“Ever since you fitted the alarm…”

Ever since you fitted the alarm…

I’ve lost count of how many times an alarm has been the accused of being…

(fill in your own random complaint here)

…the reason things stop working on a vehicle.

Yet it nearly always turns out to be something else.

Here is the most recent one which I’ve had to deal with:

Alarm Problem

Hi Julian,

Just wanted to get in contact with you in regards to an alarm you installed in our vehicle.

Please see below previous correspondence we’ve had regarding this.

I’ve attached an invoice from an auto electrician who has identified the issue with the draining of the battery with the alarm.

I look forward to hearing your response on how to go forward from here to resolve the issue.

Thanks (Name edited)

I’m always skeptical when it comes to the work of 3rd parties. I’ve lost count of how many Auto Electricians have pointed the finger at the alarm yet fail to back it up with any solid evidence.

Take the above invoice for example:

Pull alarm fuse and leave the vehicle for 5 days = Must be the alarm.

It’s not exactly what I’d call an efficient use of time, and it’s certainly not best practice.

Doing a current draw test

So the alarm draws about 8mA. This is a super quick test to do and it is proof that the alarm is not the reason the car battery is going flat!

So what is happening with the battery?

I put the multimeter on the battery and had a quick look:

It’s pretty obvious that something on the Clock/Room fuse that is causing the battery to go flat.

So much of my job is trying to keep an open mind and not jumping to false conclusions. It’s satisfying to get a result, but also super frustrating to have to deal with these complaints. Sadly it happens far too often! 

I’m now making an effort to put more of these stories on the Trouble Shooting section of the blog. Hopefully, some people will read it and learn!

It did not take me 5 days to get to this stage and unlike the Auto Electrician who is probably not an alarm specialist, (well they have AVS listed on their website) I actually have some evidence. ?


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Alarm Troubleshooting…

Troubleshooting is always interesting…

Especially when you’re looking at an issue someone else has caused!

I got approached by a client to have a look at their alarm system. It did work but since Auto Electrician had installed the new car stereo it does not work. In fact, the car is now immobilised and stuck in his garage!

The Auto sparky wanted to replace the alarm with another “5 Star system” and didn’t seem to think that his work had caused the issue.

So I arrived to look at the car (a 2006 Subaru Legacy) and found it has a factory transponder immobiliser and an AVS S5!

The AVS remote no longer works and both of the Subaru remote controls have stopped working too.

Testing the remotes

Remote Frequency Tester

First off I needed to know if the remote controls actually worked or not. As with all troubleshooting, it’s a process of elimination.

I got my remote frequency tester out and found that both the Subaru remote controls were transmitting as they should. The AVS one had failed.

Next, I looked to see if a door had been left open. Often a car will not respond to the remote when a door is open so it’s a simple check.

Upon doing this I noticed that all of the interior dome lamps were not working. I asked the customer and he confirmed that it used to work fine beforehand.

Check the Fuses

Blown Fuse

I then got out my trusty power probe and when to the vehicles fuse box:

I found this blown 20 amp fuse after 30 seconds, then replaced it.

Fixed

The internal lamp now works, as does the keyless entry.

I unlock the car and the pointless AVS Immobiliser also disarms.

One happy customer who I advise not to get an AVS alarm in his next car because it will be killing his battery. Of course, he already knows this as he’s read my blog!


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AA Car Alarm!

AA Car Alarm

AA Car Alarm

According to a blog post by the AA car alarms are slowly dying.

It states that most of us are immune to them going off. I happen to agree with that part as there’s some truth in it.

But why?

There are so many shit quality alarms with over sensitive impact sensors and rusty bonnet switches it’s not funny.

Then comes the lack of competent installers. Every car audio shop and DIY mechanic thinks that they can install an alarm!

Most of them can install an alarm, it’s just that they don’t do a very good job! This is why so many are not reliable and they have such a bad reputation.

Would you trust an AA car alarm?

The irony was not lost on me when I found out that the AA alarm install alarms. It turns out very badly too!

Watch the video below…

2006 Toyota Hilux – Previously an AA Service Vehicle

So I inspect the alarm because the doors randomly lock (this turns out to be a faulty tactile switch in the remote control). There is also the issue of two doors that do not lock as the hacked central locking install has fallen to pieces!

The front door lock actuator was attached to a random piece of wood, by a hodgepodge of miscellaneous bolts and screws as shown in the photo below!

AA Car Alarms

AA central locking

I’m curious about the legal implications of what the AA has done to the central locking. It only takes a press of the remote button to lock the doors (remember that the faulty remote was locking them). What would happen if you needed to get out of the vehicle in an emergency?

What about the rest of the Install?

The immobiliser remote next to the factory immobiliser warning LED

Well first off the AA chose to install a Dynaton D7800 which comes with Dual immobiliser. The Hilux already has a factory transponder immobiliser so it really didn’t need an additional one.

Then came all the usual faults such as the rusted bonnet switch and a crap siren location.

I could go on…

But the point is simple. The AA really should stick roadside assistance as they clearly don’t have any competence when it comes to vehicle security! Yet they can publish a blog a post about an issue which they have helped to create! 🙁

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New Toyota RAV4 upgrade alarm

The New Generation Rav4 (XA50) is another new vehicle that lacks an alarm. It has an immobiliser as standard and all models other than the entry-level GX have SmartKey proximity entry.

The Vodafone Automotive AK4615 is the perfect Rav4 upgrade alarm. It works flawlessly with all models. I know this because I was involved in mapping the CAN-BUS data for it earlier in the year.

RAV4 upgrade alarm
The New XA50 Toyota Rav4 does not come with an alarm

Here is a quick video which I took after installing one last week:

The alarm can roll the windows up upon arming for anyone who wants this feature. The Author Comfort Closure system also works on the RAV4.

Here are some photos of the details.

RAV4 upgrade Alarm works with the Proximity locking and the Smartkey buttons
Ultrasonic movement sensors look factory-fitted but are actually my handy work.
Cobra alarm LED
Vodafone Automotive LED over-ride button in the RAV4

Details about the past generation of Toyota RAV4’s can be found here…

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No Start? Let’s blame the alarm!

car won't startRecently I took a 3 day weekend down in Nelson lakes to climb some mountains and play in the snow. Whilst I love my work, I value my playtime even more.

Not everyone respects work hours so I normally turn my phone to flight mode for the weekends. It also ensures I have some battery life left when I need it!

It’s not uncommon to find multiple voice mails, text messages, and emails when I connect back to the digital world. People get super needy when their car does not start!

Here is a typical example of what I have to deal with:

It’s really rare for immobilisers to fail (well decent ones at least), however, I like to keep an open mind and not draw any conclusions until I see the car and find the actual fault.

This car had a Cobra AK4138 alarm/immobiliser. These are normally bombproof! Whilst I’ll never be arrogant enough to dismiss my handy work as the problem, I was starting to have some doubts, afterall two so-called professionals had pointed the finger.

Keeping an open mind!

One thing I’ve learned over the years is not to be defensive or to draw any conclusions.

Keeping an open mind is often a challenge, but it helps in all aspects of life. This is especially true when it comes to troubleshooting.

Confirmation Bias

I do understand how the mechanic and the AA chap drew the wrong conclusion. There are so many shit quality alarms fitted by incompetent installers that it’s not funny. I remove them on a weekly basis! It’s certainly one of the potential causes of the problem that needs to be eliminated.

But pointing the finger without any evidence is simply not cool. In fact, I’d even call it incompetent!

Another Happy Customer

So I’ve started the week with a very unhappy customer through no fault of my own, to being appreciated for my methods. (remember, don’t get defensive or take things personally!)

So much of my work is dealing with people. Often it’s harder than the actual installation work!

I not sure if I’ll ever master that aspect of it, but it’s certainly something I’ve got much better at over the years.

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AVS Versus Vodafone Automotive

How does an AVS alarm stack up against a Vodafone Automotive?

If you ask most of the local Car Audio shops they’ll probably tell you that AVS is better. But I’m more interested in hard facts over uneducated opinions.

Time to test the AVS A5 against the Vodafone Automotive AK4698.

Let’s start with the basics.

The Current Draw Test!

Having a flat battery sucks! It’s important that your alarm is not causing a parasitic drain as it won’t even work if your battery is flat. Let’s see how these two get on when wired up to the test bench:

The Vodafone Automotive claims to draw 8.5mA when armed. My multimeter read an average of 5.5mA

The AVS A5 has a sticker on the case saying 20mA. My meter read an average of 17.5mA

Note: I did not wire the siren up for either test.

Build Quality

Time to open up the case and see what is inside:

The AVS does not even come close to the Vodafone Automotive in terms of build quality. It looks like an old relic, even when compared to an old Cobra alarm made back in 1995. If I did not know better I have guessed that it was made in the early 1980’s!

Sirens

I’ve had numerous rants about how pointless battery back-up sirens with over-ride keys are. But let’s assume the siren is not ripped out of the engine bay. What if the battery is disconnected or the wire is cut?

 I could continue, but I think you should have drawn some damning fact-based conclusions by now…

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TX-11 Remote Repair

The Cyclops/Dynatron TX-11 Remote is the old remote for both the 3 Series and 7 Series of alarms.

When I say old they pre-date Obsessive Vehicle Security existence (April 2008) so I’ve not ever sold one. That said I have repaired heaps over the years and continue to do so.

Often a remote repair is as simple as replacing a tactile switch on the circuit board along with a quick clean up. I have a frequency reader so I can confirm it’s transmitting.

I also have some old alarms kicking about which I can wire up on the Obsessive test bench. This way I can code the remote to an alarm for testing. This is great when I don’t have access to the customer’s car. It’s always good to double-check it’s working perfectly before returning it.

I still stock replacement remote cases and tac switches for these remote controls.

About The TX-11 Remote

The TX-11 came with a Green LED for the 3 Series and a Blue LED for the 7 Series. The difference is that the 7 Series remote has a transponder chip inside.

TX-11 remote

Remote Case: $25.00

Green LED TX-11 Replaced by TX-111 (3 Series) or TX-90

Blue LED TX-11 Replaced by TX-90T (T for transponder)

I have a couple of reconditioned TX-11 remote controls kicking around for anyone who prefers the style.

Other Remote Controls

You can find the full range of remote controls I stock here… It includes which batteries the remote should use as I often find them with the wrong ones inside ?

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Posted in Alarm Remotes, Cyclops, Dynatron | Tagged | 4 Comments

Hornet 433H

By Directed Electronics

The Hornet 433H is an insurance standard alarm from Directed Electronics. It’s also a stock run out so is at a bargain price.

Designed for the Australian market it complies with AS/NZS 3749.1:2003 Class B. This means it would have been rated as a “4 Star” alarm under the now-defunct NZSA alarm rating system.

In other words, it’s an alarm with 3 immobiliser cuts, black wires along with a 6 tone standard siren.

It also has a built-in shock sensor and an AUX input so you can add an additional sensor if you require one.

Hornet 433H Insurance Standard Alarm

Hornet 433H alarm with triple immobiliser

Being a DEI product (Maker of Viper) it comes with the usual Auxillary outputs. This one has 3 AUX output channels. One is for the boot pop or and the other two can be custom programmed as I’ll explain below.

Alarm Features

I’ve just chucked this on the test bench and plugged a Bit Writer into the ESP port to see what it can do. All good installers should be familiar with their systems and there is nothing like having a play to get a feel for the alarm.

Note: The ESP port is only for programming so an ESP Digital battery back-up siren is not an option.

Hornet 433H plugged in for programming.

Bit Writer Programming Options:

Aux Channels 3 & 4:

  • Linked to Arm/Linked to Disarm/Linked to Arm & Disarm/No Linking
  • Validity (output for button press duration)
  • Latched on/off
  • Timed (Output time programmable fro 1 to 90 seconds)

The AUX output can also be controlled by pressing a combination of remote buttons.

There’s also heaps of other stuff that can be programmed with the Bit Writer.

The alarms over-ride PIN number can be customized which is nice. The alarm can also be locked to prevent unauthorised remote programming.

Most of the other features are the usual programming stuff so I’ll not waffle on about the full list.

Turbo Timer Mode

This simply allows the alarm to arm whilst an external turbo timer is still running. The Hornet requires the parking brake to be on for this to work which is a sensible feature I’ve not seen on any other alarms.

The timer can also be defeated by pressing unlock and AUX button together.

4 Button Remote:

Hornet 433H Remote

Hornet 474T Remote

Batteries: CR2032 (X1)

Frequency Range (MHZ) 433.92

The antenna is window mounted so expect excellent remote range. I don’t have any official range figures but I’d expect at least 20 meters.

Stock Clearance

I believe that Directed Electronics are retiring the Hornet brand. However, there should be no issues getting a replacement remote control when the time comes.

The 474T Hornet remote is simply another style of the 474V found with other Directed products explained here.

In other words, Viper remote controls are compatible.

Because it’s the end of line stock run out you also get a great price:

Installed Price: $430.00 (Limited Stock)

Note: Additional costs for adding Auxilary functions and features

 Features:

  • Includes 2 x 4-Button Remote Controls.
  • Silent Arm / Disarm
  • Double Locking
  • Remote Adjustable Double Guard Shock Sensor
  • Multi-Tone Siren
  • Door, Boot and Bonnet Protection
  • Diagnostic and Status LED
  • 3 Point Immobilisation
  • Keyless Entry
  • Onboard Central Locking Relays / 6 Wire Interface
  • Dome Light Supervision (Option)
  • Hazard Light Flash
  • Boot Pop
  • Auxillary Channels (2 Programmable)
  • Turbo Timer Mode / Interface
  • Car Finder Mode
  • Panic Mode
  • Pin Code Over-ride
  • High-Security Disarm
  • Power Save Mode
  • Window Decals

Note: I’ve spotted heaps of mistakes in the feature list on other websites. Am I the only installer that actually knows (or cares) how these alarms work ?

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Car Alarm Remotes NZ

Good Service?

Some car alarm remote controls can be a pain to get hold of. Especially when the importer offers no aftersales support.

I also get frustrated when no support is offered by those who sell them!

I always make sure that any customer purchasing a remote will be able to code it to the alarm before taking their cash

Sadly not everyone thinks this way. I get heaps of phone calls from people who have purchased remote controls elsewhere that don’t work! They then want free technical support because the re-seller does not know how the system works.

So what happens when you need a replacement remote?

Where do you look if you don’t know what make and model you have?

I know it’s a problem so I’ve made an effort to be helpful. There is a page on my website where you can quickly look through the photos, then click on the remote you are after. It has drop-down text below each remote with some details.

Remote details include battery and supplier

I’ve got one-page listing remote controls I stock which makes things super easy.

Then there’s the second-page listing remote controls I don’t stock. OK, it may not help you but at least you can identify what is. You can then go to the importer and ask them why they suck!

Some companies really should offer better customer service. Here are some which I’ve listed below!

Dynatron NZ

As of 2012 Dynatron NZ stopped selling and re-branding Dynamco alarms. They also stopped selling replacement remote controls. Not great if you needed a replacement hey!

I’ve sold heaps of these over the years so felt I needed to offer replacement parts to my customers.

I decided to source some from Australia to help keep some of these old systems going. I’ve got remote controls and replacement cases available for the main systems that they sold.

What about the new Dynatron Digital alarms?

Well first off I’ve not been impressed with what I’ve seen. I’ve not sold any so do not offer any support.

But let us entertain the idea that you have one of these! Sure, most of the new range is CAN-BUS so works with the factory vehicle remote, but they do sell an alarm with remote controls. The problem is they don’t list it on their website so good luck if you have one of these!

Mongoose Remotes

Mongoose is not a brand I have any love for, but I do stock some of their remote controls.

Because they have sold heaps in the past there is a demand for them and stocking them is simply the right thing to do.

But they don’t always support the junk they sell!

Let look at the awful Mongoose M30. It was still being sold in 2015, yet as of 2016 you could no longer purchase a replacement remote for the M30! Piss poor customer service again form “The name you can trust”!

Other brands:

Uniden, Meridian, Fusion, etc…

I’m going to point out that all these companies have sold alarms in the past, yet not one of them mentions remote controls on their websites. More terrible customer service.

The TF Group offer no support for the crap Meridian alarms that they sold!

Does this mean you throw your alarm out the remote is lost? More e-waste that we don’t need?

The Wrong Remote Batteries!

The number of remote controls I come across with the wrong batteries inside is shocking. I’ve seen a big spate of Cyclops/Dynatron remote controls recently with the wrong batteries fitted. Incredibly I’ve been told that some have been supplied this way!

Most should have two CR2016 coin batteries which supply the remote with 6 volts. Yet I know of a local Auto electrician who has been selling them with a single CR2032 which is only 3 volts! Remarkably the remotes still work for a short time but are less reliable…

Anyway, the website now shows what batteries each remote should take.


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Viper 3121V Powersports Alarm

The Viper 3121V Powersports Alarm is super small and water-resistant. It can be used on bikes, jet skis, boats or and other small machines that use a 12-volt battery.

The first thing you notice when taking it out of the box is just how small it is. This makes it super versatile as it’ll fit where most other systems are simply too chunky.

Viper has achieved this but getting rid of all of the fluff you don’t need. Gone are the lock/unlock outputs, but being a Viper you still get an Auxilary output.

Siren or Horn Alarm

The Viper 3121V comes with a small waterproof siren but can be programmed to honk the vehicles horn too. Note that it’s one or the other and not both. The alarm will also flash the hazard lights or park lights depending on how it is wired up.

Tilt and Shock Sensor built-in.

The Alarm has adjustable tilt and shock sensors built-in. The Shock Sensor has 8 sensitivity levels. The Tilt Sensor can be set to trigger at a 1º, 5º, 15º or 30º angle.

Both sensors can be bypassed when arming with the remote.

Auxillary Output

The Aux output is activated by pressing the arm and disarm buttons of the remote together. It can be programmed as a momentary output or a latched output. When programmed for latched, one press turns it on a second press turns in off. There is the option to program for latched which resets when the ignition is turned on.

Closed Loop Sensor

There is a closed-loop sensor which could be useful for attaching around your helmet. The Viper can also be wired to trigger from a switch so that seat covers and such like can be secured for being opened.

Viper 3121V

Power Saving (Sleep) Mode

There’s nothing worse than going to use your bike only to find it won’t start due to a flat battery. Small batteries simply don’t like a parasitic current draw, for this reason, alone most bike alarms are more trouble them what they are worth.

Fortunately, Viper has this covered with Sleep mode. After 24 hours the LED flash rate slows to every 4 seconds. At 48 hours it drops to flashing every 8 seconds, then after 96 hours of no activity (that 4 days) it goes to sleep.

Viper Video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzyhyDgesbM

Starter Immobiliser

The 3121V has a built-in Starter immobiliser which is activated when the alarm is armed.

Viper 3121v

Viper 7121V Remote
Battery: (X1) CR2032

RRP with Installation: $500.00

Obsessive Rating:
Sweet as a nut!

The compactness of this is an absolute winner.

The unit is IP66 rated so is verified as waterproof.

Powersave sleep mode is a must if you have a small battery.

OVERVIEW

Features:

  • Small Water Resistant Siren
  • Shock & Tilt Sensor
  • Starter immobiliser
  • Loop Sensor
  • 2 Waterproof Remotes
  • Up to 95m Remote Range
  • One Aux Channel
  • Valet Mode
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