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Thread: IR to RF Keyless entry conversion

  1. #1

    Icon928 IR to RF Keyless entry conversion

    For those who have '93 to '95 Grand Cherokees with the flaky infrared remote keyless entry...

    This is my writeup of how to convert from the IR keyless entry remotes to RF remotes using stock Chrysler/Jeep parts, and gain a few extra features in the process. The parts can be obtained fairly easily and cheaply (probably cheaper than an aftermarket RKE) and it works with the stock alarm. This seems long, only because I tend to be long-winded and detailed. The process itself is pretty simple. Doing it this way, you also gain the Drivers-door-only on the 1st press of the unlock button, and a Panic feature (to startle your friends and annoy your neighbors)

    Here is a picture of a stock IR remote, and below it are 3 Chrysler remotes that will all work with the receiver I selected. Unlock and Lock will operate the same way on all 3. Those with the 3rd button will give the same output from the receiver. I chose to adapt the 3rd-button-output to give a Panic feature. You could also wire it up to separately release the liftgate, or you can come up with your own use for the 3rd output. NOTE: this receiver defaults to requiring 2 button presses from the 3rd button, but it can be re-programmed to do it with only one. The left remote also has a stiffer diaphragm under the Panic button, to help prevent inadvertent activation. Any of these remotes should be cheaply available on ebay. I bought a pair for $10.


    Below is a picture of the receiver module. These can be found on '93 through '97 Concorde, Intrepid, Vision, LHS, or New Yorker, and should be plentiful in u-pull-it yards. (Also on ebay, but they always ask way too much) Just pry up the defroster grille panel and it will be on the passenger side, held in by 2 screws. You'll want as much of the wiring pigtails as possible. This is usually about 6" working from the top, but if you pull the lower dash, you can probably get double that. The plugs are usually hard to get out of the module, too. You will also want to get a 2nd blue plug from another vehicle, since you will need to add one wire, and it will already have the correct terminal crimped on. Get a mini relay if you don't have one lying around. This one is from the PDC of a '96-'98 ZJ. The mini ones work well for the space. Lastly, you may want to do as I did and find a ZJ with the IR keyless entry and cut the pigtail off the receiver with as much wire as you can. This will simplify splicing.


    In addition, you'll need the usual electronics supplies, tape, solder, heat shrink, crimp connectors, spare wire. I also used the T-splice quick disconnects as shown below to simplify installation because it was easier for me than trying to solder over my head and I trust them more than my own soldering skills. I believe I used about 10 of them.


    Below is a diagram that shows which wires from the LH harness to connect to the ZJ harness. You'll want to extend the wires on the RKE plugs to about 18" or a little more. I used the extra ZJ wires for this, to make matching up wire colors easier. For the LF Door unlock, and the Horn relay wire, you'll want to add about 6' to each. For the mini relay, I crimped on push-on connectors and put on some heat shrink. Then I trimmed this wire to a similar length as the others. For the programming wire, I just used an insulated connector and left the wire short. I then wrapped the whole harness, minus the programming, LF Door unlock, and Horn wires. I left about 4" of colored wires exposed at each end of the harness.


    For mounting, cut off and file flush the 2 mounting ears on the receiver module. This way, it just fits in the Garage opener compartment of the O/H console. Remove the console, and remove the 6 screws holding the 2 compartments on (the door for the garage opener stays with the console). Remove a 1" x 1.5 or 2" section of the plastic from either side or the front of the Garage opener compartment, to pass the connectors through. Reattach the compartments to the rest of the console.

    In the vehicle, locate the RKE wires in the opening in the headliner. Attach the T-splices to the wires you will need to tap into, staggering them. Crimp on the spade connectors to the wire ends in the adapter harness, and plug them into their corresponding wires. Pass the LF Door unlock and the Horn relay wires to the front of the headliner. Remove the driver's A-pillar trim. I removed the driver's sun visor and retainer clip to maneuver the wires over to the corner of the headliner, then reattached them with the wires well behind the screws, to prevent them from dropping down out of the front of the headliner. Work the wires down the A-pillar, securing them with tape or whatever. When you get to the dash, you can slip them behind the rubber seal and down into the kick panel without removing any dash peices. Replace the A-pillar trim.

    Back up to the roof, raise the console into position, plugging in the factory RKE, the trip computer, and feed the plugs for the new RKE (including the programming wire) through the opening you cut for them. Tuck the rest of the harness into the valleys and crevices of the O/H console. Reinstall console. Plug in the new RKE module. I fastened the base to the inside of the compartment using some velcro. At this point, you can test the setup. Have the remotes you intend to use handy (max 2). Put the key in the ignition, and turn it on. Connect a jumper wire from the programming wire to ground. Press any button on either remote, the locks should cycle, or you should at least hear a click. Repeat for the other remote. Disconnect the jumper and turn the ignition off. Test that each button on the remote works. With the way it is now, the locks should lock with every press of the lock button, and unlock with every second press of the unlock button. If you have the VTSS, the alarm should also arm and disarm (Arm - light on dash flashes with all doors closed; Disarm, light stops flashing, interior lights come on). If you hooked up the mini relay as I described, then it should set off the alarm once it has finished arming, or if the alarm is not armed, but the illuminated entry is timed out, it should re-start the illuminated entry.

    The last part is to hook up the Driver's door unlock. In the driver's kick panel, there should be a grommet with wires going out to the door. The wires coming from the grommet should go to 2 black connectors. Between the grommet and the larger connector, look for the pink wire with black tracer. There isn't a whole lot of wire here to work with, and quarters are tight. Once you find the wire, cut it somewhere between the connector and the grommet. At this point, it helps to slip this wire out of any wraps, labels, or electical tape bundling it to the other wires. Grab the wire going to the grommet, and connect it to the wire you brought down from the overhead console. I used a crimp-on quick disconnect, and crimped another matching terminal onto the other end of the cut wire, which will make it simple if I need to go back to stock later. At this point, the Driver Door Only feature should now work. The drivers door should unlock on every press of the remote, and with either power lock switch on the door. The other doors should only unlock on every second press. All doors should lock every time either with the remote, or with the door switch.


    NOTE: if you don't want this feature, you can just wire the LF door unlock wire to operate the unlock relay (and not use the other wire at all), but you must use a diode in this line, as the RKE module keeps this line grounded otherwise, and it will short out when you try to use the door switches.

    As for the horn chirp, you just need to find the horn wire in the steering column wiring bundle and T-splice into it. I haven't decided if I want this potentially annoying feature or not...

  2. #2
    Registered ryan86jeep's Avatar
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    my brother has the RF he says the range isnt very good, better then the 3' of my IR on my 94 but not great

    good write up
    how much did the unit cost?


    i opted for a keyless entry and remote start unit, was around $60 and no like works 1000'+ plus it starts the jeep
    ....................................
    86' Cherokee.. 2.8L..3" lift, 256,000 miles original trans motor rears tc...~Electric fan...
    ~Custom Switch panel on glovebox..~Custom overhead console..~Rear auxilary lights..

    94' Grand Cherokee (DD)5.2L V8~242~Preformance ECU~Custom TurboCity Dual Intake W/ K&N Filters
    ~ML Headers~Custom Made Dynomax 3" Header-Back Exhaust
    ~3.5" RE~32's~5.9 E-Fan~UberRare Red 5.9hood :happpyd:
    ~RE adj. front trac bar~Rear Tire Carier~Remote Start~MX6 Shocks
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  3. #3

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    I believe it was $10 or $15 at the yard I went to. Yours may vary.

    I really wanted to be able to use OE remotes since I think they look classier than the aftermarket ones, or the IR one. True, the range could be better. We've had a Concorde and an LHS and they seemed to have much longer range. I wonder if the receiver is partly shielded by the roof metal. If I could have found space to mount it on top of the dash, under the windshield, I would have tried that.

  4. #4
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    If its longer range that you want, FM is the way to go.

  5. #5

    Default roof receiver

    Does anyone know if any cables in the roof receiver connect to the door lock, I wish to swop old unit with a dedicated wireless door unlocker.
    thanks John Oxford UK

  6. #6
    Registered ryan86jeep's Avatar
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    just wire in a deticated door unlocker under the driverside dash
    the wires for the door locks run there
    and you can pick up a ground and a positive there really easily, and there is more room to hide it
    ....................................
    86' Cherokee.. 2.8L..3" lift, 256,000 miles original trans motor rears tc...~Electric fan...
    ~Custom Switch panel on glovebox..~Custom overhead console..~Rear auxilary lights..

    94' Grand Cherokee (DD)5.2L V8~242~Preformance ECU~Custom TurboCity Dual Intake W/ K&N Filters
    ~ML Headers~Custom Made Dynomax 3" Header-Back Exhaust
    ~3.5" RE~32's~5.9 E-Fan~UberRare Red 5.9hood :happpyd:
    ~RE adj. front trac bar~Rear Tire Carier~Remote Start~MX6 Shocks
    Soundclip of my Exhaust (right click and save as)

    My Webpage(in the making...still....)

  7. #7
    Registered sev's Avatar
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    this is one of the best threads ive come across! thanks for the great info.

    Stupid question but does the receiver have to go in where the garage door opener is in the console? I actually jeep a clicker in there, can i wire it anywhere else? I assume the actual IR reciever's brain is in the overhead console?
    94 ZJ/Hunter Green/4.0L/42RE/242/Leather (Daily)
    63MM Throttle body
    K&N FIPK
    99+ Intake Manifold/Injectors/FPR.

    2005 BMW M3

    2001 BMW M-Coupe with S54 monster.

  8. #8
    Registered sev's Avatar
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    So im working on this mod..

    stupid yet possibly obvious question. My ZJ only has the keyless entry, no factory alarm, this means I shouldnt bother adding the extra wire to the blue connector for the arm signal to VTSS right?

    Also, the purpose of the relay is to get the horn to go off when you hit the panic button?


    without the VTSS system, is it possible for my to get my interior lights to come on when i unlock the doors??
    94 ZJ/Hunter Green/4.0L/42RE/242/Leather (Daily)
    63MM Throttle body
    K&N FIPK
    99+ Intake Manifold/Injectors/FPR.

    2005 BMW M3

    2001 BMW M-Coupe with S54 monster.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by sev View Post
    this is one of the best threads ive come across! thanks for the great info.

    Stupid question but does the receiver have to go in where the garage door opener is in the console? I actually jeep a clicker in there, can i wire it anywhere else? I assume the actual IR reciever's brain is in the overhead console?
    Sorry, I didn't see this. Yes. You can mount the receiver in the dash near the glovebox. There's a big junction connector in the passenger's side kick panel. One of the connector pairs is for the overhead console/RKE, so you can tap into most of the wires there. I forget at the moment which one it is, but they're color coded (the connectors)

    Seeing your question below, you could also run the wires directly into the relay block in the glove box and insert the wire ends into the appropriate relay terminals. You'd need to figure out which relay is which and which are the right terminals. If you want the Driver's door to unlock first, then you'd still have to run that wire over to the kick panel area on that side, as that's where it's spliced in.
    Last edited by Marcos; 01-12-2011 at 09:00 AM.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by sev View Post
    So im working on this mod..

    stupid yet possibly obvious question. My ZJ only has the keyless entry, no factory alarm, this means I shouldnt bother adding the extra wire to the blue connector for the arm signal to VTSS right?

    Also, the purpose of the relay is to get the horn to go off when you hit the panic button?


    without the VTSS system, is it possible for my to get my interior lights to come on when i unlock the doors??
    If you don't have the factory VTSS, then you don't need to hook up the extra wire for arm.

    On mine, the disarm wire triggers the RKE module to also activate the illuminated entry (IE) timer, so I used this to both have the IE convenience, as well as to provide a visual indication to me that the alarm was, in fact, disarmed. If you don't have the VTSS, you may not have the disarm wire present, in which case you can hook up the white wire from the RF receiver to the DB/OR wire that controls the IE relay.

    Or, you could hook it to the IE wire, that is the wire that provides the ground to all the lights, and it tied to the door jamb switches, the headlamp switch, and the IE relay. I think the wire color is solid yellow.

    I used the relay to convert the + pulse from the RF receiver into a - pulse that would activate the IE relay, which per the above, tricked the alarm module into thinking a door had been opened and tripping the alarm. This mimics a panic function, but isn't quite the same operation as one from the factory with this feature. If I hit the panic button while the vehicle is sitting with the VTSS disarmed, all it does is turn on the IE.

  11. #11
    Registered sev's Avatar
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    So I just tried to wire up the new RKE and it didnt work. The RKE i have looks identical to the one pictured above but it is out of a 95 Town and Country. The part number on it is 04688528.

    When I wired it up, I was able to program it and the doors would unlock but I couldnt get it to lock. Even when unlocking, it still wasnt working quite right.

    Should I get a LH RKE module? Is there a difference?
    94 ZJ/Hunter Green/4.0L/42RE/242/Leather (Daily)
    63MM Throttle body
    K&N FIPK
    99+ Intake Manifold/Injectors/FPR.

    2005 BMW M3

    2001 BMW M-Coupe with S54 monster.

  12. #12

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    A few thoughts:

    Do the power lock switches on the doors still work as they should? What isn't working right when you unlock them?

    Did you wire it up to unlock the driver's door separately, or all doors at the same time? If you set it to unlock the driver's door first, did you make sure to cut the wire? And if not, did you use a diode in the PK/BK wire from the RKE?

    How did you tie into the relay wires, did you tap into them at the junction block, or go directly to the relay terminals?

    Check with a voltmeter to see if the OR/WT wire from the RKE module gives a + pulse when you use the lock button.

    Do you have more than one remote to test with? Perhaps the contacts for the lock button are dirty. It's very easy to take the remote apart and clean everything up, it just snaps together.

    One more thing: The chime module provides ground for the lock relay coil, and will inhibit if the driver's door is open and either the keys are in the ignition (engine off) or the headlights are on. There could be an issue with the chime module, but it would probably affect the operation of the locks with the door switches, too.

  13. #13
    Registered sev's Avatar
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    So I never had a chance to reply to your message and I mothballed this project.


    To answer your questions, I dont have the VTSS and I think my ZJ only has the remote keyless entry, but no security system, the interior lights only come on and off when the doors are open and have never come on with the keyless entry. Meaning, I dont think that i have the illuminated entry timer on my ZJ, so no need for a relay.

    That being said, I am assuming that I wouldnt need to wire in the arm signal to VTSS pin (being that I dont have the security system), and I dont have a the illumnated entry timer.

    So the way I have wired this up is that Ive basically connected everything per your diagram except for the relay and the arm signal to VTSS. I also dont mind if all 4 doors open at once, so I didnt bother wiring the extra wire to the drivers door. My IR system just locks and unlocks all doors and my intention was for the RF system to function identically)

    When I last tried with the wiring installed, it would only unlock and never lock.


    Anyway, I went back and tried it again, this time I didnt connect the ingnition on/start wire on the second connector, and eveyrthing worked great. Connected the run/start wire, it was same as before.

    Turns out on my IR system, without the VTSS, the jeep doesnt care whether or not its started (IR remote works with engine running) so I just connected power, ground, lock and unlock to the LF driver's door with a diode and I'm done! Works perfectly!

    Thanks for this great writeup! Its going to be nice not to fiddle with the IR crap anymore. After 17 yrs.....
    Last edited by sev; 08-31-2011 at 12:29 AM.
    94 ZJ/Hunter Green/4.0L/42RE/242/Leather (Daily)
    63MM Throttle body
    K&N FIPK
    99+ Intake Manifold/Injectors/FPR.

    2005 BMW M3

    2001 BMW M-Coupe with S54 monster.

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