Is it possible to read from a vehicle CAN Bus without a physical connection?

As those involved in vehicle testing know, connecting to a car’s CAN Bus network is a very convenient way of gathering data. It allows you to delve in to the vehicle’s backbone and scrutinise individual sensor signals without making a physical connection to each one.

However not all manufacturers make it easy to connect to the CAN Bus, with only around half making the raw CAN signals available on OBD. In many cases the only way to make this connection is through soldering or crimping directly on to the signal wires – a fiddly process which can be a pain when you have a long list of vehicles to benchmark.

So we gave it some thought. We needed a device which would make a direct connection to the CAN Bus network without hard wiring. After a bit of of tea drinking and biscuit munching we came up with this…

Our Clip-on CAN Bus interface is extremely easy to fit and works by reading the signal pulse through the wire’s insulation. It can be fitted to any vehicle with a CAN Bus and can be installed/removed quickly to allow engineers to transfer the unit between vehicles – very handy on a busy test schedule.

On top of this, it works with CAN operating at any voltage level – one unit fits all, 12v or 24v systems. It is also an Omni directional CAN interface, and by using this device it ensures no intrusive signals are broadcast on to the Bus – avoiding the dreaded dash board warning lights and the vehicle having to be reset. Trust me, I’ve been there…

To trial the device, I handed it to Sam from our Support department to use in our BMW test car, who tells me that the device was very easy to fit and that it gave Tom – our new Support Engineer – a useful insight into how to connect to a CAN Bus network.

It has also helped us to reverse engineer the CAN IDs from two hire cars. A useful tool to have as a part of your data acquisition kit when trying to put together a comprehensive vehicle CAN database.


2 thoughts on “Is it possible to read from a vehicle CAN Bus without a physical connection?

  1. Igor says:

    Dear mister Bursnall,

    Where can I find a CAN click as you described?


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