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Thread: DIY: Programing Transponder (The key part that starts the car)

  1. #1
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    DIY: Programing Transponder (The key part that starts the car)

    Hello all. Many of us have run it to the issue of having only 1 key for our car. And as we all know purchasing another has it's challenges. Being a Chronic DIYer I found the idea of programming my own keys interesting. And I've successfully programmed and even cut my own key. In fact I've program several transponders. And as is my style, I thought I'd share what I've learned. Might need some editing but if I don't thow this out there now it might never get done.

    But first there are many misconceptions about the keys. It amazes me how much miss information is out there. Here is an attempt to shed some light on the subject.

    There are two different electrical parts of the key. The part that remote locks and unlocks the doors and the part that enables the car to start. They are independent and, this is important, are NOT programmed at the same time or in the same way. There are lots of posts on how to pair the door locking part to a car. And this makes some believe this will make the car start. It will not. And one can program the key to start the car without programming it to unlock the car. In fact the key could not have the remote unlock part all together. The part that allows the car to start is a transponder. This is the part I will talk about. How to program the remote lock part has been covered in length. And it only takes a couple min to do. The transponder part is entirely different matter.

    Myths about the Key transponder and EWS (the part that starts the car)

    • It can not be programmed - not true
    • It can only be programmed by the dealer - most dealers don't offer this (maybe none do)
    • Only the factory in Germany can program them - not true. It just requires special equipment.
    • The car must be coded or programmed to accept the key - this is for the door unlock portion. Not the transponder, start the car portion.
    • Once the key is programmed it can't be changed - not true. The key is written to by the car every time it is used. And with a transponder programmer the complete key can be rewritten
    • Someone could program a key to my car without having the car. - Yes but ONLY if they have the data from the EWS. Which the factory does. And must guard for sure.
    • There can only be 10 keys for my car ever. - Not true. The factory can only make 10 keys without changing the program in the ews. Saturday I deleted then added back a new key 1 ( I never had key one, I only have key 5). To be clear. Up to 10 total keys can be made without altering the ews at all.
    • if I loose sync with my key to the car I have to order new keys. - Not true. The key can be reprogrammed just like a blank key. But not many people know how
    • If the battery goes dead in my key it won't start the car - Not true. Transponders do not use a battery at all.


    Things you may not have known about the keys.

    The transponder has an EEPROM in it and stores:

    • The vin number
    • Mileage at last use
    • Fixed password
    • Rolling code (random password)
    • Key number


    New (programmed) keys come with the vin and fixed password programmed. The ews assigns the first rolling code at first use and marks that key slot in it brain as used. The EWS will only provide that key with the next rolling code next time if the KEY supplies the correct rolling code. The ews also updates the mileage in the key. The EWS provides updated mileage and rolling code each time the key is validated (put ion and turned on and passwords are correct.

    If one were to duplicate the data in the transponder (have a locksmith make a duplicate of the key) the next time either key was used he key used would get a new rolling code and the other key would cease to work. If you want 2 working keys the duplicate must be coded as a different key in an unused slot and contain the fixed password unique to that slot in that cars ews. Which one can get from reading the ews or having bmw make you a key.

    We are DIYers so we don't want to go to BMW, so how do you and I get the info from the ews. It appears this information requires removing the ews from the car to get. One wouldn't want it too easy to get to or it reduces its effect as a theft deterrent. After removing the ews from the car the EEPROM can be read using different methods. For our purpose a key programmer is the most useful. Since that is what we want to do.

    These instructions are pretty useful:http://ncs-expert.com/e46-key-programming-ak90-guide
    A few things I would change or add to these instructions.

    Unless you are deleting keys from slots you only need to READ the ews. There is no need to write to the EWS (if you use an unused slot). If you keep the ews data. You can write another key to another unused slot without removing the ews (like the factory does). I did this the otherday once my key cutter came. I made an entirely new key without connecting to the car at all. Since I had the EWS data stored on my PC.

    If you are timid, read the ews. Write the key to a unused slot. Be on your way.

    If you are bold. Read the ews. Delete all used keys that you don't physically have.


    Perhaps Later I'll write up more on how to cut the actual key. I've learned a bit about that as well. I want to try a few more things before I write up what I learned.

    Thaniel
    Last edited by Thaniel; 11-25-2014 at 08:22 AM.

  2. #2
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    Thatīs just great info, thanks for sharing! Luckily I have all 4 keys for my car
    But I have one question - if programming new key, you have to select correct EWS chip type. Without removing EWS, how to you know correct type?

  3. #3
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    Have you actually found a way to re-virginise the rfid chips in the keys?
    Current:

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marek555 View Post
    Thatīs just great info, thanks for sharing! Luckily I have all 4 keys for my car
    But I have one question - if programming new key, you have to select correct EWS chip type. Without removing EWS, how to you know correct type?
    For the DIYer the ews has to be removed once to read the data from i, the chip type can be seen then. But I expect all e46 will have the same. Of the two I've tried that has been the case. I'll let you know after I read a few more. Will read my brothers car this weekend.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by legoman67 View Post
    Have you actually found a way to re-virginise the rfid chips in the keys?
    not entirely sure what you mean virginise. Kay's are either blank or programmed to a specific car. They aren't like the Other modules that adapt to the car.

    but following the instructions in the link will make a key that will be coded just like one bought from the bmw dealer. And the process can be repeated on the same key many times. Or in other words you can program a old key to a new slot. Or even to another car. Yes I have tested this.
    Last edited by Thaniel; 11-26-2014 at 05:35 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thaniel View Post
    For the DIYer the ews has to be removed once to read the data from i, the chip type can be seen then. But I expect all e46 will have the same. Of the two I've tried that has been the case. I'll let you know after I read a few more. Will read my brothers car this weekend.
    With PA Soft, I think it is possible read EWS data and save it as bin file. Question is, can AK90 program read from this file information correctly and program key. Maybe you can try this out?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marek555 View Post
    With PA Soft, I think it is possible read EWS data and save it as bin file. Question is, can AK90 program read from this file information correctly and program key. Maybe you can try this out?
    You and I think alike. Thought if that could be done then it'd save having to remove the EWS. While it is not a difficult task it is another task.

    But I did read with the PA soft and it doesn't read out the entire module. It gets some of the information But not the fixed or random passcodes. The fixed passcodes are needed for writing a key for an unused slot.

    Might be able to get more out by jumpering some pins on the EWS. But if one is that far then might as well remove it and read it with the key programmer. It is quite easy once the EWS is out.

    Not sure I mentioned in post one. But to clean off the EEprom pins I just use some fine emery paper. Takes like 2 min to do.

    Thaniel

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thaniel View Post
    For the DIYer the ews has to be removed once to read the data from i, the chip type can be seen then. But I expect all e46 will have the same. Of the two I've tried that has been the case. I'll let you know after I read a few more. Will read my brothers car this weekend.
    Pulled the EWS from my brothers zhp over thanks giving and it was also the OD46J. I'm guessing all E46's have that one. So far I've had a 2001 330I and a 2005 330xi and a 330zhp (for get the year) and they were all the same. The AK 90 is desinged to read EWS modules from V2 to V4 so their mention of other chip versions might have to do with that. Regardless it is easy to read off the top of the chip with the EWS out. And getting it out take about 10 min or less.

    Thaniel

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    Got the key cutting thing worked out. Just cut 3 keys and they all work. The trick in getting this key cutter to work with the bmw key is to put them in backwards, as in the pic, and shim them up 1mm. This way the reference edge of the key is clamped against the reference edge on the cutter. Clamping on the cast edge of the key results in uh... Non working keys. Guess how I know :-)
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
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    After cutting several successful keys for 2 different cars, one for a third car didn't work. It has far fewer miles so the ignition switch is probably more sensitive. (Key worked fine in the door). Got out my calipers and compared the new and old key. It now appears to me the reference or datum edge is the edge cut on the same side as the key profile. Hi revised how to hold the key in the cutter. See attached pictures.

    now I'm not sure that it was designed to be used this way. So I cleaned up the mating surface on the bottom and left using the machines own cutter. The. Cut another key blank. This one worked perfect.

    who knew the hardest part of making the key was the actual cutting of the profile.

    thaniel.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  11. #11
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    Thanks for your Post. Last year, I made a duplicate E46 key by : (1) Buying a blank key for $40 from eKeyfobs.com; (2) I programmed the fob myself to lock and unlock the doors; (3) Paid a locksmith $25 to cut the key; (4) Paid the same locksmith another $80 to program the key with the anti-theft code.

    I asked the locksmith how he programmed the key and he stated he accessed my 2001 BMW 330i's computer with a special program to get my BMW to recognize the transponder in the blank key. I always wondered how he did it and then I read your post.

    I am glad that I paid him to do it since it sounded complicated. In any case, I did not have to get the BMW dealer to do it and I ended up paying about $150 for my new key. I do want to comment that not many locksmiths can do this. The mom and pop locksmiths can't do it but a large business locksmith can. (i.e. about 4 or more employees with the owner being the one with this expertise.)
    Last edited by vchan2177; 01-25-2015 at 10:25 PM. Reason: left out a word

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by vchan2177 View Post
    Thanks for your Post. Last year, I made a duplicate E46 key by : (1) Buying a blank key for $40 from eKeyfobs.com; (2) I programmed the fob myself to lock and unlock the doors; (3) Paid a locksmith $25 to cut the key; (4) Paid the same locksmith another $80 to program the key with the anti-theft code.

    I asked the locksmith how he programmed the key and he stated he accessed my 2001 BMW 330i's computer with a special program to get my BMW to recognize the transponder in the blank key. I always wondered how he did it and then I read your post.

    I am glad that I paid him to do it since it sounded complicated. In any case, I did not have to get the BMW dealer to do it and I ended up paying about $150 for my new key. I do want to comment that not many locksmiths can do this. The mom and pop locksmiths can't do it but a large business locksmith can. (i.e. about 4 or more employees with the owner being the one with this expertise.)
    im in sac can you shot me the name and # of these guys

    - - - Updated - - -

    http://ncs-expert.com/e46-key-programming-ak90-guide im having problems with this link it keeps saying acount suspended any body else have this problem?
    did any body save the info in this link if you did can you send it to me?

  13. #13
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    Looks like the link is live again. Was going to offer to make another step by step but since that one's back up may as well use it.

    Saturday I coded and cut a key for a friend. Went perfect the first time. Think I've got the bugs worked out :-) Maybe I'll have to post my services on craigslist

    Thaniel

  14. #14
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    Hello dear.

    Hello dear.

    First of all thanks for the post, clear and nice.
    I hope you have an idea why I always getting back writing error after write a key! I managed to read the ews out and saved bin file too.
    I tried to write an used key, key testing option was fine, but after writing I got back error message. I hoped it's just the key... I bought an another used key and repeat the process with no luck, same error messages back after writing. In this time i just opened the saved bin file.
    Please help me if you have any idea why it is.
    Thank you!
    Joe




    Quote Originally Posted by Thaniel View Post
    Hello all. Many of us have run it to the issue of having only 1 key for our car. And as we all know purchasing another has it's challenges. Being a Chronic DIYer I found the idea of programming my own keys interesting. And I've successfully programmed and even cut my own key. In fact I've program several transponders. And as is my style, I thought I'd share what I've learned. Might need some editing but if I don't thow this out there now it might never get done.

    But first there are many misconceptions about the keys. It amazes me how much miss information is out there. Here is an attempt to shed some light on the subject.

    There are two different electrical parts of the key. The part that remote locks and unlocks the doors and the part that enables the car to start. They are independent and, this is important, are NOT programmed at the same time or in the same way. There are lots of posts on how to pair the door locking part to a car. And this makes some believe this will make the car start. It will not. And one can program the key to start the car without programming it to unlock the car. In fact the key could not have the remote unlock part all together. The part that allows the car to start is a transponder. This is the part I will talk about. How to program the remote lock part has been covered in length. And it only takes a couple min to do. The transponder part is entirely different matter.

    Myths about the Key transponder and EWS (the part that starts the car)

    • It can not be programmed - not true
    • It can only be programmed by the dealer - most dealers don't offer this (maybe none do)
    • Only the factory in Germany can program them - not true. It just requires special equipment.
    • The car must be coded or programmed to accept the key - this is for the door unlock portion. Not the transponder, start the car portion.
    • Once the key is programmed it can't be changed - not true. The key is written to by the car every time it is used. And with a transponder programmer the complete key can be rewritten
    • Someone could program a key to my car without having the car. - Yes but ONLY if they have the data from the EWS. Which the factory does. And must guard for sure.
    • There can only be 10 keys for my car ever. - Not true. The factory can only make 10 keys without changing the program in the ews. Saturday I deleted then added back a new key 1 ( I never had key one, I only have key 5). To be clear. Up to 10 total keys can be made without altering the ews at all.
    • if I loose sync with my key to the car I have to order new keys. - Not true. The key can be reprogrammed just like a blank key. But not many people know how
    • If the battery goes dead in my key it won't start the car - Not true. Transponders do not use a battery at all.


    Things you may not have known about the keys.

    The transponder has an EEPROM in it and stores:

    • The vin number
    • Mileage at last use
    • Fixed password
    • Rolling code (random password)
    • Key number


    New (programmed) keys come with the vin and fixed password programmed. The ews assigns the first rolling code at first use and marks that key slot in it brain as used. The EWS will only provide that key with the next rolling code next time if the KEY supplies the correct rolling code. The ews also updates the mileage in the key. The EWS provides updated mileage and rolling code each time the key is validated (put ion and turned on and passwords are correct.

    If one were to duplicate the data in the transponder (have a locksmith make a duplicate of the key) the next time either key was used he key used would get a new rolling code and the other key would cease to work. If you want 2 working keys the duplicate must be coded as a different key in an unused slot and contain the fixed password unique to that slot in that cars ews. Which one can get from reading the ews or having bmw make you a key.

    We are DIYers so we don't want to go to BMW, so how do you and I get the info from the ews. It appears this information requires removing the ews from the car to get. One wouldn't want it too easy to get to or it reduces its effect as a theft deterrent. After removing the ews from the car the EEPROM can be read using different methods. For our purpose a key programmer is the most useful. Since that is what we want to do.

    These instructions are pretty useful:http://ncs-expert.com/e46-key-programming-ak90-guide
    A few things I would change or add to these instructions.

    Unless you are deleting keys from slots you only need to READ the ews. There is no need to write to the EWS (if you use an unused slot). If you keep the ews data. You can write another key to another unused slot without removing the ews (like the factory does). I did this the otherday once my key cutter came. I made an entirely new key without connecting to the car at all. Since I had the EWS data stored on my PC.

    If you are timid, read the ews. Write the key to a unused slot. Be on your way.

    If you are bold. Read the ews. Delete all used keys that you don't physically have.


    Perhaps Later I'll write up more on how to cut the actual key. I've learned a bit about that as well. I want to try a few more things before I write up what I learned.

    Thaniel

  15. #15
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    Hello dear.

    Hello dear.

    First of all thanks for the post, clear and nice.
    I hope you have an idea why I always getting back writing error after write a key! I managed to read the ews out and saved bin file too.
    I tried to write an used key, key testing option was fine, but after writing I got back error message. I hoped it's just the key... I bought an another used key and repeat the process with no luck, same error messages back after writing. In this time i just opened the saved bin file.
    Please help me if you have any idea why it is.
    Thank you!
    Joe




    Quote Originally Posted by Thaniel View Post
    Hello all. Many of us have run it to the issue of having only 1 key for our car. And as we all know purchasing another has it's challenges. Being a Chronic DIYer I found the idea of programming my own keys interesting. And I've successfully programmed and even cut my own key. In fact I've program several transponders. And as is my style, I thought I'd share what I've learned. Might need some editing but if I don't thow this out there now it might never get done.

    But first there are many misconceptions about the keys. It amazes me how much miss information is out there. Here is an attempt to shed some light on the subject.

    There are two different electrical parts of the key. The part that remote locks and unlocks the doors and the part that enables the car to start. They are independent and, this is important, are NOT programmed at the same time or in the same way. There are lots of posts on how to pair the door locking part to a car. And this makes some believe this will make the car start. It will not. And one can program the key to start the car without programming it to unlock the car. In fact the key could not have the remote unlock part all together. The part that allows the car to start is a transponder. This is the part I will talk about. How to program the remote lock part has been covered in length. And it only takes a couple min to do. The transponder part is entirely different matter.

    Myths about the Key transponder and EWS (the part that starts the car)

    • It can not be programmed - not true
    • It can only be programmed by the dealer - most dealers don't offer this (maybe none do)
    • Only the factory in Germany can program them - not true. It just requires special equipment.
    • The car must be coded or programmed to accept the key - this is for the door unlock portion. Not the transponder, start the car portion.
    • Once the key is programmed it can't be changed - not true. The key is written to by the car every time it is used. And with a transponder programmer the complete key can be rewritten
    • Someone could program a key to my car without having the car. - Yes but ONLY if they have the data from the EWS. Which the factory does. And must guard for sure.
    • There can only be 10 keys for my car ever. - Not true. The factory can only make 10 keys without changing the program in the ews. Saturday I deleted then added back a new key 1 ( I never had key one, I only have key 5). To be clear. Up to 10 total keys can be made without altering the ews at all.
    • if I loose sync with my key to the car I have to order new keys. - Not true. The key can be reprogrammed just like a blank key. But not many people know how
    • If the battery goes dead in my key it won't start the car - Not true. Transponders do not use a battery at all.


    Things you may not have known about the keys.

    The transponder has an EEPROM in it and stores:

    • The vin number
    • Mileage at last use
    • Fixed password
    • Rolling code (random password)
    • Key number


    New (programmed) keys come with the vin and fixed password programmed. The ews assigns the first rolling code at first use and marks that key slot in it brain as used. The EWS will only provide that key with the next rolling code next time if the KEY supplies the correct rolling code. The ews also updates the mileage in the key. The EWS provides updated mileage and rolling code each time the key is validated (put ion and turned on and passwords are correct.

    If one were to duplicate the data in the transponder (have a locksmith make a duplicate of the key) the next time either key was used he key used would get a new rolling code and the other key would cease to work. If you want 2 working keys the duplicate must be coded as a different key in an unused slot and contain the fixed password unique to that slot in that cars ews. Which one can get from reading the ews or having bmw make you a key.

    We are DIYers so we don't want to go to BMW, so how do you and I get the info from the ews. It appears this information requires removing the ews from the car to get. One wouldn't want it too easy to get to or it reduces its effect as a theft deterrent. After removing the ews from the car the EEPROM can be read using different methods. For our purpose a key programmer is the most useful. Since that is what we want to do.

    These instructions are pretty useful:http://ncs-expert.com/e46-key-programming-ak90-guide
    A few things I would change or add to these instructions.

    Unless you are deleting keys from slots you only need to READ the ews. There is no need to write to the EWS (if you use an unused slot). If you keep the ews data. You can write another key to another unused slot without removing the ews (like the factory does). I did this the otherday once my key cutter came. I made an entirely new key without connecting to the car at all. Since I had the EWS data stored on my PC.

    If you are timid, read the ews. Write the key to a unused slot. Be on your way.

    If you are bold. Read the ews. Delete all used keys that you don't physically have.


    Perhaps Later I'll write up more on how to cut the actual key. I've learned a bit about that as well. I want to try a few more things before I write up what I learned.

    Thaniel

  16. #16
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    I have Pa soft 1.4 , i went in and looked and it says my key is key5. how can i make it key1 instead?? Can someone please explain.
    Electric Fan conversion, 840Ci thermostat, Dinan style CAI, 3.15 differential, Bel rx65 radar (hard-wired)

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninetyseven1 View Post
    I have Pa soft 1.4 , i went in and looked and it says my key is key5. how can i make it key1 instead?? Can someone please explain.
    You need a key programmer to make a new key. PA soft can't do it.

    But to make a key 1. it is essentially:
    1. Clear the key 1 data in the EWS. This will require writing the EWS. Which I do with the Key reader (see first post in this thread)
    2. Read the EWS and write the new unused Key 1 data to a new key. (same as making one for any unused slot)
    3. Put it in the car and turn it to on and it'll update the key and EWS slot 1. (Same as would making one for any unused slot)

    Thaniel

  18. #18
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    Great write up thanks.

    I have a bmw z3 with version 3.D EWS. I have bought a new AK90 and 10 new transponder chips. I have just one key, being key number 1 according to the AK90. I’ve not read the EWS yet.

    I want to make two more keys.

    Am I correct in thinking if I assign the new keys to the next 2 unused slots the AK90 will not write to the EWS at all?

    Am I also correct in thinking I could “delete” used key slots (I expect slots 2 and 3 will be used) and then use the AK90 to create new transponders for those slots? And this method WOULD write to the EWS?

    Which method would be best given a new owner (who would not know what slots have been used) might order new keys new keys from bmw?

    What has confused me is words like “deleting” (or clearing) used key slots whereas reading between the lines the “basic” data related to each slot is never deleted, only the “temporary” (maybe rolling code?) data, and when the temporary data is “cleared” and a new key then made for that slot, the EWS will know to “initialise” the new key on first use.

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