3 Apr 2007
I bought my car used, and never gave any thought to its keyless entry system until my only remote stopped working, and I couldn’t seem to program the car to accept a new Toyota remote. It turns out my remote — a DEI 476T — wasn’t some sort of universal replacement transmitter, but implied that an aftermarket alarm system was installed. And under my dash I easily found a Directed Electronics Inc. Sidewinder 3000ESP. Not connected to a siren, mind you, and too easily disconnected to qualify as a security system. But an acceptable keyless entry system, with the bonus of qualifying me for an insurance discount.
(When I first bought the car I took it to a local tire shop for the insurance inspection, and after getting only confused responses from me about the security system, the mechanic took one look at my key fob and put me down for the discount. I thought he was being too generous until this week. Now I’m just amused I qualify for it with an alarm system that might blink the lights a lot in an emergency.)
Anyway, because this alarm system was so half-assedly installed in my car, I had a heck of a time programming this new remote for it. I’m writing this blog post to share my lessons with other people who might be googling for help.
Getting the remote. The Sidewinder is one of a large line of security systems and other car electronics manufactured by Directed Electronics. Many of their systems use the same remote transmitters, and DEI remotes come in two flavors, which I’ll call annoying and reasonable. The annoying remotes use a combined lock/unlock button, which means you press the same button when approaching the car in a parking lot as you do when leaving it in your driveway. The reasonable remotes have separate lock and unlock buttons, like just about every other keyless fob on earth. (The only advantage I can see in the annoying remotes is for people with multiple cars — you could program a single four-button remote to operate up to 4 cars.) My previous remote was a DEI RPN (remote party number) 476T — of the reasonable line. Apparently this remote is old enough that their store doesn’t even sell it anymore, but I found one at RadToys Central.
Programming. As you can find on many websites, all DEI alarm systems are programmed for new transceivers in the same basic way: open a door, turn your ignition to ON, press the valet button a number of times to select the function to program, and then, while holding the valet button, press the transceiver buttons you want to use. This is all confirmed with a nice series of chirps and flashes of the status LED.
That’s a nice straightforward process, if your alarm is set up properly. I had no siren, no LED, no valet button, and a disconnected door trigger wire. So I had to hack a few things together:
To convince the alarm I had opened the door, I had to connect the door trigger wire (the VIOLET wire, strangely described as NO FUNCTION in the wiring guide imprinted on the alarm unit) to +12V power. I used an unbent paperclip wrapped in electrical tape to connect violet to red in the big plastic multi-connector at the top of the alarm unit; please be careful if you decide to attempt something similar.
In place of the valet switch, I connected a “reset” button harvested from an old computer case. If you don’t have a spare button, you can probably get away with connecting and disconnecting a jumper, or if you have excellent motor skills, tapping the valet pins with a screwdriver head.
I connected an LED as well, but that didn’t help with anything. A siren would have been nice, so I could hear the confirming chirps.
Anyway, the final programming sequence was this:
- Open a door. In other words, bridge VIOLET to RED using insulated wire (tape-covered paperclip).
- Turn key to the run position. Luckily the yellow wire was actually connected!
- Choose function. Much easier with a button than with a screwdriver, but possible either way.
- On the Sidewinder 3000ESP, one valet button press lets you program a remote for the annoying single-button behavior. This was stupid-looking and confusing on my remote, which has four buttons, including actual separate lock and unlock buttons. To set the standard four-button program on my Sidewinder 3000ESP, I had to press the button seven times. (That took a while to figure out.)
- Transmit. After pressing seven times, hold the valet button and transmit from your remote. I just used the LOCK button, but if you’re setting the standard four-button program you might be able to use any button.
- Release. Let go of the valet “button”, disconnect the fake door-open trigger, grab your keys and exit the car. Test your remote. It should work!
One more thing: In addition to the big connector on top of the alarm unit, and the well-labeled connections on the side for the LED, valet button, and lock/unlock, there is an unlabeled connector at the bottom of the unit. Plugged into this I found a two-foot-long wire connected to… nothing. So I disconnected it. Later, I noticed that my transmitter only worked when I was within about 8 feet of the car. Turns out it was the antenna.