the ix can be set to turn off X band in auto mode. City mode is no longer an option.

NOTE: If your vehicle is moving less than 20 mph and you encounter a radar or laser signal, only a double tone is used. However, the display meter will keep you informed of the signal strength until it has passed or until you reach a speed above 20 mph. This happens in any mode.

The 9500I and 9500ix operate exactly from same platform so their radar performance should be about the same other than variance from radar detector to radar detector. The added features certainly can have advantages for some areas, especially for areas that have a lot of red light and fixed position speed cameras. Plus, the AutoLock is an awesome advantage for the radar detector user that doesn’t want to do all the thinking for the radar detector.

Escort also added the ability to delete Locked out locations and manually marked locations:

The bottom line is I really enjoy the quiet commute, and I am more likely to react to an alert on a quiet detector than when I had a “noisy” detector.

How Escort TrueLock works:

The Reason for TrueLock: The biggest complaint from RD users is the amount of falsing, and the 9500I is designed to dramatically decrease the amount of false alerts. You will no longer become so desensitized to common and frequent false alerts that you will be able to react more appropriately and quickly to real threats. A driver who hears an alert and does nothing because they hear it every day is at more risk than the driver that has the quiet detector and jumps out of there seat when the silence is broken. A driver is more likely to react to an alert on a quiet detector than a “noisy” detector.

What TrueLock does for You: TrueLock allows you to “mute” a specific false alert signal at a single location. This allows you to “silence” common and known false alerts in your area without the extreme risks and tactics found in other detectors that do this by users turning off an entire radar band or blindly ignoring/muting the presence of radar in that area. The GPS capability allows the 9500i/ix to know specifically where the stationary false it is located and thus lockout the false signal frequency in that very small specific area (~1/2mi) without increasing the risks associated by turning off the entire X or K band. TrueLock is nothing more than a very advanced means to “mute” a false alert area and not to have to physically press your mute button every time you pass that area. I drive through [I]TrueLocked[/I] areas with caution, proceed with discretion using my best judgment. No more having to listen to countless local false alerts, and no more repeated pressing of your mute button. Now when your detector does go off you will know it’s because there is a real threat in your vicinity.

K-Band is split into approximately eight segments of ~30MHz recording blocks depending on how it has self-calibrated, and derived from the received radar frequency. Like so:

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X-Band is split into segments as well (13-15 MHz Ea), and derived the same way.

“Threat/Risk Scenarios” I found its best to lock out your daily commute or areas you know well and have surveyed closely. This will help to decrease the chances of locking out a real LEO and understanding the falses in that area. Most of the below applies to manually locking out with TrueLock. AutoLearn will work similarly but automatically.

It is a good idea to lock out the door opener false passing the false along your driving route (as aposed to driving up to it) you want quiet. This will prevent locking out additional unnecessary falses).

The 9500i records/locks all signals it receives for a short time/distance, approximately 1/10mi to 1/2mile radius depending on how strong the signal is and how many falses there are after you lock out the location (Cumulative). It will lock out the false frequency block/block’s you locked out for approximately 1/10 to 1/2 mile from last signal received (total accumulative distance).

Very important note: If you are too close to the false you can get a strong alert that can overflow into another 30MHz block (Ghosting), Therefore creating a larger lockout block. So try to lock out with less than half of a full alert. This will also help keep the lock out area small.
“The Scenarios”

1) In areas where police X band isn’t used, lock out X band falses the first time you encounter them. (No Risk & best area for AutoLearn)

2) In areas where police K band isn’t used, lock out K band falses the first time you encounter them. (No Risk & best area for AutoLearn)

3) In areas where police do use K/X band but never sit in that area it would be a Low Risk lockout point. You will most likely lock this point out. (You may not want to use AutoLearn and manually lock out)

4) In areas where police K/X band is used and they do sit in that area it would be considered a (High Risk) lock out point (You may not want to lock this point out, or use AutoLearn). Contrary to some opinions, it’s unlikely to lock out real police radar. You would almost have to deliberately try to do it if you use the above scenario rules. Besides, detection range will usually trump the small lock out area in the first place and provide ample warning/alert before the lock out point (react to any alert no matter how small). In most cases Auto mode will also do a good job filtering these falses if you chose not to use TrueLock/AutoLock.

 

If you decide to lockout a false in a High Risk area to silence the alert you should still drive through the area with caution if you suspect any chance it could lock out police radar. The same rules would apply if you were using any non GPS capable detector and instead pressed your mute button in false area. Simply treat the spinning satellite icon in your display as a silent alert and proceed with your own discretion and best judgment. (There is always the option of turning off GPS when speeding in a “High Risk” locked out area)

ix AutoLearn Risk scenarios: Use the above threat risk scenarios to determine the usage of AutoLearn. I suggest turning off AutoLearn in High Risk areas and manually locking out if you feel its safe. AutoLearn should be used sparingly and according to your risk area.

Here are some of the things AutoLearn does/uses to make a decision about a lock out location: location, frequency, indexing, cataloguing repeat passes for a same/repeat signal, general speed, approach speed, closing speed on original index, heading, other previous near lockouts, band, number of sources seen, time of day, and same signal identification, same signal seen before on another pass (i.e., is this a repeat event or a similar but different event?).

Overall AutoLearn and TrueLock are amazing tools that when used intelligently can make your ride quiet to useless falses and bring better attention to real threats.

TrueLock and Database Troubleshooting

- For very slow database upload times: With the detector on, unplug all cables including the power cable.

Press and hold down the MRK and BRT buttons while connecting the power cable to the detector. Continue to hold these buttons down until you see USB appear on the detector. This should take no longer than 20 seconds. Then plug the USB cable in and try to update the detector again. The entire update process should take at most a few minutes.

- Clearing The Database: At some point you may want to clear all of the data in PASSPORT’S database. This includes all markers and your false alarm locations. In order to do this, simply press and hold the “SEN”, “BRT” and MUTE buttons at the same time. To confirm this action, press the “GPS” button.

– To clear the database on a 9500ci:

- With the 9500ci powered on, turn off your vehicle’s ignition.

- Hold down the SENS and MRK buttons while turning on the ignition. Keep them held down until you see “ERASE?” on the 9500ci display.

- Press MUTE to confirm erasing the database. Display should show “ERASING” followed shortly by “ERASED”. The display goes blank for a few seconds then goes back to it’s normal operation mode. Cycle power after erasing. (this will erace all data, TrueLock and Database)

Hard reset for service required or odd glitches/restoring the Factory Default Settings: To restore your PASSPORT to its original factory settings, press and hold the “SEN” and “BRT” buttons while turning the power on. A reset message will be displayed, accompanied by an audible alert, acknowledging the reset.

 

Pictures of the 9500i and 9500ix

Just some pictures of the internals of the 9500I: GPS board and electronics for it are on top of the RD’s. GPS board showing large cap to help remember its last position, and to aid in quick GPS acquisition.

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Top, GPS Board Under GPS Board Antenna Horn

 

Pictorial of the main board:

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Video of 9500ix Performance

9500ix Speed trap notification while receiving radar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3F0mi7RITY