Alarm Sensors

Here’s a quick run down on what sensors are available and what they actually detect. Click on each link for a more detailed explanation…

Door and Boot Switches

Common type of Door switch found on most vehicles. Some are built into the door latch.

Most vehicles already have these fitted as standard equipment.

Part of my job as an installer is to check that they all work and make sure the alarm is wired up to them.

I make the effort to wire the alarm directly to the doors circuit rather then the interior dome lamp (especially if it is a faded time out type) so the alarm can warn you if you leave one open when arming it.

Bonnet Switch

Stainless bonnet switch

Detects the opening of the bonnet.

Should come as standard with any alarm system and fitted if the vehicle has a bonnet.

Stainless or waterproof switches are best as rusty ones can cause false alarm or simply not work at all.

Some vehicles already have factory switches built into the bonnet latch

More details here…

Micro Switch

Microswitch on custom made bracket

Micro Switches can be used where a traditional bonnet switch is not practical to fit.

These are often used on caravan and motor home doors.

I have them installed on the Obsessive van to protect against door folding!

More details here…

Shock Sensor

False alarm generator!

These things give car alarms a bad name, especially in Wellington where even the wind can cause them to give a false alarm!

Over sensitive impact sensors are the biggest cause of false alarms. The can be set off by large vehicle passing, booming exhaust pipes and the wind.

I do my best to avoid installing them and turn the sensitivity down on systems that have these built in.

Tilt/Level Sensor

Level Sensors protect against this!

Level sensors  learn what angle the vehicle is parked at when the alarm is armed. If it then gets jacked up the alarm will trigger.

Great for protecting wheels from theft or even the vehicle being towed.

Not prone to false alarms like shock sensors.

More details here…

Glass Break Sensor

Glass Sensors are not always effective

A Glass Break Sensor is a microphone that is tuned to detect the high pitched sound that a window makes when it gets smashed.

These are not effective if you have a large vehicle such as a van where the sensor is some distance from the sound source or if the vehicle has aftermarket window tint film.

More details here…

Ultrasonic Sensors

Super clean ultrasonic installation.

Ultrasonic or volumetric sensors monitor the internal space inside a vehicle.

They consist of a transmitter which sends an ultrasonic sound wave around the cabin which in turn is detected by the receiver.

More details here…

PIR Sensor

PIR sensor mounted with custom bracket for a tidy and solid installation.

Passive Infrared Sensors (PIR Sensors) are good for protecting Ute Canopies and internal space in Motor homes and Caravans.

They detect heat movement such as a human body coming into the detection zone.

More details here…

Reed Switch

Magnetic Reed Switch

A reed switch is a turns on and off when a magnet goes in and out of range.

These are useful when fitting a bonnet or door switch is not is not physically practical.

Great for Ute tray lids and caravan doors.

More details here…

Microwave Sensor

Microwave Sensors

Microwave sensors are normally installed on soft top vehicles where ultrasonic sensor are not an option.

They detect a mass (such as a human body) entering the zone.

More details here…

Closed Loop Sensors

Closed Loop Sensor

Closed Loop Sensors are one of the most effective ways of protecting external items on a vehicle.

Accessories such as LED light bars, spot lights and winches are often easy targets which a closed loop sensor can help secure.

They trigger the alarm when the loop wire is cut so running the loop wire with the main cables is a subtle way to protect expensive equipment.

Wireless External Tilt Sensor

Wireless sensors. Great for protecting external items

These are an easy add on to any alarm and can be used to protect external items carried on a vehicle.

Great for roof boxes, cycles carriers or tool boxes carried on the back of a Ute.

The sensor knows what angle it is placed at when the alarm is armed and triggers the alarm if it changes angle.

More details here…

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Remote Double Tap Module

Remote Double Tap Module

One of the things I’ve always found restrictive about some factory remote locking systems is the lack of any auxiliary options.

If only you could get your existing car remote to control a new function by simply pressing it a second time.

Well I’ve come up with a tidy solution that will work with most vehicles. It simply activates a second function by pressing the lock or unlock button twice within 3 seconds. Hence why I’ve called it a  “Remote Double Tap Module”.

I’ve already kitted the Obsessive Van out with a remote double tap lock function that activates a Boot Release Actuator to pop open the charger door which also actives a 3 minute timer module to turn some LED’s on for better night vision.

Pressing the unlock button twice turns on the headlamps for 30 seconds which is useful when approaching the vehicle in the dark.

There are plenty of other uses for the double tap module. Last week I installed one on a New SR-5 Toyota Hilux to work as a selective unlocking system for the canopy. The second unlock press unlocks the canopy door as well as sending a command to the vehicle so it will not auto re-lock. Without this the vehicles locking system re-locks after 30 seconds unless one of the main doors has not been opened. In turn the alarm would re-arm and then the PIR movement sensor would trigger the alarm!

It makes the alarm easy to use as the alternative is opening a door before accessing the canopy which is a pain and not exactly intuitive.

Double Tap Module

Pricing: $95.00 installed.

Note: Price does not include additional parts such as timer modules, LED’s or locking actuators.

Will work with any locking system that responds to a 2nd press of a factory remote. Can also work with some aftermarket keyless entry systems and alarms.

Double Tap Module can be use for the following:

  • Window closure
  • Boot Pop
  • Tailgate unlock
  • Selective unlock
  • Auto Re-arm/Re-lock disable
  • Headlamp turn on with 2nd unlock
  • Many other functions – Just ask…

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My electric vehicle charging bay

No Dinosaur Juice!

It’s been about 3 months since I took ownership of the fully electric e-NV200 van and it’s been super easy to live with so far.

To the best of my knowledge there are 4 of them in the Wellington region to date (I know two of the other owners). I’m puzzled at why there are not more of them around as it makes so much sense for a small business.

I’m getting about 120 KM on a full charge which is enough for what I do on a daily basis.

Charging the Batteries

Nearly all of my charging is done at home via a JuiceBox Worx EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment). It provides the van with a 32 amp AC supply which the vans 6.6KW charger converts into DC to charge the batteries. This will fully charge the van from empty in about 4 hours (24KW battery).

It’s not exactly the most stylish unit to look at and in my option would look quite naff if it was bolted onto the side of the garage wall or the fence. Therefor the decision was made to hide it in the retaining wall behind a door.

Recharging bay: So much nicer then visiting a petrol station

Building the charge box

Box built and cables mounted

Door Shut

Door open

I stated off by building a box into the wooden wall that supports the fence.

Tristram from Tristram J Electrical then wired the EVSE up and mounted it to the back of the box (I had dug a trench for the cable in advance).

A sheet of ply was used to hide the EVSE control box and another sheet of ply was then fitted as a door with hinges at the base and a magnet at the top to keep it shut.

After this a notch was cut in the ply to allow the door to close whilst the cable was in use.

I then installed LED lighting behind the top batten facing downwards to act as back lighting which can be turned on with the garage door remote or a switch by the front door. This activates an adjustable timer. The LED strip above the door also lights up the box when it is open so it’s super easy to see in the dark.

Next came the rest of the battens which my mate Jim cut to size and helped fit to finish the clean look. The top batten of the door has hinges as the gap between each batten was to tight for the cable.

There is also a hidden hose reel built into the wall to wash the van, bike, plants etc.

Here’s a video of it in action which includes a couple of functions I’ve added to the vans remote control which I’ll explain soon:

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AK4615 Disabling Ultrasonic Sensors

New Zealand Product Range

New Zealand Product Range

The following instruction explain how to disable the ultrasonic sensors on a Cobra AK4615 and AK4625

  • Turn the ignition off
  • Within 5 seconds press the emergency panel push button and keep it pressed until the LED flashes X times.

It will flash once, then twice, then 3 times. Keep your finger on the button until the LED flashes the desired number of times for the sensor you with to disable:

  1.  Releasing the push button button after one flash confirms that the ultrasonic sensors have been disabled.
  2. By keeping the push button until it flashes twice disables the optional additional sensor input. (Note that the ultrasonic sensors are back on at this stage.
  3. Keeping the push button until it flashes three times disables both the ultrasonic sensors and the addition sensor input.

Note: The selected sensors will remain disabled for the one arming cycle. They will be automatically restored at the next arming.

Here is a video for those who don’t like reading!

If you have the optional Cobra Remote programmed to your AK4600 Series alarm you can use button A of the remote to disable the sensors. Details here…

The instructions also work for the Cobra AB3868 but the LED will only flash one time but disable the ultrasonic sensors for that one arm cycle.

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Charlatan Cobra Alarms in Australia!

New Zealand Product Range

New Zealand Product Range

If you live across the ditch (Yep I’m referring to you Australians) then you should be aware that Cobra is not officially available over there.

Be warned the following website:

I have spoken to Vodafone Automotive (Cobra) in Italy who have confirmed that they do not supply alarms to Australia.

Fake Cobra Alarms!

Deceptive Australian Cobra Website

The Website uses an old Cobra logo from the 1980’s and looks reasonably legitimate to the untrained eye.

Theft occurs ever 30 seconds!

Ironic words seeing that this Australian is taking part in fraud! If the owner of the website was being honest it should say “deception happens every time I make a sale!”

Not Cobra

The first clue is the lack of any official Cobra products. There are no photos of alarms or remotes and the model numbers are either fake or obsolete. The rest of the website is simply fluffy words.

Dishonest Tosser based in Sydney

If anyone knows the identity of the owner of this website then please let me know and I’ll publish it here. In the mean time I’m about to share this on Twitter and Facebook in an attempt to expose the site and hopefully shut it down. I know that I get a large number of visits from Australia so hopefully this will prevent some of you from getting ripped off!

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Van signage and shelving

I’ve been fairly quiet on the blog over the past couple of months, not because I’ve run out of motivation, but simply that the new van has taken up a huge amount of my time. So much so that the Xmas/New years break wasn’t really much of a holiday as most of it was spent kitting it out so it’s more efficient to work out of.

New wheels and signage complete.

First off was the alarm and electrical modifications (which I’ll leave for another post as there’s a fair amount to go into).

Then the shelving which I made out of aluminium and ply wood. The ply lining was already fitted so I simply gave it a coat of varnish and carpeted the floor to stop things sliding around.

Complete with LED lighting

The shelves bolt to the van using original fixings and have LED lighting built in. There’s heaps of space to work out and it makes keeping things organised much easier then before as space is no longer limited. There’s also room to fit a couple of mountain bikes in the back which is so much nicer then messing around with a cycle carrier!

Fat installers are normally lazy and can’t fit in tight spots so cardio is a must!

Finally a big shout out to Duncan and Nathan at the Sign Foundry for finding the time to fit me in this week to get the stickers on.

I’ll get the alarm post up soon as well as explaining what I’ve done with my EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) which is overkill but when are things not around here?

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E-NV200 The first long drive.

OK, this post is about 3 weeks late due to it’s size which took some time to write up, along with the fact that most of my spare time has been playing with the van! Get yourself a drink before you sit down if you can be bothered reading this one…

If you have not read the Auckland to Wellington in an Electric Van post it’s probably worth reading first as it explains the planned route and where the charging points are.

The New Electric van and another white car!

The New Electric van and another white car!

On the Monday 7th November I finally got to collect my new electric van. The collection date had been delayed about 5 times due to a faulty airbag ECU which prevented it going through compliance! As a result I’d had 4 weeks of re-booking flights and juggling jobs around which would not have been an issue if I’d chosen to have the van delivered to Wellington, but who wants to be boring?

So there was a little frustration whilst it got sorted out, mainly because I liked the idea of giving my finger a rest, but also because I’d become super excited about getting the van along with the challenge of driving it back. I’d done a fair amount of planning whilst tracking its progress from the UK via the ships GPS courtesy of a link I’d been sent from the importer.

european-car-importsSpeaking of which I have to give a massive shout out to Sally and Lincoln from European Car Imports. They have been a pleasure to deal with and the customer service has been second to none. Knowing the efforts that they went to get the airbag fault sorted out gives me even more confidence to recommend them to anyone thinking of importing their own vehicle. I was kept in the loop at every step and doubt that I’d have appreciated just how good they are if things went smoothly.

Auckland collection at last…

The plane arrived in Auckland at 2pm after a delayed take off. Lincoln was there to meet me outside the terminal to hand the keys and the van over to me. I then met up with a friend near the airport to give his alarm the once over and program a remote. It was 3 pm when I finally started on my ambitious first drive home to Wellington and the plan was to do it in the shortest possible time!

Auckland to Hamilton

First stop Cafe Rema in Dury for a quick charge back up to 100% to make Hamilton an easier prospect. I’d been told Hamilton was probably out of range, or a tall order to get to in a van on the EV facebook page!

I was organised and had the combination number to unlock the charger, sadly the charger was not working! I was simply going to have to go easy with my driving and learn super quickly… Welcome to anticipated range anxiety!

I grabbed a quick coffee before hitting the road again. Normally I hate Auckland traffic jams, but making slow progress in an electric vehicle is not such a bad thing as keeping the speed down is good for range.

The van was in Eco mode, the radio was turned off and along with the air-con and cabin fan despite the fact it was a hot day! Once the traffic eased off I found a big truck to follow so tucked in behind it so I could keep my speed down climbing up the Bombay hills. I was starting to sweat, although this was mainly due to the heat and lack of air-con, but watching the range dropping as I climbed the hill was not helping!

I ended up slip steaming the truck for most of the journey to Hamilton and was typically doing 90-100 kmph. A horrid amount of road works were going on too but this helped to keep the speed down without me being a nuisance to anyone.

As I got close to Hamilton the Guess-O-Meter (Nissan’s predicted range meter) was far to close for comfort so I decided to slow up and let the truck disappear into the distance and head for the CHAdeMO in Te Rapa which was 5 KM closer then Bret’s place.

My First Fast Charge in Te Rapa, Hamilton

I arrived to find a Tesla Model S parked up at the charger. The owner very kindly let me jump the queue for a quick top up. He gave me a run through about how the charger worked and I got to have a good look at his machine whilst we talked cars.

Keeping good compny

Keeping good company

I was soon up to 50%. With only 5 KM to go before I parked up for the night I decided to turn Eco mode off, put the air-con on and my foot to the floor. Bloody hell does it take off fast. Yes I’m talking about the van here not the Tesla which must be an absolute weapon!

Hamilton to Rotorua

I left early with 100% and tried to keep the speed down knowing that it’s mainly uphill to Rotorua, I stopped for breakfast at The Oxford Cafe in Tirau where they very kindly let me plug the van in for a charge whilst I had a feed.

A quick re-charge for both myself and the van

A quick re-charge for both myself and the van

It was then back on the road where I did my best to keep the speed down. I started to think of the Tortoise and the Hare story which was a constant reminder that if I rushed I would not get to my destination as quickly as I’d have to stop and wait for a tow truck!

Keeping the speed down was a good decision, I arrived in Rotorua with very little battery life left and the Guess-O-Meter had given up and was blank when I arrived.

Fast Charge in Rotorua

Fast Charge in Rotorua

Rotorua to Taupo

In theory this should have been an easy stint with just 81.8 KM to go. I was getting confident after managing the first two difficult legs so headed off at a reasonable pace, however I did not appreciate just how windy it was. As I got closer to Taupo I was starting to doubt if I’d make it so eased down to about 70 KMPH and even with 15 KM to go things were looking tight and I was expecting to hit the dreaded turtle mode!

I finally arrived at the Central Motor Group dealership with a feeling of relief and made good use of their Juicepoint EVSE.

Central Motor Group in Taupo. Very EV friendly

Central Motor Group in Taupo. Very EV friendly

The guys there where really friendly and very accommodating. It was refreshing to see a dealership embracing electric vehicles, they had a number of Leafs on display as well as an e-NV200 on the way from the UK so they were keen to give my van the once over. I was slightly gutted that I missed out on meeting Steve Green (In Auckland for the day) who was really helpful when I approached him about charging there on the way through. I dare say we’ll catch up next time I head up that way.

The photo below gives a good indication of the head wind I had to deal with on the way into Taupo!

Blow me over Taupo, it's more like Wellington today!

Blow me over Taupo, it’s more like Wellington today!

Taupo to Hastings

I made a phone call to Tarawera Cafe to ask if I could use their blue commando plug to charge up on the way to Hastings. They were really helpful and said that despite the fact that the cafe would be closed by the time I arrived that could still drive in and someone would be there to meet me.

I decided to take it super slowly, the theory being that the less slow charging I had to do the quicker the overall journey would be. I arrived at 5:30pm with about 48% range left.

Slow charge at Tarewera Cafe

Slow charge at Tarewera Cafe

I then plugged in an went on a little exploration to find the thermal pools. There was a gate with a DOC sign on it but I could not quite make out what it said so continued on my way!

Poor signage!

Poor signage!

I don’t think there have been may visitors to the pools recently. The path was horribly over grown and there were a couple of big slips making it difficult to pass. There is also quite a big drop down to the river!

Seen better days!

Seen better days!

I headed back and got some sleep whilst the van was still charging. The good thing with a van is that there is enough space to lay down 🙂 By 11:40pm it was up to 98% so I decided to head off and make the most of the lack of traffic.

I climbed up to Titiokura Saddle which is the high point a 708 meters super slowly. Once there I kept going at a gentle pace all the way down to Hastings and arrived with 35% battery remaining which really does prove that driving slowly makes a massive difference to the range even with the headlights and heated steering wheel on.


35% left is better then expected 🙂

Hastings to Palmerston North

From Hastings it was an easy run to Wiapukaru and another fast charger.


Hastings a 1:30am

My goal was to get to Palmerston North for about 7am when the car park with the Meridian charger would be open. Heaps of time to get there and very little traffic given it was the middle of the night.

Come 2:30am I was near Dannevike and feeling tired so had to pull up for some sleep. I woke up at 5:50 and decided to head off once more. The problem was that the windscreen had misted up so I needed to use the heater which killed the range big time. I crept along and had a number of Utes go flying past me, one of which I saw in a ditch about 10 km down the road. Back to the Tortoise and the Hare story I chuckled to myself 🙂

I really did not fancy the idea of stopping in Woodville (plugshare suggests its a pain) so headed on to Palmy through the Manawatu Gorge keeping the speed down to about 60. It’s about the only part of the journey where I felt I was holding others up, even though I could still see the car in front of me and I pulled up a couple of times to let the traffic though (take note camper van drivers as it is easy to be polite).

Made it and the place was not ICED 🙂 On a previous trip before I had the van I checked out the charging bays as part of my planning only to discover 4 “Internal Combustion Engine” cars parked in the charging bays.

No sticky pollution cars owned by tossers this time :-)

No stinky pollution cars owned by selfish tossers this time 🙂

Palmerston North to Featherston

By the time I was charged up the rush hour was over so it was a steady pace over Makomako road, then gentle driving through the Wiararapa. I was reasonable confident of making it to Featherston in one hit, if things got tight I could always stop for a slow charge in Greytown but I didn’t have to.

Making good use of my Eco-Nazi coffee cup in Geatherston

Making good use of my Eco-Nazi coffee cup in Featherston

Featherston to Home

Time to have some fun over the Rimutakas. After all this slow driving it was time to let rip and overtake some of the pollution mobiles that were struggling to climb up the hill at a good pace. It’s certainly much more fun to drive when range is not an issue and I was back in Wellington by 2pm.

So that’s Auckland to Wellington in under 48 hours, then 3 weeks to get around to writing about it!

Posted in Electric Vehicles, Just for Fun!, Obsessive Van | 2 Comments

Mazda CX-5 Upgrade Alarm

The Mazda CX-5 was released in 2012. It comes with a factory immobiliser and Mazda’s smart key with push to start button.

There is no factory alarm system so the Cobra AK4615 is my recommended upgrade if you want the perfect factory look and feel. It’s also the best CAN-BUS upgrade alarm available and great value for money.

The alarm works with proximity locking and the remote lock/unlock buttons.

Works flawlessly with both the proximity locking and the Mazda remote

Ultrasonic sensors come as standard to protect the cabin along with door, boot and bonnet protection. The Wireless siren is fully hidden and the horn is also connected so it’ll get noticed if someone does break in.

Here are some photos of what the alarm looks like installed:

Tidy Ultrasonic sensors and a perfect colour match

Mazda CX-5 Cobra alarm features:

Mazda CX-5 2012-2016

Posted in CAN BUS Alarms, Mazda, Obsessive Installs, Upgrade Alarms | Leave a comment

Musical Sirens!

Limited knuckle bunding

Limited knuckle bending

Following on from my accident five week ago the finger is healing up well. I’m having no problems being back on the tools now, despite a lack of dexterity which was initially slowing me down and causing me to mutter some involuntary expletives!

I still have limited movement and can only bend the knuckle about 40 degrees before it becomes tight and the pain kicks in, but on the whole its not effecting my work any more.

I still can’t go any where near a guitar and doubt I’ll be able to for a number of weeks yet so have taken to using alarm sirens to make music:

Here’s me effort from yesterday:

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Auckland To Wellington in a Electric Van!

The Challenge ahead

Following on from my the post about the new electric van here is my plan on how I intend to collect it from Auckland on Friday.

If I wanted a simple life then I’d have it transported down here, but that would be to easy and I always love a good challenge. Besides which I’ve collected every ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle I’ve purchased in the past so why should an electric one be any different?

The big challenge right now is the lack of charging stations outside of the main centres.

Charging Methods


e-NV200 has both a direct DC Rapid Charge Port and a 6.6KW built in charger for AC input

I’ll start off with a quick explanation of charging stations.

CHAdeMO: DC Fast charger which is also a Japanese pun translating to “How about some tea”  It will charge the van to 80% in about 25 minutes, so enough time to stop for tea or coffee. I’ve highlighted the ones I’ll be using with a red arrow on the route map below.

J1772: Feeds AC into the van which has a 6.6KW built in Charger that should give a 0% to 100% charge in 3 to 4 hours on a high current feed. I’ve highlighted where I can get a decent J1772 charge in Violet arrows on the map below. (Note the reason for getting the Acenta Rapid Plus over the Acenta or Acenta Plus which only have a 3.3KW charger so take longer to charge) Charging via a 10 Amp wall socket would take about 10 to 12 hours for a full charge. There is a good explanation here…

You’ll also notice that there are yellow stars on the map showing where other chargers are due to be open in 2016 are (I’ve been watching them closely for weeks but alas none have opened in time). Because Waiouru, Mangaweka and Otaki are not yet ready most of the normal SH1 route is simply not an option.

The Planned Route back to Wellington

My Planned route back to Wellington

The Planned Journey:

Friday: Fly up to Auckland and collect the van in the morning, catch up with a couple of friends in Auckland then drive down to Hamilton. I can get a charge in South Auckland if need be (124.7 KM). Stay in Hamilton at Brets and get a full slow charge over night. Hamilton also has a CHAdeMO.

Saturday: Leave Hamilton on 100% and go Rotorua (106.2 KM) as I’m not confident I’ll have the legs to make it the 151.7 KM to Taupo in one hit.

Use the Rototua CHAdeMO then onto Taupo (81.8 KM) where I’ll call into catch up with Steve Greenwood at Central Motor Group who has very kindly allowed be to use their J1772 32 Amp Juice Point charger.

The Challenging bit…

From Taupo things get a little tricky. I’ve decided that my best option is to head over to the east coast to Hastings which has a CHAdeMO. But that is 157.5 KM and pushing it! However there are a couple locations I can stop at on the way to get a slow charge:

  1. Tarawera Cafe (64.2 KM)
  2. Eskdale Holiday Park (59.6 KM from Tarawera Cafe) (123.8 from Taupo) (34.3 to Hastings)

From Hastings things get easier:

Hastings to Waipukarau CHAdeMO (49.3 KM)

Waipukarau to Palmerston North J1772 32 Amp  (108.2 KM)

Palmerston North to Featherston CHAdeMO (126.5 KM)

Featherston to Home (65.6 KM)

The following are super useful resources which I have been using and are worth checking out if you are interested:

Wish me luck 🙂

Posted in Electric Vehicles, Just for Fun!, Obsessive Van | 3 Comments