1996 450hp n/a
Z28 Camaro SS
1995 Trans Am
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F-Body Install & Fix-it Guides
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1995 Ninja ZX6
Generation Alarm Installation Guide
by Brent Franker
I've installed quite a number of alarms and thought I'd pass on what I have learned to my fellow F-Body Buds! :)
I don't do this for a living but because I'm kinda an electronics junkie and used to own my own business, I ended up purchasing enough stereo and alarm equipment that I was able to hook up with a company and buy all this "good stuff" at wholesale prices! I never went into the business of selling alarm and stereo equipment, but while I had my own detailing company, I did buy alarm and stereo stuff and sell it to my friends and co-workers for just a little over cost. I also ended up installing most of the alarm systems I bought. I haven't kept a real accurate account of exactly how many I've installed but it's somewhere between 50 and 75! Maybe I should go into the business of installing these :)
Anyway, I'm going to try to lay these pages out in a "logical" order if that is at all possible. The first part of each page will give a general description and location of the wires necessary to connect your alarm system into your 4th Gen Camaro/Firebird. If you're an electronics and hands on type guru like myself, you may need only this info. For those of you who aren't all that comfortable ripping apart the interior of your car, I've included *extremely* detailed instructions of exactly how to install the alarm and what needs to be done. It will be laid out in "steps" so you can progress through the install and feel like you're getting somewhere :)
I'll have two separate pages, depending on the year of your car, for the install process. You only need to pick the page for your year car. The reason that there are two separate pages is that in 1996 GM significantly changed the way the Body Control Module (BCM) handles "things" and rather than put everything on one page and cause confusion, I'll put it on two separate pages.
Also, since I'm doing these pages to help even those who normally wouldn't dream about tackling a project like this, I'll explain a little about relays and diodes on this page. I recommend you take a look at this prior to diving right into the installation. It always helps if you understand what you're doing :) The relays and diodes become especially important on the 96 and up F-Bodies. GM did a heck of a job in making it difficult to hook up an aftermarket alarm system into the 96+ F-Body... the 93 to 95 model years aren't bad at all.
OK, now on to the good stuff. Below are the links to take you to the necessary page for your year car. The reason the second link is for 96-98 is because I don't know for sure what has changed, if anything, in 99. Chances are VERY GOOD that you'll be able to use the instructions provided for the 96-98 model years on your 99 but since I don't know for certain, I don't want pretend I do :) Don't forget, be sure to keep reading below these links for information on relays, diodes, and wire crimping!
It's going to be obvious that I scanned in the following images out of an expensive installation book that I purchased. I called the makers of the book a couple times asking if I could use some pics for this page I'm making and each time they said they'd get back with me. Well, they never did so I'm saying that's an implied "Yes"... right? :) Anyway, this is a small time web page and I'm not making any money off of it so I don't think anybody is really going to care too much. In the unlikely event that they find out about this and ask me to take it off, I guess I'll just have to spend some time and make up my own drawings :)
A relay is an electromechanical switching device: when both power and ground are applied to the ends of a coil, the relay activates, which causes mechanical contact points to complete or open a circuit. One of the relay's best features is its ability to use a very small amount of current to switch large amounts of current. This ability helps to make the modern vehicle's electrical system as efficient as it is. When an electrical current flows through a wire, the wire has resistance, which limits the flow. The longer the wire is, more electrical current is lost to this resistance. Devices such as headlights or climate control systems require large amounts of current. Their efficiency drops dramatically with just a small amount of current drop. A relay allows the circuit to be routed in the shortest, most direct route between the battery, or source, and the device, or load. A much smaller wire is routed to the relay from the controlling switch. This arrangement allows for less total wire length, a smaller gauge wire and more reliable, less expensive switches.
A standard Single Pole Double Throw (SPDT) automotive relay's coil requires approximately between 130 and 170 milliamps (mA) to activate (between 1 and 2 tenths of an amp), and the Normally Closed contacts will switch 30 amps, and the Normally Open contacts 40 amps. Some manufacturers add a "quenching" resistor across the coil of the relay to absorb voltage spikes. These relays with the "quenching" resistor may need up to 170 milliamps (mA) to activate. On the average, most relays require about 150 mA to activate.
In the views above, note the five terminals, or "pins." A relay's operation is really very simple. To understand its operation, consider the relay as having two sections - the coil, pins 85 and 86; and the contacts, pins 30, 87, and 87a. When Negative Ground is supplied to one end of the coil, and Positive Voltage is supplied at the other end, the coil creates a magnetic field which activates the relay. This magnetic field attracts the armature, which is attached to pin 30 with a flexible joint, just like a hinge. Inactivated, or "at rest," the armature connects pin 30 to pin 87a. When the relay is activated, the armature connects pin 30 to pin 87. The terms used to describe the contact points are this: pin 30 switches between pins 87a and 87, so it is "Common" to both and is usually referred to as COM. In the relay's normal condition, at rest, pin 30 is connected to pin 87a, making pin 87a "Normally Closed" or NC. Pin 87 is not connected to pin 30 at rest, so its status is "Normally Open" or NO. This type of relay is defined as "Single Pole Double Throw" or SPDT. This term means that the single armature terminal (or pole, pin 30) can be connected (or "thrown") to two other terminals, pins 87a and 87. The SPDT relay is one of the most useful configurations due to its flexibility - it can be used as a switching device, to isolate circuits, to interrupt circuits and to interrupt and switch at the same time.
Here are some relay diagrams which show how to use relays to perform many functions such as trigger reversal, starter interrupt, add dome lights to flashing light output of alarm, using latching relays to change a pulsed output to a constant output, and many other uses. These relay configurations can be very helpful when installing an alarm, remote start, or keyless entry to perform different functions in the vehicle on which they are being installed.
There, if you aren't a relay expert after all that, you need help!!! :-)
Diodes are electronic components which have the ability to allow current flow in only one direction. There are many electrical systems and electrical components and circuits which use Diodes to prevent a back feed between circuits, to isolate circuits, and to prevent some current spikes. Diodes are ideal for isolating an alarm, keyless entry system, or remote start from the factory wiring in a vehicle.
Diodes are small cylindrical shaped components which are consisted of two leads, the Anode and the Cathode. The Cathode is the striped side of the Diode. Usually a Diode is black in color with a Gray stripe marking the Cathode side of the Diode.
Current will flow through a Diode in one direction only. When the Anode side of the Diode is facing towards the Positive source of voltage, it WILL allow the circuit to be completed, and is considered Forward Biased. If the Cathode side of the Diode is facing towards the Positive source of voltage (Anode towards Negative source), then the Diode will NOT allow the circuit to be completed, it will instead prevent the circuit. According to Electron Flow, current flows from negative to positive in the direction that the electrons flow. The Conventional Current Flow theory seems to be the most popular and is used more often, therefore, the diagrams in the following examples will be based on the Conventional Flow Theory.
The following diagram illustrates how a Diode can be added to a factory circuit to isolate the Alarm or other device so that, when activated, it will power just one of the components in a circuit instead of all the components in the circuit. In this case the Diode could actually be considered Forward or Reversed Biased, depending on the actual circumstances of the circuit. For example: In the circuit illustrated below, the factory switch controls both bulbs when the switch is in the on position and the alarm is not activated. The Diode shown in Figure #1 could be considered Forward Biased because the current is flowing through the circuit when the switch is used to power the circuit. The same Diode in Figure #2 could be considered Reverse Biased, when the switch is off and the alarm is activated, because it is allowing the alarm to power only one bulb and is blocking the current from back feeding to the other components in the circuit.
Diodes can be used in many different configurations to perform such functions as: Using an alarm's or keyless entry's unlock output for factory alarm arm and disarm, Diode isolating door triggers in a vehicle, using one output to power two different circuits without back feed between the two circuits, Diode isolating trigger circuits or components, and many other uses. For examples and configurations of how Diodes can be used to perform these features on various different circuits in an alarm, keyless entry, or remote start application, see the following diagrams.
Insulated crimp-type terminals can make good connections, but the must be done properly. Crimp terminals come in many styles, and are sized to match wire gauge. Matching the correct size terminal to the wire gauge is very important, and many failed crimp connections can be traced to the failure of doing so. Insulated crimp connectors are color-coded to match the wire gauge range that the connector is designed for. Most crimpers are also coded with matching colors to identify the correct "nest" that the connector is squeezed in. Pink terminals are for 20 and 18 gauge wire, and are crimped in Red nest on the crimping tool. Blue terminals are for 16 and 14 gauge wire, and are crimped in the Blue nest on the crimping tool. Yellow terminals are for 12 and 10 gauge wire, and are crimped in the Yellow nest on the crimping tool. Never "shave" a wire by cutting some of the wire strands so that it will fit into a smaller terminal. Whenever an existing wire is being lengthened, the additional wire would be at least one wire gauge size larger.
Another reason for failed crimp connectors is failing to "crimp across the grain" of the connector. Carefully examine the crimp area of a connector. You may have to look inside the barrel where the wire is inserted. You'll notice a seam in this area. The jaws of the crimping tool should be applied directly across this seam and not at an angle.