DashCommand Software review
Please see attached PDF to view all photos and for a better layout.
I have tried to add in as much usefull information as i can to enlighten the users to the full functionality of the software
sorry if you feel the review is too long
DashCommand Product review
(Sold in MP3car.com Store)
What is DashCommand?
DashCommand is a generic OBDII software package developed by Palmer Performance Engineering.
DashCommand is available in two software packages. One for use on windows computers and one for use on an Iphone/ Ipod touch. This review will concentrate on the windows version.
DashCommand Price: $49.95
•Read/erase fault codes
DashCommand was specifically designed for use on carputers’ with a touch screen however it also works on laptops and desktops as-well using a keyboard and mouse.
Unlike some software packages, DashCommand scales the Dashboards to suit the screen sizes they are being displayed on, so you get a nice proportional image on-screen.
Installing the software:
Installation of DashCommand is pretty straight forward and only takes a few minutes. I have successfully installed DashCommand on a system running windows 7.
1.Download the DashCommand set-up file from www.palmerperformance.com/download. the file is approx 15mb and will take 2-3 minutes to download using a broadband connection.
2.Once the set-up file has been downloaded, click on the set-up file to start the installation wizard.
3.Once the installation wizard starts-up, click next and read the licence agreement. When happy with the terms and conditions, click the “I agree to the licence agreement” radio button and click next.
4.Select the location where you want to save the program and click next to begin the installation. Once the installation is complete click finish
5.To register the product licence information, Launch DashCommand. The screen shown bellow will appear. Enter the details provided in the licence email, then click Ok. The product is now registered.
If you encounter any problems with DashCommand, help can be sought form: either the Palmer performance engineering forum found at the following web address www.palmerperformance.com/forum/index.php
Or at www.mp3car.com In the Engine management/OBDII section of the forum, where there is a specific section for DashCommand queries.
When I installed DashCommand onto my windows 7 laptop I encountered a small problem.
The installation went fine however when I tried to open DashCommand, I received an error “Failed to open Vehicle manager database Error: 111”. From this I contacted Palmer Performance Engineering to find a solution to this problem.
I was informed that error code 111 is caused by permissions on windows 7 and because I had used a previous version of DashCommand/ScanXL. Palmer performance claims this bug has been sorted in the new version of DashCommand and ScanXL.
To fix this problem I had to locate the vehicle manager database file and change the security settings of that specific file.
This file is shared with ScanXL and can be found by clicking “preferences” on the “file” menu. The following screen will appear, click on the “settings” tab. The file location is shown surrounded in red.
To find the file I clicked on the start menu and typed the file name into the search bar. The file will appear on the list shown on the right.
To change the security settings you first need to right click on the file and click on “Open file location” This will open a window as shown bellow
Right click on the file and click “properties”
Click on the “security” tab and select “Users” from the list. Allow full to this file for all users then click OK
Use on a Touch Screen:
At the start of this review my first thoughts were, how easy it would be to use on a small touch screen.
1.Is the visual interface driver friendly?
2.Are the buttons easy to press?
The visual interface is quite driver friendly. The software has a good layout and is easy to use. A couple of clicks and you can be connected and use any of the features.
The icons/buttons on the main menu and all functions are well sized for use on a small touch screen, very easy to press. The only buttons that can be I little fiddly are those found under the settings tab, this is not a big problem as these will not be used that often.
One of the functions of DashCommand is to provide a real time data to the driver in the form of an interactive virtual dashboard.
DashCommand comes with preloaded with 4 of these virtual dashboards for you to get you going. However one of the cool things about DashCommand is that it is customizable and you can use your own dashboard design.
DashXL Skin editor is a FREE tool created by Palmer performance engineering to enable users to create their own interactive menu or virtual dashboards which can then be uploaded into DashCommand or ScanXL and users can also share their work with other users by uploading their files to DashXL.net.
DashXL Skin editor is available FREE to download from the Palmer performance web site at: www.palmerperformance.com/downloads.php
The download is 3mb and only takes around 10seconds to download using a broadband line.
Note: DashXL Skin editor requires NO installation. Simply click on the application once downloaded and away you go. DashXL Skin editor works fine with Windows 7.
The design and creation of a virtual dashboard is out with the scope of the review, however I will detail how to implement the dashboard into DashCommand once using on of the files available for download from DashXL.net
Open up DashCommand into the main menu
From the main menu, click the settings button (shown in red).
Once the settings page appears, Click on the “DashXL” tab down the left hand side of the screen (shown in red)
Click on “Load Skin set”
A window will appear for you to select the location of the skin set that you want to use. Locate the required skin set, click on it to select and then click “open”
You have now successfully installed your new dashboard. Go back to the main menu and click on the dashboards Button. Voila one new Dashboard
Connecting DashCommand to a vehicle (via USB Scantool):
Connecting to a vehicle
Connect the Scantool into the OBDII port of the car.
Connect the Scantool to your computer USB port.
Start the engine
Click on the connect button on the bottom of the screen (shown in red). DashCommand would then automatically detect the Scantool, protocol and supported PID’s.
Alternatively, you can connect using the “vehicle manager” if you have set-up profiles for vehicles.
Once you open the Vehicle manager, click on the vehicle you want to connect to and then click the button names “select vehicle”. DashCommand would then automatically detect the Scantool, protocol and supported PID’s.
One of the features of DashCommand is the capability of data logging.
This enables the user to record engine running information, which can be replayed at a latter time, for diagnosing engine faults etc.
The parameters that are recorded are listed on the data logging screen. The user can add or remove PID’s on this list dependant on their requirements.
Adding or removing a PID is very straight forward, simply click on the select or remove PID button, click on the PID to be selected/removed the click on the relevant button to confirm.
To assist you in selecting PID’s there is a button you can press to hide the PID’s that are unsupported by your vehicle, this will significantly reduce the list of PID’s that you will have to read through and also save you from selecting PID’s that wont work.
In order to actually use the data logging feature, you must click to start recording data. In the data logging menu, click options then click start data logging. The data logging can also be started from the dashboard, click on the screen and you will be presented with 4 options. Click on start data logging.
Any recorded data that is not only available to view in the data logger but also on the dashboards.
The information that is shown in the data logging screen against each PID is: the value, units, min/max and average values.
Also note that the log files can be shared with ScanXL.
I had a request to find out if DashCommand supports MPG calculations.
DashCommand does not have a have a function that calculates the fuel economy (MPG) of the vehicle, however custom scripts can be run to implement these features.
These custom scripts can be written in ScanXL and imported into DashCommand.
Details on how to import custom scripts into DashCommand is included later in this review.
Automatic connection on start-up:
DashCommand can be configured so that once loaded, it will automatically connect to the vehicle. This is good where DashCommand is being used in a built in carputer, it saves the hassle of having to click the connect button every time you load the software.
This option can be found and enabled under the general settings tab.
Under the settings menu, there are additional options that can be used to optimise the software for use on a carputer.
•The start-up video can be disabled to give a quicker boot time.
•Where DashCommand is used on a touch screen the mouse cursor can be hidden to improve the appearance.
•A custom background image can be imported to display for example the manufacturer’s logo for a more stock look, or you can use a photo of the vehicle etc.
DashCommand can be used with all ELM compatible and J2534 compliant scantools.
DashCommand can be used on any vehicle that is OBDII compliant.
Screen refresh rate:
Another request I received was to find out how the refresh rate is affected when using multiple gauges on one screen.
To find the answer to this query, I connected DashCommand to a vehicle and opened the dashboard feature (using one of the preinstalled dashboards as shown in the screenshot bellow).
The most critical PID’s in my view to ensure a real time/accurate and well presented dashboard is the Engine RPM, Vehicle speed and also the manifold pressure (the Ignition timing PID was not supported by the test vehicle). I was quite impressed by high refresh rate and the smoothness of these gauges throughout the test. The use of the other PID’s on the dashboard didn’t seen display any noticeable effect on the operation of the more critical PID’s.
The reason that I was not too concerned about the refresh rate of the other PID’s used on the dashboard was, by nature of the process the Inlet/Coolant temperatures and fuel level, MIL status have a slow rate of change and don’t require a quick refresh rate. All a faster refresh rate for these PID’s would do is slow down the refresh rate of the more critical PID’s causing jerky movements of the Engine RPM and Vehicle speed gauges, which in my opinion is very annoying, I hate jumpy gauges.
Importing Custom scripts:
Earlier in the review I mentioned that in order to display the MPG of a vehicle, a custom script must be created and imported into DashCommand. The Creation of a custom script is beyond this review, however I will detail how to export a custom script from ScanXL and import it into DashCommand.
Information on using the script editor is available under the help menu. Click on Script API reference.
The first step is to locate the scripts within ScanXL.
Open ScanXL to the main menu. Along the top of the screen you will see a tab named “Tools” (shown in red), click this tab and it will take you to the screen shown on the right.
Click on the script editor option (Shown in red to the right)
And the script list page will appear.
Click on the script you want, then click “Export scripts”
You will now be asked to specify the location you want to export the script to.
Save the script into “My Documents” or onto the “desktop”. Once the script is exported you will receive a message stating the PID Script was exported successfully.
Now that the PID script has been exported from ScanXL, we can now import the Script to DashCommand.
In the Bottom right hand corner of the screen click “settings”.
Down the left hand side of the screen you will see a menu. Click “Scripts”.
Then click “Add scripts” in the top right hand corner.
A window will pop up asking you to specify the location of the script.
Enter the location you chose in step 4 when exporting the script from ScanXL, then click “open”
You should then receive an import successful message and the script title should now be shown in the script list.
Positives:•The buttons and general layout is great for use with even a small 7” touch screen
•Customizable background image (Main Menu)
•Start-up video can be disabled to give a faster Boot-up time
•Automatic connection can be enabled
•Smooth movement of dashboard gauges
•Works with Windows 7
•Compatible with a wide range of scantool’s
•A lot of thought has gone the software design.
•Had a problem with the installation on windows 7, but was easily fixed
•It is a little fiddly to select the options under the settings menu. Not a large problem these wont be used that often
Overall I would say that DashCommand is a great program, a lot of thought has been put into the design to make it very driver friendly and easy to use on a touch screen. Wide vehicle and scantool compatibility and even works on windows 7.
I would like to send out a big thank you to Brian Palmer of Palmer performance engineering for the opportunity to conduct this review.