Installing K9 transport vehicle equipment
K9 units are jammed with extra technology and equipment, as transporting a K9 poses some unique challenges. Transport space, comfort, heat, airflow and ease of deployment are all important considerations when upfitting a K9 unit. Fortunately, most of these are accounted for in equipment design, but this means that fleet managers need several pieces of equipment to get everything they need from a K9 transport solution. Most of this equipment is quick and easy to install, but it’s important to note that advanced heat and deployment technology requires some wiring, which can make for a trickier install.
K9 transport equipment, as in the actual transport enclosure itself, is easy enough to manage. Transport enclosures typically need to be assembled before installation, but assembly is straightforward. For example, the Ray Allen RAM 500 Kennel, which is among the most popular on the market, requires only a screwdriver to put together. The RAM 500 Kennel comes with a top, a base and several wall panels, all of which are screwed together. Additional features, like casters or inserts can also be handled with little effort.
Given the relative ease in assembling and installing a K9 enclosure, the real challenge is setting up advanced heat or deployment management technology.
How to install K9 heat and deployment management technology
The technology that detects overheating and allows officers to deploy their K9 companion into the field is essential for safety. The best version of this technology is manufactured by AceK9, which is most apparent with its Hot-N-Pop product. The Hot-N-Pop is a clever piece of technology that serves two major purposes.
1. It monitors the temperature around the K9’s enclosure, using a pair of heat sensors that are placed inside the vehicle. When the temperature climbs past a preset threshold, the Hot-N-Pop alerts the officer with an audible alarm and with a notification sent to their phone. The Hot-N-Pop can power on fans connected to the system in response to increasing temperatures.
2. The Hot-N-Pop also opens the K9’s enclosure door when a switch is flipped from the control head or from a remote. With remote activation capability, the officer can deploy their K9 partner into the field at the first sign of trouble. In effect, the K9 is always with the officer, even when the officer is away from the vehicle. The Hot-N-Pop is designed to prevent accidental activation and to prevent activation entirely when the K9 vehicle is in motion.
The Hot-N-Pop is a valuable piece of technology that has saved officer lives and is gaining in popularity. Here is how to install it:
1. Install the control head – After reviewing all of the Hot-N-Pop’s components, address the control head first. It should be plainly visible following installation and placed in a dry spot. Plug the control head cable into the head to complete the control head installation.
2. Install the Intelabox – The Intelabox is the brains of the operation, and it should also be installed in a dry place, ideally where it can be readily serviced if needed. The Intelabox ground wire, which is black, needs to be attached to a ground, while the control head cable extending from the control head needs to be routed to the Intelabox. The cable connectors should fasten in straight and the cable should not be kinked. Do not run the control head cables parallel to transmitting antenna cables to avoid interference.
3. Connect the battery wire – The Hot-N-Pop’s battery wire should be connected to an uninterrupted battery connection point, capable of outputting at least 40A of power.
4. Connect the options cable and run some wire – The options cable should easily attach to the Intelabox, fitting into the 12-pin connector. Once it is plugged in, the cable’s individual wires have to be run to the Hot-N-Pop’s accessories and options. Refer to the installation manual for this step, as it’s meticulous, precise work.
5. Install the K9 Heat Alarm Pro alert features – The K9 Heat Alarm Pro monitors interior temperatures and produces alerts when triggered. It comes with several alert features, including a horn alert, siren alert and lightbar/strobe alert. The horn alert is connected from the options cable to the horn ring wire, and the siren alert is connected to the siren controller’s remote negative input. The lightbar/strobe alert feature involves connecting the green K9 options cable wire, assuming the light controller has a programmable input. If it doesn’t, then some additional wiring is needed.
6. Connect the window drop feature – The trigger wire is connected to the blue triggering wire located in the options cable. Some additional wires may be required, depending on the vehicle’s model. Never place the window drop module in a wet location or in a location that may become wet. Also, do not place it in the engine compartment, under a K9 transporter, under the seat, or in the center console under the cupholders.
7. Mount the temperature sensors – The temperature sensors must be installed so that the K9 cannot reach them, nor should they be placed in direct sunlight, in front of an air vent or behind the trim. They are intended for the K9 transport area, so they should be placed accordingly. The sensors are installed midway up the pillar trip, in front of the K9 transporter on each side.
8. Install the Heat Alarm ignition power – The Pro Series option cable comes with a red ignition wire that must be connected to the ignition power point on the vehicle’s fuse panel. The K9 Heat Alarm Pro will not operate at all until it is.
9. Install the neutral safety feature on the K9 Door Popper – The K9 Door Popper is what allows the officer to deploy the K9 remotely, so it must be precisely set up to ensure it engages only when it should. A primary safety feature in this regard is the neutral feature. To set it up, connect the brown neutral safety wire to the vehicle’s park signal wire or transmission range sensor wire. This will allow the K9 Door Popper to detect when the vehicle is in park, so it will not engage while the vehicle is in drive.
10. Mount the K9 Door Popper antenna – The K9 Door Popper antenna is routed to the Intelabox and should be kept as far away from other antennas as possible.
11. Prepare the door – The passenger side rear door is almost always the proper choice for the K9 Door Popper, as this ensures the K9 is not deployed into the flow of traffic. Remove the door panel from the door that is to be remotely opened when the K9 Door Popper is engaged.
12. Set up the door wiring – To complete door wiring, route the solenoid power wire from the Intelabox and pull the ground into the door. Connect the solenoid ground to the chassis, but do not ground the solenoid to the door. Route the unlock motor cable to the B pillar or into the door (this is vehicle model specific). Locate the unlock motor wire using a voltmeter. This wire will go positive during unlocking and ground at rest. Cut the wire and attach the cable’s yellow wire to the wire going to the motor. Attach the red wire to the wire coming from the switch/body control module.
13. Attach the K9 Popper wires – Connect the unlock, neutral safety and solenoid wires to the Intelabox.
14. Mount the gas spring – The door opening gas spring should be mounted with the rod pointing down at an angle. Refer to the installation guide for a visual on this. With the door completely open, mount the brackets 1/4 inch from the spring’s fully extended position. The spring should allow the door to open completely without the spring being entirely extended or compressed. Remove the door check so that the door can open quickly and smoothly.
15. Test the system – This is a complicated installation and one that has safety implications, so double check the wiring connections and secure all cables and wiring with cable ties. Place the Intelabox in its position, seal everything off from the weather and test the system’s temperature sensors, heat alarms and door opening mechanism.
Many upfits are basic enough that a general level of technical knowledge will be enough to get the installer through. Transport kennels and enclosures, for example, require little expertise to install properly. The Hot-N-Pop, though, requires some significant wiring to set up, and should be done by someone with experience wiring electrical components for the best results.