Opel/Vauxhall Vectra CAN interfacing

Since I got this car second hand it has been through a series of faults, failures and repairs (which is actually hard to avoid at a mileage of 150k+ km), but the cost of taking it to the Opel dealer every time pushed me in to the direction of doing some of the car repairs myself lately. The down side, the car being made in 2004, is full of sensors and so whenever a problem arises it is quite hard to make good  diagnosis without proper tools to read out this sensor data. Many times, engine failures are due to malfunctioning sensors for example. And so I started to think about interfacing the cars CAN bus and see what data I can get, unfortunately this is not like opening a serial terminal and watch data appear…

First of all there is this CAN bus which is a two wire (CAN-H, CAN-L) physical layer and on top of that a kind of networking layer which makes CAN look more like a networking protocol than the common RS232 serial link. As I’m not the only one to think of such a project I found quite some info online and also some libraries for Arduino to get me started. I also looked at some of the info I could get out of the Chinese Op-com clone I have around here, but unfortunately the unit had died.

Some Arduino CAN bus projects:

Canduino: https://code.google.com/p/canduino/

Seeed studio CAN-BUS shield: http://www.seeedstudio.com/wiki/CAN-BUS_Shield

Sparkfun CAN-BUS shield: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10039

SK Pang CAN-BUS shield: http://www.skpang.co.uk/catalog/arduino-canbus-shield-with-usd-card-holder-p-706.html

Furthermore there is also some info regarding making a Raspberry-pi based CAN interface:



Another good link is this one with some basic CAN bus functionality explained and a Arduino schematic:


And the “Hacking You Car” article by Marco Guardigli:


All together, most projects use a MCP2551 CAN transceiver and MCP2515 CAN controller so most schematics looks more or less the same and so one can use one schematic and try the different software libraries that are available for Arduino. And so I took the ODB connecter from the broken Op-com unit and used it in my own schematic which looks more or less like this:


DSC05983 DSC05981

After trying some of these libraries I noticed that the SK Pang library is the easiest one to quickly get some data out of your car. Although the default Arduino code allows to get out some basic engine info easily and in a human readable way, I found not very impressive and so I’m now exploring on how I can modify the code the get more info out of the car. In the latest SAE J1979 OBD standard there are 10 modes of functioning described, where SK Pang uses mode 1 ($01. Show current data) to request and show the engine data.  Requests depend on the PID (packet indentifier) one sends, whenever a ECU responsible for this PID sees the request it will get the data and respond. Standard PIDs can be found online here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OBD-II_PIDs. And  so I started trying every combination in between 0 and 255 to see which ones I can get a reply to, here is some of the info:

#Reply: 0*152#
#Reply: 1*129#
#Reply: 5*65#
#Reply: 11*103#
#Reply: 12*24#
#Reply: 15*62#
#Reply: 16*11#
#Reply: 32*160#
#Reply: 35*20#

the first number is the PID, the second one is its value, both in decimal form. To get human readable output one has to look up the code and use the appropriate method to convert the data into a correct format. For example, the frame with PID 5 (0x05 in HEX value) contains the engine coolant temperature, the formula is as following: A-40. And so, our engine coolant temperature is 65-40=15°C.


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