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After supplying all your  Embedded Development Tool needs for 42 years
 Computer Solutions Ltd and its web shop are now closed.



 Having reached the grand old age of 75 it is time to relax and fulfil other ambitions.

 Its been an exciting ride with you, our customers, often on the bleeding edge of technology
 and I thank you for your friendship, your trust, and your orders.

Stay well        I wish you all success in your future projects.

Chris Stephens.



     But what to do with the web site ?  It has taken >12 man years of work to create a repository of knowledge on many aspects of the art and science of embedded microprocessor development and even after closing the shop it still gets over 4,000 visitors per month.  So as a service to my customers I have decide to keep it live providing my technical insights on the products and then redirecting viewers to sites where they can purchase the items they used to buy from us. Follow the link   "Home"

       The  "Information zone"  consists of articles produced as background tutorials on subjects of interest to those designing new products.  As different CPUs have became available this has lead to new development techniques and in particular to new ways of communicating between nodes.


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PCAN Explorer V5 - CAN Bus Analyser and Exerciser

PCAN-Explorer leaflet 3.8Mbyte PCAN-Explorer_5


Version 6 of the Explorer package has  been released

It builds on the Explorer 5 with ..............
1) the addition of support for CAN-FD. 
2) The playback of previously recorded CAN traces on a connected CAN bus ( described below as Trace and Replay ) has been integrated into Explorer 6 with the ability to manipulate very large files.
3) The configuration of the symbolic representation of CAN messages has also been revised. Signals are used to define the representation of the arising payload and then are assigned to the different CAN messages.
4) Many other enhancements to usability have been included.

PCAN-Explorer leaflet 3.8Mbyte PCAN-Explorer V6

Please bear with us, we will be upgrading this page to show the product off better but the Explorer 5 page below gives a good introduction to the Packages features. If you need details of any of these specific upgrades or would like an evaluation copy   Call us on 0774342 2526 or email your details to



The PCAN-Explorer program provides a flexible Windows program showing what is happening on the CAN bus  and for controlling and interacting with CAN systems.  It can be used for debugging the system or as a program to interact with and drive a CAN application.  Explorer has a simple Macro language for those "quick and dirty" test we all make but don't admit to, as well as a full interface to VBScript that makes it suitable for detailed testing of CAN units and for sophisticated control and data acquisition.  Its capabilities can be extended with PEAK supplied options such as: reading in CANdb descriptor files, detailed graphing, Mimic type instrument panels and working with a fully J1939 compliant database. Users can even produced their own add-ins that fully control almost all aspects of Explorers operation and displays.

Peak have created an excellent set of Video Tutorials which can be found   here   feel free to browse them in any order you wish but we will link to them in our description of Explorer by showing a Video[link]  for example  Video[Receiving and Transmitting CAN Messages]

 PCAN Explorer overview including J1939



Message decoding 


Data logger functions

  •  Multiple independent traces can be run at the same time
  • message IDs of interest and their data values and time tags are logged
  • The traces can use linear or ring buffers, or be dynamic
  • Errors can be logged
  • There are flexible facilities to save logged data in text form compatible with Excel
  • User selection of logging - all messages, a filtered subset or by specifying an unlimited number of individual message IDs.
  •  Multiple Strip chart recordings of up to four signals can be displayed.
PCAN Explorer Line Writer - Strip Chart Recorder




The Explorer licence allows the installation on a single PC only.    You may also buy a USB dongle that allows the Explorer to be installed on multiple machines but to only be used when the dongle is attached  ( for use say with a portable to be taken into the field ).   It does not provide multiple programmers with simultaneous use of a single Explorer Licence.

Explorer as a Debugging Tool

Explorer will run on a lap-top with a CAN interface to non-intrusively view the events on the CAN bus.  If you are developing a CAN C+/C++ or VB application that is running on a PC, you do not need to buy a second CAN interface in order to use Explorer to test the application.  It can run, in its own window, on the same PC and the PEAK drivers will pass the data to Explorer as well as to and from your application.

Explorer options


J1939 compliant database:

The SAE J1939 network protocol defines a set of standard CAN message IDs and data layouts that may be used on the CAN bus of a utility vehicle for the transmission of diagnostics data and control information. It contains a complete network definition using 29-bit CAN-IDs (CAN 2.0B Extended Frame).

The J1939 add-in for PCAN-Explorer 5 supports all definitions established by the standard’s parameter groups and provides a simple means of displaying and accessing the parameters.

  • Support for all functions of the SAE J1939 network protocol
  • CAN messages may be sent in broadcast form or targeted to individual control units (ECUs)
  • Addressing of up to 254 ECUs
  • Supports multi-packet messages
  • A complete database of all the definitions and the parameters contained is supplied.

There is a Video[Working with the J1939 Protocol] on the Peak site which shows how the symbols defined in the specification can be imported into your project.

            Collecting J1939 data

The Receive window shows how, when the data is collected, the individual elements of the EEC2 message are processed to show the symbols such as RoadSpeedLimitStatus displayed as alphanumeric strings, "Active" in this case, or as values - E.g. AcceleratorPedalPosition1 is at 70% of its travel.


Symbol browser display of the symbols in the message layoutThe project window shows how the data in messages such as AAI with message ID defined by the spec as 1CFE8CFEh consists of components  showing the Auxiliary Temperatures, Pressures and Relative Humidity

Right clicking the J1939 Database and selecting "Open in Symbol Editor" then selecting AAI gives the screen on the right.  It shows how each of the components are packed into the message, their data types, offsets, scaling and the data length










So far as I am aware its not yet a standard but the 9 pin DEUTSCH HD series connector is becoming more and more popular for J1939  applications and we can supply a converter between it and D-Sub 9 pin.  see  J1939 cable



Enhanced Plotter:

More powerful than the 4 channel plotter included with Explorer, this module allows unlimited numbers of channels and multiple Y axes as well as much greater control of scales and layout.  Running in real time, dynamic X and Y axis zooming is possible even while collecting data and multiple cursors may be defined to allow complex relationships to be measured.

Data saved by the Trace can be imported for replay and the resulting image can be exported in a range of image formats.




CANdb Import:

Enables CANdb descriptions to be imported into Explorer and used as message layout definitions.  Layouts defined within Explorer can also be exported in CANdb format.


PCAN Explorer's advanced plotting option

An instrument pannel showing live data and with operator input

Instrument Panel:

This gives the user the ability to create a virtual instrument panel with the following elements:

  • A variety of ways of outputting values - scaled digital, meters and bar displays with adjustable scales and Max/Min indicators.
  • LED-bit displays and push button switches
  • Trend Plots of CAN signals
  • Slider, Dial and Numeric input controls to set values
  • Signal states can be used to select between images to be shown
  • Signal states can specify which of a number of panels to display

Using these and the VB Script language a complete CAN application can be controlled by an operator who need have no detailed knowledge of CAN.




Trace & Re-play your Messages

The PCAN-Trace program can be used on its own to record and log CAN messages but its major attribute is that it can then play them back via the CAN interface so you can repeat the sequence of messages recorded in the field, later in the Lab, in real-time.  Breakpoints can be added and if required you can single step through the data.  Once all the data is re-played you can set it to stop or to repeat continuously.  The data record format is compatible with PCAN-View and PCAN-Explorer and is text based so you can edit both messages and scheduled times as you wish.


For price of PCAN Explorer and Trace visit our Web Shop



For more Information on :-

Free PEAK CAN Software The PCAN-Basic DLL, a range of OS drivers and PCAN-View bus diagnostic package are all supplied free with all Peak interfaces.
CAN interfaces USB, PCI, PC104, PC, PCMCIA, Express, Parallel port, ISA, RS232, LIN
PEAK Data Acquisition Systems A range of CAN Data Acquisition and logging Systems from simple logging to advanced GPRS mobile applications.
PCAN I/O Modules CAN modules with configurable digital and analogue I/O.
CAN Accessories CAN Diagnostics Unit, Bus Extenders, Routers and Optical links
Cables Pre-built high performance CAN cables, converters and termination 
Other PEAK Software Software is available to support FMS, CAN simulation, CANOpen, Linux and an Event driven API for time critical multi-tasked operation,
CAN Tutorial Our technical summary for those new to CAN 


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Computer Solutions Ltd
87 Briar Road,  Shepperton,  Middx,  TW17 0JB
Telephone: +44 (0) 77 4342 2526   
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