The VCM scanner is a powerful tool, and needs to be setup to suit each vehicle or engine you wish to tune or scan. If this is done properly by emulating necessary table row and column axis’. As expected each PCM and its outputs will differ and this needs to be taken into account when setting up the VCM Scanner. As time goes past you'll learn each PCM’s or operating systems differences and know these from memory.
The amount of PID’s we can log or the type of PID log-able comes do the the PCM and the Operating System - there are many more readable items in say an E38 PCM compared to the earlier P01 PCM.
VCM Scanner Basics
The VCM Scanner has many different functions. It’s best to understand them in displayed order. Below is a screenshot from the main VCM Scanner control tab.
In order from left to right -
❖ Open Log File - This button takes us to our specified folder within the computer to let us select a previously recorded Log File.
❖ Save Log File As - This button lets us save the recorded log file currently open in the scanner. If this button is greyed out - there is no log file information to save.
❖ Close Log File - This button lets us close the current log file. This will be greyed out if there is no log file open.
❖ Connect To Vehicle - This button will allow us to connect the Scanner to the vehicle and the scanner will start to poll for supported PID’s. If this is greyed out, there is a current connection or there is no valid connection. It will be blue if the scanner can connect.
❖ Disconnect From Vehicle - This button lets us disconnect from the vehicle. Use this button when we wish to disconnect the scanner to read or write to the vehicle. This button will be greyed out if the scanner is disconnected.
❖ Start Scanning - This button prompts the scanner to record mode. The scanner will promptly start recording the vehicles information. This button will be greyed out if the scanner has no current active vehicle connection or if there is a currently a log file being recored.
❖ Stop Scanning - This button yields all current scanning of the vehicle. This button is greyed out if the scanner is currently in the idle mode and not scanning the vehicle currently.
❖ Diagnostics and Info - The button takes us to the Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC) and readiness tests table. In this table we can see current, pending and history DTC’s. All readiness data for current or pending tests. This DTC table will only work if the engine is off, ignition is on and the scanner is connected and NOT recording.
❖ VCM Controls & Special Functions - This button takes us to the PCM control and functions command. From this table we can command and control certain parameters of most ECU’s. Times like Fuel trim reset and Throttle learn - just to name a few.
❖ Play Log File - This button will playback the current/previously recorded log. This will be greyed out if there is no log saved.
❖ Playback Speed Selector - This table lets us control the playback speed of the current log.
❖ Zoom In - (Only available for Chart vs. Time) This lets us zoom in on the chart vs. time display.
❖ Tom Out - Only available for Chart vs. Time) This lets us zoom out on the chart vs. time display.
❖ Open Layout - Lets us open a previously saved or setup layout. ❖ Save Layout As - Lets us save current layout.
❖ VCM Suite Info - This takes us to the save VCM Suite info file.
VCM Scanner Displays and Layouts.
The VCM Scanner has multiple displays that all have their place and use. For example, the Chart vs. Time display is great for dialling in the auto trans shift points on the road with a high stall converter.
The Channels Display is the main table where we add various PID’s that we wish to log or scan. If the required PID is not in in this display, it will not log in the remaining displays. Below is a screenshot of a generic/default Channels display for a GM E38 PCM. By right clicking on a blank slot, we can select add parameter and add a single or multiple PID’s to the list.
Below - An example of a PID list for the E38 PCM, they are categorised and organised quite well. We can also search for a specific parameter in the text filter section. Simply double click on required parameter - Blue means the parameter is already selected.
By simply right clicking on the channels table we can Add Channel, Change Units, Adjust Decimal Point, change the Polling Interval, move the channel up or down, remove a single channel or multiple. We also have display properties, this is to change the actual look and feel of the channels display.
The next display is the Gauge Display, this display is mostly used in motorsport and tuning where reading only a specific set of parameters is required. We can set or custom make this gauge display to suit our needs.
We can even add or remove channels and/or set up traces. Below is a custom gauge display set up for Dyno tuning a boosted engine. Utilising large displays and preset or customisable “peaks” with warnings the gauge display is a must for tuning on the Dyno at Wide Open Throtle (WOT). Below is a typical Gauge display editor page, we can select which gauge we want to modify, how we would like the gauge to look, high and low levels and the location.
We can choose between circular or bar type, change the size and even add a waning peak. Always be sure to save each time you make any changes and use specific names to help you decide which gauge setup to use.
The next display is one of the most used displays available, the Graph Display shows us a table with a column and row axis. These axis are 100% customisable to suit each and every different Operating System. Pictured below is a basic High Octane Spark table for an E38 PCM. As you can see the the the column axis is engine RPM in 200 RPM increments and the row axis is spark airmass in .4 gram increments. Axis like these and ones in other parameters need to be taken into account when setting up the scanner and ill show you why in the next step.
When setting up the Graph display we need to make sure the parameter we wish to scan or log is a direct emulation of the parameter in the editor - if we do not adhere to this one rule - the scanner will not log the parameter properly, causing confusion and consequently, engine damage. Below is a default Graph screenshot and you can clearly see the default axis will not suit the previous screenshot of the spark table.
The above Scanner Graph is showing a default Spark Advance setup from HP Tuners. This Spark Graph does not suit the one we wish to log. The column increments are not correct and the row axis isn't logging Cylinder Airmass or logging it in the correct increments. We need to copy the Spark Table from the tune we are working on to suit.
Lets do this in simple steps.
Step 1, Open the Graph Display Layout Editor, this is done by simply right clicking on the Graph and selecting Graph Layout.
Step 2, From here we can customise the Spark Airmass graph to suit our application. Starting from the top of the Layout Editor page we have the Label section, this lets us name the graph. Name this as you wish.
Step 3, Parameter: This is the actual parameter we wish to log, I want to know how much timing the engine is getting. We can change this to suit other parameters we wish to log, simply click on the blue, underlined text to change out the parameter.
Step 4, Unit: This is the choice of units we wish to log the above parameter in. This will automatically change if we wish to log something different that wont use degrees of timing for example. At this stage, choose the unit you wish to use.
Step 5, Decimals: This chooses the amount of decimal places we wish to set the graph to log. Add or subtract as desired. I skip the next step on a basic setup (filtering).
Step 6, Shading: This is where we set the high, mid and low shading. Always set the high to the a few points above the maximum amount in the parameter you wish to log. For example, the tune has a maximum of 55 degrees, I’d set the high to 60, mid to 30 and low to 0. Use the colour selection to set the specified colours you wish to use.
Step 6, Column Axis: Here, we select what parameter we wish to log and in what increments. For this exercise it is engine Speed (RPM) and in 200 RPM increments. First, click on the blue underlined text and choose your PID - which is RPM. See picture below.
Remember - we can search for specific PID’s by typing in the TEXT FILTER section.
After you add the RPM PID, we must add the column increments. This is done by going to the tune file, selecting the spark table we wish to emulate, right clicking on the column, then selecting Copy Labels. See picture below.
From here we navigate back to the VCM Scanner, paste the figures you just copied from the scanner into the Values section. See picture below.
Step 7, Here we can modify the Row axis. The process for this is basically the same as the previous step. Right click on the Row, select Copy Labels, paste this into the Values section. Next we select the correct parameter we wish to log for the row axis. This is spark/cylinder airmass. Easiest way to find this is in the TEXT FILTER, type Airmass.
Here we will be able to select the correct PID (Airmass). In grams.
Our Spark Advance Graph should look like this now. A carbon copy of the Spark table from the tune file. Use this method to make other graph displays.
From here we have a very basic VCM Scanner setup. Please make sure to save an name all displays and save your layout for further use.