platforms, review, toolbox

Platforms – OBD Solutions development board

Development board which is presented in this article is the one which served as inspiration when TinyO was conceived. It is one of the most reliable and well-rounded solution in terms of standards support, ease of use and reliability. This is not surprising given the fact that actual microcontroller which is used as a center piece is manufactures, OBD Solutions, product as well.

Company celebrates 15 years

OBD Solutions is the leading provider of on-board diagnostics solutions. Their hardware and software offerings cover the full spectrum of on-board diagnostic (OBD) applications. Company was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona.

Being at the core of the vehicular communication, OBD Solutions recognized the need for flexible and powerful development environment that would enable users to leverage their solutions at the maximum of performance and capability. They designed OBD development board as a low level modular platform for vehicular data interfacing. Technically, OBD Development Board is a fully functioning OBD-II to USB interface that supports all OBD-II protocols. It is compatible with standard compliant ELM327 software.

Illustration 1: OBD Solutions development board.


Product for modern cars and heavy vehicles

Board is comprised of three modules: STN breakout module, OBD driver module and power module. It is based on their STN 11xx series microcontrollers which have been extensively tested and verified in field operation. There is wide range of support for different CANBus protocols and standards covering most of modern cars. Also, there is extended support for heavy vehicles and special heavy duty machines. Typical connection schema is given on the following illustration.

Illustration 2: OBD development board connection schema.
(top: PC, left bottom: CANBus emulator, right bottom: OBD development board)

Once connected development board can start exchanging data packets, sending them through the serial connection to the host device, which is depicted as PC on previous illustration. Being a low level interface it gives user great flexibility but imposes somewhat steeper learning curve because of wide variety of supported communication standards. One drawback of the setup is dependency of desktop software components, but this can be circumvented by custom software development.

Solution offers decent documentation including the board design of individual modules and detailed specification of the microcontrollers used. Driver is also available as a free software download from the manufacturer, but it is limited to Windows operating systems support. Community offers alternatives, but they don’t seem to be officially supported.

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