Software analyses and interacts with CAN bus systems

Computer Solutions Ltd (COMSOL)visit website


The new PCAN-Explorer CAN Bus analyser and exerciser software from Computer Solutions is a flexible Windows program for showing what is happening on a CAN bus and for controlling and interacting with CAN systems.

It can be used for debugging the system or as a PC program driving it. PCAN-Explorer has a script language that makes it suitable for testing CAN units and for simple control and data acquisition. Its capabilities can be extended with predefined or user-produced add-ins.

The software can be used in three ways: as a protocol analyser to decode and analyse all messages on the CAN fieldbus; as a data logger for recording and time-stamping data; and as a paperless recorder for displaying data in a strip-chart format.

The VB script language allows users to generate powerful test or operational sequences, and a 'control panel' plug-in can be used to create a virtual instrument that can be controlled by an operator having no detailed knowledge of the CAN Bus parameters.

User-assigned names

PCAN-Explorer shows all received messages in a list containing ID, length and decoded data. Each CAN message ID can be given a unique name ('speed', for example), which is then used in place of the ID when messages are logged, making complex systems easy to debug. The data is split, decoded by bit, byte or word files and then displayed in the appropriate base or scaled if it is a floating point to allow it to be easily interpreted.

Users may automate tasks in PCAN-Explorer by adding commands to perform these tasks, by adding toolbar buttons to control these commands, and by responding to CAN events.

Data-logger functions include flexible facilities to save logged data in text form compatible with MS Excel. Users have the option of logging all messages or a filtered subset, and up to four messages can be collected and their data displayed as a trace or strip-chart like display.

Predefined add-ins include CANdb Import, which enables openCANdb descriptions to be imported and exported, and Enhanced Plotter, which allows unlimited numbers of channels and Y axes to be displayed as well as offering much greater control of scales and layout. X- and Y-axis zooming is possible even while collecting data, and multiple cursors may be defined to allow complex relationships to be measured.

Virtual instrument panel

The User Panel add-in gives users the ability to create a virtual instrument panel including LED-bit displays and pushbutton switches, a variety of meters and bargraphs with adjustable scales and maximum/minimum indicators, trend plots of CAN message signals, and slider and dial controls to set values. Using these features along with the VB Script language allows a complete CAN application to be controlled by an operator who need have no detailed knowledge of CAN.

PCAN-Explorer can be run on a laptop with a CAN interface for non-intrusive viewing of the events on the CAN bus. For a user developing a CAN application in C that is running on a PC, there is no need to buy a second CAN interface; Explorer will share the interface in order to test the application.

PCAN-Explorer is available for next-day delivery from the Computer Solutions online web shop.

18 June 2007

Computer Solutions Ltd (COMSOL)visit website
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