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CAN bus (NOT OBD) data - reverse engineer? Or enhanced OBD PIDs?

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  • CAN bus (NOT OBD) data - reverse engineer? Or enhanced OBD PIDs?


    I've developed a bit of an obsession with trying to get performance data out of the ECU/PCM on my Ford truck. Mainly, I wanted to come up with some sort of instantaneous fuel economy reading. Since I have a new (6.4L, CRD design) diesel engine, it's impossible to get this information from the standard OBD PIDs. I've been doing a lot of research, and it seems like the data *may* be available on the engine CAN Bus (HS-CAN, 500Kbps). I have access to the ford engine manual and workshop manual, which tells which modules in the vehicle are on which busses. It also gives useful information, like telling me that the turbocharger boost gauge on the instrument cluster is fed over the 500 Kbps HS-CAN bus.

    I've found a few references online to people reverse engineering the CAN bus messages and figuring out what at least some of them are. I also have a list of the Enhanced PIDs from Ford, but it just lists the name of the PID, the abbreviation, the scaling, etc. but not the actual numeric PID.

    So, I was wondering...
    1) Does anyone know of a source for information like this?
    2) does anyone know of a website, forum, mailing list, etc. for crazy people like me who are trying to reverse-engineer stuff as opaque as the vehicle-specific CAN messaging?


  • #2
    Why not use one of the other two threads your active in asking similar questions? Cross posting is very difficult to follow and kind of clutters up the board.

    Forgive me if I misunderstand but this post seems awefully similar:

    I'm also very interested in getting data off of the CAN BUS (specifically HS-CAN) from a Ford vehicle... but I'm working with a F350 truck with diesel engine (2008, 6.4L).

    Has anyone found a source for the frame identifiers (IDs) used on the HS-CAN?
    My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE


    • #3
      Yeah, I'll admit, the message is similar. It seemed to me that the other thread was trending in the direction of OBD, and even after some pretty exhaustive searching (both here and on google) I haven't been able to find any threads directly relating to (or dedicated to) getting HS-CAN data that's not available via OBD...


      • #4
        I wish I could help you with this but it's beyond my scope of knowledge on CANBUS. (Which is pretty limited...) You likely can get some more answers out of Vitalty in the other thread. Good luck with it!
        My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE


        • #5
          I have spent the last 11 months reverse engineering the CAN protocol in a different vehicle. It is undoubtedly the most advanced and electrically complex vehicle in mass consumer production, so I am not sure how much less information your truck will have. But I basically used a Fusion Brain and another micro controller on a breadboard, hooked it up in passive sniffing mode, and monitored every transaction. Every message was printed, timestamped and saved to my laptop. I then wiggled switches pressed buttons, drove around, and other stuff. Once you figure out some of the basics, it gets easier and easier.

          I am an EE and have been doing this sort of thing for a while, so I have no idea what your background or expectations are. But almost a year of working on it between 15 and 30 hours a week and an analytical mind has decoded the mystery of my CANbus.
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          • #6
            Hello Mate,
            We have a local Lad Down Under, who did a lot of good work on decoding CANbus messages on our Aussie Ford Icon car, the Falcon.

            It should give you a good starting point, lots of reading, but will get you going.

            Have fun!
            F6 Tornado Project Log ; HP Blackbird Watercooled Server

            Beta Tester for Centrafuse and 3dConnexion (No business affiliation with either)


            • #7
              To say the least, there is a huge learning curve involved in reading CAN Bus data. I have been doing this professionally for the better part of 5 years, and still there are many new things that surprise me.

              Check out a my blog, where I attempt to shed light on the reverse-engineering process at
              Hack your car's CAN BUS at