Hardware Reveiw: OBDLink scantool
OBDLink Product Review
(Sold in the MP3car.com store LINK)
Please see Attachment for a PDF copy including CLEAR pictures
What is OBDLink?
OBDLink is the latest in a line of PC based “scan tools” manufactured by scantool.net. A “scan tool” is a device which can be used to gain access to vehicle onboard diagnostics and engine management systems to acquire data on engine faults and real time engine running parameters and can also be used for data logging and dyno-testing (dependent on software application used).
Package Contents (Basic package):
Regular Price: $99.95
• OBDLink scan tool
• 1.8m (6 feet) USB cable
• 1.8m (6 feet) OBDII Cable
• Quick start guide
• Installation CD
From the offset I was aiming to make this review as clear and informative as I could manage with the hardware and software at my disposal and also trying to think of any questions that someone may ask so….. Here goes.
• Operating systems: XP and Windows 7
• Software packages: ScanTool.net (free), ScanXL Pro, Touchscan and ScanMaster.
• The test vehicles: manufactured between 1997 and 2008 in the European sector.
Specification (from manufacturers’ website):
• USB Interface
• Bluetooth (optional extra) up to 100m/330Ft
• Baud rates from 9600 to 1.4M Baud.
• Supports ALL legislated OBD protocols
• Compatible with more software than any other scan tool
• Extended command set allowing the tool to perform enhanced diagnostics that are not possible with ELM327 based scan tools.
• User upgradeable via free downloads
• Can be powered from OBD or USB for even easier firmware upgrades.
• Improved automatic protocol detection algorithm
• Smart keep-alive algorithm helps ensure a stable connection on ISO and KWP vehicles
• Large CAN memory buffer allows the scan tool to receive large amounts of data
• Greatly increased data throughput delivers faster screen updates and more graph points
• Dimensions: 3.75" x 1.7" (95 mm x 43 mm)
• Right angled OBD connector $4.95
• Bluetooth transceiver (Integrated into OBDLink) $49.95
• Bluetooth dongle (For the computer side) $14.95
• ScanTool.net protective carry case $39.95
Upon opening up the package I set about the first installation on a system running XP. Following the quick start guide I was able to quickly and easily install the drivers and the free software provided with no problems. This took approx 2-3 minutes to install, very quick and easy.
I did however notice that steps 2 (Connecting interface to the car) and 3 (Finding the Diagnostic socket) were the wrong way around on the quick start guide. I informed Vitaliy and the quickstart guide has been revised..
1. Insert the disc provided into the disc drive
2. The disc should open automatically. If not, go to “My Computer”, right click “CD drive” and click “Explore”. Then, double click on “setup.exe”.
3. When the opening screen pops up, select the OBDLink interface from the list on the left of the screen.
4. The next step is to install the drivers, in the top right hand side of the screen under the “DRIVERS” menu select the system you are running.
NOTE: If you are running Windows 7, then the drivers contained within the disc won’t work. I contacted Vitaliy who informed me that the Windows 7 drivers can be downloaded from ftdichip.com/Drivers/VCP and will be available soon from scantool.net.
5. Click on the “next” button to install the drivers.
Attachment 57510Attachment 57511Attachment 57512
In the case of any problems arising when using OBDLink there is plenty of help available to get the problem sorted.
Available for download on the Scantool.net website is two flow charts to help diagnose connection trouble. These can be found under the download section or by using the links bellow.
Also available for troubleshooting is two programs provided on the disc supplied with the interface. One of the programs is used to find he device “COM” port and Baud Rate to enable communication between the interface and the computer.
The second program is used to troubleshoot ECU connection problems.
Also on the disc is a link to the ScanTool.net support forum where assistance can be sought from other members or ScanTool.net staff.
Assistance may also be sought from the mp3car.com forum.
Firmware updates are made available for download from the ScanTool.net website to fix bugs, add new features, etc.
These firmware updates can be found here:
The firmware updates come as a compressed ZIP file, so the first step to perform the upgrade is to extract the contents of the ZIP file. To extract the files you can either click on the button at the top of the screen with “Extract all files” or you can click on the file with name “StnFirmwareupdater”.
Once the files are extracted to a folder of your choice, open the folder and click on the “STNFirmwareUpdater” file and the updater application will launch.
In order to perform the update you will have to specify the “COM port” for the device.
If you are unsure of which COM port the device uses, you use the “STN Finder” utility on the disc supplied with the interface.
Once you specify the COM port, click “Update Firmware” and the application will commence the update.
When you open up the free software package provided with the interface, you are required to select the COM port and baud rate for the interface.
If you are unsure about either of these, the data could be found using the link on the driver CD. Click on “STN Finder” and follow the instructions.
For some reason, I could only get the interface to work at 38,400 Baud with the free software. No faster, No slower.
I contacted Vitaliy who came back with “The free software does not switch the device baud rate, like for instance ScanXL does. The bottleneck is on the OBD side, and we found that increasing the baud rate from say 38.4k to 115.2k increases performance only marginally (in most cases, not noticeable for the end user)”
In the free software package the freeze frame and test data are not implemented in the current version. The free software is only useful for the basic reading and erasing trouble codes and viewing sensor outputs.
I tested the OBDLink interface with additional software packages to test the functions, the packages I used were: ScanXL Pro, TouchScan and ScanMaster. All three of these packages worked fine with the interface. So although the free software provided with the device is pretty limited to what it can do, there are a vast number of packages available to utilise the full functionality of the device and to meet your specific needs.
Installation: ScanXL Pro was pretty straightforward to install and register and only took a few minutes to complete. I also successfully installed ScanXL Pro onto my system running Windows 7.
Details: ScanXL Pro has a wide range of functions (as shown in the screenshots bellow) to utilise the full functionality of OBDLink, these functions include:
• View and record sensor data
• Read and delete error codes
• Read freeze frame data
• Dyno and drag performance data,
• Dashboard / gauges
• Vehicle manager
• Alerts to give audible indication when a specified parameter goes outside its normal operating range
• Customizable graphs, maps and gauges
ScanXL also has plug-ins to enable enhanced diagnostics on GM and Ford vehicles.
When using the dashboard function the gauges move pretty smoothly, which greatly improves the appearance of the dash (jumpy gauges are very annoying).
The Dyno performance data can only be used with vehicles with manual transmission. To use the dyno function you will have to enter the weight of the vehicle and the wheel sizes.
Most parts of the software can be customized or configured enabling you for example to change the colour to match your dash, or scaling items into proportion for your screen.
I have successfully installed ScanXL Pro onto a system running Windows 7.
ScanXL Pro would be good for integrating into a carputer system; however it may be a little fiddly pressing some of the tabs along the top of the screen using a 7” or 8” touch screen due to the size of the tabs.
Installation is fairly straightforward; it only takes a few minutes to set up the package then register your license information.
• Automatic, hands-off protocol detection
• Real-time data, available in the form of tables, graphs, and gauges
• Reads all generic and manufacturer-specific DTC's
• Database of over 4200 generic DTCs, and over 3600 manufacturer-specific DTCs
• Can be used to turn off the "Check Engine" light (MIL), and clear all emissions-related diagnostic information
• Oxygen sensor test results
• Continuous and non-continuous monitor test results
• VIN, Calibration ID, In-Use Performance Tracking
• Multi-language support: Croatian, Czech, Danish, English, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Serbian, and Spanish.
• Metric and English units of measure
• Printable diagnostic reports
• Data logging in CSV format
• Fuel gauge
ScanMaster is a fairly basic package and does not include many graphics and not very driver friendly. Not suitable for use on a small touch screen due to the tiny buttons/tabs along the top of the screen. ScanMaster would be more suited for use on a laptop for diagnostic purposes only.
The package offers a limited customizable skin where you can choose one of 36 colour schemes.
Description: TouchScan has a fairly limited set of functions, such as:
• Basic reading/erasing of trouble codes
• Logging vehicle speed and fuel rate (gal/hr)
• Digital dashboard
This software package could be useful for a dedicated digital Dashboard.
The buttons/tabs on the screen are well sized for easy use on a 7” touch screen.
I tested the OBDLink on several cars of different manufacturer, produced between 1997 and 2008:
* 2008 Honda Accord 2.2 (diesel) * 2007 Peugeot 4007 2.2 (diesel)
* 2005 Subaru Impreza 2.0 (petrol) * 2001 Renault Clio 1.2 (petrol)
* 2001 Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 (petrol) * 2000 Toyota Yaris 1.0 (petrol)
* 1997 Volkswagen Golf 2.0 (petrol)
All the cars I tested the OBDLink on with exception of the VW Golf worked fine with the interface. The problem I found with the VW Golf was that it was not fully OBDII compliant.
The right angled OBD connector and Bluetooth option would be useful for integrating OBDLink into a Carputer setup.
In vehicles where the diagnostic connector is located under the dash you will find that when using the straight connector it sticks out close to your knee and the cable hangs down into the footwell. The right angled OBD connector will help keep the cable out of the way under the dash away from your legs etc also making it easier to hide away the cable/connector.
By using the Bluetooth option the installation speed and ease is improved. You can save yourself time and effort by not having to rip off some of your trim to feed cables to your computer setup.
The Bluetooth option would be good for use on a laptop to perform diagnostic tests. What I found when going to take the vehicle for a test run is, where the diagnostic socket sticks out under the dash, the cable hangs over the drivers’ legs and across the gear stick/handbrake to the passenger seat where the laptop is. The interface would still be in the foot well area but it can be tied up out of the way. It will also give you more mobility, e.g. you can have the laptop in the engine compartment when you are testing sensors etc.
• 90 day unconditional money back guarantee
• 3 year repair/replacement warranty
• Compatible with a vast amount of software packages
• Great customer support via ScanTool.net forum
• Great quality product
• Easy to install and use
• Works on Windows 7 (additional drivers required, see above)
• Larger than ElmScan 5 serial
In my opinion OBDLink is a great device, in fact probably the best I have come across without having to spend $$$$. OBDLnk is compatible with a wide range of vehicles, can be integrated with a vast number of software packages, and can even be used on the new Windows 7 operating system. The device is very easy to set up and use. Great value product, excellent warranty and excellent product support.
I would like to send out a big thanks to MP3Car.com for the opportunity to review this product, Vitaliy from ScanTool.net for all the support provided during testing and to Palmer Performance Engineering (scanXL), WGSoft (ScanMaster) and OCTech (TouchScan) for donating some additional software to assist the review.
If anyone has any queries regarding anything I have written or need assistance with something let me know and I'll help if I can.
I will be carrying out more testing/ reviewing of OBDLink, ScanXL, ScanMaster and Touchscan and will post my progress on the forum. If anyone has any questions that they would like answers to, let me know and I'll do some testing to try and find out the answer.