Automotive Newsletter from Automotive Diagnostics and Publishing

Welcome to our news letter. In this section we'll discuss highly technical issues dealing with automotive diagnostics, electronics, and flash-software issues. This section will be added on as time permits. Newer articles will be added on top of the older ones and posted in that order.

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A Personal Letter to Perceived Failed Professionals

By Mandy Concepcion

Perceived failed professional is a new phrase of a phenomenon spawned by the new economy. But, what exactly does it means for those professionals who've lost something after many successive years of continued servitude? The new economic trends are not a harbinger for the end, the final days of our age or any other pessimistic prediction. It is simply a possible opportunity. Great things have started in our country, the good old USA, in times of tribulations. And there's no doubt in my mind that great things will start this time around as well.

Due to technological changes in society and the global economy the future belongs to a few, often overlooked, concepts such as efficiency, invention and innovation. These concepts embody where we are headed, regardless of what you do. So, if you're going through a difficult economic phase or feel lost in the mist of change consider this. In all these years of hard work - what are you good at? Where have you amassed the greatest body of experience? How can you convert all that into an efficiency, invention and innovation idea that helps society? And how can you execute your idea without depending on a corporation or government institution to stay afloat. I've always said that there's a vast treasure inside everyone alive today. Everyone is not just good, but great at something. And in your case the knowledge and experience accumulated from all those years, when you thought that the future was assured, that you were doing the right thing, will most certainly pay off in the end. All you need to do is be inspired, figure it out, analyze, think, create, invent and innovate. That's were we are headed.

The hardest thing is not knowing where you are or what to do next. But, there's only one way to go and that's out of the perceived slump and into the horizon and to the edge of possibilities. The rest is really up to you. Years ago when some of you were starting out the idea of future possibilities and expectations was the driving energy flame in you. Just go back to those thoughts, because in reality, the future has always been there and always will be. The world is changing, humanity is advancing, 40 years old is now the new 30 and 50 the new 40. We'll all be doing things many years from now that our generation, whichever it happens to be, would never consider now. But, I assure you, that ever changing out of the box mind set is where we're headed. And that's what's needed in order to foster new ideas based on, again, efficiency, invention and innovation regardless of your profession. Just don't forget, wherever it is that the winds of change take you, and before you take the leap of faith to embark on any new voyage of possibilities ask yourself one question, I'm I going to help others? Is my endeavor going to make at least a tiny positive change in people or benefit how we do things? If the answer is yes then your future is assured. Shed your fears and go beyond the edge of possibilities and claim your trophy. It most certainly won't be your last one, because eventually you'll do it again.

PS. Hopefully many, many years from now, by natural law, your perceived reality would have changed. And if you foster any regrets for not doing now what you could have done, then, the answer now is to jump and go with it. Just remember that the answer many, many years from now will most certainly be to jump and go with it. That'll probably be an easier decision to make, maybe.

Connector and Cable manufacturing available

Automotive Diagnostics and Publishing is now pleased to announce our new connector-cable manufacturing capabilities. Due to the need to supply our TransDoctor customers with reliable and cost-efficient transmission connector cables, our company took matters into our own hands. Transmission connectors are very expensive. Vehicle manufacturers purchase them in vast quantities. This is not good for the independent repair shop and specialty equipment manufacturer like us. So we decided to cater more deeply to our industry by manufacturing and providing the connector-cables ourselves.

Our connector manufacturing employs exactly the same technology as the OEM factories, which is called plastic injection molding. Our Aluminum connectors molds are made in our state of the arts CNC milling facility. The end result is a custom made specialty made transmission connector designed with the rigors of automotive repair in mind. All our efforts will be concentrated first to expedite our TransDoctor existing customers as well as as new ones. Our connector and cable manufacturing will also be extended to some of our existing products, as well as new ones.

One of the biggest drawbacks in designing what we conceive as the ultimate engine diagnostic equipment (Engine Electronic Breakout Box/ aka ECM Ghost) is that the ECM connectors are prohibitively expensive. NO MORE. Our goal is to provide cost effective ECM connectors and cables for the ECM-Ghost, which is now in the development stage. (more on the ECM-Ghost at a later time). Direct measurement of signals is a must in modern diagnostics. All scan tools will only provide you with an interpreted or calculated value. ie. If your engine ground is skewed, then your scanned TPS, MAP or any other sensor will also be skewed, even though there's nothing wrong with these components. This is where direct measurement of the signal is king. But, the problem has always been expensive connectors or sometimes even impossible to get. Other future applications of our technology are specialty made connector kits for most sensors and actuators. So, it will be possible in the near future to get a TPS, MAP, VSS EGR, etc connector kit for all vehicles that can be used with our Scope-1 or any other oscilloscope or multimeter. Our connector manufacturing capabilities will make direct measurement diagnostic equipment possible.

Automotive Internet Data-Mining Technology

What is Data-Mining? As the name implies Data-Mining is an Internet searching technology which is capable of processing large amounts of information from thousands of websites to look for a specific content. Data-Mining is not not so much a specific program, but a technique. Each company developing data mining software will innovate and implement its own system.

But how does Data-Mining applies to an automotive scan tool. Our company, Automotive Diagnostics and Publishing has been pursuing the development of a Data-Mining Engine (engine is a software section) for the Scan-1 software. But how can this cutting edge technology help you? The best way to illustrate the technology is to use a case study. Before we immerse ourselves into explaining this technology, lets make an assumption. Given the current state of Web development it is proper to say that the answer to every possible repair is now posted somewhere on the Internet; somewhere among the millions of website scattered throughout the world. The problem is how can you, the technician get to this information quickly and efficiently.

Case Study 1: A vehicle comes into your shop with the CEL (check-engine-light) on and some hesitation. The first rule of business is to scan the vehicle for DTCs, data PIDs, etc. Now we have our first clue, the DTC (ie. P0450). With data mining it is possible to unleash the Data-Mining technology to crawl and sneak throughout the millions of Internet websites and find the relevant data for the DTC in question. All done without any intervention from you. This technology should not be confused with a regular search engine like Google or Yahoo. Data mining technology not only does a normal search, using any search engine available, but will also perform a parsing procedure. But what is parsing? Parsing is a technology that allows the software to analyze the Website's content and determine of it is any good. So data mining per se is a group of two technologies using Internet search engines and data parsing to analyze the relevant information. The end result is that with the touch of a buttons the Data-Mining feature (future implementation on the Scan-1) will search the Internet with the vehicle make, relevant DTC and analyze or parse the data and display the proper content. In our case a DTC P0450. All of this can happen in the blink of an eye,  depending on your Internet access speed. This type of innovation is done on a scale for big finance and government corporations, but will work just as well for automotive repair technology.

At this point in time every conceivable symptomatic or DTC scenario is now posted on the Web. How fast you can get to this information is the difference between fixing your vehicle in an hour or in three days. Throughout this website you'll hear references to Built-In Intelligence, and avoidance of information overload. As it turns out, information overload is now hurting more techs than doing good. You can have access to all the PIDs (parameters) possible on an OEM scan tool, but if you had less PIDs and more access to relevant information you're on the winning side. Technologies like Data-Mining should give you a heads up on making your decision on which scan tool to use more often. An implementation of this technology combined with DTC retrieval and combinational analysis to determine relationships is very valuable. As more technology appears your job should also get a bit easier and quicker/

Scan-1 Virtual Engine and Component Waveform Simulation

On August 2009, we introduced two new features on our Scan-1 Diagnostic System called the Virtual Engine and Component Waveform Simulator. These two features are absolutely FREE and intended for automotive technical schools and high schools. These two features are unique and are fully integrated with the Scan-1 OBD-2 scanner. It is in essence two applications (programs) bundled with the Scan-1, fully integrated, but can be used separate. Integration between all three units means that as the instructor or student changes the PIDs or Parameters the waveforms and interactive wiring diagrams will also show the effects. These effects are also seen on the Scan-1 as well.

The idea is that by changing the values of the Virtual Engine, the student gains proficiency on the changes that the ECM makes on component signals and controls. Various components are built in right on the system. The component simulator also has a virtual wiring diagram that animates as the the different OBD-2 parameters are changed. Automotive Instructors can use this system in an infinite number of ways. This system will also be expanded in the future. It is in a teaching aid and tool. We provide this side of the application free of charge and will not charge for it in the future. It is out way of giving back to the community by providing automotive instructors and schools with the best training software possible.

To use the Virtual Engine and Component Simulation simply download our Scan-1 software, install it and use it as Demo-Simulation mode. Within this mode the instructor will be able to use this system to teach scan tool diagnostic principles, waveform interpretation, wiring diagrams, current flow, relationship between ECM PIDs/parameters to waves and electronic principles. Each part of the graph can also be customized in many ways to present to the student a clear and concise picture.

What is Integration?

Integration is not a simple word when it comes to automotive technology. Integration means multiple applications or programs talking to each other. But why is this useful? The simple truth is that given today's complex vehicle systems it is extremely difficult if not impossible to be aware of all possibilities; from a customer or a technological point of view. The best example of integration is a vehicle module network system. The ECM talks to the TCM (transmission) and in turn the ABS talks to the Body and Traction-Control module and then back to the ECM. Every module gets what it needs from the other. If the TCM detects a fault and goes into limp-in mode, the ECM will also issue a DTC even though the ECM is not the one with the fault. This is exactly the future of a modern automotive repair shop. Here's how integration can help you.

Imagine if your customer comes into your door and leaves his/her vehicle for a check engine and hesitation complaint. The first order of business is to accept the customer's vehicle and information. A simple customer information field (phone, last name, customer #, etc) will immediately pull up all the pertinent data on your invoicing system. That's nothing new. This type of invoicing has been around for years. The second order of business is the bring the vehicle in and proceed to scan and diagnose the vehicle. As soon as this happens, a series of features are triggered from all your applications. The scanner accesses the DTC, data-stream, monitors and all the pertinent data. As soon as this happens the invoicing and scan tool talk to each other, determine which customer the vehicle belongs to, if this job has been performed in the past on this vehicle and also compares the data to all other vehicles on the shop's database. A further extension is an external database which tells the technician what the most likely cause for all these faulty DTCs, which can be based on statistics, customer complaint, relationship to other DTCs, etc. (Example: If all the sensors in a 2000 Chrysler truck generate a DTC and the customer also complaints that the speedometer is not working, then the most likely cause is a shorted VSS (vehicle speed sensor). This is a recurring problem on these vehicles. The VSS shorts out and knocks out the reference voltage for all the other sensors. An integrated system will weigh in all these thousands of variables and instantaneously advice the technician of a possible problem area to check. Then immediately all the retrieved information is sent to the invoicing system right from the scan tool, cross referenced to part numbers and labor-rates, and detailed in the customer's invoice, where it is then further customized by the service writer if needed. Such a scenario would have save the shop hours or even days of diagnostic and repair time and effort. This level of integration also applies to all measurement equipment like the oscilloscope, multimeter or amp-meter. The oscilloscope in particular is extremely difficult to use. Imagine if your scope automatically recognizes the signal, detects if it is a CRK, CAM or Ignition pattern and automatically sets itself for it. Then the waveform is automatically analyzed, compared to a built in database and a quick test result is generated and passed on to the invoicing system as well. If the problem proves too difficult to solve (as in 45% of cases), then an integrated Internet technical service will surely go a long way in deciphering the fault. With real-time access from the remote technical service technician, such trained personnel can guide and instruct the shop technician in what to do and possible electronic causes. And again, all this data is passed on to the invoicing system. Now the integrated system has wirelessly created a comprehensive invoice report, compared all that data to thousands of case studies from internal and external sources and all done without either the technician or service writer knowing. It is then up to the service writer to accept or tweak the invoice data as needed. This technology is not meant to do away with people, just put as much relevant information into their hands to solve the specifics.

There are thousands of possible scenarios where integration can detect and completely change the nature, profitability and efficiency of an automobile repair. This sort of technology can come about with the merging of computer software developers, engineering and automotive technicians working together. The possibilities are endless as to how and to what extent this technology is made to detect problems and make the whole process seamless.

Sine Waveforms (Nissan 3.0L V6 Case Study)

Sine waves and called sinusoidal waves are a form of signal representation. It is loosely based on the circumference. A complete sine wave has 360 degrees. As all sine waves there are two crests to the actual waveform; a negative and positive half cycle. A half cycle is 180 degrees or half of 360 deg. Simply put it is a very smooth and simple way to display a changing signal, either voltage or current. Sine waves or a sinusoidal changing signal is repeated throughout nature and so much more in electronic signal. There are other types of waveforms in automotive systems, but sine waves are of particular importance.

Most changing signals do so in a sinusoidal way and necessarily in a linear fashion. A sine wave is said to have most of its usable power between 0.00 Volts/Amps and 0.707 of the waves maximum amplitude, assuming a 0 to 1 scale. Again, sine waves can be used to represent voltage and current and even other units of measurements. The importance of a sine wave is its relationship to the circumference. Ane quarter wave is 90 deg. It is between the first 90 Deg. that the Peak value of the wave is ascertained. The Peak-to-Peak value of the waveform is af absolute importance in automotive diagnostics. Most ECMs or generally speaking; most automotive modules (computers) have a specific recognition threshold. What does this means? To explain it in a simple way, the module's recognition threshold is its ability to detect a signal. An example are ABS modules, who are usually tuned to recognize a signal at a minimum of 1 volt Peak-to-Peak. So that the module is completely blind to any changing voltage below 1 volt from the tip of one of the sine wave crests to the other. In the old days of analog electronics the 0.707 % point of the waveform was very important, but today's digital realm allows the complete digitization of the wave and therefore the module has complete recognition ability.

The 1 volt P-P recognition threshold is not universal. Some vehicle systems have much higher recognition threshold values. Nissan 3.0L and 3.5L V6 engines, for example, have a very high R.T. for CRK sensor waves. Normally in the range of 4 volts P-P. This is unusually high for a CRK sensor signal. But this knowledge is also beneficial when it comes to diagnostics. A peculiar problem with Nissan 3.0L V6 was a no start or long crank condition, with no apparent reason. A few years after Nissan introduced this engine it issued a TSB documenting the replacement of the start motor to correct this condition. The reason why a component replacement totally unrelated to this issue was needed is simple, the Nissan's ECM was not able to recognize the CRK sensor signal. Why? Because an older starter motor was not able to generate the right rotational speed. In any other vehicle this would not be a problem. However, a 4 volt P-P signal R.T. is quite large for a magnetic CRK sensor typical of these Nissan engines. Magnetic speed sensors generate a signal proportional to the rotational speed of the reluctor, in this case the flywheel. This issue was a design flaw relating to the hardware itself (resistor, diode) and could not be corrected through any re-flashing procedure. At the time Nissan was not using EEPROM units (re-flash memory) yet.

Our company performed extensive testing using signal generators connected to the Nissan ECM to determine at which point was the signal recognized or the R.T. and about 4 volts P-P was seen as the average for multiple engines and ECMs. A new starter replacement unit, with 11 teeth nose gear, instead of 9 gears for the original motor, was implemented. The new starter design works fine. This information is not found anywhere else and it is up to the auto technician to browse the Internet and experiment with the right equipment to solve such a complicated nightmare.

The previous case clearly shows the important nature of sine waves, recognition threshold and magnetic sensors. Had the CRK sensor been of the Hall-Effect type this would have never been an issue, since these sensors are not prone to loss of amplitude with reduced cranking speeds. Recognizing what kind of waveform, sine, square, saw tooth, etc is an important part of automotive diagnostics. Most technicians frown at using the oscilloscope, which should not be an issue. Anyone can capture an actual wave. The interpretation of these waves in what's in absolute demand in today's diagnostic world. The more you learn about waveforms the closer you'll be to tackle more difficult diagnostic issues. And with the advent of newer hybrid systems this type of knowledge is power.


copyright by Mandy Concepcion, Automotive Diagnostics and Publishing