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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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)

 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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Vipertraq VSQ500

The Vipertraq VSQ500 is Vipers latest GPS tracking device which has been designed and built in Australia.

It replaces the old VSM250i SmartStart which is no longer being supported here in NZ or Aus.

Viper Upgrade Program

Viper NZ will replace any old units purchased before 2017 for free as well as crediting $50.00 to your account which goes towards the re-fit costs.

For units purchased before 2017, they are offering 50% the unit price only.

Upgrade Program

Viper VSM250i registered 2017 / 2018

  • Free VSQ500 Vipertraq module
  • $50 re-fit fee credited to your account

Viper VSM250i registered Prior to 2017

  • 50% off VSQ500 Vipertraq module
  • No re-fit fee

So what’s new?

Vipertraq VSQ500 Tracker

First off the unit has a built-in battery. This is a good upgrade on the old system as it will alert you if your vehicle battery gets disconnected. This makes the unit slightly larger than the old one but that’s not a problem.

It has an external GPS aerial. This will make installation easier on some vehicles as the unit does not have to be in the optimum position to see the sky.

There’s a new Smartphone APP too which I’ve linked at the end of the post.

What is missing?

Well, it lacks some of the old VSM250i SmartStart features such as Trunk Release and Aux channel control. It’s debatable if these were useful features to control via the app, I guess that’s a personal thing.

There is no demo mode on the APP which is a shame as you can’t have a play and get the feel for how it works. It also currently lacks support for the Android Wear Smartwatch.

How does Vipertraq work?

Vipertraq can be used with any Viper Series 5 or ESP2 compatible Alarm. This will allow you to use the Vipertraq to arm/disarm your alarm and remote start your vehicle.

* requires a ESP2 compatible Viper Remote Start System 

It can also be wired to work as a stand-alone system. It has ignition switch input as well as lock and unlock outputs.

Smartphone and PC controlled with live tracking and location history

Most functions can be controlled via the free phone app. But you’ll need to jump on a PC and use the Web portal to see the vehicle locations history and reports.

Vipertraq will store 14 days of location history with the Secure package, or 365 days with the Premium package. Both packages have an annual fee which is explained below.

Multiple Vehicles per Account

All plans allow for multiple vehicles. This makes it a cost-effective fleet management system which can be used via a Smartphone or a PC. Where some other trackers charge per vehicle, Viper simply charges you a single Annual account fee. The number of vehicles you have is limitless so the bigger your fleet is the better. Of course, you’ll still need to purchase a VSQ500 unit for each vehicle.

What does it cost?

Secure $129.00/Annual**

Features available via the App:

  • Check Vehicle Speed Request
  • Ignition Status
  • Battery Voltage Reading
  • Trip Start Alert
  • Vehicle GPS Location Request
  • GPS Location Tracking
  • Trip History last 14 Days
  • Multiple Vehicles per Account
  • Vehicle Remote Lock/Unlock
  • Remote Engine Start*
  • Vehicle Alarm Panic Button*
  • Viper Series 5 or compatible Alarm Input*

* Requires connection to Viper Series 5 or ESP2 compatible Alarm

Features available via the web portal:

  • Trip History Reporting 14 Days
  • Activity History Reporting
  • GPS Location Tracking

Premium $199.00/Annual**

Features available via the App:

  • Includes all Secure GPS features
  • Vehicle Speed Limit Alert
  • Harsh Braking Alert
  • Harsh Acceleration Alert
  • Creation of virtual Geofence Boundaries
  • Geofence Boundaries Entry/Exit Alerts
  • Alarm Alert
  • Vehicle Lockdown Alert
  • Vehicle Lockdown Alert Advanced
  • Lockdown Feature
  • Trip Line Draw
  • Trip History 365 Days

Features available via the web portal:

  • Trip Line Draw
  • Trip History 365 Days
  • Scheduled Reporting
  • Trip Summary Report
  • Detailed Trip Information

RRP: $549.00 (plus install approx $150.00)

Secure = $129.00/Year
Premium = $199.00/Year

** Note that the Annual package fees are in Australian dollars which can fluctuate. The unit and installation costs are in NZ dollars.

Full details can be found on the Vipertraq website…

Vipertraq App

Vipertraq app below:

google-play

app-store

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Viper 474V Remote

Viper Product Range

Viper Product Range

The Viper 474V remote is sold with the 211HV keyless entry system here in New Zealand. It can also be programmed to work with the Viper 3100 alarm.

The remote will work with a number of other Viper alarms which I’ve listed below.

The remote has a green LED that flashes when any of the buttons are pressed.

Viper 474V remote NZ

Viper 474V

RRP: $95.00

Battery: CR2032 (X1)

Frequency Range (MHZ) 433.92

 

 

 

Compatible with the following Viper Systems:

Probably more I’ve missed too! I’m not listing other DEI brands here…

Replacement case

474V Remote Case

Replacement cases are available with the standard button configuration with the orange horn/panic button.

There is also the option of a yellow button with a star which is more suited to remote engine start systems.

It’s a good option for those who like to customize the functionality, or even add an auxiliary expansion module.

Japanese Version:

474VJ Red LED 302MHZ

There is a Japanese version I’ve seen fitted to some imported cars that looks the same but works on a different frequency.

Viper 474VJ

How do you identify the Japanese version?

First off it has a solid RED LED rather the flashing green one. It also transmits on 302MHZ so is not compatible with the systems sold here.

If you open the remote up it looks different too so you can check even if you have a flat battery:

Normal Viper 474V on the left with the Japanese impostor on the right.

For anyone who requires a Japanese version, I’ve got a couple kicking around so let me know if you require one.

Directed Branding

Finally, Directed Electronics has heaps of different brand names overseas so here are some more 474 remote controls with different shape cases, etc:

Hornet 474T

Automate 474A

 

Proguard 474

The Hornet 474T is the remote sold with the Hornet 433H along with some other Hornet alarm systems.

Ungo 474U

Plus there are others with different button layouts which I have not posted here…

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Vodafone Automotive Installation

A good Vodafone Automotive Installation involves much more than just the alarm and an installer.

These days it’s vital to have access to technical support, vehicle specific information, the latest firmware and custom parts to make the installation top notch.

The current range of alarms requires the correct firmware to be programmed before installation. This is done by plugging the alarm into a laptop. The Andromeda programmer is used to select the vehicle and customise the settings.

Andromeda Programming tool

Who has access to Andromeda?

In New Zealand only approved Vodafone Automotive installers have access to the firmware. Some firmware is customised for the NZ fleet and not available elsewhere. Without the firmware, the alarm is useless as it will not communicate with the vehicle correctly.

A full list of vehicles can be found here…

Competent Installation

Understanding how the system works makes a big difference in how it is installed.

I often get involved in mapping the CAN-BUS data when a new vehicle becomes available. This is then sent to Vodafone Automotive in Italy so that new firmware can be written. Once the firmware is ready there is then a testing procedure to be carried out make sure everything works as intended.

Vodafone Automotive Installation Parts

Alarm installation accessories

It’s not just the firmware that needs to be customised. There are a number of alarm parts available to make the alarm fit in the vehicle nicely. These do not come in the box but are required for a professional standard installation.

Custom bonnet switches and brackets are often required for a clean installation. These allow for a tidy fit without drilling any unnecessary holes.

Rattle Free Installation

Cobra alarm mounting bracket.

Alarm brackets are great for mounting the ECU with a bolt so that it will look like a factory part. It’s also much nicer than using a zip tie or some double-sided tape.

Vodafone Automotive Installation. Professional Standard.

Alarm Registration Form

Once the installation is complete the alarm is registered so that there is a record of the vehicle. This way if support is required in the future it is on the system.

Without a record of the PIN number, programming new remote controls would not be possible. The alarm then becomes useless so it’s the responsible thing to do. Without this service, the alarm could end up as junk which is not cool.

Full Range and Replacement Part Available

I stock the full range of alarms and keep replacement parts such as remote controls for all Vodafone Automotive alarms which I have installed.

You can find the full list of Approved Cobra Alarm dealers here…

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Holden Colorado Security & Remote Start

The Holden Colorado received a makeover in 2017 with new styling inside and out.

The top of the range Z71 model now comes with remote engine start as standard.

This works from the factory remote which means you no longer need a separate remote and the expense of adding a retrofitted system. Of course, I still offer that solution if you don’t have the Z71.

All models come with a factory alarm, immobiliser and automatic window closure.

Chevrolet Colorado Alarm

Updated Holden Colorado Security from 2017

What Security Upgrades are there?

Like the pre-facelift model, the alarm lacks internal movement sensors in the cabin. It also offers no protection for the tray or the canopy where fitted.

CAN-BUS Upgrade Alarm

The new Colorado was the first vehicle which I have developed the Vodafone Automotive AK4615 to work with. To do this I gathered all the required CAN data and sent it to the technicians at Vodafone Automotive in Varese, Italy. They, in turn, developed the alarm software which I then tested and signed off.

The Cobra AK4615 now works as a CAN-BUS alarm on all models including the Z71 as shown here:

With the Cobra AK4615 fitted it is easy to add additional sensors to protect the canopy or tray area. It is possible to add sensors to the factory alarm, but it’s just not user-friendly.

The Cobra allows the sensors to be isolated when needed. For example, the ultrasonic sensors in the cabin or the optional PIR sensor in the canopy can both be turned off. The AK4615 can also have a Level sensor added to protect against wheel theft.

Below are some photos of how the AK4615 looks in the Holden Colorado:

Holden Colorado Security

Cobra LED Over-ride switch in the Holden Colorado

Ultrasonic Sensor in the Holder Colorado

Note: The AK4615 is only available from approved Cobra dealers in New Zealand.

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Toyota Camry Security System

The current generation Toyota Camry features SmartKey entry with push to start button. It includes a factory immobiliser and a basic horn alarm as standard.

But is the Toyota Camry Security System any good?

Well, it is potentially vulnerable to modern theft methods, it also lacks internal movement sensors. There are a number of systems available to beef up the factory security.

I’ll run through the upgrade options.

Toyota Camry Security System XV70

2018 Toyota Camry XV70

KEYLESS BLOCK

A good upgrade is Keyless Block. This protects the Camry from Relay Amplification Attacks. I’ve tested it on the Camry and it works perfectly. More details on how it works can be found in the link below.

KEYLESS BLOCK

Vodafone Automotive Cobra AK4615 CAN-BUS upgrade alarm.

The Cobra works with the existing keyless system and adds a super loud siren and ultrasonic internal movement sensors to the car. The alarm works perfectly with the XV70 Camry.

The alarm works with both the remote buttons and the SmartKey proximity locking.

If the alarm is armed and the boot is opened with the remote the alarm disarms. It will automatically re-arm upon the boot being closed.

Optional ADR Card

Cobra ADR (Automatic Driver Recognition)

Window Closure

I’ve done some development work on the alarm so that it can close the windows when it arms. (There is also the option of COMFORT closure for those who want window closure without an alarm upgrade at the bottom of the page).

Here is how the alarm looks installed in the car:

Toyota Camry SmartKey

Ultrasonic Sensors in the Camry

Comfort Window Closure

Remote Window Closure is another good upgrade for the Camry. COMFORT from Author alarm works perfectly with the Camry and so you’ll never leave a window open again.

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