According to this:1) i have a 2006 mazda 3, do i need to get a "CAN" type OBD-II device? is that the only one that will work?
Your car indeed uses CAN for OBD-2. Any decent scan tool will support it.
Clones cut corners, and build the OBD connector right into the enclosure. ElmScan 5 tools come with an OBD-2 cable, you can even get one with a low profile connector:2) by looking at some of the pictures, is this thing going to be hanging around my feet? does the device that is connecting with the cable actually plug into the outlet under my dash or is there like a dongle type connection that goes in then goes into the unit then another cable coming out to the computer?
If you get the Bluetooth version, you eliminate the need to run the serial or USB cable from the scan tool to the PC.
Moderator please note, this is not spam: the link leads to MP3Car store.
ECM = Engine Control Unit, it's the computer box that runs your engine. There can also be TCM (Transmission), BCM (Body), etc.3) i saw some threads asking if the person's OBD device was ECM or something? what is that?
With the right software, yes.4) i plan to use this for informational purposes, car diag, MPG, engine load, temp, etc... will this do this?
Serial ports tend to be more reliable (they don't ever drop out like the USB ports can -- for example, if the USB cable gets disconnected). On the other hand, you can get faster baud rates on the PC side (up to 500 kbps). This may or may not matter (most OBD software uses the default 38400 baud setting anyway).5) i have a fair amount of USB ports on my carpc, but i also have 1 port that is serial on it, i'm considering getting a serial port device to just dedicate to that serial port. are there any down falls to using serial over USB for this application that anyone has experienced or knows about?
They don't care. USB and Bluetooth install virtual COM ports, so to the program they all look the same.6) this relates to #5, i'm assuming there are multiple programs out there, free and purchasable to use your OBD-II device. do they all require your device to be USB or can it be serial as well?
No need to apologize, we all learn by asking questions.thanks for all the assistance, and i apologize for all the questions. i looked around for some answers but i couldn't really find them. i do know that any vehicle 1996 and newer has an OBD-II connector though.