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Hornet 700T Keyless-entry/security upgrade Review

Car Stereo Review, June 1999 by Micah Sheveloff
 

The Hornet 700T ($199, uninstalled) offers a complete roster of security features while still utilizing the remote transmitters supplied by the automobile manufacturer. It comes with a compact control module, a Revenger soft-chirp siren, a couple of plug-in accessories (including a red LED status indicator and a pushbutton Valet/prompt switch), and a primary wire loom.


A Stinger dual-stage shock sensor with built-in warn away is housed in the control module. (By the way, Revenger and Stinger are registered DEI trademarks.) An optional sensor input is also on tap if your car requires additional protection. For example, an Invisibeam Field Disturbance Sensor ($89) is designed to provide a protective envelope around an open-top vehicle (read: convertible) and is compatible with the optional sensor input. (For details on other compatible sensors, check with your local Hornet dealer.) There are also two manuals included with the 700T: one for the installer, one for the vehicle owner.

Straight out of the box, I found the quality of the 700T's parts to be decent, though not extraordinary. Unfortunately, like many of the wire harnesses I review in this column, the wire harness and the plugs felt fragile. On the other hand, the owner's manual was very informative and easy to follow. The installation guide was equally well written - for the most part - and provided written guidelines as well as schematic diagrams to make the task easier. However, there were a few confusing items in the install manual, such as the notation of an included 4-pin optional sensor plug on the system diagram on page 2 that's never mentioned anywhere else. Even so, the information presented in the manual was sufficient to get the job done.


Installation

James Samudosky, one of my ace installers, initiated our evaluation by obtaining a '99 Chevrolet Suburban fresh from the local dealership. After examining the 700T, the Suburban's stock keyless-entry system, and carefully reading the installation guide, Samudosky got down to business. The 700T is designed to interface electrically with the factory installed keyless entry system so that the lock button on the vehicle's remote arms the security system and the unlock button disarms it. During the install, numerous connections were required in order to allow all of the features to work - such as light flash confirmation, panic, starter disable, and the siren mounted under the hood - properly.

Samudosky decided to locate the 700T's control module on a sturdy frame rail under the dash. The position of the rail helped conceal the module, and its solid structure assured that the shock sensor would work reliably. Sensitivity adjustment for the dual-stage shock sensor is handled by a small knob located on the side of the module. Samudosky positioned the control unit so that he could reach up under the dash and turn the knob even after the brain had been mounted. This was important when fine tuning the system. All of the wiring was taped using 3M brand 33+ vinyl wrap and harnessed so that it matched the stock General Motors wiring harnesses under the dash. At a quick glance, I doubt anyone - especially a thief in a hurry - could tell the difference. The LED was flushed into a blank switch panel next to the radio in the dash.

Samudosky was surprised that the installation manual indicated that the main source of 12-volt power for the 700T could be obtained from the 12-volt source at the ignition switch. Some alarm microprocessors are too sensitive to changes in voltage, so their power cables must be run directly to the car's battery. The 700T appeared not to require the direct-to-battery approach, which meant fewer wires out under the hood and, thus, less install time. All of the electrical connections were made as indicated in the instruction manual. The 700T also included a fuse holder for the power source, which Samudosky installed in line and tucked away out of sight. Although I consider a fuse holder an absolute necessity, many companies neglect to include one with their systems. Props should be given to DEI for including one here.

The time required to install the 700T will vary from vehicle to vehicle, of course, and, depending on the thoroughness of the installer, installation cost will vary as well. James spent 4 hours completing the Suburban 700T install, making sure all of his connections were reliable, and hiding his work from prying eyes. And then the moment of truth was finally upon us. Would the 700T work?


Evaluation

Every feature I tested on the 700T worked perfectly. Through a series of pre-specified pushbutton sequences, all of the system's features were easily controlled via the factory keyless-entry system's remote transmitters. The six-tone Revenger siren sounded a 125-dB alert as a result of opening any door, opening the tailgate, or striking the truck like someone attempting to break a glass window.

In addition to using a factory remote, the system can also be disarmed using the Valet switch (which was mounted up under the dash, remember) in combination with the ignition key. To disarm the system, you have to turn the ignition switch to the "run" position, then press and release the Valet switch within 10 seconds. This feature is supposed to be used if a remote is lost or rendered dysfunctional. The first time I tried this disarming sequence, I wasn't quick enough, and the switch did nothing - just like it's supposed to do. Once the ignition is turned on, the Valet switch must be pressed within the specified 10 seconds or it won't work. The Failsafe starter kill kicks in and won't allow the car to be started and the siren will sound. This feature is very ingenious because it might confuse thieves trying to beat the system by locating the Valet switch. By the time they'd find it and activate the ignition by breaking the steering column, it would seem inactive and leave them puzzled. I like that - a lot. Once I got the timing of it down, the Valet/ignition-witch-disarming sequence worked like a charm.

The built-in shock sensor did well considering the grandiose size of the Suburban. It was less sensitive at the rear, but that's expected. A second sensor may be a wise addition for such a large vehicle, but for smaller vehicles the single built-in sensor will work just fine.

The Panic feature sent the siren wailing when I pressed the lock button on the transmitter twice within 3 seconds. And you can put the system in the Valet mode via the remote through a sequence of button pushes when a car door is left open. I thought this was a very convenient feature for people who get in and out of their cars frequently, while doing things like making deliveries, picking up the kids after school, or transporting them to and from soccer practice.

The 700T also boasts what Hornet calls Nuisance Prevention Circuitry, which baby-sits all of the sensors and inputs to the control module and helps eliminate false alarms. Here's how it works: If the alarm is triggered three times in the course of an hour by the same sensor or trigger, this advanced circuitry interprets the pattern of triggers as false alarms. After the third trigger, the system bypasses the faulty sensor or switch for 60 minutes. If the bypasses switch or sensor tries to trigger the system while bypassed, the 60-minute bypass period will start over every time it falses. This ensures that a sensor that continuously triggers the system will remain bypassed until it's fixed. Believe me, this feature will certainly go a long way in helping to maintain the peace amongst your neighbors.


Conclusions


I have to say that I really liked the Hornet 700T. True, it may not provide the same level of security as a well-installed state-of-the-art alarm system with advanced features like anti-codegrabbing or dual-kill immobilizers. But for cars with a factory-installed keyless-entry system that require a reasonable degree of protection, and for consumers who feel that abandoning the keyless system that came as standard equipment is wasteful, the 700T is a relatively inexpensive and effective upgrade option. I was impressed with the finished product and how flawlessly it interacted with the Chevrolet Suburban's keyless-entry remotes. The 700T is a good value and well thought out product. Who knows - with it, you might even experience love at first sting.


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