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Any CAN Bus, SAE J1939, NMEA 2000 Development Requires the Right Testing Tools

Posted by Wilfried Voss on

I want to reiterate a point made in a previous post ("A Beginner's Guide to SAE J1939 Embedded Software Development"): When developing and testing your CAN Bus application, may it be Classical CAN, CAN FD, CANopen, SAE J1939, or NMEA 2000, you need to connect your device to a functional network. One solitary node connected to your device will not do. On the other hand, a working network provides operation under stable conditions, i.e., the assurance that any possible communication problems have to do with your device (no pun intended; that's just in the nature of things).

Our Starter Kit and Network Simulator provides a solution for SAE J1939 testing but also ISOBUS and (to a certain degree) NMEA 2000. However, when vigorously testing new devices and their firmware, I add another device, a CAN analyzer that displays all CAN Bus traffic regardless of the protocol used. In the past, I used the USB-to-CAN converter. Their Windows software is easy to manage, which is crucial since I don't particularly appreciate going through significant learning curves.

Many such USB gateways are available in the market, and they vary in complexity and pricing. The top-of-the-line will be suitable if you are engaged in complex CAN Bus development, such as automobile or robotics applications. However, when it comes to SAE J1939 or NMEA 2000, there is no need for all top-notch features (e.g., sample point timing, oscillator frequency, etc.).

PCAN-USB Pro FD - CAN, CAN FD, and LIN Interface for High-Speed USB 2.0

When it was time to modernize my test hardware to Windows 11 (with all its nasty USB driver restrictions), I also updated the CAN Analyzer hardware. I opted for the PEAK PCAN-USB Pro, which supports two CAN and LIN Bus interfaces. As I mentioned, simple yet effective Windows software is essential to me, and PCAN-View does not disappoint. Setup was a breeze (besides the fact that Windows 11 does not recognize their USB port), and the software was created with great user-friendliness in mind, making reading the user manual an optional task.

The screenshot above demonstrates the data traffic between two devices, the PCAN-USB Pro and our SAE J1939 Simulator Board, which are connected through our CAN Bus Hub board (see test setup on top of the page). When testing new devices and firmware versions, I connect to the hub with the knowledge that any discrepancy must be originated in the new device, thus preventing any time-consuming shooting-in-the-dark scenario.

SAE J1939 to USB Gateway in Plastic Enclosure

SAE J1939 to USB Gateway in Plastic Enclosure

The SAE J1939 to USB Gateway utilizes our SAE J1939 ECU Simulator Board With USB Port and embeds it in an enclosure. The SAE J1939 gateway allows you to monitor, simulate, and record any PGN as defined in the SAE J1939-71 Standard but also including diagnostic messages according to SAE J1939-73.

The gateway supports the full SAE J1939 protocol according to J1939/81 Network Management (Address Claiming) and J1939/21 Transport Protocol (TP). It is also supported by an extensive programming interface for Windows and Linux/Ubuntu applications, including full C/C++/C# source code for short time-to-market developments.

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