Auto Tap OBDII Diagnostic Scanner for Windows

Discussion in 'Automotive Products' started by admin, Jul 18, 2016.

  1. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

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    B&B Electronics Mfg Co
    707 Dayton Road
    Ottawa, IL USA
    61350
    Phone: 1-815-433-5100
    AutoTap Support
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    For WINDOWS Operating System / PC Version
    As most of us working on today's vehicles know, there are several OBD II Scanner options available, the question is which ones work, work the best, are "user friendly", and have quality customer support? Well, I have an answer to those questions. I can not think of a better company to produce an OBD II scanner for PC's than one who also deals in advanced communications. If you get a chance, click on the B&B Electronics logo and you will see what I am talking about. I visited the site and wow, was I impressed!! Consider this, the PCM (Powertrain Control Module, i.e. Computer) has the capability of storing a problem that arises and is capable of sending data to a scanner. This is done through cabling and adapters from "port to port" communication, from the DLC (Data Link Connector) to the port of the scanner. The AutoTap Windows version connects to a PC, or for portability, a laptop, via a cable attached to the DLC. The AutoTap OBD II Hardware and a serial cable connect to the COM Port of the PC/laptop. COM stands for Communications, now you can see what I mean about this scanner system and the company that manufactures it.
    I have a lot to cover here and there are ALOT of images, so pardon the load time of the article. It has taken about 1 1/2 months in all to write this review. Partially because I have had the system in constant use at my shop, so taking the time to use it to review it wasn't easy (grin). Before I get started, I want to tell you that I have indeed used this system extensively. I have connected the vehicle to seventeen vehicles in all since I received the system. In saying that, realize that my comments reflect hours and hours of testing this system. Ok, lets get started....
    One of the first things I notice is packaging.
    The AutoTap system comes in a very nice carrying case. Unique and positive case locks and plenty of room for the system.
    The picture to the left shows the contents of the AutoTap for Windows system. The contents are:
    -Carrying Case
    -AutoTap for Windows Software CD
    -AutoTap OBD II hardware
    -OBDII Cable (connects vehicle to AutoTap hardware)
    -Serial cable (connects pc to AutoTap hardware)
    -Warranty Information
    -AutoTap Software Registration Certificate
    -Quick Start Guide
    -AutoTap decal sticker
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    Installing the AutoTap for Windows software is as simple as inserting the software CD into the laptop CD drive. The program will "autorun" and a list the choices will be displayed that are included on the CD. Throughout my article, I will be referring to PC as a laptop. Personally, I prefer using a laptop due to the portability and advanced features within the AutoTap system. The laptop that I am using is an "A Series" Fujitsu Lifebook. For the minimum requirements to properly use this system on a PC or laptop, click here:FAQ..PC/laptop requirements. scroll down the page and the requirements are listed. To finish the software installation, simply follow the installation instructions on the screen.
     
  2. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

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  3. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

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    With the AutoTap OBD II For Windows software installed on my laptop, next comes connecting the cables and the AutoTap Scanner hardware. The AutoTap Scanner hardware is marked which end is to the "Vehicle" and the "Computer". The OBD II cable attaches to the Vehicle connection on the AutoTap Scanner hardware, and the serial cable attaches to the Computer connection on the AutoTap Scanner hardware.



    Next, we connect the other end of the Serial cable to the DB9 pin Serial port of the laptop. Note, if your laptop does not have the DB9 pin serial port, AutoTap does sell the adapters for the USB connections. Also, a serial extension cable is available. The accessories can be found here.



    Lastly, we connect the OBD II cable to the DLC connector on the vehicle. To confirm we are receiving vehicle power, the red LED on the AutoTap OBD II hardware should be illuminated.


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    I decided to explain the function of the AutoTap for Windows three different ways. I know that new equipment can be intimidating to all of us, and sometimes it is nice to start out simple to get a feel of the system, and build up confidence in our abilities. I hear so many times that a tool will be purchased and never used because it was never fully explained at the time of purchase, so it basically goes unused. Well, you will easily find that this system is very "user freindly" with a Help button always available to answer any question you may have. Anyway, lets start out simple (grin)..


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    The first test we are going to perform is on a '01 Olds Alero 2.4L. This a true story that happened to my daughter. The vehicle, 15,000 miles on it, failed to start when my daughter was ready to leave from work one night. "Click, click, click, that was all it would do dad." So at 12:00AM I am headed out to find out what happened. A few simple tests, and I found the battery had failed. The dealer she purchased the car from was only 1/2 mile away, so once the car was started, we dropped it off at the dealer. A phone call from the dealer the next morning confirmed what I had found and the car was finished. About an hour later my daughter picked up her car and I get the second call, "Dad, now my "Service Engine Soon" and "Trac Off" lights are on!!" The car is OBD II and without a way to connect to it, there is no way of knowing what the problem is. One thing to note here. I am not here to talk down any products that are on the market, but hey, I own a professional scan tool -
    I paid ALOT of money for it, but guess what? The '01 update isn't even available for it yet, so it is useless on this application. The AutoTap system is current and easily found the problem as you will see....


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    Angela brought the car home and I connected the AutoTap system to the DLC connector.


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    A couple of mouse clicks later, the program is up and running. First, I clicked on the AutoTap Icon on the desktop, and then the "Connect to a Vehicle" button.



    This screen popped up and this is a good point I want to bring up. I also use a Palm handheld on this laptop. The Palm m105 "HotSync's" via the DB9 serial port on the laptop. By default, the HotSync manager for the Palm loads when the laptop boots up. The "Unable To Communicate With vehicle" error message I received on the AutoTap system, was because the laptop loaded the Palm HotSync manager and wouldn't recognize the AutoTap system connected to the laptop. VERY simple solution!! The Palm HotSync Icon located in the "system tray" (where the time is displayed).. double click the Icon and selected Yes to the "Are you sure you want to exit the HotSync Manager?" question. I didn't want to throw everyone a curve here, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Just keep in mind that the port used for the AutoTap has to be available before the system can perform.


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    If you remember I said I was going to do the review in three parts, well, here is part one. All I want is the stored DTC(s) that caused the MIL light to illuminate. As you can see, the only thing displayed is the DTC code chart. I want you to look at the bottom line of the Autotap screen. Above the Windows start button, you will see the vehicle's VIN number, and scroll over, the Connected status is YES, over farther it shows the MIL ON. Folks, within 10 minutes here, I connected to the vehicle, found that I had a connection problem due to my Palm HotSync manager being on using the serial port needed for the AutoTap system, and I found that I have one DTC, the IAT circuit is high. That stands for the Intake Air Temperature sensor, high would mean the same as an open circuit.. time to look under the hood...


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    Well, there is the new AC Delco battery and the IAC sensor.. unplugged..simple enough, reconnect the sensor harness...I wish they were all this easy..(grin)


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    Well, the problem should be corrected, but I want to stop and show you something before we go the next step. On the DTC window that we have on the screen, there are function buttons, one of them is called Advanced. The Advance function will bring up this window. You can set the DTC Options so that DTC checking is Enabled or Disabled and the same with the MIL status. You can even set the interval in which the checks occur when you have the functions Enabled (no check mark in the box) Nice option!! That way you are getting updated DTC and MIL status information automatically.
     
  4. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

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    There is also the button, Clear DTC's. When selected, the program will ask you "Do you wish to clear DTC's?" just in case you clicked the button in error. If you wish to clear the DTC's, select Yes.


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    And there we are, MIL status is OFF, and there are no DTC's. My daughter is happy and 15 minutes later, we're done!! This is part one folks!!
    To use this system is so easy and user friendly that even if you are hesitant about testing an OBD II vehicle, I can tell you by the testing that I have performed on this system it is EXTREMELY accurate, and VERY user friendly.


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    Let us move from part one to part two of the testing of the AutoTap system. I featured this system in a technical article that can be seen here:
    "Diagnostic Flow Charts... Do they always work?"

    Some of the images from the article will be duplicated here, but I want to show you the next advanced level in which the AutoTap system can be used..


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    The next vehicle we will be testing is a '98 Jeep Cherokee 4.0L inline 6 Cylinder.Before we get started I want to show this to you. These three screen shots are adding different functions for use to view. Upper left is adding a "table", above, adding a "gauge" and to the left, a "chart"



    The screen shot above is deciding what we want the table to be of. The system I am reviewing has both the "Generic" and "Enhanced" parameters available. For more information on what this means, click the links below:
    Generic Parameters
    Chrysler (our test vehicle) Enhanced Parameters

    When purchasing the AutoTap OBD II for Windows system you have a choice of with Enhanced Parameters and for GM, Ford, or Chrysler or for all three, or just with Generic Parameters. It really depends what you intend to use the system for. Personally, I feel that the Enhanced parameters are an exceptional value.
    Back to our screen shot, since this is an Advanced parameter system, I have alot of choices that I can choose the table to be. The same with the Gauge and the Graph, you can select what you want them to display. The Table and the Graph have an "Insert" button that when selected will show the available parameters you can choose from. The gauge has a "Change" button that serves the same function. With that being said, on we go with testing our Jeep...
     
  5. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

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    Conneting the Jeep is the same as the '01 Olds Alero. The AutoTap's OBD II cable connects to the DLC connector.



    We used a Graph, Gauge and Chart that were concentrated on our problem area, the TP (Throttle Postion) Sensor. This was an odd problem that would have been extremely difficult to find without a scanner. By being able to customize and add whatever type of instrutment we want, you can custom design the AutoTap to display whatever you prefer. You also have the option to save the configuration you designed for future use. We'll get into that next as this concludes step two of our review.


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    From what we have learned so far about the AutoTap system, we can customize the testing screen a number of different ways. The examples above show how we can expand and build a custom chart. We can select parameters and expand the chart as much as we want, being able to watch the functions we selected, all at the same time.



    Or what about a combination of all three? Also, the Charts, Graphs and Gauges have color choice options and Font options. You can design the test screen so at a glance, by gauge type or color, you can determine how the function is performing.



    Or what about a test screen full of gauges? Each one a different color? Or maybe multiple designs? And what if you have a configuration that you designed that you want to reuse for a certain purpose or vehicle? You can save as many configurations that you have created, as you want. When you start the AutoTap program, you can select that configuration and you are ready to go!!



    Another nice feature that is incorporated into the AutoTap system is the capability of "logging" data. You can basically record the data being gathered and play it back noting in differences and in what Parameter(s).. I have to tell you, I am impressed!! I hope I have shown that this is a remarkable tool. Very easy to use, excellent help files, and extremely accurate. I was amazed at the reaction time the system operates. Some of the quick changing parameters have a reaction time of 40 times per second!! That means when it happens, you'll see it instantly!! I was testing this with a TP sensor gauge set at 0-100% throttle opening. As I depressed the pedal, the gauge instantly reacted. With this reaction time, the graphs simulate a lab scope. Maybe not as fast, but VERY close!!


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    It will be easy for me to rate this product. I performed extensive testing on multiple vehicles and I was never disappointed in the performance I received from the system. This has taken the place in my shop as the first scan tool I grab when I have a vehicle to check out and repair. I like the format, the ease of use, the super fast reaction time. The fact that it will test current model years cannot be matched by scanners that cost 10 times the amount of this system. A laptop or pc is required, but the operating requirements to run the program you will find are easy to fullfil without spending alot of money. I would strongly advise using a laptop with the program. With the data logging feature, you could connect the laptop and drive the vehicle. Also, with the test screen setup with as many gauges, graphs, charts that you want and drive the vehicle monitoring the status, would be extremely useful for diagnosing intermittent performance problems. My laptop I use with the system is a Celeron 500, 160MG RAM, 12.1" TFT display with Windows ME, and the system worked flawlessly and VERY FAST.
    Thank you for reading my product review!! Please consider AutoTap OBD II for Windows if you are planning a scanner purchase!! The professional technician, the DIY'er and the auto enthusiast will greatly benefit by using this system!!
    Bruce Bonebrake
     

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