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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 08-05-2014, 07:45 PM   #1
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Wellington, NZ
Posts: 4
My Ride: 03/2001 325i
DIY: E46 Retrofit Infrared to Radio Frequency remote control

My E46 was imported from Japan and came with the infamous 2-button Infrared (IR) remote control system. The range of the IR signal is extremely limited and also requires a direct line of sight to the car. After reading through some forum threads combined with some of my own findings it seemed fairly easy to convert from IR to RF. This is a guide to inform you of the basic steps. I'd like to thank Colin from bmwgm5.info for giving me some suggestions and helping me along the way to make this work.

On cars with infrared control the antenna for the central-locking system (FZV) is incorporated with the receiver into the interior rear view mirror, whereas the radio frequency receiver is part of the antenna amplifier which is installed in the left C-pillar.

In both instances the receiver produces a digital signal based on the transmitter command (IR vs. 315/433MHz) and sends it to the GM5 for processing. The GM5 then carries out all remote locking and opening features, along with the DWA arming/disarming functions. The one thing both locking systems have in common is the incoming signal at Pin#49 of the General Module unit (X253, 54-pin, black plug connector).

1) Antenna Amp w/ RF receiver

You must replace the antenna amplifier. There are 2 different frequencies used (315 MHz and 433 MHz) which vary from country to country. You must first determine which frequency you want. You could go either way but you probably want to make sure you are in compliance with federal requirements.
  • # 65 25 6 906 074 433 MHz EU
  • # 65 25 6 906 075 315 MHz US/CAN/JAPAN

I found a used 433 MHz Antenna Amp on ebay for about $30.

As a side note, you often find the older-style diversity Amp (99-01) featuring an extra co-axial connector for signal quality determination. I do not recommend getting one of these. People who upgrade their radio but have the old amp installed often discover degradation in radio reception quality until they also finally decide to replace the amp for a newer one. There are various threads on this issue across the boards if you're interested.

2) Matching Keys (diamond style 3-button key)

For this I didn't go to the dealer but decided to take the DIY route which proved to be a lot cheaper:

I ordered two uncut EWS Remote Key 3 Button 433MHZ BMW HU92 key blade including virgin transponder chip and AK90 Key programmer, all for about $140 on ebay. The locksmith finally charged me $40 to cut both keys. You might be able to find an automotive locksmith that can also program the transponder for you.

3) Wiring

You need to run your own wiring harness from the Amp (connector X1143) to the GM5 and fuse box behind the glove compartment.

In a nutshell: On a sedan you pop off the left rear seat side bolster and remove the front and back inner door sills to expose the carpet entry points. Then route your new harness alongside the existing one to the front of the car using some zip ties.

Parts needed:
  • # 61 13 8 377 072 Universal socket housing, 3 POL.
  • # 61 13 1 393 702 Terminal socket (0.2-0.5 mm2), come in 10-pack
  • 10ft of 2-conductor stranded wire, 20AWG (0.5mm2)
  • 2 Scotchlok or quick-splice connectors

Cut both strands of your wire to same length and crimp a terminal to each end of the wire, only Pin#1 and #3 are needed.

Important: Disconnect the negative battery lead (ground cable) before tapping into the fuse box and GM5 unit!

I am not going into detail on how to locate and gain access to the GM5 or the back of the fuse box as there are plenty instructions available on the web. Using the scotch connectors, tab the wire coming from Pin#1 to the back of Fuse49 (Red/Violet wire). Pin#3 wire gets spliced to the wire at Pin#49 (Blue/Red wire) of plug connector X253 (middle one) at the GM5 module.

It's probably a good idea to double-check your wiring to rule out any connectivity issues before putting everything back together. When you connect a meter to Pin#1 and one of the grounded T20 Torx screws of the Amp you should read +12V. Pin#3 should give you a reading of +5V. Check if the +5V drop slightly when pressing any button on the RF key fob, same goes for the IR key.

4) Key Programming

I noticed that upon completion of the retrofit you have to switch the ignition on and off briefly for the vehicle's electrical system to recognize the new components. After that you should be able to proceed with the standard BMW syncing procedure for the diamond-shaped key. The IR key will work as well as it should be still connected to the GM5.

5) Retro-fit Coding

This retrofit is not coding-relevant! You could add it to the VO of your car if it really matters to you but it will not make a difference in functionality. For the sake of completeness I used NCSExpert and added Option S874A RADIO FREQUENCY 434 MHZ and also removed S875A INFRARED REMOTE CONTROL - it didn't make a difference at all. All the other components that complete the RF system, such as the rear window antenna, trap circuit and EWS ring around the top of ignition cylinder for inductive charging are already installed by BMW. The electric trunk lock will also work with the new key.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions.
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Last edited by andyburm; 02-23-2015 at 01:14 PM. Reason: minor additions
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Old 08-28-2015, 04:02 PM   #2
Allan Gannon
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Qualicum Beach BC
Posts: 1
My Ride: 323i
I have progressed fine with the retro fit with the exception of the 49 pin connect to the GM5 plug connector. On my 1999 sedan presently equipped with the infra red system I do not have an existing wire connected to the plug connector pin #49 so not able to determine what connection will serve to trigger the action of the GM5 as identified in your excellent DIY article. I would appreciate help on this one.
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Old 08-29-2015, 12:51 AM   #3
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Wellington, NZ
Posts: 4
My Ride: 03/2001 325i
Pin 49 of the X253 (GM5) is the signal line for infrared (electrochromic rear view mirror), as well as for radio remote (radio amplifier) control.

Why there is no connection coming in at that Pin I cannot explain, but comparing all the GM5 for different model years, Pin 49 is always reserved for the remote control (FZV) signal, featuring a 20AWG blue/red colored wire. It's probably therefore safe to connect to this Pin.

If this doesn't answer your question, it might be interesting to see what goes out from the mirror. You could have a look at Pin2 (again, should be blue/red) of the mirror plug-connector and verify what colored wire is connected, then try find that same wire at your GM5. All pins are marked with small numbers.

Alternatively, you could email scott@bmwgm5.com (www.bmwgm5.com) or colin@cabraham.co.uk (http://bmwgm5.info). These guys are pros and will be able to square you away.

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infrared, ir, radio amplifier, remote control, rf

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