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OBD-II/CAN Scanner Hardware & Software

OBD-II/CAN Scanner Hardware & Software

I recently discovered my 12-year old Actron code reader cannot read the newer CAN protocol. Works fine on my '97 Taurus GL wagon (3.0L) and '02 Impala (3.4L), but it had previously failed reading a friend’s '07 (?) Toyota Tocoma and more recently my Aunt’s '96 (?) Hyundai Sonata. Both times it just came back with a flashing LED. Didn’t know why at the time.

So - the wife wants a laptop (to replace the one the school took back) and I thought this would be a good opportunity to buy my next code reader (along with the laptop). I was looking at the Elm-family hardware as a possibility, but almost all of the software written for it looks like it hasn’t been updated since the early days of Windows. I see mention of ancient operating systems like Windows98, Windows2000, maybe some XP.

Except a product from OCTech called Touchscan Software. It’s $34.95 with a $24.95 professional add-on. The screens look modern and Operating Systems up to Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit) are supported. It appears to be the only software out there for these Elm units that is actively supported, but I could be wrong.

Is anybody using this Touchscan software who might be able to provide some insight? Also, regarding the hardware, who makes the best Elm-based unit? OCTech seems to be plugging Scantool.net’s hardware, but I ran across another software maker (GLM, out of Australia) who cannot recommend Scantool.net’s products because they discovered Scantool.net had switched to a Chinese clone chip of the Elm 327 (essentially stealing Elm’s technology at a much lower price). The clone chip also caused some compatibility issues for GLM. Probably want to stay away from that mess!

Does the laptop connection make your device more useful than a similar gadget that displays the information in its own window? I’ve been quite pleased with my new UltraGauge.

http://www.ultra-gauge.com/ultragauge/index.htm

I bought it primarily to check trouble codes but I am delighted to see all the other information that it presents while I am driving. No need to mess with any laptop connection. It works just fine in my new 2012 Hyundai which operates on OBDII and 11-bit CAN protocol.

A laptop is a definite ‘nice to have’ because it gives you the ability to record the data over time at regular intervals. Really nice for intermittent problems or tying problems to what the car was doing at one time.
Besides a regular Innova reader, I also use a Carchip for that reason. It will record 300 hours. If I didn’t have that toy, I’d go with a laptop reader as well.

You can buy a USB to OBD-2 cable that comes with several free software diagnostic programs on eBay for little money…Any Windows laptop becomes a diagnostic tool…

Thanks for the input. Didn’t know the ultra-guage was so powerful - and at such a reasonable cost! Plus, the small size makes it easy to connect and use.

In theory, however, the laptop setup is more flexible and extensible.

Do I NEED that? I don’t know. I’ve been fine with just a simple $150 Actron code reader for 12 years (the equivalent of which sells for about half price today).

But it looks like I’m locked in for the new laptop, so that’s probably where this is headed. But then again, maybe I’ll buy both! It’s not like these things are prohibitively expensive!

Thanks again. Can always count on this forum to get meaningful responses from posters who have been here for a L-O-N-G time…