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Alarm battery upgrade on 360 - killing the red dash LED :-)

Discussion in '360/430' started by RayJohns, Jul 2, 2006.

  1. RayJohns

    RayJohns F1 Veteran
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    May 21, 2006
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    When I purchased my 2001 Ferrari 360, it arrived in great shape. However, after driving it a few times, I noticed the alarm LED on the dash was continuously lit. You know that can't be right! :)

    I seemed to recall this meant there was something wrong with the alarm system and/or a battery was dead. A few years earlier, my friend tony (tonyc on here) ran into this same problem on his 355 and asked me to help him replace the battery in his alarm box. He brought it over and I used a razor blade to cut along the seam. Tony finally tracked down a replacement battery and glued the unit back together; that solved his alarm LED problem, but now I was facing the same issue on my 360.

    After checking through the posts on FerrariChat, I confirmed the LED most likely meant the battery inside the siren unit was dead. Over the next couple of weeks, I noticed sometimes the alarm would chirp 4 times as well. After checking the manual, this also confirmed something wasn't right. I decided I better get on this quickly, since corrosion could potentially hurt the circuit board inside the alarm box.

    So the other day I decided to tackle the problem. I decided I would do as another member on here did and install a remote battery (as opposed to replacing the 'impossible-to-find' factory batteries). I checked high and low for the replacement batteries, but could only find them reference in Germany and I think Russia (although a member of FerrariChat does have them available I believe). Anyway, since I'm planning on keeping the 360 for a while, and because the batteries probably only last 4 years or so, I decided to go with a remote battery option. The job came out great (after a few trips to radio shack and the local electronics distributor) and only cost about $20 or $30. For anyone thinking about doing this same upgrade, I wanted to pass along a few tips here. I didn't take as a many photos as I probably should have (or normally would have), but I think a few tips will nonetheless help anyone else who attempts this repair on their own.

    Before you start, use the switch in the front compartment and cut the power to the car.

    The alarm siren box is located behind the large panel in the front compartment of the 360. If you are standing in front of the car, with the front lid up, then on your right you will see the access panel for the brake fluid reservoir. Open that (there are 3 screws) and you can just barely shine a flash light down and to the left side of the car (to your right as you are standing in front of the car) - the square black thing is the alarm box/siren. However, to remove it, you need to remove the large panel at the back of the front compartment, as well as the left panel (as you are sitting in the car), since one overlaps the other. On my car, the screws had allen heads, so I used a driver to remove them. First remove the left panel which covers the fuses and relays. Then remove all the allen screws around the back panel (make a note of the screws, as there are long screws and short screws; additionally, some of the short screws have a collar on them). Once everything is out, you can work the back panel out. You need to separate it along the top and work it out-from-under the rubber gasket also.

    Once the panel is removed, you will most likely see a white vapor barrier covering everything (although I believe very early cars did not have this). This white panel is attached to the body with some very tough adhesive, which doesn't want to give up its death grip on the white vapor material. Cutting through the vapor barrier is one option. However, I actually was able to do the job without harming/cutting the barrier and was later able to re-install it no problem.

    The alarm siren is on the right side (as you are looking at the white vapor barrier). What I did was start with the upper right corner and carefully coax the vapor barrier away from the body. Once I got it started, I used a very sharp razor blade to cut through the adhesive bit by bit. The adhesive is quite thick, so as you pull the white vapor barrier away, the adhesive stretches - that's your opportunity to use the razor blade and just slice down it enough to make it let go. You have to go millimeter by millimeter, but with a little patience and a bit of a sawing-action, you can cut right down the middle of the adhesive and peel back the white vapor barrier. The nice thing about this method is that a little adhesive is left on each side and when this stuff comes into contact with itself, it seals back up rather well. As such, you have to be very careful to keep it from touching again while you are cutting.

    To expose and gain access to the alarm box, you need to go about 8 to 9 inches across and down from the upper right corner. This will create a triangle flap which you can open like a door. When the flap is "open", it has a tendency to want to flap shut on you. To combat this, just take one of the long bolts (or some other weight) and stick it in the upper most hole of the white vapor barrier - the weight will keep it from flipping back over.

    Now that you have access to the inside area, you can use a 10 mm end wrench to loosen the nuts that hold the alarm box into its bracket. Note that you do not need to completely remove the nuts - just loosen them enough so you can slide the alarm siren/box out (it has little slots on each side). Once it's free, pull it out a bit and unplug the harness.

    Now comes the tricky part. The alarm box is sealed. In other words, it wasn't designed for you and/or me to repair it. Even though the batteries only last 4 or 5 years, the unit is sealed. I assume the concept here is to just spend $500 to $750 and replace the whole unit. As fun as that sounds, it violate one small principle.. namely wasting money. I, for one, have no intention of spending $500+ to fix something, when $20 worth of parts from radio shack and a little work will also fix it (and perhaps make it better! :)

    In order to open the unit, you will need a very sharp utility knife. I use the kind from Home Depot that fold open, since they give you a nice handle. You will need a few brand new blades also. When you look at the alarm box, there is very clearly a seam all the way around it. To open it, you will need to breach this seam. Start slowly by tracing the seam with the point of the razor blade. You better get comfortable, because this is going to take 15 or 20 minutes. You can also saw or grind using a dremel tool, but I personally don't like how much material that would remove. So I used a razor blade - both in my case and when I cut Tony's unit open for him.

    After a few minutes of cutting, you'll start to notice the blade sinking into the seam more and more. As you go, use the tip more so, since it digs down into the seam a bit better. After a while, the unit will start to come apart. Take your time and don't rush it - you don't want to slip with the razor and cut too far into the unit and risk damaging the components inside.

    As you cut, you'll see little bits of black plastic coming off. Just keep going until the unit is open (be careful not to miss and cut your finger off or slash through your leg and/or other important areas). If you accidently sever some horribly important artery in your thigh, don't come crying to me about it - be careful!

    After the unit is open, you can work the batteries out with a little screw driver (NOTE: make a note which direction the batteries are facing, specifically which is plus and which is minus - as you will need to make sure you properly solder up the proper leads later - especially if you are planning to rig up an external battery). As I recall, it's marked inside the battery cups, but I believe the marking shows the part of the battery that goes down, not up, which can be a little confusing if you aren't paying close attention). I would suggest you mark the inside of the unit as you remove the batteries, so you have a reference for later).

    Most likely, you will see corrosion on the batteries, since when they give up, they tend to leak. You will probably also smell a chemical smell as well. If things haven't gotten too far along, the circuit board should be fine. In my case, the part that touched the battery had corroded and needed cleaning up.

    At this point (if your unit is in good shape), you can either purchase new replacement batteries (one of the ferrarichat members sells them from what I remember), or you can rig up and external power supply. In my case, I decided to rig up an external battery.

    The two button batteries in the factory unit each supply 3.6 volts. They are rated at 120 mAh (milliamp hours). What this means in practical terms is that they can each supply 120 milliamps for 1 hour, or 12 milliamps for 10 hours, etc, etc. Since there are two batteries in series, this means the circuit board runs off 7.2 volts. The milliamps aren't super critical, although you probably don't want to install a battery that pushes 50 amps :)

    As you will see in my photos below, I ended up using a 9 volt style battery. However, since it's a NiMH battery, it is actually rated at 7.2 volts. However, when I have a second, I'm going to order a 9 volt NiCD battery rated at 7.2 volt. The difference between NiMH and NiCD is basically that NiCD batteries can withstand more charge cycles without negatively impacting their ability to provide power. While NiMH batteries are very good (and have no memory), they generally only can handle 500 or 600 charge cycles. On the other hand, NiCD can generally take 2000 or more, without any significant impact on their performance. The NiMH battery will get me by until the NiCD shows up UPS :)

    In my case, I used a trailer hitch coupling (radio shack sells them), so that there was a way to break the connection during future battery replacements. I also went crazy with heat shrink tubing and beefed things up a bit around the 9 volt connector. Basically the modifications included soldering the leads from one side of the wire to the connector on the 9 volt side and then the other side just goes to the circuit board. I didn't take a photo, but in my case, what I did was to snap off two of the 3 prongs that stick up off the circuit board, and then just carefully solder the leads to the remaining one. This can be done without melting the solder on the printed circuit board if you are careful. I drilled a 5/16" hole through the top of top of the alarm box and used a little rubber grommet for the wires (put the wires through before you solder of course). I also used some black RTV around the grommet to make it water proof (specifically Permatex Ultra black hi-temp RTV silicone #598B - great stuff!).

    When you solder up the wiring to the circuit board, you'll need to examine the unit to ensure you are attaching the positive (+) lead to the correct spot. If you look at how the circuit board goes into the box and touches the battery, then you should have no problem figuring it out (as noted above, be sure to make a note of which direction the batteries go when you take everything apart). Make darn sure you get the polarity correct the first time, because I'm guessing the circuit board would not withstand an error on the wiring/power.

    To reseal the alarm box, I used 5 minute epoxy. Put a little bead around the edge where you cut and clamp for 15 or 20 minutes. I left mine over night to fully setup.

    From there, it's pretty much just a matter of reversing the disassembly process. The trailer coupling provides about 12 inches of wiring, which in my case was enough to thread the lead up and around such that I could install the 9 volt battery right on the top of the brake fluid reservoir (this will make future battery replacements a snap). I used some hi-temp superlock fasteners (radio shack part # 64-2360) to attach the battery and hold it in place. The electrical lead tuck in nicely around the reservoir and there are even two little tabs on the back where you can tuck the wires in. I added a couple of wire ties to hold the leads to some nearby wires and - once I was all done - you could hardly tell it wasn't setup like this from the factory! :)

    Once you have the siren plugged back into the harness and the external 7.2 volt power supply attached, turn the power to the car back on. When you insert the key, turn it to 'on', but give the car 10 or 15 seconds to relearn before starting the motor.

    If all goes well, enter the code for the radio and start the car - the little red alarm LED should be a thing of the past - finally! :)

    Ray
     

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  2. Donie

    Donie Formula Junior

    Jan 14, 2006
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    Hi Ray,

    Great useful post. Where are you storing the PP 9 volt battery and 'flying' leads as you reinstalled everything?
     
  3. RayJohns

    RayJohns F1 Veteran
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    When I change over to the NiCD battery, I'll take a photo. The battery is attached to the top of the brake fluid reservoir. The wire wraps around it. I'll get a photo shortly and post it here.

    Ray
     
  4. lawwdog

    lawwdog Formula 3

    Dec 4, 2002
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    Nice work and congratulations.

    However -

    I just replaced the unit in my car for $269 and 15 minutes of my own labor. I don't know about you but a strong thought comes to my mind. The cost of your time versus return on the project seems to weigh itself to getting a new one. Geez you spent a lot of time for the return. But to each his own :)

    My humble opinion of course.

    Mario
     
  5. RayJohns

    RayJohns F1 Veteran
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    well, yes, if you look at it from that standpoint, they I guess my upgrade cost ~$10,000 in time plus $14.20 for the NiCD :) - but I still enjoy doing the work myself :)

    keep in mind also, over the next 50 years, you'll spend ~$2690 in new units, while my total battery cost may be only $142

    :)

    Ray
     
  6. AutoXer

    AutoXer Formula Junior

    May 1, 2006
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    Nice write-up. Thanks for the info. I am always in a learning mode and happy to hear about any mods on this car.
     
  7. GCalo

    GCalo F1 Veteran

    Sep 15, 2004
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    Ray,

    This is one of the original links for the alarm battery replacement. There is discussion therein about improper external batteries. Take a look at it.

    See: http://www.ferrarichat.com/forum/showthread.php?t=105388&highlight=alarm+battery+replacement

    Also, I did see recently in a Ferrari bulletin that the alarm should be pointed down to allow moisture to escape.

    What's interesting is that when I got to mine, the alarm module was not pointing down but straight ahead!

    So, I guess Ferrari does not follow its own advice.
     
  8. RayJohns

    RayJohns F1 Veteran
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    Interesting about the angle. Mine was facing straight out also. That post you reference above was the one I mentioned in my original post. It's very handy. As far as the comments about the milliamp hours being off, that shouldn't have much impact. mAh is generally not critical as long as you are close. It's simply expressing the amount of power the battery can provide over a given period of time. The important thing is the voltage. The voltage and amp draw are generally set by the circuit. While the battery does have some internal resistance, as long as you don't go over board either direction, you should be okay.

    Of course, anytime you deviate from the original item, you do take a chance :)

    My NiCD battery will be here day after tomorrow. I'll install it then and snap a couple more photos.

    Ray
     
  9. cwwhk

    cwwhk Formula 3

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    #9 cwwhk, Aug 24, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Here is a different version of batteries. Varta 3.6V 140mAh with solder posts directly soldered to the PCB. Came out of a 2001 car.

    One of the batteries died and leaked a bit. I might go the route of a 9V battery too, if I can't get a Varta replacement easily.
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  10. RayJohns

    RayJohns F1 Veteran
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    Yeah, that's a different type of battery for sure. My external 7.2 volt job is still going strong btw! :)

    Ray
     
  11. GCalo

    GCalo F1 Veteran

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    The solder-on Varta's are very similar to batteries as used on early 80286 and 80386 computers.

    Usually by the time they have leaked they have damaged the circuit board.

    So, cwwhwk make sure your board is good before going through all the work. you may have to buy a new module!
     
  12. cwwhk

    cwwhk Formula 3

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    Thanks for the tip. Yes, there was some corrosion. Once I get the batteries out I'll check if my PCB is toast.

    Did a search on internet last night, but I can not find the exact 4 pin Varta battery. Plenty of 3 pin at around at $12/pc. So I think it's going to be the 9v battery then.

    BTW, dealer already replaced the siren module in my car. So I'm doing this just for fun. Dealer also replaced the siren module on my 550 at the same time, but it seems they have lost the old part. If they ever find it and give it back to me, it'll be interesting to see what kind of batteries are in that one.
     
  13. GCalo

    GCalo F1 Veteran

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    Contact Bruce Wellington, and FChat member. His handle is BWS550.

    He has batteries for everything, and he will know which Varta's you need.

    Most likely he will have them.
     
  14. RayJohns

    RayJohns F1 Veteran
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    #14 RayJohns, Mar 7, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Just a follow up... I ended up changing the battery to a NiCD type, since those handle more re-charge cycles from what I understand. The NiMH should work fine too however.

    I ordered the battery from www.mouser.com. It's a 7.2 volt NiCD in the 9 volt configuration and is rated at 110 mAh. Mouser part # is 639-N6PT. Just click the link and search that part # and you should find it. Cost when I purchased was $14.20 plus S&H.

    I have almost 4000 miles on the battery with no problems. I drive my car between 2 and 4 times a week on average. The alarm still works fine and no LED. If a new battery is ever required, of course it's just a simple matter of plugging one in.

    Here are some photos of how it looks with the battery installed. I used some heavy Velcro to attach it to the top of the brake fluid reservoir. I removed the label from the battery before I installed it.

    As you can see from the photos, I wire tied the lead to a nearby harness and then tucked the wires in along the lip of the brake reservoir. Worked out real nice and have had no problems since.

    Ray
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  15. LetsJet

    LetsJet F1 Veteran
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    Super work & thanks for posting........

    I'll be following in your footsteps on this project.
     
  16. Steve R

    Steve R F1 Rookie
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  17. Prodrive

    Prodrive Karting

    Jun 27, 2004
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    Very Good Posting ... Thank you .. :)
     
  18. fatbillybob

    fatbillybob F1 World Champ
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    Great post thanks for sharing!
     
  19. wimeldo

    wimeldo Formula 3

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    the LED of the alarm of my 360 spider, also was ignited. I have changed the batteries, the red LED now is off, but when activating the alarm, even does 4 beep, something follows bad, some idea?


    Very Good Posting, Thank you.


    Alfredo.
     
  20. m3power222

    m3power222 Formula 3
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    As usual, great work and post!
     
  21. GCalo

    GCalo F1 Veteran

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    Can you please clarify what is happening?
     
  22. wimeldo

    wimeldo Formula 3

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    Yes, I'm sorry, I Do not write well in English.
    Before changing the battery of the alarm, the red LED always was "ON", now is "off", but when I pulse the button of the remote control to close the car and connect the alarm, the intermittent lights (oranges) ignites and extinguishes 1+4 times. I have read, that is possible that the problem can be the inclination sensor, but I do not know what it is, and where is this sensor.

    Best regards,

    Alfredo.
     
  23. GCalo

    GCalo F1 Veteran

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    Why not try turning off the power switch again for 15 seconds, turn it on, and w/o starting the car, see if you get a normal beep sequence.

    I believe you would have a trouble light on the dash if it were the sensor you mentioned. Just a guess, though.
     
  24. GCalo

    GCalo F1 Veteran

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    Maybe, too, the Euro spec is different.

    USA= 1 beep to lock, 2 beeps to open.

    Check your manual.
     
  25. RayJohns

    RayJohns F1 Veteran
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    Alfredo,

    When the alarm goes 4 times, it usually means there is a door or hood not closed properly. I believe (if I recall correctly) that it can also indicate a problem in the alarm system. I would suggest cutting the power to the ECU, then trying again. Make sure you enter the code to the radio and that all doors are closed.

    When you replaced the batteries, did you make sure to get the + and - in the proper order?

    Ray
     

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