app review: MotoScan für BMW Motorrad (the 1000 word edition)

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by sarathmenon, Mar 15, 2016.

  1. sarathmenon

    sarathmenon Armchair Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,538
    Location:
    SFO Bay Area
    Summary:
    This is an android app that claims to do a lot of what the GS-911 can do.

    After using this app on and off for a couple of weeks, I like it. If you already have a OBDLink scanner, and don't mind spending 30 dollars, and can't stand the service reminder on startup, this is an option that works. If you don't tick all three boxes, I honestly wouldn't recommend it. Also, this is v0.3 and a beta version of the app, none of this info might be relevant in a few months.

    Things needed:
    1. Android phone. Most recent models should work.
    2. An ICOM-D cable. This cable connects to the diagnostics port under your seat and hooks up an OBD reader. See this post for a picture.
      1. This Aliexpress cable worked for dpm
      2. This ebay cable worked for villho
    3. A bluetooth/wifi OBD reader:
      1. ScanTool OBDLink LX. Costs around 50 USD.
      2. ScanTool OBDLink MX if you have a Ford or GM car and want to share adapters. Slightly more expensive. Also available in a wifi version.
      3. Chinese clones also work, with varying degrees of success. If you search for ELM327 on amazon/ebay you should find them, starting at 7-8 USD.
    Pros:
    1. Uses standard, proven hardware that the car world uses.
    2. Cheaper than the GS-911, both to try and buy
    3. No restrictions on number of bikes.
    4. The data readout is fast with a genuine scantool, though I don't have a GS-911 for a true comparison.
    Cons:
    1. The app name is MotoScan für BMW Motorrad. The description on the play store is in German. That should give you a good idea that language support is german first. Several of the menus inside do not have english support. I can figure out what they roughly mean, and speaking to the developer, he has promised more english translation in a future update. But if you want to use it today, brush up your german.
    2. All said and done, it can cost above 100 USD for the hardware and software. If you have a car, you could justify using the scan tool across both devices. If not, the cost to ownership for you might be significant.
    3. The latest version of the app doesn't support logging of OBD PIDs. it's probably coming in a future update. If this matters, BMW uses standard PIDs, there are a plethora of apps that do this for both android and iOS.
    4. It can take a week to get a response from the developer. He seems to be a nice guy, but don't expect real time updates if you have problems. My guess is that this is his side project.
    5. Maybe this is lost in translation, I do not see an option to reset the adaptation values or to flush the ABS if I was doing a brake bleed.
    6. The GS-911 is a proven commodity. This app so far has just one dude's so-so review (you are reading it right now).
    7. I could not get the full version to work in airplane mode since it tries to contact the license server at startup. This might be a problem if you are in the middle of nowhere without cell phone coverage trying to troubleshoot why the bike isn't starting.
    Long version follows:

    I like the concept of a GS-911. It's probably all great and dandy, but at 400 bucks it's never an impulse buy. I've gotten close to splurging for one, but I never could justify the cost. The good thing is that alternates are now starting to pop up.

    Partly because I can't justify the cost of a GS-911, and mostly out of curiosity, I have been sniffing the traffic from the connector for a while. The actual protocol is KWP2000, and BMW has some moto specific control words that is not part of the OBD-II spec for cars. Given sufficient time, I could probably do a half decent job of reverse engineering it. I'll need several weekends to get there, and at the current rate of my progress, that will take forever. What I did have from this experiment are a few FTDI cables, a few 10 pin to OBD-2 female connectors (called ICOM-D on flea bay), a few clones of ELM327s, and a genuine Scantool OBDLInk.

    Some random unrelated internet search tool me to http://www.motoscan.de/ and from there to their android app. I had all the required hardware at this point and a spare android phone, so mostly out of curiosity, I downloaded the app to see if it works. I don't have any experience with a GS-911, so I can't compare both. The free version did everything it claimed to do. I figured it was worth a try to get one of the paid upgrades, if it didn't work, I had a refund policy on my side courtesy of google, and the website promises good support for the parallel twins. I wanted to mainly reset the service reminder, and system date, and also look at fault codes and the real time data.

    Another app I tried to demo is Carly for BMW Bikes. It is an iOS app which is my primary OS of choice, but it needs their wifi adapter. I tried with an ELM327 wifi clone, and the app recognized it, but refused to connect. Their official adapter is out of stock on amazon.com, and when I tried chatting with their developer, he wouldn't tell me when they expect to see it back in stock. If you go that route, you are probably looking at 50 for their paid app, 50 for the reader and somewhere between 20-50 for the 10-pin to OBD connector. I would have liked to try it as a first choice, but getting it from germany becomes expensive, I lose amazon's return policy and it has the potential to become a costly science experiment. Carly's car app has a good reputation on the bmwcoders.com forum. If people are willing to trust their 80k+ cars on Carly, their bike stuff might be good. Who knows? I will probably revisit this once their dongle is back in stock.

    Back to motoscan, the app is arranged based on subsections for each component. You first select your family of bikes, and then you are presented with the component you want to query. It felt a bit weird at first, but feels more intuitive now. This is also how stuff is connected internally on the bus, so I guess it makes it easier for the app developer to present it this way.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The Kombi part covers any fault codes on the Kombi (this is separate from the ZFE fault codes), read outs of the gauges, service internal reset and date reset if you unplugged the battery at any time. If you are feeling bored, you can also activate the left and right indicators and the horn.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    I can confirm that the service and date reset works. You will need an original OBDLInk LX/MX for the service reset, the Chinese clones do not support long words over KWP2000.

    The ZFE/MOT sections look similar, and is mostly untranslated german. I didn't have any fault codes to reset, but there is a place on the app to do it. I did not see an option to reset adaptation values, which might be because I am trying to guess through the untranslated menus.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    What on earth is a KLR socket, and why is it turned on? :lol3

    [​IMG]

    RDC,DWA, Audio and Radio: The 800GS doesn't have the RDC. I didn't bother with the optional alarm, so I don't know what to expect there. The radio and audio section might be for the K1600GTs. Again, I have no idea what those sections might do if you have a supported bike.

    P.S. Get a good 10 pin to OBD2 cable. I have tried two chinese ones. One was shorted internally on the 10-pin side, which I luckily caught before hooking it up. The other one I have does not send KL15 on OBD pin #1. This is not needed for the OBDLInk, but you probably might need it for BMW diagnostics. I ended up making my own, but please get a quality, correctly mapped cable.
    #1
    peelos, Flying GS and Lost-n-Lovin-It like this.
  2. Farves

    Farves Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Great review interested in trying it out


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #2
  3. Captain Excellent

    Captain Excellent +ll+

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    531
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Agreed, great review but honestly too many TLAs for me, so I got lost.
    Could you post some picks of the hardware for the unwashed among us to see the set up?
    #3
    Diablohtr likes this.
  4. sarathmenon

    sarathmenon Armchair Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,538
    Location:
    SFO Bay Area
    The hardware is a combination of two things:

    1) An icom-d cable
    2) ScanTool OBDLink LX. If you have a Ford or GM car and want to share adapters, you might want to consider the almost identical, but slightly more expensive ScanTool OBDLink MX. I also have a few Chinese clones sitting around in the house, but I honestly wouldn't recommend them. I know that you can't reset the date using them because of their hardware limitation with word lengths, and they are slower to read OBD PIDs for realtime data. FWIW, the chinese clones work.

    I have a collection of icom-D cables of which one is good and one was really bad. It's been a while, I can't remember which seller I got my good cable from, and I would rather not link to a bad seller. I used the pinout diagram from @WayneC's site and a ignition harness from a BMW E39 to make my cable, but it's really not needed unless you have a lot of spare time on your hands. I was trying to get a DIY solution to capture packets on wireshark, but it's not a use case for 99% of you folks.

    I'll get some photos tomorrow on how the whole setup plugs into the bike.
    #4
    NaMi likes this.
  5. sarathmenon

    sarathmenon Armchair Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,538
    Location:
    SFO Bay Area
    Here is the setup on my bike:

    [​IMG]

    Two components are

    1) A standard OBD reader. In my case, I am using the Scantool LX, but a cheap chinese clone will work with varying degrees of success.

    [​IMG]

    2) The other piece is what is called ICOM-D cable. This is the cable that the dealer uses to hook up to the official diagnostics utility. The original BMW cables are supposedly high quality, but they do not want to sell to you directly. Even if they did, it costs an absurd amount of money, from what I have heard. There are plenty of Chinese clones floating around. They do the job, since the cable is a pin to pin connection with no embedded circuitry. Here is a closeup look of mine, showing the male part to the diagnostic connector, and a female OBD-II socket on the other end. Everything is plug and play.

    [​IMG]
    #5
  6. 70East

    70East Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    673
    Location:
    NOVA, not by choice.
    This looks interesting.
    #6
  7. villho

    villho Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2013
    Oddometer:
    104
    Location:
    Finland
    Excellent review. I have been struggling to find motivation to pay 400 EUR for GS911, but if this really works similarly and has more or less the same functionalities, 100-120 EUR is a bargain.

    I bet offline mode and ABS flushing will eventually work (if not already) and waiting some time is a small price to pay for a fullscale GS911 substitute.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #7
  8. 14TLC

    14TLC Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    Out Of Space
    Great that there is another diagnostic alternative. I have some cheap 6 $ Chinese OBD reader which works fine on cars. Will try this weekend and report if it works with this app.
    Related to the ABS flush, is there any manual how it is done? Both the RepROM and RSD DVD don't include any info regarding this type of flushing/bleeding.

    Both the GS911 and MotoScan are nice to have for on the go diagnostic. But the real deal is happening on f800riders forum. Just search for s911 alternative thread.
    #8
  9. soyanarchisto

    soyanarchisto Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,891
    Location:
    Sunny PDX
    Carly says they have the dongle in stock ready to ship. At $90 for the hardware and free app, what is the downside?
    #9
  10. sarathmenon

    sarathmenon Armchair Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,538
    Location:
    SFO Bay Area
    With Carly, from what I understand, you need their dongle for the app to work. It's still unavailable on their amazon store, but it's available on their German site. The dongle connects to a standard OBD-II port, so you will need that 10pin connector to female OBD connector (ICOM-D cable). Their free app from the description on the app store only allows you to evaluate the functionality, and does not write anything back, like clearing fault codes or resetting the service reminder. There is a 44 add on in the app that allows you to do it. I am fine with the total cost, but if I don't want to order from Germany and deal with a costly return if it doesn't pan out. There are no reviews for the app yet, so the entire thing is a leap of faith.

    No sure where you saw the $90 total cost, but IMHO, it's a fair price for the functionality. Now, if you try it and see that it works, post here. It would be a nice alternative, and it's always nice to have options.
    #10
  11. soyanarchisto

    soyanarchisto Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,891
    Location:
    Sunny PDX
    I didnt see the add-on in the app. I tried to purchase the dongle from their website but kept getting an error so gave up. If it doesnt reset the service reminder I dont see a point behind getting this. The $90 figure is what the dongle costs on their site.
    #11
  12. sarathmenon

    sarathmenon Armchair Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,538
    Location:
    SFO Bay Area
    I have no idea what it does, but it is an option that everyone that owns a GS-911 clicks on. In fact, I don't think most GS-911 users know what it does :lol3 I know that a brake bleed done the old school way works just fine, and my guess is that that option was revelant for the old servo ABS brakes.

    I did see that thread, there are a few reasons why I didn't go that route. There is the whole question of piracy and illegally copying over BMW dealer diagnostics software that I don't want to get into. To be clear, I am not judging anyone that goes that route. BMW could have made parts of the protocol documented or standards compliant. If there is no legal way to get diagnostics, I can see why people are forced to go all that just to get some darn data from the bike.

    I did read it till the end, it seems there is a specific combination of PC hardware, windows version, Rheingold version, FTDI cable vendor, and ICOM-D cable that works. GS-911 and motoscan takes a lot of the guess work and frustration away from users. OF course, both GS-911 and motoscan have less features, but on the plus side, they both have support channels.
    #12
  13. sarathmenon

    sarathmenon Armchair Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,538
    Location:
    SFO Bay Area
    Agreed. I hope they bring that dongle back in stock on amazon.com. I assume that dongle will sell for around 50 here, where it has been historically. That should bring the total cost of the Carly system comparable to motoscan.
    #13
  14. C5!

    C5! Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    279
    Location:
    Venezuela & Colombia
    Just a little question here. Both apps need an OBD 10 pin cable + a wifi adapter.
    Can one use the Carly OBD cable and adapter with the Motoscan app?

    Edit: Ok from what I understand, Motoscan comes only as an android app and Carly as an iOS app, is that correct?
    #14
  15. sarathmenon

    sarathmenon Armchair Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,538
    Location:
    SFO Bay Area
    Motoscan has an option for a wifi adapter. I incidentally have a wifi adapter, I can test if it works this weekend. For now, motoscan is android only and Carly is iOS.
    #15
  16. sarathmenon

    sarathmenon Armchair Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,538
    Location:
    SFO Bay Area
    The app has options for a wifi adapter, but I couldn't test it because the OS was disconnecting from the adapter when it saw there was no internet connections. There used to be an option in past versions, but I don't see an override for this in Marshmallow. So it might work, but I can't test it. Come to think of it, the new GS-911 is also wifi only, how do people use that with Android 6.0?
    #16
  17. whowardb

    whowardb Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2012
    Oddometer:
    44
    Location:
    Salt Spring Island, BC
    Sarathmenon

    Thanks for your report. I've ordered the ScanTool on Amazon for $56 bucks delivered and downloaded the software. My problem is I haven't been able to order a Chinese cable for a delivery to Canada. I'm also leery of those cables but would be able to try it if I coulg get it. What could go wrong?

    I'm confused by your statement in post #1 that you were lucky to have caught the shorted pins when in post#5 that the cables are pin to pin - so no problem. Any elaboration?

    Thanks again for your posts.

    Howard
    #17
  18. sarathmenon

    sarathmenon Armchair Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,538
    Location:
    SFO Bay Area
    I got my cables a few years before when they weren't that popular. I see quite a few of them on aliexpress, and ebay these days. From my memory, @WayneC has a post with vendor links for the good cables, I couldn't google it when I started the thread. They all ship from China, as seems to be the norm these days.

    I test most stuff I get with a multimeter, I checked for continuity on both sides, and for the pin mapping. The bad cable registered a continuity on two pins on the ten pin side, which isn't good, for obvious reasons. Given the increased availability of these cables, I hope that the quality has improved. This is the pin mapping, from the f800rider forum thread that was mentioned here before:
    [​IMG]

    The wet head boxers and the K1600s have a Can-high and Can-low as well, but that detail doesn't matter for our bikes. If you are itching to give this a try, you could run a spaghetti of wires, like this guy did :lol3

    #18
  19. WayneC

    WayneC Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,161
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    The Chinese 10 pin round plugs are extremely poor quality, they are a clone of the genuine Kostal plugs/sockets used by BMW. Some of the early model bikes like the 1999-2001 650GS actually have a plug as a cap on the diagnostics connector and these can be used then a proper cap orders from BMW.

    Do not rely on the information at the F800 forum, they are so far behind the 8 ball it is not funny

    You can always look at your mate's old model machine and offer to replace the existing "cap" with a new one :rofl
    #19
  20. sarathmenon

    sarathmenon Armchair Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,538
    Location:
    SFO Bay Area
    Agreed. The chinese one I have looks okay in isolation, but I later got a E36 harness for the pin. The original is much thicker plastic and has a more satisfying click. I didn't take much photos when I made mine, but it is an easy thing to do with minimal solder skills. Also, I guess by luck, I do have a chinese cable that works. Do you have a part number for the old cap? I am wondering if it can be ordered at the dealer.
    #20