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Best OBD/CAN scan tool & software for data display and logging

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  • Best OBD/CAN scan tool & software for data display and logging

    Hello to all from a noob! After a google search for forums discussing automotive scan tool hardware and software, this appears to be one of the more comprehensive.

    I have a 2005 Toyota Prius on which I want to do testing and monitoring of various driving methods, displaying and logging data on a laptop. I am looking for a software/hardware package that meets the following requirements and preferences:
    • Inexpensive: <$100 is ideal (though maybe unrealistic), <$150 preferable, $200 absolute max
    • Easy to read (while driving) screen display of multiple engine parameters
    • Intuitive software controls easily manipulated while in the car (e.g., starting or stopping logging, time stamps for events, changing display, etc.)
    • Continuous data logging, potentially for an extended trip of several hours and several hundred miles
    • Data export capability (e.g., TXT or CSV)
    • Capture of Prius-specific CAN data (preferred but, I acknowlege, possibly unavailable)
    • Fuel mileage calculations (preferred but also potentially unavailable)
    • Odometer functions (per-trip, etc., for correlating to performance data)
    • USB or serial interface. USB preferred if the price is close, but I have a serial to USB adapter.
    • One stop shopping for a turnkey, plug-n-play package for the "technically challenged" (preferred for convenience and support, but not required)
    • Prompt and reliable support, preferably via telephone
    I've ruled out ProScan because of the numerous problems reported here and elsewhere. Others I've looked at on the Web (hardware, software, or both) include the Digimoto/mOByDic package, OBDPro, OBD2Spy, OBD2AllInOne, PCMSCAN, and, not to mention some of the freeware and other standalone software packages. It's a dizzying array, and it's hard to get a feel for what would best suit my needs.

    Based on my specifications, are there any recommendations from among members here? Any you recommend I avoid? Pitches from vendors, BTW, are welcome.

    Thanks in advance!


  • #2
    Hi Jim,

    As one of the software vendors, here is my pitch for PCMSCAN. I'll just touch on each of the points you brought up:
    • Price - To buy both our hardware and our software as a package, it sells for just over $200 (for USB). However, if you use the discount, it will be more like $175. But, if you already own a supported hardware interface, we sell the software by itself.
    • Easy to read - IMO, this is all about personal preference. But, with our software, you can customize every aspect of the display. If you feel that the gauges or graphs are hard to read, then you have the ability to change them to your liking.
    • Intuitive software controls - We have worked hard to make sure our software is easy to control while you are driving. With a single key press, you can start, stop, or pause/resume the data logging. The display is color coded so that you can quickly glance over and verify that it is recording data.
    • Data Export - PCMSCAN fully supports data exporting to a CSV file. You can customize each row/column to show only the data you want in the CSV file.
    • Capture of Prius-specific CAN data - PCMSCAN does not support this currently. However, if you know the commands, you can use our OBD-II terminal feature to get access to this data.
    • Fuel mileage calculations - PCMSCAN is the only scan tool on the market to give the end user Javascripting support. With the built-in Javascript support, you can create custom scripts to calculate any value you want.
    • Odometer functions - See the previous item. Using the Javascripting, you can calculate virtually anything. And if you have an idea, but would like help creating a script for it, just come visit our user forum.
    • USB or serial interface - We sell both. The difference in price is only $10. So you can choose the one that best suits you.
    • One stop shopping - I think you will find that our software has more features than any other scan tool product out there. But if you find a feature that we don't offer, just let us know so we can put it into the product.
    • Prompt and reliable support - I believe our customer support is top notch. We are not one of those companies that just sell you a product and forget about you. We have an active user forum and also provide support through email. However, we don't currently have the resources to provide telephone support.

    I hope this helps you with your product search. Please let me know if you have any additional questions about our products.

    Brian @ Palmer Performance Engineering, Inc.


    • #3
      Brian, thank you very much for the detailed response.

      One follow-up question: Can it handle logging of several hours of continuous data?

      As for configuring it to capture CAN data or creating custom scripts, that's beyond me. Again, this is for the "technically challenged."

      Thanks again.



      • #4
        Oops! Looks like I forgot to address that question.

        The answer is yes, it can handle continuous logging of several hours of data. It is only limited by available memory and disk space.

        I think the longest continuous data logging run that seen anyone do with our software was like 3 hours long, and the software handled it perfectly. There is no reason it couldn't have gone for 30 hours.

        Brian @ Palmer Performance Engineering, Inc.