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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Is Your Car Alarm E-Waste?

How many of you consider how long a car security system will last when you purchase one?

Do you want a product that will give you years of trouble-free security? Or do you simply want the cheapest one you can get?

The number of car alarms I remove due to failures is shocking. Installing a cheap and nasty security system is not only a false economy but it’s also creating unnecessary e-waste.

Junk Car Security Items?

Let us start by looking at the little details such as bonnet switches. How many alarm retailers bother to provide one that will not rust? They know it will fail yet I get the impression that most just don’t care!

Now I know it’s only a bonnet switch. But it says heaps about a companies quality control and what ethics they have when it comes to selling crap! To me, it suggests that taking your cash is more important than actually securing your vehicle!

Battery Back-up Sirens

If you’ve purchased an alarm with a battery back-up siren then you probably want it to work right? Yet most of the sirens I’ve tested either fail after a couple of years or do not work in the first place!

So your siren fails… Then what? Do you replace the siren or junk the whole alarm? If so what happens to the batteries?

Crap Remote Controls or Designed Obsolescence?

Another broken AVS alarm remote!

Call me a cynic, but I can’t help but think that the crap remote controls that many alarms come with are designed to fail. This means you’ll have to purchase a replacement which will make more money for the car alarm manufacturer.

Having said that, if you’ve gone mega cheap and purchased a super crap no brand alarm from Trade Me you probably won’t even be able to get a replacement! Then what? Well, it’s probably destined for the landfill!

E-Waste Security on Trade Me – Jesus! How crap is that install going to be?

Does any of this waste get recycled?

I’m curious to know if any of the alarm brands here in NZ will take back their failed systems? Do any of them offer to recycle parts? Can you trust them to recycle batteries and such like?

car alarm e-waste

Another Mongoose Alarm Siren in the bin 🙁

Please Be Responsible

It’s not just e-waste that we create when we sell or purchase junk car security systems. There is also noise pollution from false alarms and the annoyance of having a car that won’t start!

Personally, I believe that a good security system should be able to last as long as the vehicle it is being installed into. This is why I only sell quality systems.


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Toyota Ultrasonic Switch

Back in 2016, I was given the heads up that the Cobra AK4218 Toyota upgrade alarm was going to have one final production run. I purchased a bulk load of them which has got me through the past couple of years.

Well, I’ve finally sold the last one. This means I am no longer able to offer Toyota alarms that can turn the Ultrasonic sensors off with a second press of the remote.

The good news is I have had time to come up with a nice solution.

Ultrasonic Off Switch

Toyota Ultrasonic Switch

New switch for disabling the movement sensors

I’ve had some switches made up that will work with both the Cobra AK4615 and the AK4698. They will fit in most Toyota models from the past 15 years or so where a switch blank is available. The LED in the new switch can also double up as the alarm LED which is a nice touch.

How does the switch work?

Simple, it latches on and off. If pressed in it turns the ultrasonic sensors off. This is indicated by 3 siren chirps upon arming the alarm. Great for those times when you want to leave a window open. It’s much easier than using the LED over-ride switch.

I’ve also been working with Vodafone Automotive sniffing the CAN-BUS data for Toyota windows. This means it should be possible to have the Ultrasonic sensors deactivate if a window is left open on some of the new models coming out.

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New Toyota Hiace Alarm

Back in March, I got my hands on the new 2019 Toyota Hiace (H300) to test out the factory security system. It’s quite a change from the old model and comes with an alarm system.

I’ve now installed well over 400 alarms in the old shape Hiace. Given the popularity of the van, it has been a priority to make sure I had a solution for the new model as soon as it was available for sale.

Is the Factory Alarm any good?

Well, it works from the factory remote key and it covers the doors, boot and bonnet.

It also disarms with the driver’s door lock!

New Toyota Hiace Alarm 2019

The 2019 Hiace

What does the Toyota Hiace alarm lack?

The alarm lacks internal movement sensors and will disarm if the door lock is picked. Given this, I highly recommend upgrading if you keep any valuables inside.

Upgrading the Hiace Alarm

I have been busy working with Vodafone Automotive developing the AK4615 CAN-BUS alarm firmware to work with the new Hiace. I’ve also gathered all the wiring information to make the installation as clean as possible.

The AK4615 works with the factory remote. It will not disarm when the door lock is picked, has a super loud digital battery back-up siren and honks the horn. It also has ultrasonic internal movement sensors so covers all bases.

LED over-ride

The Alarm comes with a red 3mm LED mounted with the over-ride switch. In the Hiace, I fit it next to the traction control button as shown in the photo below. For anyone wanting a brighter LED, I can easily add one.

Easy Emergency Over-ride 

The PIN code over-ride can be customized to any 4 digit number so the alarm can be disarmed if the remote battery fails.

Toyota Hiace Alarm

New Toyoya Hiace Alarm

Cobra AK4615 Toyota Upgrade: $700.00 (Price includes installation and GST)

Note that the New Hiace is not being sold in Japan so there will not be any used Japanese import models coming over.

The old shape Hiace is still being sold by Toyota NZ. Details about the alarm options for the H200 shape Hiace ca he found here…

Optional Upgrade:

Tilt Sensor $150.00

Cobra Tilt Sensor

I’ve not yet come up with a courier alarm solution but dare say I may get around to that once there is a demand for it.

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Selective Unlocking

Selective Unlocking simply allows you to select which doors you unlock. It’s a common feature on many new vehicles.

Ford Transit Remote offers Selective Unlocking

Most systems unlock the driver’s door with the first press of the remote unlock button. A second press will then unlock the other doors.

Some vehicles like the Ford Transit have a dedicated remote button to select which zone of the van unlocks. This way it is possible to unlock the back of the van and leave the front locked.

Many vehicles allow you to turn this feature on or off to suit your requirements. Take my Nissan e-NV200 for example, selective locking can be turned on or off by holding the lock and unlock buttons together for a few seconds. Personally, I like all the doors to unlock with just one press of the remote.

Aftermarket Selective Locking

Selective locking can be retro-fitted. The video below shows an install I did on a 2009 Toyota Landcruiser which did not have central locking before it got into my hands.

My customer asked if it was possible to just have the front doors unlock with the first press of the remote. No problem as the Cobra AK4698 supports selective unlocking.

Systems that support Selective Unlocking:


Other Options

If you want selective unlocking from your factory remote and your vehicle does not support this I can probably use a Double Tap Module to make it possible.

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Ford Transit Cargo Alarm

I got my hands on a 2019 Ford Transit Cargo this week. That’s the big brother to the Transit Custom.

My first job was to test the factory central locking to see if the van had the updated firmware. In the past, the factory alarm would disarm if and the rear doors would unlock if the driver’s door barrel was picked! So much for deadlocks hey!

The good news is that this issue seems to have been fixed. I don’t think Ford NZ have any interest in updating the firmware on older vans, but hope I’m wrong about this. They failed to get back to me when I contacted them about it last year 🙁

I do have my own fix for this for those who don’t get any help from the Ford dealership.

Ford Transit Cargo Alarm

Is the factory Ford Transit Cargo alarm good enough?

Well, it has door boot and bonnet protection and honks the horn, but offers no internal movement sensor. You may want to consider an upgrade if you keep valuable tools in the back.

Making the Ford Transit Secure

My recommendation is the Cobra AK4615 CAN-BUS upgrade alarm which works with the factory remote. It has a super loud siren and honks the horn so is much louder than the factory system.

The AK4615 comes with Ultrasonic movement sensors as standard to cover the cabin area of the van.

Ultrasonic movement sensors in the cabin

I recommend adding a PIR sensor to the back of the van to cover the load area.

Here are some photos of how the alarm looks after the install:

LED over-ride switch in the Transit

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Nissan Leaf Upgrade Alarm

The Leaf came out in 2010. It is the first fully electric vehicle from Nissan and accounts for about 50% of all electric vehicles in New Zealand.

Being an e-NV200 owner I am well aware of how many are on the roads. In my eyes, they are a nuisance as they block the charging ports when I need a top up 😛

I also remember being jealous that the Nissan Leaf had a button on the remote to open the charge port. Sadly this was not carried over to the van. Nissan decided a shitty bonnet pull lever would do! Of course, this simply inspired me to find a solution.

Nissan Leaf (ZE0) 2010-2017

What security does the Nissan Leaf come with?

The Leaf comes with a factory immobiliser and SmartKey entry with push-to-start.

Most don’t have an alarm, the ones that I’ve seen that do have chunky black ultrasonic sensors on the “A” Pillars. I think the alarm was a dealership fit option when sold in Japan, but I’m not certain about this. If you are a Leaf geek feel welcome to confirm or correct me on this.

For those that don’t have an alarm and want that extra level of security, I highly recommend the Cobra AK4615 CAN-BUS alarm for Vodafone Automotive. It works flawlessly with the factory SmartKey.

Nissan Leaf SmartKey with charge port open button

The AK4615 offers a super loud digital siren, horn honk, door, boot and bonnet protection, along with ultrasonic internal movement sensors.

The Sensor pods come in grey as standard which is a perfect colour match for the 2010-2012 models which have a grey interior. The later models have black “A” pillars. The sensor pods can be painted to match.

Below are some photos of how the alarm looks when installed:

Black Ultrasonic Pods on a 2014 Nissan Leaf

LED over-ride switch in the Leaf

I’ll post an update on the New ZE1 Leaf soon.

I’ve also been doing some CAN sniffing on the Leaf as well as my e-NV200. Hopefully, I’ll be able to offer KEYLESS BLOCK for it soon. Watch this space…

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KEYLESS BLOCK

KEYLESS BLOCK from Author is designed to protect vehicles with keyless-start from Relay Amplification Attacks.

Before explaining how KEYLESS BLOCK works I’ll explain how SmartKeys work and how they are vulnerable to a Relay Amplification Attack:

How a SmartKey works

Many modern vehicles have a SmartKey which allows you to lock, unlock and start the vehicle without touching the key so long as it is in proximity.

When the car door handle is touched the car sends a challenge to the SmartKey. The SmartKey (if in range) will respond by transmitting a rolling code unlock signal, just like pressing the unlock button on a traditional car remote. This is known as a “Challenge and Response” and will only unlock the car if the SmartKey is programmed to the vehicle and is in range. The range is typically no more than 1 meter from the car door.

Relay Amplification Attack

A Relay Amplification Attack tricks the vehicle into thinking the key is in proximity. It involves two people.

One stands by the vehicle and touches the door handle, they use a gadget to extend the challenge signal to the second person, also with a gadget which will receive the challenge.

Person number 2 needs to be close to the SmartKey so will stand by a window or front door of your home to get in range, or maybe stand by you if you have it on your person. Once the SmartKey responds the unlock signal is then extended back to the first persons’ gadget which unlocks the car. The car can then be started using the same method once the start button is pressed!

How KEYLESS BLOCK works

KEYLESS BLOCK arms when the vehicle is locked, either with the remote button or using the keyless system.

It shuts down the keyless function of the vehicle locking system to prevent a Relay Amplification attack.

KEYLESS BLOCK can disarm in a number of ways. Pressing the unlock button on the SmartKey will disarm the system and the vehicle can be used as normal.

Then there is the option to program the system to disarm from an external device, such as a remote start or GPS tracker.

Disarm KEYLESS BLOCK via Bluetooth

AUTHOR ID APP

The system also comes with two Bluetooth Fobs which will restore keyless access when in range.

It can also be paired with a Smartphone to work with the Author ID App via Bluetooth.

The range of the Bluetooth Fobs and the phone can be adjusted with using the AUTHOR CONFIG App.

When a paired Bluetooth device is in range of the vehicle the full keyless functions are restored.


Service Mode

AUTHOR CONFIG APP

The CONFIG App also allows you to put the KEYLESS BLOCK into service mode.

Service mode turns the system off so that you can have the vehicle serviced without the dealership knowing you have it installed.

The KEYLESS BLOCK can also be put into service mode without the App.

This is done by turning the ignition on (without starting the car), then pressing the accelerator pedal 5 times.

To take the KEYLESS BLOCK out of service mode the same procedure is done but the accelerator pedal is press 4 times.

 


A list of vehicles that KEYLESS BLOCK works with can be found on the IGLA NZ website.

More vehicles will be added in time and I’ve been involved with the process of developing the firmware for some vehicles.

I’ve already mapped my Nissan e-NV200 van to work with KEYLESS BLOCK by sniffing the CAN-BUS data, then sending it to the technicians in Russia who have written the firmware for it. (I’ll explain more about that in the future)

KEYLESS BLOCK RRP: $480.00

  • Protects your Keyless car from Relay Amplification Attacks
  • Service Mode
  • Smartphone App
  • 2 Bluetooth Fobs

For more details check out the IGLA-antitheft.co.nz website.

Compatible vehicle list can be found here…


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