Most Chinese motorscooters come with a very sophisticated but almost unusable remote alarm system. The design and functionality is fine but documentation is totally lacking. However, it turns out that the alarm chip used is fairly common and is used in other devices as well. On a whim, one TANK owner decided to try the instructions that came with a bicycle alarm and found that they worked admirably.
The remote control has three buttons: arm, disarm, and engine start, the icons for which are a closed padlock, and open padlock and a lightning bolt respectively.
The "arm" button, predictably, arms the alarm. The alarm chirps once.
The "disarm" button disarms it (the alarm chirps twice) -- but only for about 30 seconds, then it spontaneously rearms itself (chirping once). It seems that only by disarming the alarm twice before it has a chance to reset can one turn off the alarm altogether.
The start button is used to start the motor remotely. This can be useful in cold weather and in some other circumstances but should not be used for driving the scooter. The ignition key and remote start seem to get very confused if both are used. One is better off not using the remote start, or if one does use it, it is best to turn off the engine again using the "arm" button and starting it with the key for driving.
The alarm sensor is so sensitive that a bit of wind or falling leaves will keep the scooter chirping regularly through the night (and, of course, running the battery down in the process). This has caused many TANK owners to abandon all thought of using the alarm system altogether. However, once one knows the secret, the alarm is very useable indeed.
The sensitivity of the alarm can be set entirely with the remote by following these steps:
Press and hold the "arm" button -- it will chirp once initially, then, if one continues to hold the button down, it will chirp three times(!). By continuing to hold the "arm" button down, the alarm will chirp 3, 2, and 1 times in a cycle. 3 is greatest sensitivity, 2, medium sensitivity, and 1, the least sensitive. Release the button after the desired level has been announced by 1,2, or 3 chirps. Then disarm the system by pressing the "disarm" button twice. This stores the setting.
The discovery that one can adjust alarm sensitivity so easily just with the remote, makes the alarm system very convenient, and practical. Leaving one's scooter parked with the alarm set does give one a degree of confidence that one will at least be alerted if anyone attempts to move the vehicle, open it's trunk, or tamper with it in any way.
The above instructions work with TANK motorscooters and several others. It seems likely that all Chinese scooters use the same or similar systems.
A Chinese Scooter Alarm keyfob kept in a full pocket or purse can easily be activated accidentally. One must be careful. They have a fairly long range, so it is common to hear the scooter chirping when compressing the keyfob in one way or another -- just leaning over or having something (or someone) sit on one's lap. Eventually this would run the battery down but the battery is fairly good and not easily killed. (The keyfob battery which is labeled simply "Super Sunking Battery 27A 12V," is easily replaced by a 23-279 Alkaline battery from Radio Shack. . They come two to a pack for $5.00. Other equivalent batteries are: CNB 27A, Duracell MN27, Energizer A27, Gold Peak GP27A, Golden Power A27, Motorola SNN4176A, RadioShack ALK27A, Varta V27GA, and Vinnic L828). One effect of random keyfob button pushing is that the alarm is almost always going to be set. As it takes only one push of the arming button to set it, but two rapid presses of the disarming button to disarm it, only the former is likely to happen by accident.
A more serious consequence of accidental keyfob use is somehow leaving a button depressed overnight -- not common but possible in a packed pocket. This kills not only the battery in the keyfob, but the battery on the scooter itself (Yes, personal experience, but after two years not happening, this single occurrance seems to indicate that it's not all that likely to happen accidentally.) If it does happen, charge the scooter battery (it is best to use a charger; running the scooter to charge up a dead battery takes quite a long time) and replace the keyfob battery.
Prevention: leave keys out at night or use a keyfob protector. I intend to do the latter when I can devise one.
If the lock button is depressed when the scooter is running, the alarm will sound and the engine will cut off. These remotes have quite a long range and this could be a very effective feature under somewhat bizarre circumstances.
Another variant of the TANK Scooter alarm is well described in in this TANK alarm PDF file on Stan Jessup's page.
If you would like further insights or have some to offer, please visit our scooter forum.
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