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Confusion about ELM327 dongles vs. scan tools

posted Jun 07, 2016 16:57:57 by ThadNiles
Hi Everyone,

I have learned a lot from mr. Danner and I have been chasing an occasional MIL for Lean Bank 1. Graphing seems to be very helpful for making a diagnosis. I have the good old Harbor Freight 60794 with software. But the software is a joke because it only allows you to print each frame's data, in long form lists.

So I bought ScanXL software which has a very cool interface--lots of colors, gauges, and graphing capabilities. But it won't talk to my tool! My tool will generate all the data, but simply displays it in a difficult manner. So I have been googling to try to find out more, for about 48 hours.

So far, it appears that there is a special chip called ELM327 that is required to talk to most any PC-based software. I don't think my tool has one. But it certainly has a USB cable and it certainly generates all the data I need. Does anyone know of software that will allow me to make simple graphs, even off of the "lists" of data my tool generates (e.g., importing the text into the program, not even doing it in real time)?

Any help would be great. I didn't even know there were multiple types of scan tools that couldn't talk to one another. If I had known I would have bought a 10 dollar dongle instead of a 150 dollar deluxe scan tool! What tools and software do you all use?

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1 reply
AndyMacFadyen said Jun 08, 2016 14:40:32
Yes and no ---- it's complicated.
Most or all of the eBAY dongles that claim to have ELM327 chips don't have ELM327 chips but a general purpose chip that can sort of immitate an ELM327. The fake chips are buggy and slower than the genuine chip.
Most of the better software for the ELM327 interface will either completely refuse to work with phoney chips or work at reduced speed.
Buying in bulk ELM327 chips cost about 20$ each so there is zero chance anything that sells for less than this price has a genuine chip. It goes without saying that in any elecronic device that sells for under 10$/8Eur/£5 the build quailty is appalling --- some work very well but others don't. Common problem with them is the OBD2 connector is a very poor fit and won't give a relaible connection or no connection at all.

Having said that I have had one of these cheap dongles that worked perfectly but I have had others that don't.
Curently I have an OBD Link SX USB dongle and an OBD Link LX Bluetooth and I can really recommend these quality items. For PC Windows software I use OBD Auto Doctor Pro as gives very good graphs. For Android software I have tried a few including Torque Pro, EOBD Facile and OBD Car Doctor Pro and all have good features but OBD Car Doctor Pro gets the most use because it gives very good graphing.

There are also low cost hand held scanners from Autel and Launch that give graphing.

[Last edited Jun 08, 2016 17:32:56]
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