How to manage module configuration in FORScan

Car configuration discussions and experience sharing
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FORScan
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1. Introduction

Post by FORScan »

Module configuration is a set of parameters and settings stored in the module (Electronic Control Unit - ECU) memory. From manufacturer’s point of view, module configuration is a final part of the vehicle assembly process. Every module (ECU) can be represented in the following scheme:

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The idea is: the same hardware can be programmed for different environments with ECU software (firmware) and tuned with ECU configuration. Obviously, this makes the production more effective. The above doesn’t mean that all modules have the same core. But they are quite unified, so we can speak about “groups” of modules. Every “group”, has the same configuration layout (scheme).

From the vehicle owner’s point of view, using the module configuration feature is a great way to do an aftermarket vehicle customization. But it is important to understand the following limitations of the configuration process:
  1. Not all modules are configurable. Configuration availability very depends on age of the module and platform of the car. General rule is, the older the car the less computer diagnostic, configuration and programming abilities it has.
  2. Only options developed by the module (ECU) manufacturer are available. It is not possible to “add” any parameters that are not foreseen by the manufacturer.
  3. Two different models may have a module (ECU) of different groups with different configuration layout. Sharing this module configuration between such vehicles is not possible.
  4. Although a group of vehicles may have the same configuration layout, their modules may support not all of the configuration parameters available in this layout. It actually depends on differences in firmware and hardware.
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FORScan
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2. Configuration types

Post by FORScan »

We distinguish between the following types of module configuration:

Individual – every module keeps its own configuration. It has been used in old models prior to 2006-2010MY.

Central – some of modules have been dedicated as a common configuration storage being shared with other modules. Other modules have no individual configuration and load all the configuration data from the storage. This type of configuration has been used mainly in models for EU market of 2006-2013 model years (focus Mk3, Kuga Mk2, Mondeo Mk4, Fiesta Mk7 etc) and co-platform models for NA market (Focus Mk3, Escape, Fiesta, Transit…). Managing Central Configuration is not a subject of this article and discussed separately.

Combined (Central + individual). Several data blocks in a certain module (usually in GEM/BdyCM) have been used for so-called Economized Central Configuration (ECC). So shared part of the configuration (i.e. used by several modules) is stored in the central configuration, and specific configuration parameters are kept by the corresponding modules. All modern Ford cars have this type of configuration (F-Series, Mondeo Mk5/Fusion 2015MY, Fiesta Mk8, Focus Mk4 etc). In last generation of cars central part of combined configuration is represented by several blocks of BdyCM module configuration, so user can access it in the same way as it does it for accessing other BdyCM configuration parameters.

There are also 2 special configuration types:

PCM Vehicle ID (VID) block - keeps crucial configuration parameters, such as VIN, tire size and axle ratio. PCM VID block requires special programming procedures. Old models' PCMs don't allow to manage VID block separately from module firmware (so we have to reflash PCM completely in order to change some configuration parameter in the VID block). Besides, programming PCMs on old models require special FEPS signal support on the adapter's side. Current version of FORScan supports PCM VID programming only for models that do not require FEPS and complete PCM reflashing. New models (app. after 2012) prefer to keep crucial data in ECC, so even although many of new PCM still have VID, its role is not so significant. Also new PCM do not require FEPS support and complete reflash to modify VID.

TCM Transmission ID (TRID) block - keeps solenoid body parameters. Although in many cases it is possible to manage TRID block through As Built Data configuration procedures, it is strongly not recommended to do so. TRID block has its own format protected by checksum, similar to VID block, so a thoughtless modifcation will lead to problems with transmission. FORScan has special procedure to manage TRID block, "Transmission Characterization Update".

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FORScan
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3. As Built

Post by FORScan »

As-Built is a specific term created by Ford that means factory configuration for all modules. This term became very popular, thus sometimes misused as a synonym to the “module configuration”. That is not correct because As-Built means factory configuration only. As soon as the module configuration is changed, it is not As-Built anymore.

As-Built can be retrieved from Motrocraft site by VIN:

https://www.motorcraftservice.com/AsBuilt

This page returns AsBuilt as a HTML:

Image

The whole configuration is represented as a list of strings of the following format (use the first string on the screenshot above as an example):

<module address>-<block #>-<line#> <D1 D2> <D3 D4> <D5 Cs>

Where:

module address – address of the module on bus, for example 7D0
block # - number of configuration block (ex. 01)
line # - number of line in block (ex. 01)
D1..D5 – configuration data bytes 1..5 (ex 0A6A 0196 50)
Cs – checksum of the line (ex.34)

This format is called As-Built format and was specially designed for manual input of As Built Data (ABD). Many years ago, when ABD had just few bytes, the manual entry was a quite common way to load module configurations. So the format contains a special checksum field that is calculated by special algorithm from all the other data in the string. The diagnostic equipment must check it and if the checksum doesn’t match, it means that operator has made a typo somewhere and must verify the input. This is how it may look in FORScan:

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In the past years amount of As-Built Data is growing rapidly and manual input has become a very inconvenient method for modern cars. So the Motorcraft site provides an ability to download the As-Built in XML format and save it to a file with name <VIN>.AB .This file contains not only module configurations data, but also other data: central configuration (if available) and module part numbers (for new cars). FORScan can import ABD and other data from the .AB files.

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FORScan
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4. Manage module configuration

Post by FORScan »

The following operations can be performed with module configuration:
  • Load (import) configuration to modules. FORScan supports both .AB files and files in its own .ABT format.
  • Backup (export) configuration from modules. This ability is missing in dealership scanner, so FORScan exports module configuration to files in its own *.ABT format.
  • Edit module configurations
FORScan provides 2 ways to manage body and chassis module configurations:

Module Configuration - this function was specially designed to edit module configurations.

Module Configuration (As Built format) – this function was specially designed to work with the module configuration in the firm Ford As-Built format. Main purpose of this function is to backup and recover module configurations. Note: this function is not designed for changing (editing) module configuration, although many enthusiasts do it through so called As-Built spreadsheets.

Using these function is discussed below in more details.

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FORScan
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4.1. FORScan function Module Configuration (As Built format)

Post by FORScan »

This picture shows how the function looks in FORScan:

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The workspace is splitted by blocks in As Built format. Every block has 2 action buttons: Restore and Write. The Restore button does reset the block to the initial value, no matter on the changes. Write button does write this single block to the ECU (other blocks are not saved).

At the bottom of the workspace we have the following buttons:

Restore All – restore initial value of all blocks
Load factory AB – downloads factory As-Built file from the Ford site and applies it to the module.
Load All – loads module configuration from .AB or .ABT file.
Save All – writes module configuration to .ABT file
Write All – write the whole module configuration to ECU.

Common use cases:

A. Make backup of module configuration: press “Save All” button, type filename, confirm writing. Configuration will be saved to a file with .ABT extension.

B. Restore module configuration from previously created backup: press “Load All” button, select previously created file with *.ABT extension, confirm loading. Please make sure the configuration has applied properly then press "Write All" button and confirm, to program new data to ECU.

C. Reset module configuration to factory settings: press “Load factory AB” button. FORScan will load module configuration from factory As-Built file. If the file is available, FORScan will use it. Otherwise it will try to download it from the Internet. Please make sure the configuration has applied properly then press "Write All" button and confirm, to program new data to ECU.

D. Configure new module after its replacement: either load factory As Built (see C), or first create backup of old module (see A) and then load it to the new module (see B). Please make sure the configuration has applied properly then press "Write All" button and confirm, to program new data to ECU.

E. Load module configuration of another vehicle: press “Load All” button, select <VIN>.AB file, confirm loading. Please make sure the configuration has applied properly then press "Write All" button and confirm, to program new data to ECU.

Note: this function is not designed for changing (editing) module configuration: managing it in hex codes requires special skills, it is quite complicated and not convenient. it is easy to make a mistake during this work. Configuration layouts are often not complatible between different models or sometimes even between 2 versions of the same module on the same model/year. It strongly recommended to use Module Configuration function where possible. Editing module configuration in raw data is only acceptable for experienced users in certain cases, for example the cases when required parameters are missing in the Module Configuration function of FORScan.

Common issues:

(i) FORScan will show all blocks of data in the module. Not all of these blocks are configuration, some may be module internal data that are not a part of As-Built. It is not necessary to back it up, because module will create these data by itself.

(ii) Factory .AB file may contain not all of configuration blocks available in the car. If number of blocks in .AB file doesn’t match to the number of blocks in the module.

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FORScan
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4.2 FORScan function Module Configuration

Post by FORScan »

This function was designed specially to perform an aftermarket edit of the module configuration. It provides available parameters in a human friendly form (FORScan users have called it “easy mode” ):

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The workspace contains available parameters and their current values. User can edit the parameter by double clicking on the corresponding row, or selecting the row and pressing “Edit selected” button. In response, FORScan will open a dialog that allows to change the parameter:

Image

Majority of parameters are simple switches in Enabled/Disabled form. But some parameters may require to select some value from a list, or type/enter a numeric value.

Major feature of this function is the “Filter” field that allows to filter out necessary parameters by keywords. Picture below illustrates how FORScan filters out parameters by the “adaptive” keyword:

Image

At the bottom of the workspace we have only 2 buttons:

Edit selected – this button was discussed above (it will open parameter edit dialog)
Write – this button will program all the changes to the module (ECU).

This function has no import/export (load/save) functions. Please use Module Configuration (As Built format) for backup/recovery purpose.

The following examples show usage of the Module Configuration function in details:

Example 1
Example 2

Possible problems:
  • FORScan may have no Module Configuration function for a specific module, or function is available but just few parameters are available. It may be FORScan problem or not. For older vehicles, the function/parameters may be not available. For new vehicles, FORScan may have them not added. Parameters are added manually, most often by requests, so it is not very fast process.
  • If parameters are available, but their values look weird or not realistic, it may mean that FORScan uses wrong configuration layout. It is quite rare problem but possible, because sometimes different version of the same module on the same car may have different layout.
In both of these problems user have to contact support team for consulting.

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