Saturday 7 November 2015

Evening the score with obsolescence

The Problematic

Sometimes you are locked with an obsolete part in a design,Availability drops and price rise to a point where it's reaching extortion, you don't want to keep up with this situation forever.

I got into this situation because of the MC68HC908GP32CPE, this microcontroller was once pretty popular and now extinct and overpriced when found in very small quantities. It's brother the MC68HC908GP32CFB while being obsolete too offers everything the popular one had to offer while still being cheaper and easier to get in bigger quantities while costing at least 75% less than the first. Trouble is, the CPE had a DIP40 package while the CFB had a QFP44 package. A bit of adaption is required before the takeover!

CPE variant on top, CFB variant below

The Solution

To overcome this I designed an adapter board that allow to use the CFB in place of the CPE
CFB variant on the adapter PCB

I will be offering a bunch of those bare PCBs for sale (no MCU soldered to it), to order one please contact me at the e-mail adress in the signature below.

Saturday 24 October 2015


  New ordering options are available!


You can now order your OBD1READ device with 3 wire ends type. the Standard version with the probes and shrink wrap sleeves, the Bare version with nothing but bare wire ends and the 22pin version.

Standard OBD1READ and Bare OBD1READ shown together

  All variants have their intended uses.  

Standard version pricing follows the existing Price Table.

The standard version is meant for all use cases and all supported engine/cars variants, supporting all diagnosis box types while still retaining an affordable price.

Bare version comes with a price reduction of 1,50$ USD over Standard pricing

The Bare version is meant for use in hard wired installs (directly tapping into the engine harness near the ECU.It can  happen if you want the best Bluetooth signal strength from inside your car,or you have a custom engine swap that do not respect anymore the wiring diagram )

22 Pin plug & play version adds 5$ USD over Standard pricing

Pricier, the 22 pin version can connect directly into both 17 pins and 22 pins diagnosis boxes, this alleviates any connection errors or loose connection problems. Easiest and fastest to setup for temporary use on various cars and most robust connection for a permanent plug & play install.
22 pin connector variant, you can't mess up wire connection with this one!

Sunday 6 September 2015

JVF 2010-A :: Replacing the power supply

Every good thing ends... or should it?

So my JVF 2010-A power supply gave up on me, the panel would not power up and after testing it showed no voltage at the power supply output. It was at least 25 years old.Thing is, those genuine power supplies are hard to source and they cost a lot. Through reading the datasheet of the old power supply and online searching I was able to find a suitable replacement on e-bay! Here is the result and the work involved to fix your JVF 2010-A power supply if it should fail.
The opened panel after the power supply has been replaced

The requirement from the old power supply was 120AC input ,75W power, 5V DC output with 15 amps.
that was surprisingly easy to find and at an affordable price :S !! here is the e-bay link
75W 5V 15a Small Volume Single Output Switching power supply for LED Strip light

the major difference is with size of both power supplies

the old power supply sits on front with the new one installed already
the wires between the new power supply and the main switch must be lengthened, 18ga wire were used.
There is only 2 space for each 5V and Ground connection , the pannel sports 3 5v wires and 3 ground wires, you need to twist some together to make it work

height wise the new power supply occupies the same space, but the fastener location differ, in the end the panel closes corrrectly with this new one in place.

Thursday 30 July 2015


  You can now buy OBD1READ scan tools from the 

ZF-Scantools web store

If you are having trouble completing your order please contact me through e-mail at the address shown below in the picture signature.

Friday 29 May 2015

Inifiniti G35 2003 :: Wet IPDM issue, how to fix it

Introduction to the wet IPDM issue

The Infiniti G35 is a technology filed car. as early as 2003 it already had a CAN bus and a few computers that take advantage of this network. This complexity comes with the cost of horrible situations when a failure of the CAN bus occurs. the problem described below affects the G35 after heavy rain fall. the I.ntelligent P.ower D.elivery M.odule cannot do it's job properly at that time and it affects the whole CAN bus. so all communication between the other computers in the car is not working. This kind of issue is really annoying on a luxury car and can lead to a loss of confidence in the car itself if not fixed.This situation occurred to me after a heavy rain, a quick search on the web revealed a few Youtube videos showing the trouble but no clear solution or understanding, people are stating that the trouble goes away by itself after a while. That is no answer for me, hopefully all those hours spent on understanding the G35 wiring diagram before buying the car was worth it!


*The video is not mine btw

the list of symptoms were noticed on a single drive home lasting about 35 minutes and totaling 50 km. the list is quite exhaustive and so was the situation. not the kind of crappy behavior you would expect from a luxury car.... 


  • Engine ECU works fine
  • Radio works fine
  • ABS works fine
  • Sunroof works fine
  • door lock works fine
  • SRS seems fine
  • interior car lighting
  • the only thing in the dashboard that works is the fuel level gauge, alternator warning light, ABS system is OK


All other gauges are not moving or being totally erratic.
  • Tachometer
  •  Speedometer
  •  Engine temperature
  • Check engine light flickers
  • VDC light is on all the time
  • SLIP light on all the time
  • CAN bus communication is down or erratic across all systems,  
Additionally those systems are not working properly.
  • -all systems relying on the CAN bus are in fail safe mode, some shut themselves down, some try to cope with the situation
  • -dashboard clock stops working
  • -VDC and traction control are OFF
  • -Transmission ECU is in fail safe mode since the CAN bus is down, gear shifting is extremely harsh at all engine loads,
  • -gear shifting is relative to car speed only
  • -transmission will never down shift no matter how hard you step on the accelerator
  • -manual gear shift mode is not working,
  • -while cruising on the highway the transmission down shifts hard for no reasons on constant engine loads.
  • -headlights are jumping from low to hi beam (people are thinking you want to tell them something ). you cannot engage hi beam yourself, it's like being epileptic.
  • -electric radiator fan control, this one I can't confirm but it is sufficient to say this is quite critical as this is controlled by the IPDM and if the fans don't work when they should, you would get an overheating engine due to a bad CAN bus... what a lovely feature!!



Battery compartment without battery , IPDM and fuse box plastic cover
On older cars a 'gutter box' of some sort was draining the rain water coming to the bottom of the windshield and conveniently channeled it to the bottom of the car, it is called a cowl dash.on conventional design, only the wiper arms mechanism and wiper motor are installed there, end of the story. Nissan on the G35 decided they wanted to save weight and probably some money so they designed the car WITHOUT a cowl dash. Result:: when it rains, or you wash your beloved car, there is a waterfall running on the firewall inside the battery and Brake booster compartment. at the bottom of those boxes are holes meant to drain those boxes.

You can notice dirt marks around the top wiring harness, it indicates water flows there often then around the IPDM, this is a rust hazard to consider too..

First problem: the IPDM sits low cramped in the battery compartment adjacent to the firewall, there is always a humidity risk for this device since the water flow is in it's back, common sense suggest to never place critical electrical components in the way of water ...this is only common sense though...

IPDM with it's plastic cover, fender side fuse box out of the way
Second problem: the battery compartment is only equipped with one drain hole at the bottom and IT COMPLETELY CLOGS WITH THE YEARS! this lead to water accumulation in the bottom of your battery compartment, with sufficient water input it can get high enough to disturb your IPDM and voila You reproduced the problem on your otherwise pristine G35! (mine was completely clogged with mud and the water level was about 1/2" high.) looking down the battery compartment does not show much, you need to bend out of the way stuff and go there with your fingers to tell.

unclogged drain shown,IPDM out of the way, the drain is visible now

Third problem - the plastic battery tray gets filled with water under the battery and there is no drain holes in it.
( the blame goes to the cowl dash less design ) so you carry around about a glass or two of water that splashes here and there on hard accel/braking/cornering. Removing the battery tray and drilling holes at the bottom would drain that water accumulation when it fills.
The battery tray gets filled with stagnant water as the years are passing...

Fixing it 

tools needed to fix this

  •  shop towels.
  •  small air compressor equipped with a duster.
  • something to unbolt 10 and 12mm nuts. (for baterry removal)
  • narrow flat screw drivers can be useful to release the IPDM from it's bracket.

 things to do ( 15 to 30minutes )

  1. Remove battery compartment plastic cover.
  2. Remove the plastic part that meets with the lower part of the windshield.
  3. take out your battery.
  4. take out the water from the battery tray.
  5. slide up the IPDM and fender fuse box, let the IPDM rest on the battery tray.
  6. unplug the drain using fingers or better.
  7. dry out as much as possible remaining droplets in the whole battery compartment with a towel.
  8. reinstall IPDM and fuse boxes on their brackets.
  9. remove IPDM and fuse boxes plastic covers.
  10. using the duster generously dry all the wires connectors at the base of the IPDM. catch the escaping water with a towel using the other hand.
  11. do the same thing in the fuse boxe.
  12. do the same thing in the wiring harness behind battery tray and coming from under it.
  13. install plastic covers on IPDM and fuses boxes.
  14. Reinstall battery.
  15. Start the car to confirm the problem went away.
  16. Stop car, reinstall the lower windshield plastic cover.
  17. Install battery compartment plastic cover.
  18. Enjoy life.


The IPDM is placed at what seems to me THE WORST PLACE EVER for a module as critical as it is.This module controls electrical power distribution across various systems and by placing it there endanger the CAN bus operation. I hope NISSAN was wise enough to improve on their electrical designs over the years...

Wednesday 6 May 2015

OBD1READ :: What if your ECU is supported, but your wiring harness is missing wires?!

In the 90s TOYOTA decided to save money on wires...sometimes!

The diagnosis box will show spaces for signals and those signals won't have any wires and contact going to them. Looking inside the ECU can prove the ECU pinout is OK for OBD1READ to work. You would find TE2,VF,B+ and E1 at the ECU printed circuit board, but TE2 would be missing in the engine wiring harness that goes to the Diagnosis Box. Without TE2 it is not possible to trigger data output,so we need to get TE2 into the diagnosis box.

You can also be in this situation if you updated your ECU to a newer sibling , using an older wiring harness.
here is a few examples
ST165->92+ 3S-GTE
90-91 ST185->92+ 3S-GTE
90-91 EP82-> 92+ 4E-FTE

Here is what you can do to make your wiring harness OK to for use with OBD1READ.

 I suggest using micro screw drivers to work on releasing the contacts from a connector and diagnosis box, it takes some time to master this. I will not go into depth on this subject in this post.(You will probably need to do this to get your spare contacts from a junkyard harness)

You need to find TE2 inside the ECU,

Then you need to add a new contact wire to the corresponding ECU connector.

After you have a contact going into the connector you need to solder a wire to it and run that wire to the Diagnosis box.

At the diagnosis box you will need to install a contact for the missing TE2 pin and solder that contact with the wire you just installed. this is exactly like on the ECU connector except the contact is different from the ECU connector

After this you will be able to trigger the OBD1 data output like any supported cars.
You can use this proccedure to test that your wire addition worked

Cars that are known to be missing the TE2 wire but having supported ECUs

-1994 Toyota Corona 4A-FE Euro and JDM

Thursday 16 April 2015

TOYOTA engine swaps, avoiding wiring job traps

Since I have started developing TOYOBD1 I learned constantly about the 90s to mid 90s OBD1 Toyota ECUs, they all share similitudes.The traps we fall into while doing custom engine wiring jobs are also similar here are a few I have encountered through the years that may save you time and money.

The STA wire

STA is not to be fed with a constant 12v source like b+, it's purpose is to inform the ECU that the starter is engaged while the starter is engaged. feeding constant 12v to STA will fool the ECU into thinking it is cranking all the time, regardless of engine speed.this will make an ECU inject about 2.5 times the fuel it would have injected normaly. in all cases I have seen it is so rich the ignition cannot burn all that fuel, and of course engine performance is bad. Lots of people fall into that trap, stay aware!.

The Batt wire

This one is a constant 12v power source, it is fused and always powered regarless of ignition key position. this is what keeps the RAM (ecu memory) powered at all time. not feeding Batt correctly will result in Error codes being wiped every time the engine is shuted off, and the ECU learning process starts form scratch every time. 

Digital 3 wire TPS (PSW, E2, IDL)

On cars using this system it is important that those signal be wired correctly. those ECUs dont have a real TPS, this TPS design only tells the computer if you are at idle, at WOT , or anywhere in between. this is a lot of guessing and if the ECU senses the throttle is at WOT when it is not it may take bad fueling and ignition angle decisions. a digital tps can also simply go bad and need replacement. found on MT cars 3S-FE,4E-FTE,etc

The E2 wire

This is a special ground,This is the sensors ground, this ground must not be tied to other ground signals directly, doing so may introduce sensor noise or worst.

Friday 10 April 2015

OBD1READ + TOYOBD1 :: making sure it works for your specific case prior purchase!

There is lots of  combinations to be done so let's clear out if TOYOBD1 will work with yours! Here are 5 steps to find out like a pro.


1- Is your car standard and listed under the supported engines list

if not, it may be supported but you should ask me advices so that we sort it out.



2- You need an android device


Phones and tablets with Bluetooth capabilities using running Android 2.2 or higher will do.
SD Card external storage capability is highly suggested for use of the import/export features.
take the time to install the TOYOBD1 application and familiarize yourself with the menu and the very informative glossary.


3- You need to find 4 signals in your ECU pin out 

You need to know your exact ECU pin out, it may differ from market to market and even from car model to another model WITH the same engine, or between Manual transmission and Automatic transmission. if you cannot find your ECU pin out online you can open your ECU and take a look at the pins label on the bottom PCB. please share your unavailable pin out findings so that we live in a better world :)

when looking at an ECU pin out you want to see TE2,(VF or VF1), E1 and B+. OBD1READ needs those 4 signals to work. if you don`t have a TE2 signal it will not be able to work at all.


4- You need to know your diagnostic box on your car( this is where OBD1READ connects )

You need to find it and identify what signals are available there, otherwise you will need to source them elsewhere. The sticker in the cap can be misleading, it will tell you where each signal is housed but it will not tell you if it is present.That sticker is universal for toyota cars of a specific era. The signals you are after are VF1,B+,E1 and TE2 please be careful many persons mistook TE1 for TE2, they are physically near and almost named identically...beware!( no harm to the device can be done if you connect te1 instead of te2)

You need to probe in those spaces with something small enough like a micro screw driver, you are searching for metal contacts. if some are missing, (TE2 is generally the missing one) you need to source that signal from elsewhere. either on ecu pins through new wires or by splicing into existing wires at the ecu connectors. the 1UZ-FE engine swaps mostly always need to take the TE2 signal this way.


5- You have found your signals, you can test if they do useful work

Using this test method you can determine if your ECU can be put into obd1 data output. it requires a digital multimeter( a test light is not a proper tool for this)


At this time you should have an android device ready with TOYOBD1, You have an ECU that was proven to output OBD1 data when TE2 and E1 are jumped together AND you know where to source your signals.
It is safe to say that an OBD1READ device with TOYOBD1 will work for your car!

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Testing toyota fuel injector Wiring with a paperclip

Using a paperclip you can test the basic operation of gasoline fuel injectors.


this information is targeted at TOYOTA designs but should be meaningful for many other makes.

this test can reveal:
  • the injectors cannot be actuated by the ECU(if you can't manually it cannot either)
  • one or many injector are clogged (don't click when powered)
  • the injector you are actuating is matching the one that is  clicking, (in custom engine swaps those injector wires can be inadvertently exchanged)
this test cannot reveal:
  • current applied at the positive pin of the injectors is sufficient(too low current caused by bad resistor pack or bad wires on the 12v side)
So overall it can tell you that if you can't actuate the injectors manually the ECU wont be able either...

It can be performed on a car or a bench test setup. The following video shows it on a bench setup.

Theory behind the test

On conventional designs, the fuel injectors have 12v current applied on their positive pin when the ignition switch is ON. the negative pin of each injectors is connected to an ECU which sinks that current when the ECU wants to actuate that specific injector.

Without an ECU installed but having the ignition switch at ON you can sink an injector current manually by jumping an injector contact at the ECU connector with a main ECU ground contact  at the ECU
connector. doing this will result in a clicking sound coming from that particular injector when the jumper is placed or

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Getting started with the JVF2010A

OK, so you bought a JVF 2010A panel for cheap, you don't know how to use it and you got here while searching how to!

The JVF 2010A is an 80s computer that execute a DOS program that is placed on a properly formatted Floppy disk, You simply place the floppy in the drive, power on the panel , it takes a time to boot and after this it displays the default animation continuously.That system allows you to display animations that you will create or copy onto the floppy disk. You will notice an AT keyboard port on the side of the panel. you can edit your drawings and scripts directly on the panel in the main program, it's doable but I don't encourage this because we can do everything we need on the PC where the content to display will come from...

first you need to create a floppy disk that will have the basic programs and files to run.
The following archive JVF 2010A formating tool was found at
there is lots of info on this page on how to write scripts with special effects,this subject is of course more advanced than the basics.

Using the 2010a.exe application found in the archive you can create floppy disks that will be formatted correctly and it will have the needed files/programs for the panel to work.

 You can now add new drawings and animation scripts to your floppy.

the main files types are as follows

*.DSN those are drawings, I would guess DSN comes from the french word 'dessin' since the company was based in QC,Canada... just a guess
all DSN files are kept in A:\DSN

*.SHW this is an animation file that contains commands that tells what to draw, what special effects to do and more.
all SHW files are kept in A:\

AUTOEXEC.BAT this is a batch file that gets executed when the system boots it contains the name of the animation file that will be ran when the panel is powered up.
AUTOEXEC.BAT is kept in A:\

(JVFA.exe or JVFF.exe) this is the program that does all the work.

How to add new content to the disk

In a prior blog post I was showing the DSNEditor windows application that I wrote. That application allows  the user to convert .bmp files to .dsn and generate a basic animation script at the same time. Using this tool I generated the animation that is shown in the video.
The files needed to play it are available in the following archive files

Simply extract the content on the A: drive. It will place the needed dsn and shw files where they belong and it will overwrite the AUTOEXEC.BAT file

After this just place the floppy disk into your panel and power it up, after 10 to 15sec it should start to play the animation or display an error message if something went wrong.

Another blog post will explain how to use DSNEditor to generate your own content...

Sunday 18 January 2015

Troubleshooting OBD1READ :: determine if the ECU is sending data

Testing if your Toyota ECU is outputting obd1 data is easy and requires only a digital voltmeter and jumper wire. Here's how to do this test.

-the ignition key must be at ON position and the engine not running.
-make sure there is no jumper wire between E1 and TE2 (no continuity present)

using the Voltmeter you must read the voltage between VF1(positive probe) and E1(negative probe). You should see a flat reading near 0V like in this video.

-Install a jumper wire between E1 and TE2.

using the Voltmeter you read once again the voltage between VF1(positive probe) and E1(negative probe). This time you will see an irregular fluctuating reading between 0V and 5V. this means a data stream is sent through the VF1 pin.
Using this method you were able to determine if your ECU is sending data that can be read for an OBD1READ device.