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Discussion Starter #1
ok, got a new toy :bouncer:

I've been doing a lot of research about OBDII readers and what you can do with them. I figured out that I wanted one based on the ELM327 v1.2 chip to communicate with my car's computers via my laptop using USB. After careful inspection of a few units, I went cheap on the reader itself and chose the software separately. Now I want to share with you guys what I learned.

1st, the unit:

I got the device you see below from ebay for $73 shipped, not bad considering this was coming from Canada (I'm in the US). All the other devices out there are running about $150-250+ and most come with nothing more than a CD of demo software. The guy I got it from is http://myworld.ebay.com/extra_info here. I liked the product and was able to confirm that it was indeed an ELM327 v1.2. There are only 3-4 chips that communicate with OBDII and all of them are either an ELM (manufacturer) chip or an emulation of ELM. ELM323 (gen I) has limited functions and 9.6k baud communications (speed of communication with PC). ELM327 (gen II) has CAN functions and reads all sensors in the car as well as faster communications at over 38k baud with a maximum baud of 57k available from the ELM327 v1.2.



Now if any of you decide to get this particular model... let me tell you a mod that can be done...



if you open the unit (remove 3 screws from the back and open 1/2 of the housing), there is a three prong jumper in the middle of the circuit board. if you read the markings on the board, there is a 38000 imprinted at the end of the three prongs where the jumper is not connected. that is the high speed setting (I tested it both ways). if you remove the jumper and move it to jump the center pin with the pin closest to the 38000, then the unit will connect to your car at 38000 and boost to 57000 baud when you begin reading from the car...

I need to step away from this right now, but later I will post my experience with the software... the one I chose was OBD 2007 by GLM Software...

http://www.glmsoftware.com/

there are screen shots on their site... so software review is coming later today...
 

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Be interesting on how the software works. Ive seen the elm units but never purchased one because I couldnt decide on the software. Cant wait to hear your feedback on it!
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
more about the unit...

sorry to not have the software review done yet... I am working on it. the unit itself is quite simple. you plug it into the car, it gets power from the 12v in the car, not your laptop - even though USB can power devices up to 5v (required to run the chip). your computer never actually sees the unit. on your device manager you simply see a new COM port and, for those of you from the modem days, everything else is simple AT commands through a COM device. for those of you who have even used AT commands with a USB GPS, it's the same thing... you send the device a particular AT command, you get back streaming info that is translated by the software to display on your screen. to better understand the AT commands, check the OBDII standards...

http://www.epa.gov/obd/

I couldn't find the book again that I can across, but there is a book with all the AT commands in it. you can literally take that book and using simple basic programming create what ever interface you want. here is the datasheet on the ELM327 with all the AT commands...

http://www.elmelectronics.com/DSheets/ELM327QS.pdf

the software I chose was not based on price. there are quite a few programs out there for free (shareware/freeware), but the commercial ones seem to be all-in-one packages. I don't really care about frill either. if it gives me the information I want, I don't care if it looks like an analog gauge or not. I chose OBD 2007 because of the company's reputation for support and the overall functions that it gave. the company even has a forum on their site, and a place to make suggests for future enhancements. I like that. I already gave the link, the price is $89. no shipping to worry about, just download it, and buy the codes (sent via email, about 15min) to make everything work.

the install of the software was simple, but the program did forget to make a shortcut to the start menu, to run the program. I created the shortcut (from the installed directory in the program files folder) and off I went...

I'm still making all my screen shots and all. bear with me... hopefully I will have those up tonight... more to come...
 
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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
well, playing around the software, I see some goods and bads. it is pretty basic... after you connect, you can look at the status of your connection...



next thing you want to know after that is what info can you get... sensor & general outputs are called PIDs. this program reads the car and tells you what PIDs are available... if it's not there, you don't have to look at a blank output... I like that...



once you find out what you can see, you want to see it...



as you can see from the screenshot, you not only see the value of the output, but you also get the units, min, max, & avg. that's cool. that comes in real handy if you have a sensor jumping around... or doing a wiggle test on a harness and watch for changes.

next, you might want to graph some of these things...



so you can pick any 4 outputs and place them on individual graphs on the same screen... also cool for troubleshooting.

now as far as showing codes, this program grabs all long term and short term codes in one read button. I didn't take a pic of that because I don't have any codes in there... lol. but look at the company's site under screen shots and you will find examples.

as far as frills, this program has that too. a digital dash that mimics analog gauges... with a twist...



so in stead of just frills, you get the standard gauges and the IAT, MAP, H2O Temp, Engine Load, and Timing... really good stuff (for frills that is). if that wasn't enough, you have a fuel area that gives what looks to me like injector timings and MPG if you have a MAF system. here's the screen shot, but our Intrepids are speed density and that page is useless to us...



last but not least... the virtual dash shot while the car is running down the road (don't do this without help, lol)...



overall, I am happy with my purchase of the reader and the software. I look forward to troubleshooing with it and have already passed the word to family and friends to let me diagnose their vehicles... lmao. there are some things that I didn't like...

lack of speed density features

speed of communications still too slow for live driving data, although using the trip logger, it appeared that the problem was the software not keeping up... the data was in the log

my own lack of terms and values... coming from an OBDI world into this Trep, I have really found that I have a lot more to learn now that I know what I need to know

I recomend these products to anyone willing to take the challenge. if any of you are within range of me... you are free to contact me for diag help... I don't care to share... for anyone, if you have specific questions or you want to see this thing do something particular, send me a PM, I may not have thought of it... I can always put a utube video up or something to answer your questions...

so let the playing begin...

after posting, the screen shots may be too small... here is the link to the full size pics...

http://www.supermotors.net/vehicles/registry/18687/64859
 

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Very interesting..The reader and the software seem to be very compatible and pretty close to scan tools costing quite a bit more!!...keep experimenting and posting!!


Also:
QUOTE:... sensor & general outputs are called PIDS (no idea what that means).

PIDS is short for Parameter Identifications, basically what the vehicle firmware can or can not scan or look for and report back to the PCM or OBD system...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Also:
QUOTE:... sensor & general outputs are called PIDS (no idea what that means).

PIDS is short for Parameter Identifications, basically what the vehicle firmware can or can not scan or look for and report back to the PCM or OBD system...
that makes sense... then is should be PIDs for Parameter IDs... thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
for those of you that are interested in this, I have a further development in the OBD 2007 software. one of the interesting sides of the program is the ability to send the raw data coming from the car to a log file. the log file is a simple text file with a dump of all the data that the OBD reader gets from the car while the program is running. An update to the program that was released on July 15 gives the ability to take these log files and play them back in a 5-spd simulator that allows you to choose different screens and data to look at during the recorded trip.

This means self diag... no need for a partner in the jump seat, just hook up the laptop and throw it in the jump seat next to you and drive around... your error or problem shows up during the trip and you get to play back at one of 5 speeds to see what went wrong. (hopefully you're doing this from the safety of home, lol)

this is money well spent...

as before, if you guys have any requests/questions let me know... sometimes I'll get pretty busy with work, but I will get back to you...

Dave

PS: I've been trying to think of things that I would like this program to do, but due to my limited knowledge of OBDII, I am coming up blank. any ideas for output or getting info from the car... I know one thing, this reader gets info from a 2nd PCM in the car. I can't tell whether its the BCM or TCM. It's identified as "2nd PCM." I'm going to try and find out more about it so I can pass the info onto the writers to see if they can get more diag info from the 2nd PCM.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
well, I found yet another cool thing about this program...



it's called mapping, and it lets you compare any two sensors and the RPMs of the engine to give both a chart and graphs so you can see how they interact.

the colors on the chart are: red = reading too low, yellow = reading too high, and green = reading is normal...

so in regards to my lack of power issue, for those that recall, I now have documented proof that when the throttle opens, the timing retards, the RPMs drop, and the engine has no power until it recovers. checking the sensors against each other, I have determined that the MAP sensor is reading low (red) during times when it should be normal or constant, and reading high (yellow) in times of idle when it should also be constant... also my MAP sensor is showing some erratic readings while cruising down the road... I'm getting more and more data, but I still don't understand all that it's telling me... I did finally buy a replacement part last weekend in an attempt to relieve frustration (impulse buy of $100). I bought a TPS and installed it, since a lot of my sensor data told me it was reading wrong. I now believe that it wasn't the issue, that one or more of the other sensors was making the TPS look bad when it wasn't. I do believe my IAT sensor is reading too hot, but I'm holding off on more purchases because these sensors are expensive, and I believe I have the tools, just need the knowledge... more on the way...
 

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WOW, thats pretty sweet. Makes me want to do something like that.

If your still having trouble with speed, what USB wire are you using? It might work better if its a highspeed one? Not too sure on that though
 

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Does it show the readings from the knock sensor?
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Does it show the readings from the knock sensor?
you know, I didn't see that one, but I'll check and make sure... in a conversation I had with GLM, there tech told me that the software has a library of 90 PIDs that are common to just about every vehicle and the car ECMs give a list of available PIDs to the reader upon connection... that sets the program specs for you... for those of you that know modems, there is a terminal window within the program that allows you to enter direct AT commands to the PCM through the reader and you get feedback from your command right there in the window... it's just like the old DOS and modem days, just talking with the car's computers in stead of hacking NASA, lol...

WOW, thats pretty sweet. Makes me want to do something like that.

If your still having trouble with speed, what USB wire are you using? It might work better if its a highspeed one? Not too sure on that though
I was never having problems with speed of the software. I'm not sure where this question is coming from. USB ports are capable of a whole lot more speed than the ELM327 chip is capable of... but the ELM327 chip is faster than the car computer, or at least the speed of the OBD port (car computers are busy with car functions, OBD port is secondary when the ECMs are busy - confirmed by GLM). the program has a status bar at the bottom of the screen that gives connection speeds and that's always been fine. it also give a PIDs/sec reading with regard to the info from the PCM... my 2000 Dodge Dakota gives about 3-4 PIDs/sec, where my 2004 Dodge Intrepid gives 12+ PIDs/sec... they both connect at 38.4k baud and boost to 57k baud... basically think of it as a modem connection, cause it uses a serial port to communicate with the car, and the reader has a chip in it that converts serial to USB and then an external cable USB-B to USB-A to the computer... it's as good as it can get as far as speed...

If I can get my dad to let me hook up to his 2006 Dodge MegaCab w/Hemi, I'll let you guys know if its any faster... lmao, but that's not likely to happen soon...

My mom has a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix that we can use for comparison also...
 

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I have an OBDII scan tool (Alex Peper) and would be curious to see how well this program works with my device.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I have an OBDII scan tool (Alex Peper) and would be curious to see how well this program works with my device.
you can download it from their website, it's a functioning trial for 7days. the website is posted in an earlier post to this thread... their software is designed for ELM-based devices, but if your reader has an ELM-capable mode (emulation) it should work fine. In my research, there are only a few chips out there that are not ELM or ELM-capable... most of those are proprietary applications (like Audi)... being that you have a Dodge/Chrysler vehicle, I'd say it should work...

I did try to use Alex's software on my reader and it didn't work. the software seen the serial port, but never could initialize the device to connect to the car... hopefully you have better luck...

more info on your unit, doing some research, it looks like the unit that Alex sells is an ELM320 or maybe even an ELM322... the very first chips the company put out for OBDII. I am pretty sure that OBD 2007 will use your device, but it explains why I couldn't use Alex's software on mine... either way, please let us know... I'd like to know just for personal knowledge...
 

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Discussion Starter #16
WOW, thats pretty sweet. Makes me want to do something like that.

If your still having trouble with speed, what USB wire are you using? It might work better if its a highspeed one? Not too sure on that though
sorry, I was rereading some of this thread and realized what you were talking about. The problem I noticed was that the digital dash and sensor readings appeared to have pauses. I have found that it's not the USB cable or any of the connections. part of the issue is in the car. the car's PCM and other computers are not fast enough to run the engine and all it's controls and dump that info out to OBD at the same time, so there are some lags to it. the other side of the coin is that the software is trying to write to two different logs and process the incoming data to display on the screen. as far as priorities go, the car takes care of it's own functions first and the software puts a priority on the logs, not the digital dash... so all is good... I'd rather have the logs to play back later anyway...

the ELM327 chip is capable of 500k baud, but the car computer is what dictates the speed of connection. an example: my 2000 Dakota sends 3-4 PIDs/sec to my laptop... my 2004 Intrepid sends 12-13 PIDs/sec
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Does it show the readings from the knock sensor?
sorry, no knock sensor data... but I will look into it further, my opinion is that if the data is passed between the car's computers, then it should be readable by OBD...
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
If anyone is interested in building their own OBDII reader based on the ELM327 chip, I have several schematics that can help, and for a limited time I can suggest a way to get the ELM327 chip itself for FREE... yes, I'm telling the truth!

:listen: ELM Electronics is beta testing the latest version of the chip with more features than before. for a limited time, you can go to their website, www.elmelectronics.com and get a free beta chip (aka ELM327 v1.3) mailed to you. I did it, and I got my confirmation email today that it was mailed. so if you are interested... all you need to do is go to their site and follow the instructions on how to request this beta...

Does it show the readings from the knock sensor?
more info on the knock sensor... I got some more education about OBD and the software/hardware available out there... a current limitation to OBD 2007 is that it only reads about 90 or so PIDs that are common to most vehicles. I have found that there are nearly 5000 PIDs possible across the majority of the auto manufacturers. some are industry standard by the rules governing OBD... others are manufacturer specific and the standards govern the actual IDs themselves. I have ordered a CD containing a database of these PIDs, both industry and manufacturer specific, and hope to use that list to help improve the OBD 2007 software by working with the programmer to add as many as possible. Currently, the knock sensor is not a common PID, but based on a preliminary list I found on the internet, there is a PID for the knock signal... so I hope it and many others are coming...

whether the PIDs become part of the software or not, they can still be used... the program has a terminal window within the program that allows you to give direct commands to the PCM, and it responds with the results you ask for. so they can still be used and hope to test this all out very soon...
 

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After reading all your posts I have ordered a OBD II USB reader based on the ELM327 1.2a chipset. I almost spent the money for the Bluetooth version because it's just that little bit more tech. I was able to find the reader shipped for well under $50cdn so I couldn't turn it down. It is coming from hong kong so I'm sure it will take a while but I don't need it anytime soon(knock on wood).

Now that you've used the software, and obviously learned a lot since the first post, Would you still recommend the software you bought?

edit: Just sent an email for the new 1.3chip, Maybe with my soldering gun I can upgrade my new reader in the future.... How bad is it that it's only been 30 minutes since I bought it and I'm already thinking about tearing it apart?
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
After reading all your posts I have ordered a OBD II USB reader based on the ELM327 1.2a chipset. I almost spent the money for the Bluetooth version because it's just that little bit more tech. I was able to find the reader shipped for well under $50cdn so I couldn't turn it down. It is coming from hong kong so I'm sure it will take a while but I don't need it anytime soon(knock on wood).

Now that you've used the software, and obviously learned a lot since the first post, Would you still recommend the software you bought?

edit: Just sent an email for the new 1.3chip, Maybe with my soldering gun I can upgrade my new reader in the future.... How bad is it that it's only been 30 minutes since I bought it and I'm already thinking about tearing it apart?
some of the units out there mount the chip in a DIP socket and ELM is only producing the beta in a DIP, so you might get lucky and not even have to solder... I'll have to solder mine, but I think I'm going to build a totally separate one... with the schematics and info I have I don't want to risk my new chip on a corner that some else may have taken... no offense to anyone.

yes I would still buy the software. the programmer has been very friendly and although he is in Australia, he is always tentative to problems and even takes suggestions well. The more I deal with him, and play with the software, I can see that I will eventually find this software very helpful. I was even surprised to find out, when I told him of the free betas, OBD 2007 has had the new v1.3 capabilities in it since June 26th (officially) and had beta capabilities before that. given that the public beta release has recently started, it made me feel good about my purchase of the software. I am very satisfied with the product I have in my hand and the service it gives me. there are a few programs out there that say they have more PIDs, but I have not seen supporting results from their demos...

as for the hardware, from my knowledge, I would not buy anything less than an ELM chipped device. the generations of OBD protocols are: (in order, old to new)

Protocol [OBDII Pins]
SAE J1850 PWM [2, 5, 10, 16]
SAE J1850 VPW [2, 5, 16]
ISO 9141-2 / ISO 14230-4 KWP [5, 7, 15, 16]
ISO 15765-4 CAN [5, 6, 14, 16]
SAE J1939 CAN [5, 6, 14, 16]

the pins are the pins on the OBD connector... pin 5 is ground, pin 16 is 12v... everything else is data. pin 2 is the PCI network between the different computers in our cars and also the same wire that feeds the overhead displays (OTIS & EVIC, I mention because I'm trying to get software to read MPG). ELM puts out a chip to read each of these standards, but the ELM327 is the only chip that reads all of these standards in one package. regardless of whatever vehicle I have in my driveway, I would have no less.

also, something else I came across today that I am doing some more research about the possibilities... I found the PID codes that allow the DRBIIIs to write settings to the PCM. I even found a flash code for flashing the programming of the PCM. now before you guys start to drool all over the screens... I am trying to find out if it's possible to even do from a device like this... because the ELM chip is basically a serial modem terminal, my computer experience says, yes, it can be done... with the write program. if these codes are correct, it could give us the same hacking capabilities that the GM guys have on their cars... custom settings and flashes of the PCM... but more research must be done...

something else to think about, I guess the OBDII standards have never been applied to diesel engines. I ran across some proposals that would make it a standard there as well. That's job security for ELM, but it means we don't have to buy any different scanner to us mech types... that's a real good deal...

hope I answered your question... yes, I'm very happy with my purchase and I would do it again and recommend it to my friends... you guys...
 
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