Difficulty: 2 out of 5
Tool Requirements: 2 out of 5
Time: 2 hours
Cost: 10$ (Approx.)
* While this DIY was made based on the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS motorcycle, it applies to most motorcycles, cars, or other vehicles with an alarm system.
*This DIY is a side-project for my Instructable "DIY: Motorcycle GPS Tracker Install With Remote Engine Disconnect". If you didn't arrive here through that project, you might wanna check it out.
Some say that there are only two types of motorcycle riders: Those who have crashed, and those that are going to crash. Others have a similar saying regarding motorcycle theft. Just mention on any forum that you park your motorcycle outside of a condo at night and wait for the comments to pour in on how you are uselessly reckless. I disagree, but that doesn't mean that there aren't steps we can take to tilt the scale in our favor.
Like many readers on this site (I'd imagine), I'm into DIY topics ranging from everything between automotive projects, electronics, and a sprinkle of everything in between. A jack of all trades, some would say. And hopelessly curious. Applied to a motorcycle, when it came time to install an alarm, I quickly decided I would like the benefits of a GPS Tracker Alarm. I mean those models you can text from your phone, see what speed it's at, arm or disarm the alarm, see where they are, etc. My train of thought was "Hmm...how can I install it in such a way that I wouldn't be able to simply remove it in a pinch if I stole it?". The issue is that given enough time, there simply isn't any such way. However, the most effective method to at least give the bike a fighting chance of being found is installing a decoy alarm. And by that I don't mean a blinking red light on the dash.
This project may get updated over time. To see the latest version, check here.
For the decoy alarm to make any sense, the first step is to properly install a real GPS Unit. To be truthful, there are two options. Installing an alarm on one side, and a GPS tracker on the other side, however, doing that you lose a lot of features like being able to use your phone as an alarm remote. Also, that means double the battery drain which is a huge issue for motorcycles. That's why I greatly prefer GPS Trackers which are also alarm units (as in one that sounds a siren if the bike is moved).
The GPS alarm will have to be properly installed. By that I mean concealed in some place where it isn't easily found (no small feat on a motorcycle). Good locations are inside the airbox (Perfect spot for the 2012-2016 Kawasaki Ninja 650), under the gas tank (2012-2016 Kawasaki Ninja 300) or similar spots. You will also have to wire it properly, which means no wires going directly to the battery.
You might wonder at this point that if we go through all that hassle, what's the point of a decoy alarm? The issue is that if an alarm sounds when the thief steals your vehicle, the first thing they are going to do is rip out that alarm. Even if it's just to make the alarm stop going off. If your alarm is both an alarm and a GPS Tracker, they will identify it as such and throw it far away from wherever your bike is. The benefit of a decoy alarm is that they will find the decoy alarm first and rip out that unit. Once they do, the siren will stop wailing making them think that the alarm is removed, and leave it at that. Making that siren stop is instant gratification so they won't bother to look further. What they won't know is that they only made the siren stop, but that the actual GPS alarm is still receiving power, and transmitting the (stolen) bikes position.
I do recognize that this is quite easy to do, and that most of the people who stumble on this DIY and are willing to do it probably already would have known how to do it on their own if they put their mind to it. That's why the main point of this guide is serve as an inspiration and motivation to take on the project more than anything else.
Working on any vehicle can be risky to both yourself and the vehicle. No warranties or guaranties, explicit or implicit, are made or implied regarding the compatibility, suitability or effect on any current warranties. All modifications should be made within the reader's capability and under their own exclusive responsibility.
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Step 1: What You'll Need
The only real "extra" component you'll need for this project is the cheapest 12v motorcycle alarm you can find. Don't bother looking for decoy alarms. Either they are recognizable as such, or would cost more than a cheap real alarm would (thank you economy of scale). A true, first-price 12v motorcycle alarm will cost you under 10$ in most cases (and might have a few internal components you could find use for). All you really want is the enclosure with the wiring coming out of it. The ideal unit for this project is your typical saturday night Ebay special, so just take a look at the following search results below, and choose whatever size or format you like most. Just make sure it looks like an alarm, it's compact, it has wires coming out of it, and the siren is separate from the control unit.
- If you just want a quick link to a suitable product on Amazon, here you go. This unit is my favorite, though you might be able to find it cheaper and unbranded on Ebay.
- If you want to peruse a reduced list of Amazon search results for other options, click here. Just make sure you search "From Low to High" with a max price of around 20$.
- If you want the cheapest option, Ebay is your best bet. You want to look for a unit that looks like the unit in the first link. This link should give you the best options. Ideally you should be able to find something under 10$.
Other Tools & Supplies
I'll just link to other things I needed for this project, just so you know what's needed and can make sure you have everything available before starting. Between parenthesis means useful, but optional.
- Multimeter - A staple in any automotive electrical project. I happen to be pretty satisfied with this one for quick work like this.
- Wire Stripper - For stripping wires
(Soldering Iron) - I really like this unit because of the long cable (great for working on vehicles), adjustable temperature, and On-Off switch.
Hobby Knife - For stripping fine wires that give the automatic wire stripper trouble.
(Rosin Core Solder) - The rosin core helps solder dirty wiring.
(Wire assortment) - High quality wire makes a huge difference reliability wise on motorcycles where corrosion is a big issue.
Electrical Tape - A staple in any DIY.
(Liquid Electrical Tape) - Use it if you really want to help make the bare stripped wires corrosion and humidity resistant. It's a great thing to have in your tool box.
(Dielectric Grease) - For protecting electrical connections from humidity. Put a dab in all the electrical connectors.
Glue Gun - And glue sticks too, of course. It will be used for adding weight to the decoy alarm.
(Alarm System Decal) - For what it costs, I like sticking an "Alarm System" decal on the decoy alarm, just to make it clearer. If you buy a decal, don't buy one that says "GPS Tracker" or anything of the sort. The decoy alarm does not look like a GPS tracker. You don't want the thief to even suspect you have a GPS tracker on the bike. My favorite decal is this one.
Step 2: First, Install the Real GPS Alarm As Normal
First you'll simply want to install the GPS Alarm however you see suitable. Install the alarm's siren, but don't wire it to the real alarm. Just leave the siren's wire disconnected.
If possible try to install the alarm somewhere near wires you can discretely tap for power, ground and ACC (power on ignition). On this 2016 Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS, the GPS tracker was installed inside the airbox and the ignition wires were tapped directly for the needed wires.
Step 3: Open Up the Decoy Alarm
The next step is to open up the cheap alarm you intend to use as decoy alarm. Cut off the wires where they connect to the circuit board. Keep the circuit board for parts or another project, if you like.
Step 4: Wire the Decoy Alarm
The feature of this decoy alarm is that if you disconnect the decoy alarm, the siren from the "real" alarm stops sirening, but the real alarm still works and keeps receiving power, as well as reporting the GPS coordinates of the (presumed) stolen motorcycles. It would simply be sufficient for the thief to disconnect the quick release connector from the decoy alarm to do this, which hopefully would incentivize them to do that instead of damaging the bike ripping wiring out. In any case, whatever they do to the decoy alarm wouldn't damage the real alarm.
You will need to wire the circuit as in the diagram attached. Simply solder the connections inside the decoy alarm as pictured. Heatshrink or otherwise insulate the connections however you feel best.
Regarding any connections made on the bike side, crimp or solder as appropriate. If soldering make sure you use the proper technique since soldering can lead to issues if done wrong.
Once you have made the connections inside the decoy alarm, super glue the rubber grommet through which the wires pass in place so it doesn't get pulled out too easily. You will also want to use hot glue to partially fill up the decoy alarm to give some weight to the decoy alarm. That way an overly conscious thief won't notice immediately that something is wrong simply by noticing the decoy alarm doesn't weigh anything. Or you could simply leave the original circuit board inside.
Step 5: Tuck Everything Away
You will want to hide the decoy alarm somewhere where it will take the thief effort and time to reach, but that won't take permanent damage to the bike to access. They will find and remove it anyway, so just don't make them destroy the bike in the process. Under the seat or near the battery is best. You want them to have every reason to believe that the decoy alarm is the real alarm, so don't make it too easy to find. You'll probably also want to wire the "red" and "black" wires directly to the battery posts to make it look like it is receiving power.
Step 6: And You're Done!
Now you can test it out. Hopefully someone finds this useful!
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- DIY - Decoy Alarm for Motorcycles
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