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My pastime these days, is trying various affordable car scanning tools. The keyword here is ‘affordable’ for the average car enthusiast. I’m trying these out mostly in my Ford Focus and whatever car that I can get hold of :) Based on my experience I thought of writing down a set of DIYs. Comments and corrections are highly appreciated (especially on how to diagnose faults using these, as I am still on a learning curve). Here’s the first one:

Scanning a car using a Bluetooth scanner and an Android Device (using Scanator software)

Intended Audience for this DIY: Noobs

What you need:

  • A Bluetooth-supported OBD scanner (read steps 1 to 4 on how to get one)
  • An Android Smartphone/Tablet (I will be using my Galaxy Tab)
  • A car that supports your device (if the YOM of your car is pre-2000, most likely you will not be able to use any of the cheap tools on ebay)

Total Damage:

If you already own an android device, you should be able to get the scanning equipment for Rs. 2500 – 3500

Step 1:

The first step is to find out the interface type and the protocol that is supported by your car’s ECU. Uncle Google will be helpful for this. You can also check the car manuals but most of us don't possess them anyway. While there is plenty of information for European cars on Google, you may need to search a bit harder for JDM cars. I typed “Ford Focus OBD2 Protocol” on Google and this is where I landed:

2609wtj.png

As you can see, the Focus runs a CAN-Bus, which is also known as ISO15765-4. Just did a search for Fiat Grande Punto and I discovered it runs the same protocol. So I typed “Toyota Axio OBD2 protocol”. Well… all I got was a lot of gibberish like this one http://www.mycarforum.com/index.php?showtopic=2640512 I am not going to waste time to read that and figure out!

In short, find out the connector type and the protocol before you embark on this. The protocol may be something like: ISO15765-4 (CAN), ISO14230-4 (KWP2000), ISO9141-2, J1850 VPW, J1850 PWM etc.

Step 2- Finding a suitable OBD-2 reader for your car on eBay:

Go to eBay.com to find a suitable reader. I searched for a Bluetooth ELM327 OBDII reader for the Focus. If you are a brave soul, you can also try aliexpress.com

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And I selected something like this (not the exact same item. Just an example)

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Because it supports CAN-BUS

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TIP: Ignore the list of supported vehicles on the seller’s page. It’s just not comprehensive. Go by the protocols instead.

Step 3 – The World Wide Wait:

Within 2-3 weeks time, you should receive the package. Customs won’t be too bothered because it will look like a computer peripheral for them. If by a remote chance you get summoned to customs, just say its a device for computer jilmaart.

Step 4 – Getting Scanator:

TIP: Throw away the CD that comes with the scanner.

Go to Google Play Store with your Android Device and search for Scanator

2gwudz8.jpg

You can also download other software like Torque Lite. There was also a Ford-specific software which I simply ignored, because I got a better one on my laptop.

Step 5 – Let’s do it!:

Connecting the device to the car:

Find out where the OBD connector is. It may be in the engine bay or in the fuse box in some cars. In a few other cars (like the Grande Punto), it may be hidden by a plastic panel. As always, uncle Google will help you to find it.

In case of the Focus, it’s just at 4 O’Clock from the steering wheel.

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Apparently this is where Toyota Corolla has it: http://codes.rennacs.com/photo-gallery/TOYOTA-EFI-21-Photos.php

TIP: When you plugin the device, a red indicator should light up. If the device is faulty, you will probably not see any lights or get some nonsensical outputs. Until the device is confirmed to be working, do not leave feedback on eBay

TO BE CONTINUED (I had to break the DIY to multiple posts because of image posting limitations)...
Edited by Crosswind
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... CONTINUED FROM EARLIER POST

Starting Scanator:

2vl7dib.png

Connecting the phone to the device using Bluetooth

Click on scan for devices button in Scanator and when it detects the device, it will ask you to pair it. Now I’m about to tell you the world’s worst-kept secret.

The usual password for any Bluetooth device on earth is 1234. If it doesn’t work, try 0000.

Note: Forum member Vishkid noted that the PIN can vary from 0000/1234/5678/6789 etc but it's generally a 4 digit numeral combo of a simple pattern, so try all this if you get stuck.

seapzl.png

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Now it’s paired

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Scanator Home Screen:

Click on the device (OBDII 11:22:33:AA:BB:CC) to start the program

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Let’s Try each feature:

The first icon gives the check engine status (DTCs recorded in the car)

yfkpe.png

There is a clear button for DTCs as well. Since I don’t have any DTCs, I cant demonstrate the clear feature. But its as simple as pressing the Clear button above.

Scanator Tests:

Please note that this section only demonstrates the available options on Scanator. It doesn’t go in to detail about how to perform a test (For example, some tests need to be done while the car is running. Some needs to be done after the engine has thoroughly warmed up). Some of the interpretations are extracted off various internet sources, which are too numerous to mention.

Scanator is a program written by a Mexican company. There are some functions which are Mexico-specific (like the list of garages)

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... TO BE CONTINUED (due to image posting limits)

Edited by Crosswind
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... CONTINUED FROM EARLIER POST

Absolute Throttle Position

Absolute Throttle Position is the position the throttle is closed. The more the throttle is closed the less the percentage is shown.

This screenshot is taken at idle on a cold start. 16% seems to be a bit high by I need to monitor this when the engine is warm. Perhaps a tune-up is necessary. Any comments on this will be appreciated.

k4xlwg.png

Barometric Pressure

Barometric pressure changes with the weather and with altitude. Since it affects the density of the air entering the engine and ultimately the air/fuel ratio,ssome computerized emissions control systems use a barometric pressure sensor so that the spark advance and EGR flow can be regulated to control emissions more precisely.

You can't get any more normal than 100kPa in Colombo

v3i1aa.png

Calculated Load Value

Indicates percent of peak available torque. It is correlated with engine vacuum. Often used to schedule power enrichment.

r2tfr7.png

This is taken at idle on a cold-start. Not sure exactly what this indicates on a vvt engine. Need to look this up.

Commanded Equivalence Ratio

Commanded equivalence ratio is used to determine the commanded air/fuel ratio of the engine. For conventional oxygen sensor vehicles, the scan tool should display 1.0 in closed-loop.

2di2cjl.png

Control Module Voltage

Voltage input to the ECU. 12-14V is normal.

2czx0eh.png

Commanded Evaporative Purge

Displays 0% when no purge is commanded and 100% at the maximum commanded purge position/flow.

2u4ldz4.png

Engine RPM

Needless to say what this is


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Engine Coolant Temperature

Engine coolant temperature derived from an engine coolant temperature sensor or a cylinder head temperature sensor

ojkt1j.png

Fuel Level Input

Indicates the nominal fuel tank liquid fill capacity as a percent of maximum

2ajonsg.png

Fuel System Status

Should be in closed loop

112ewxu.png

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... CONTINUED FROM EARLIER POST

Ignition Timing Advance

Can be used to verify the idle control.

2agq7vt.png

Intake Manifold Absolute Pressure

The difference in air pressure between the engine's intake manifold and atmosphere. 40 is just about the average.

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Intake Air Temperature

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Oxygen Sensor Output Voltage

A very useful test which can indicate a range of problems from a faulty O2 sensor to cylinder head

The fluctuation below is normal

mwp00j.png

Ehow.com has a nice guide on troubleshooting a car using this data, which is available here: http://www.ehow.com/how_7473709_test-oxygen-sensors-voltage-meter.html

There are number of other tests in the same section, which I have not given here.

The bottom line is, with the above tool and google, one can be fairly good at troubleshooting problems indicated thru the ecu of a car… and save some money in the process.

So those are some of the tests you can do with Scanator. Do remember that this DIY doesn't cover how to do the tests exactly and how to interpret results.

And here are some FAQs which I can think of:

1. I don’t have an Android phone. Can I use this device?

Yes, if you have Bluetooth in your computer. If not, you can get a cheap Bluetooth adapter like this one Off eBay or Unity Plaza. I'll be doing another DIY on how to use the scanner with a laptop/PC

64mihh.png

2. I’m Steve Jobs’s love slave. Can I use this device?

You probably can, but with some other software, not Scanator. I have never touched an iPhone in my life so can’t help you.

3. Can I buy one of those scanners in Sri Lanka?

I‘ve seen some guy advertising them in a classifieds website. If 3500 bucks isn’t too much for you (compared to $15) then you might as well get one locally.

Disclaimer: The content herein should be followed at user’s discretion and should not be regarded as expert advice. Subsequently if there is any harm caused to any of your possessions, including but not limited to your car, pet dog or girlfriend, neither Autolanka.com nor the author can be held responsible. Web reproductions are allowed (provided Autolanka.com has no objections), but the source “Crosswind @ Autolanka.com” needs to be acknowledged.

Edited by Crosswind
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Great writeup Crosswind! Thanks for sharing this as I also have just ordered an ELM327 from eBay myself. I haven't got a phone with Android with me, so I'm looking at installing a compatible software (like SanTool .NET or EasyOBD) on my PC and connecting to the ELM327 device through bluetooth.

Scanator looks awesome! And is there any particular reason as to why you prefer Scanator over Torque Pro (except because Sanator is free)?

Will definitely come back to this DIY when I'm about to get it configured on my Android phone some day. :)

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Great writeup Crosswind! Thanks for sharing this as I also have just ordered an ELM327 from eBay myself. I haven't got a phone with Android with me, so I'm looking at installing a compatible software (like SanTool .NET or EasyOBD) on my PC and connecting to the ELM327 device through bluetooth.

Scanator looks awesome! And is there any particular reason as to why you prefer Scanator over Torque Pro (except because Sanator is free)?

Will definitely come back to this DIY when I'm about to get it configured on my Android phone some day. :)

I tried Torque Free. It's functionality is very limited. That's when I came across Scanator, which gives nearly all necessary functions. And its free so why not use it?

With the PC I have tried Scanmaster ELM. It's not free but we have ways to make them free ;)

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I tried Torque Free. It's functionality is very limited. That's when I came across Scanator, which gives nearly all necessary functions. And its free so why not use it?

With the PC I have tried Scanmaster ELM. It's not free but we have ways to make them free ;)

Thanks Crosswind! Waiting until I can try this on my car.

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Great info mate! thank you!

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Crosswind what is the use of ignition time advance? How d'you know if there is a problem?

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I have tried ELM327 based interfaces on JDM vehicles but it was not successful I'm afraid. Appreciate a feedback from Crosswind or someone who was successful.

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Great job there crosswind... Once the refreshed main page launches we should definitely have this up as a tech article. Will tell MADZ.

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Crosswind what is the use of ignition time advance? How d'you know if there is a problem?

Ignition timing will affect your optimum performance and also emissions. As far as I know, it depends on cylinder positions, VVT timings, fuel type the vehicle is designed for. Its preset by the manufacturer.

This gives more information: http://autospeed.com/cms/title_Getting-the-Ignition-Timing-Right/A_109132/article.html

You will probably need to check it with manufacturer figures to find out whether there's any problem in it. Those who are seriously in to ecu tuning and remapping may use this info.

I have tried ELM327 based interfaces on JDM vehicles but it was not successful I'm afraid. Appreciate a feedback from Crosswind or someone who was successful.

You just made me realize that neither I nor any close associate actually owns a JDM car. It's all Euros, B/N imports to SL from Japan or Koreans! So I can't verify that. Maybe if I come across a guinea pig, I'll post the results.

There are also non-ELM 327 based scanners on ebay such as this one: http://www.ebay.com/itm/OBDII-OBD2-EODB-JOBD-diagnostic-1-3A-wireless-Bluetooth-/370453129152?pt=Motors_Automotive_Tools&hash=item5640ba27c0&vxp=mtr

If there's a will, the Chinese will find a way to build a cheap scanner :)

Great job there crosswind... Once the refreshed main page launches we should definitely have this up as a tech article. Will tell MADZ.

Cheers mate. May need to do minor edits on the post though.

Edited by Crosswind

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You just made me realize that neither I nor any close associate actually owns a JDM car. It's all Euros, B/N imports to SL from Japan or Koreans! So I can't verify that. Maybe if I come across a guinea pig, I'll post the results.

There are also non-ELM 327 based scanners on ebay such as this one: http://www.ebay.com/itm/OBDII-OBD2-EODB-JOBD-diagnostic-1-3A-wireless-Bluetooth-/370453129152?pt=Motors_Automotive_Tools&hash=item5640ba27c0&vxp=mtr

If there's a will, the Chinese will find a way to build a cheap scanner :)

Thank u Crosswind for the clarification. However, the link above again goes to a ELM based scanner. I can build myself a direct physical interface for next to nothing but I could not find the keywords used in JDM vehicles such as 121, 141, Vitz and H*nda (Not JDM) Hornet to set up the communication protocol (They all comply to ISO9141-2 but the keywords must be different). Yeah, the Chinese would have done it already, if they found a way!!

Edited by Rumesh88

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Great Info.

Normal garage charge minimum Rs. 1500 for a scan and some show off it as a rocket science.

In all fairness, some of those scanners which support many vehicle types, are fairly expensive (I am talking about millions of rupees). These el cheapo scanners are relatively new to the market.

Thank u Crosswind for the clarification. However, the link above again goes to a ELM based scanner. I can build myself a direct physical interface for next to nothing but I could not find the keywords used in JDM vehicles such as 121, 141, Vitz and H*nda (Not JDM) Hornet to set up the communication protocol (They all comply to ISO9141-2 but the keywords must be different). Yeah, the Chinese would have done it already, if they found a way!!

Keywords or word size (number of bits) could also be different. For example. some cars (like the Focus) gives 11-bit CAN outputs while some cars give 24-bit CAN outputs. Perhaps if u can find a pin-out diagram, that should give a clue. I don't know if this sounds downright stupid but, you could try a brute-force analysis to get the outputs and analyze them.

Sorry for the computer jargon.

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Dear Crosswind,

Thank you for sharing the info. I have this ELM 327 bluetooth scanner. It works with Toyota Passo with out any issue. But I tried it with Toyota Vitz and Suzuki Alto, it gets connected but not communicate with the ECU. I tried even with the paid version of the Android Torque, but no help.

Edited by ccm

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Keywords or word size (number of bits) could also be different. For example. some cars (like the Focus) gives 11-bit CAN outputs while some cars give 24-bit CAN outputs. Perhaps if u can find a pin-out diagram, that should give a clue. I don't know if this sounds downright stupid but, you could try a brute-force analysis to get the outputs and analyze them.

Sorry for the computer jargon.

On the contrary you sound very logical for I was trying a brute-force analysis anyway with a generic interface on the K-Line while using the ELM interface as an alternative. This I did sometime back before giving up due to time constraints but your OP inspired a renewed urge in me to revisit the issue. Thank you very much. While we are on this topic, the computer jargon is unavoidable.

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Great stuff EP - I also just purchased a scanner from the old ebay and am waiting for it to arrive (I was influenced by a CNET holiday gift article, which listed a far expensive scanner but a search yielded a similar one as you suggested).

I can confirm that ELM327 supporting CAN2 will scan both Mazda 3 and Axela. Hv no experience with other cars.

Edited by vishkid

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Hi Crosswind

Thanks for sharing, Now I’ve also hoy hooked to investigating the OBD 2 scanner.

A few questions, The unit u bought talks about Mazda 3, 6 etc, was wondering if it can read Mazda Bj5W – Protégé /323 (2001 YOM) ??

Also downloaded the Android free version for now.

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Hi Crosswind

Thanks for sharing, Now I’ve also hoy hooked to investigating the OBD 2 scanner.

A few questions, The unit u bought talks about Mazda 3, 6 etc, was wondering if it can read Mazda Bj5W – Protégé /323 (2001 YOM) ??

Also downloaded the Android free version for now.

No idea about your Mazda mate, but chances are it might work with the Protege, it being a car targeted for Asian market.

Great stuff EP - I also just purchased a scanner from the old ebay and am waiting for it to arrive (I was influenced by a CNET holiday gift article, which listed a far expensive scanner but a search yielded a similar one as you suggested).

I can confirm that ELM327 supporting CAN2 will scan both Mazda 3 and Axela. Hv no experience with other cars.

Cheers

Dear Crosswind,

Thank you for sharing the info. I have this ELM 327 bluetooth scanner. It works with Toyota Passo with out any issue. But I tried it with Toyota Vitz and Suzuki Alto, it gets connected but not communicate with the ECU. I tried even with the paid version of the Android Torque, but no help.

It all depends on the way the ECU of the car is designed, not the software. Perhaps the Alto and the Vitz runs different keywords or word-sizes, which Rumesh88 above, has been trying to crack.

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Good information Crosswind. I also got these cheap OBD scanners from eBay few years ago (one hand-held scanner and a cable type scanner which works with various apps). They worked with my 2000 model korean Hyundai Accent (except for speed sensor reading) but didn't work with any JDM vehicles I tried and also didn't work with Thai made hilux. These chinese scanners don't even use an original ELM 327 chip (which alone costs around 25USD and it's just a programmed PIC microcontroller) but clones. I started building this scanguage type device OBDuino (http://code.google.com/p/opengauge/wiki/OBDuino / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OBDuino) for the Accent but sold the car before completing it. :)

Edited by hyacc

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Good information Crosswind. I also got these cheap OBD scanners from eBay few years ago (one hand-held scanner and a cable type scanner which works with various apps). They worked with my 2000 model korean Hyundai Accent (except for speed sensor reading) but didn't work with any JDM vehicles I tried and also didn't work with Thai made hilux. These chinese scanners don't even use an original ELM 327 chip (which alone costs around 25USD and it's just a programmed PIC microcontroller) but clones. I started building this scanguage type device OBDuino (http://code.google.com/p/opengauge/wiki/OBDuino / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OBDuino) for the Accent but sold the car before completing it. :)

I believe even the original ELM327/329 is just a PIC microcontroller with different label. If you check the pin out of ELM329 it is similar to the PIC16F872. They have just wrapped the OBD II codes in their own command set and clones copied the same command set.

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Episode 2 – Scanning a car using a Bluetooth scanner and a PC (using Scanmaster ELM Software)

For the ones who do not possess an Android Device, one way of scanning a vehicle with the Bluetooth scanner, is to use a PC/laptop based software. There are many such tools available on the Internet, both paid and free. Scanmaster ELM is a tool developed by a German software company, which is comprehensive in providing real-time data. The only disadvantage I see is the cost of the software (which is about $75).

Intended Audience for this DIY: Noobs

What you need:

  • A Bluetooth-supported OBD scanner (read the earlier post on how to get one) OR an OBD scanner with a USB port
  • A laptop computer (preferably) running Windows XP (preferably). You can also use a desktop computer placed in close proximity to the car (within Bluetooth range). I use a laptop with Windows 7 in it.
  • A car that supports your device (that means it should support OBD-II and ELM both)
  • Scanmaster ELM Software (download instructions given below)
  • IVT Bluesoleil Software (download instructions given on Step 2 below) – not required if your laptop/desktop has Bluetooth already

Note: At the moment I do not possess a USB OBD Scanner. Some steps (steps 1, 2 and 4) below will not be required, if you are possessing a USB OBD scanner.

Total Damage:

If you already have a laptop or a desktop computer, all you need is the device (Rs. 2500-3500) and the software, which *usually* costs $75

Please read steps 1-4 of post #1 (here) DIY above to get the scanner. This post assumes you already own a scanner.

Step 1 – Getting a Bluetooth Device

Note: If your laptop/desktop already has Bluetooth in it, please ignore this step

First step is to get a tiny little USB Bluetooth device (if your computer already doesn’t have Bluetooth). You can get one off eBay, unity plaza or anyone who sells them locally. It shouldn’t cost you more than 200 rupees.

64mihh.png

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Step 2 – Getting the Bluetooth Software

Note: If your laptop/desktop already has Bluetooth in it, please ignore this step

The software that I will be using is IVT Bluesoleil

More often than not, your USB Bluetooth Dongle will not come with the software necessary for Bluetooth. If you already have it, then you just need to install the software in your computer.

If you haven’t taken my advice earlier and thrown away the CD that came with your scanner, you can find the Bluetooth software in it.

In any case, you can download the latest update of IVT Bluesoleil from here: http://www.bluesoleil.com/index.aspx

Trial version is sufficient

Step 3 – Downloading and Installing Scanmaster-ELM

You can download the software from any of the links below. Remember that this is a paid software so you will need to find a way to make it work (preferably by purchasing it :smilie_liebe9: )

http://www.wgsoft.de/en/shop/obd-2-software/scanmaster-elm-for-elm327.html

http://www.wgsoft.de/en/download/cat_view/42-obd-iieobd-software.html

http://skodafabiaclub.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=26203&sid=1aba3fb0ec66810b2a421a9b1c385dd8

http://www.google.lk/search?q=download+scanmaster-elm

Multiple links are posted because they are external links which may change any time.

Installing the software is as simple as clicking Next till it completes.

To be continued...

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Step 4 – Installing and Configuring Bluetooth

Note: If your laptop/desktop already has inbuilt Bluetooth in it, please pair the device the way you would usually do.

Just install Bluesoleil the way you would normally install any software. Double-click on the setup and keep clicking Next until your computer catches fire. You will need to restart the machine. Make sure your dongle is plugged in to the USB port, the scanner is plugged in to the car and the engine is running.

Run the software and click on the orange globe at its center to start searching for devices. This is not a very talkative software, so you will need to keep an eye on the messages at the bottom of its window.

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If the search is successful, you should see something like this on the window. A big question mark with OBDII at its bottom (BlueSoleil can’t figure out what it is), and a ‘Device Name Search Finished” message. You may see other devices like phones, headsets depending on what’s around you.

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Right Click on the question mark icon and click on Pair

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(Because I have already paired the device, what I see now is Unpair. You should see Pair on it)

It should ask for a password – the usual one – 1234

Right Click on the question mark icon again and click on Connect> Serial Port Service

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Then the question mark icon should turn green

2e4z3eu.jpg

What this device does is to create a virtual communication path between the Bluetooth dongle and the scanner. At this point, windows will assign an identifier for this path (known as a COM PORT). This is to avoid interfering with other data that is being communicated.

We need to manually find out what this communications port is, and then configure it in Scanmaster ELM.

To be continued...

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