ELM327-compatible adapters - how to choose

Discussion about adapters and connections - usage, problems, solutions
adrianopery
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat May 19, 2018 12:27 am
Vehicle: Ford Ecosport 2018

Re: ELM327-compatible adapters - how to choose

Post by adrianopery »

FORScan wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:52 am
Update 2019-12-11. Article updated as the following:
- Added reference to OBDLink EX


We are asked every day about adapter's choice. The problem is that there is no easy answer, as there is no ideal adapter that would fit best every specific case. In this article we have tried to address most important issues of the choice problem in most compact way.

Note: For professional work we would recommend to consider purchasing J2534 Passthru adapters that support Ford protocols. ELM327 family is recommended for amateur and semi-professional usage. This article reviews only ELM327 familty of adapters. J2534 Passthru devices will be addressed in a separate article.

1. Protocols

Table 1.1 - Ford protocols
OBDII name / Ford name OBDII jack pinsBus speedBus min. response timeHow to detect
SAE J1850 PWM / Ford SCP2, 1041600 bps20...40 msImage
ISO9141 / Ford ISO79600 bps150...250 msImage
CAN / Ford HS CAN6, 14500 Kbps0...20 msImage
/ Ford MS-CAN3, 11500 Kbps0...20 msImage
/ Ford UBP310400 bps150...250 msImage

Table 1.2 - Ford protocols by model generations
P - primary protocol (PCM)
S - auxiliary protocol (not mandatory for FORScan)
GenerationSAE J1850 PWMISO 9141CANFord MS CANFord UBPComment
Ford 1996 - 2003PS---
Mazda 1996 - 2003-P---Some models used SAE J1850 PWM as primary
Ford EU, Mazda 2004 - 2009-SPS-Some models used SAE J1850 PWM as primary
Ford NA 2004 - 2009-SPSS
Ford, Mazda 2010+--PS-HS2, HS3 through MS-CAN

Simplest and quite reliable way to find out what protocols are supported in your car is to make a photo of the OBDII jack. Examples:

ImageImage
Focus Mk2 - only HS-CAN and MS-CANMondeo Mk3 after restyling - J1850, ISO9141, HS-CAN, MS-CAN

Table 1.3 - Ford protocols by adapters
ChipSAE J1850 PWMISO 9141CANFord MS CANFord UBPAdapter
ELM327 standardXXX--ELM327, Kiwi 3
ELM327 with HS/MS switchXXXX-ELM327 marked as Ford, Mazda compatible
STN 1100XXX--OBDLink SX/LX
STN 115xXXXX-OBDLink MX BT
STN 1170XXXX-ELS27 (old versions), Viaken STN1170
STN 2120XXXX-ELS27 (new version)
STN 2255XXXX-OBDLink MX+
STN 2230XXXX-OBDLink EX

2. Performance

Two parameters are mainly important for performance:
Min. interface respone time (minimal response time or ping) - minimal possible time from the moment request to adapter is sent to the moment the response from adapter is received
Max.interface baud rate - max possible data transfer baud rate between computer and adapter

These parameters directly affect connection time, parameter (PIDs) reading frequence, overall programming time

Table 2.1 - Adapters' performance
AdapterChipInterfaceMin.interface
response time
Max.interface
baud rate
Comment
ELM327 OHP HS/MS WiFiELM327 (clone)WiFi30-40 ms38400 bpsUnknown manufacturer - "good clone". Recommended only for iOS
Kiwi 3ELM327 compatibleBluetooth Low Energy40 ms-Can be used only with FORScan Lite for iOS
ELM327 HS/MS USBELM327 (original)USB0..2 ms500 Kbps
OBDLink EXSTN2230USB0..2 ms2MbpsRecommended for FORScan for Windows
OBDLink SXSTN1100USB0..2 ms2Mbps
OBDLink LXSTN1100Bluetooth--
OBDLink MX+STN2255Bluetooth6..20 ms-Recommended for FORScan Lite for iOS, Android
OBDLink MX BTSTN115xBluetooth8..20 ms115200 bps
OBDLink MX WiFiSTN115xWiFi-115200 bpsWiFi interface works unstable - it freezes and times out. Strongly not recommended!
ELS27 v3STN2120USB, Bluetooth0..2 ms USB, 20 ms BT8 Mpbs USB
Viaken STN1170 USBSTN1170USB0..2 ms2 MbpsLast versions of this adpater have buggy firmware 4.3.x. Recommended to downgrade to stable 4.1.1 or upgrade to stable 4.5.1
Viaken STN1170 BTSTN1170Bluetooth20..30 ms38400 bpsUses cheap BT chip so may freeze on some cars. Not recommended

Overall system performance can be easily estimated by adapter's performance and bus parameters as the following:

Overal min.response time = Min. adapter response time + Min.bus response time
Overal baud rate = MIN ( Adapter max. baud rate / 2, Bus baud rate)
Examples:
Example 1: Ford Mondeo Mk3 PCM, bus J1850. Adapter ELM327 OHP HS/MS WiFi. According to the table 1.1, let's assume min. bus response time is 20 ms, bus baud rate is 41600 bps. According to the table 2.1 adapter's min response time is 40 ms, baud rate is 38400 bps.

Overal min.response time = 40 ms + 20 ms = 60 ms
Overal baud rate = MIN ( 38400 / 2, 41600) = MIN ( 19200, 41600) = 19200 bps.

Note: we divide interface baud rate by two because ELM327 family adapters exchange data in text format. So every machine byte is represented in 2 transferred bytes.

As we can see, the adapter significantly limits the overal system peformance in this example (in case of cars with CAN bus, like Mondeo Mk4 or Mk5, the test results would be much worse). Is that bad? Well, it depends on your goals. If reading DTC and some PIDs is the only objective you have, it is not too important. But if you plan to read PIDs in real-time (or as much close to it as possible) or perform programming (actual for CAN bus), then this adapter is a bad choice.

Example 2: Mazda 323 2001, bus ISO. Same adapter.

Overal min.response time = 40 ms + 250 ms = 290 ms
Overal baud rate = MIN ( 38400 / 2, 9600) = MIN ( 19200, 9600) = 9600 Kbps.

In this case the adapter is OK, because the bus itself is very slow. Reponse time is less than 20% higher than maximum possible for this car, and transfer speed is also limited by the bus.

Example 3: Ford Fusion 2015, bus CAN. Adapter ELS27 v3 USB. Let's assume CAN bus response time is 0 ms, and adapter has 2 ms of response time and 2 Mpbs baud rate.

Overal min.response time = 2 ms + 0 ms = 2 ms
Overal baud rate = MIN ( 2000000 / 2, 500000) = MIN ( 1000000, 500000) = 500 Kbps.

So in this case the response time is minimal, and baud rate is limtied by the CAN bus one.
3. Reliability

Two things are important for reliability:

- quality of the adapter. Not original adapters in general case have lower quality than original ones. We will create a dedicated article about so-called "clone problem".

- type of interface. The fact is that wireless interfaces used in ELM327 family of adapters are much less reliable than USB interface. And this problem is actual not only for "clones", but also for "original" adapters (OBDLink MX WiFi and Viaken VScan Bluetooth are most obvious examples).

So in general case we recommend to use USB for Windows version of FORScan, where it is possible. BT and WiFi devices are only recommended for mobile platforms (iOS and Android).

Also, important note about adapters with mechanical HS/MS switch: in addition to the fact it is not very convenient to switch it manually, it may be not possible to perform some operations with this type of adapter. If some operation requires a simultaneous access to both HS and MS (so FORScan needs to access some module(s) on HS CAN bus and, at the same time, other modules on MS-CAN bus), it cannot be normally executed using adapters with mechanical switch. Example: reading parameters (PIDs) in virtual module All, Module initialization subfunction in service functions "Remote keyless entry and Start".

4. Recommendations

Table 4.1 - recommendations on adapters
NO - not recommended for this platform
D - recommended for diagnostic: read PID, read/reset DTC, simple service functions
C - recommended for configuration: write configuration parameters to modules, complex service functions
P - recommended for programming: complex configuration, firmware update (only for CAN )
AdapterFORScan for WindowsFORScan Lite for iOSFORScan Lite for Android
OBDLink EXD, C, PNONO
OBDLink SXD, C, P*NONO
OBDLink LXD (if MS-CAN is not required)NOD (if MS-CAN is not required)
OBDLink MX+D, CDD
OBDLink MX BTD, CNOD
OBDLink MX WiFiNONONO
ELS27 v3D, C, PNOD
Viaken STN1170 USBD, C, PNONO
Viaken STN1170 BTNONONO
* - can be modified for MS-CAN support as described here.

5. Links to original adapters

All of these adapters were tested by us.

5.1. OBDLink product line: https://www.obdlink.com/

5.2 ELS27: http://els27.ru

5.3. Viaken: https://viaken.pl/pl/polski-elm327-v3-f ... -2014.html

Note: actually, all what we write about Viaken adapter is related to older version (v1 or v2, in black case). We had no chance to test their v3 version yet.
Hi guys, I would like to know if we have any other new option to use as Bluetooth device?
An updated list!
Krad79
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 12:25 pm
Vehicle: 2015 f350 6.2L stock / 2016 f350 6.7L

Re: ELM327-compatible adapters - how to choose

Post by Krad79 »

Hello Everyone. just joined today. i have scanned through the threads looking and i have not seen if anybody has tried using tuner obd2 connectors for the FORScan. If someone has posted i apologies in advance for asking again.
i just downloaded and received key so i am ready to go, other then my obd2 connector.
i Have a Bully Bog bdx 40470 tuner. For my 2015 f350 6.2L crewcab longbed xlt. it has a obd2 connector to a hdmi connector. i am going to try this to see if it will work with the FORScan program, and my computer.
i believe in theory it should as it is part of a tuning program already.
i am away at work and i will try go out to my truck and see if it will connect. i will posted back with the results (good or Bad)
again if i have duplicated any previous threads ....sorry.
i will be in touch

Krad79


Update
Tested Bully dog tuner coder........ No communication....
Krad79
From the Great White North
2015 Ford F350 6.2L xlt crewcab longbed 3 inch lift 35's daily/work/hunting truck
2106 Ford F350 6.7L latriat platinum package crewcab shortbed stock/daily/campin/family ride.[/color]
gnosis
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2020 8:40 pm
Vehicle: 2002 mazda b3000 dual sport 2WD

Re: ELM327-compatible adapters - how to choose

Post by gnosis »

So for a 2002 mazda b3000 dual sport essentially any elm is okay? Or is there one in particular that would be best?
tmittelstaedt
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2020 10:03 am
Vehicle: 2010 Ford Focus

Re: ELM327-compatible adapters - how to choose

Post by tmittelstaedt »

You really have 2 choices, gnosis

1) Buy one of the "supported/tested" adapters in the 3 links from the 2018 post. Those makers are very very aware of referrals from this site and they work to make their products compatible and support every option.

2) Go to Ebay and buy the cheapest ELM327 adapter possible, test it, and if it does not work return it to the seller. Then repeat with the next cheap adapter.

Right now the USB US adapter in the links in the article is on sale for $47. The cheapest clone bluetooth adapter on Ebay is $6 and the maker claims it works with the Android program Torque. The cheap adapters are frequently changed on Ebay so not only a few years from now you likely won't see the one someone bought listed, even if you do the innards will have changed.

I've bought a fair bit of ultra-cheap electronic gear from China. Let me explain how these Chinese companies work. If you buy direct from China you get the cheapest prices. Most of the time the stuff works - mostly - and if it's not going to work for you the companies have you return to a US address (on your dime of course) Then they have someone at the US address just re-list the stuff and sell it as "from a US seller" and charge more money for it of course.

I have 2 of these Chinese clone adapters. One of them was about $15 and the other around $6. Both bought years ago long before I started messing with Forscan, For the time I've wasted figuring out how to get those to work if I had to do it over again I would have bought the recommended adapter. One of those worked with Forscan to get it to do what I wanted it to do the other doesn't.

Remember that unless you are an old art-fay in your 80's you are undoubtedly not going to have your current vehicle the rest of your life. You will get future vehicles. A good Elm scantool will likely be used in the future on other vehicles so spend the money now on the good adapter and you won't have to worry about it not working in the future.
gnosis
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2020 8:40 pm
Vehicle: 2002 mazda b3000 dual sport 2WD

Re: ELM327-compatible adapters - how to choose

Post by gnosis »

tmittelstaedt wrote:
Sat Dec 19, 2020 7:12 pm
You really have 2 choices, gnosis

1) Buy one of the "supported/tested" adapters in the 3 links from the 2018 post. Those makers are very very aware of referrals from this site and they work to make their products compatible and support every option.

2) Go to Ebay and buy the cheapest ELM327 adapter possible, test it, and if it does not work return it to the seller. Then repeat with the next cheap adapter.

Right now the USB US adapter in the links in the article is on sale for $47. The cheapest clone bluetooth adapter on Ebay is $6 and the maker claims it works with the Android program Torque. The cheap adapters are frequently changed on Ebay so not only a few years from now you likely won't see the one someone bought listed, even if you do the innards will have changed.

I've bought a fair bit of ultra-cheap electronic gear from China. Let me explain how these Chinese companies work. If you buy direct from China you get the cheapest prices. Most of the time the stuff works - mostly - and if it's not going to work for you the companies have you return to a US address (on your dime of course) Then they have someone at the US address just re-list the stuff and sell it as "from a US seller" and charge more money for it of course.

I have 2 of these Chinese clone adapters. One of them was about $15 and the other around $6. Both bought years ago long before I started messing with Forscan, For the time I've wasted figuring out how to get those to work if I had to do it over again I would have bought the recommended adapter. One of those worked with Forscan to get it to do what I wanted it to do the other doesn't.

Remember that unless you are an old art-fay in your 80's you are undoubtedly not going to have your current vehicle the rest of your life. You will get future vehicles. A good Elm scantool will likely be used in the future on other vehicles so spend the money now on the good adapter and you won't have to worry about it not working in the future.
Right, but is the OBDlink ex good for other vehicles as well? I was thinking of getting the OBDLINK mx+ as it's suppose to be better with mazdas (my b3000) however I don't know how well it works with Forscan compared to the ex. Also, the ex is $50 less, which is appealing in and of itself, however my understanding is that it's less compatible with other vehicles and programs...?

Also, how about a more affordable one like this:
OHP ELMconfig FORScan OBD2 Adapter - ELM327
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01F0 ... ef3b1954be
rbentnail
Posts: 82
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2020 1:10 am
Vehicle: 2013 F150STX 4x4 5.0

Re: ELM327-compatible adapters - how to choose

Post by rbentnail »

Here is the one I'm using with my 2013 F150 STX 5.0.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N1 ... UTF8&psc=1

Cheap, works fine.
marekrbk
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:35 pm
Vehicle: mondeo,qyba1e,1.8,132kw,41nm,2007 chiptunning
Location: Slovakia

Re: ELM327-compatible adapters - how to choose

Post by marekrbk »

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rsmith0801
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2021 4:04 pm
Vehicle: 2008 F250 6.4L Powerstroke

Re: ELM327-compatible adapters - how to choose

Post by rsmith0801 »

I have a 2008 F250 6.4 and the OBDlink EX, it connects to the truck and says it's communicating, showing my VIN and info but never updates the modules. Just says it's communicating but no modules populate. Am I doing something wrong? One time, it did show the TCM and software date but only while I started the truck. I do have a tune but returned it to stock to see if it made a difference and no change. I also have a radio with Maestro hooked to one wire on the OBD connector. Radio was off but coukd this be affecting it?
ixxion
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2021 5:29 pm
Vehicle: F350 PSD 6.4 2008

Re: ELM327-compatible adapters - how to choose

Post by ixxion »

Saw your post and thought I'd make my first contribution.

What are you using for a computer?

Just purchased OBDLink EX connecting without difficulty to Lenovo laptop on 2008 F350 6.4 PSD. Wish there was more I could do and test with it, but I'm pleased with what I have so far for free (extended license trial).

Now I'm looking for a bluetooth recommend just for monitoring with my android phone so I don't have to keep the laptop perched on the console ready to fall off.
LucasBS
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Dec 27, 2020 12:07 pm
Vehicle: New Fiesta 2014 1.6 130CV

Re: ELM327-compatible adapters - how to choose

Post by LucasBS »

I'm looking at this ELS-27 from Aliexpress.

https://a.aliexpress.com/_mKF1JsF

Is it possible to tell if it supports or not adding new keys ?

Ford New Fiesta 2014/2015
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