Ultra-Link HAND-HELD DIAGNOSTIC TOOL FOR J1708 AND J1939 ELECTRONIC DIESEL ENGINES

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    Product Review on the:
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    HAND-HELD DIAGNOSTIC TOOL FOR J1708 AND J1939 ELECTRONIC DIESEL ENGINES

    Canadian Automotive Instruments
    33 Boulder Blvd. Stony Plain,
    Alberta, Canada T7Z 1V6
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    Contact Information:
    Phone: (780) 963-8930
    Fax: (780) 963-8230
    Hours: 8:00am - 4:30pm Monday to Friday
    Mountain Daylight Time
    e-mail: cai@c-a-i.net
    Product review by:
    Tony
    BAT Auto Technical

    This review is an update of a previous review we did on the Ultra-Link Diagnostic Tool.
    This is an updated diagnostic tool from the previous version that we were really impressed with.
    We have tried to show most of the tools capabilities, but as usual the tool does far more than we can show on one article. So if you find yourself with some questions we didn't cover, we encourage you to check the manufacturer's FAQ page.

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    First thing that a person notices right off, is the case that the diagnostic tool comes in, it is a nice compartmented aluminum case, which should protect the tool extremely well.
    Everything fits great into the case and there is plenty of room to put other optional cables and accessories.
    The unit comes with 2 cables for accessing the ECU of the engines. One 6 pin Deutsch and one 9 pin Deutsch harness. The scanner has a nice "touch pad", easy to clean, especially with greasy fingers.There are optional cables that can be purchased for various applications and one cable, along with download software for hooking up to a PC to print out saved information.


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    Hooking up the scanner is pretty simple, find the diagnostic port, remove the cover, if one is there, and find the correct cable and plug it in. Simple enough. Turn the vehicle key to ON, not started. No power supply is needed, as the scanner uses the vehicle's system to power up.

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    When the scanner is hooked up and the key is turned on, the scanner powers up. The first screen enables you to toggle between the different protocols. There are 2 protocols to chose from. The best way to identify if you are " on the bus " is to observe the tach reading that comes up after initialization. If the reading shows four asterisks ( **** ) you are not on the bus. If the reading shows any number value you are on the bus and communicating. It is best to try 1708 as this is the default " protocol " and is most common in the industry. If it is the wrong protocol, then it will give you a TIMEOUT - ECU not responding. (See image below left)
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    If you get this screen, it means one of two things. Either you are using the wrong protocol or there is a power problem to the ECU.

    [​IMG] Not active trouble codes is pretty self-explanatory. This is what you like to see.
    [​IMG] Again, this is self-explanatory. Usually, there will be some minor inactive code.
    [​IMG] This is one of the descriptions of a fault code we received on a customer's Cummins powered truck. The complaint was that the truck the engine warn light came on and the engine had dropped to an idle once, then the engine eventually shut down and wouldn't restart. Showing that we had a fuel problem, we checked the tank. There was no fuel in the tank. Ouch.
    [​IMG] Clearing the codes is pretty straight forward and it shows a confirmation that the codes have been successfully cleared.
    [​IMG] The monitoring capabilities is pretty good, RPMs, battery voltage and several other parameters that you can scroll through.
    [​IMG] As mentioned above, the battery voltage is one of the parameters that can be scrolled through. While this is a basic parameter that is monitored, I find that between this and a DVOM, I can often find differences between the PCM voltage reading and the actual voltage at the batteries, which I have been able to locate some ground problems with.
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    As with the previous version of the Ultra-Link monitor, the ability to monitor 4 parameters at one time is very useful. This view show the engine oil pressure, voltage and rpm. The spot with the ???? is where that parameter has not been set yet.

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    These 3 images to the left are ones I consider to be very important in the capabilities of this scanner. The ability to detect the wheel speed sensors is very useful, especially in some applications where dirt, mud and salt may destroy the wheel speed sensors.

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    While we were working on trying to gather information to do this article, one of the local shops had ran into a 2005 Peterbilt with a CAT engine that his "new" cartridge based scanner would not communicate with. Having the occasion to stop by their shop for some parts that they had and I didn't (but needed), they were mentioning how this new, expensive scanner let them down and wouldn't even communicate. Well now, we just happen to have this scanner from Canadian Automotive Instruments that this would be very interesting to see how it does in this situation.

    The next day, we had someone drop by their shop with the Ultra-Link. To our amazement, the shop owner called that afternoon and said it would pull the fault codes.

    We had this unit for quite some time and unfortunately, we just didn't see a lot of computer problems during that time to do what we would have considered an absolute "pick it apart" review.
    The folks at Canadian Automotive Instruments were very patient with us and we would like to take this time to thank them for that.

    This scanner requires no power source, using the vehicle's power source to power it up. There are no cartridges to purchase, it is light and the only cable to get in your way, is the appropriate connecting cable from the scanner to the truck. No interfaces to deal with either. The unit is fairly rugged and seems to be quite resistant to moisture and oil, which in the case of most heavy truck mechanics can be very beneficial.

    If you are looking for a heavy truck scanner for several makes or even one make, then you at least owe it to yourself to contact Canadian Automotive Instruments and ask them some questions about it. You have viewed a percentage of what this tool is capable in this article.

    Specifications:

    Model......................... Ultra-Link Hand held Scanner
    Power requirement....... Power supplied by vehicle.
    Dimensions.................. scanner unit ...........7 3/4" x 4" x 1 3/4"
    carrying case................ Aluminum case
    My rating for this product;
    Overall design............................................................Very Good
    Comments: Smaller than most units on the market.
    Instructions included for use......................................Very Good
    Comments: Very easy to use.
    Design and quality......................................................Excellent
    Comments: The carrying case for this unit is rugged and everything fits well into it.
    Packaging....................................................................Very Good
    Comments: Packaging assures the product is in excellent shape.
    Includes necessary accessories?................................YES
    Comments: Some cables may need to be purchased seperately, depending on the application.
    Setup.............................................................................QUICK and EASY
    Comments: Plug in and ready to go..
    Performance.................................................................Very Good Accuracy.......................................................................Very Good
    Contact information for company................................Clearly indicated in the literature.
    Level of experienced required for use........................Moderate
    Comments: This is designed for the diesel mechanic who deals with various makes of engines.
    Price.............................................................................. See the manufacturer's website for pricing. www.c-a-i.net

    Where to buy:
    Canadian Automotive Instruments
     

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