Frequently Asked Questions
Most likely. We've made sure to design our interface circuitry to work with every car built after 1996 when the OBD2 (On-Board-Diagnostics) standard was made mandatory in the US. However, several car manufacturers already met this standard even before 1996.
Cars built around 2007 were required to adopt a more "standard" protocol called ISO 15765-4, also known as CAN. M2 has 2 channels of CAN.
In addition, we've got compatability with some non-OBD protocols, including 2 channels of LIN and a single-wire CAN channel. These protocols are used for lower-speed communications such as windows, door locks, etc.
Protocols were adopted at different times by manufacturers, sometimes even car models within a brand, at different times. Check out the section called "2. M2 is Universal" to see an approximation of how different manufacturers adopted different protocols. Also note that we didn't include every single manufacturer, but we are confident that M2 will work with your car if it less than around 21 years old.
A good first step in starting your car hacking adventures is figuring out what protocol your car uses. There are several online resources and sometimes you can even identify which pins on the OBD2 connector are in place to make an educated guess. We’d also highly recommend “The Car Hacker’s Handbook”.
Also, to make things super easy for users, we are working on a "protocol detector" set of code that should figure it out for you automatically.Last updated:
No. We know we aren’t, but we are getting better. You’ll have to give us a break, we are doing the best our Minnesota accents will allow.
We believe in the ethos of Arduino so we thought an Italian word would be fitting. “Macchina” is sort of the Italian vernacular for "car". Josh came up with this name shortly after coming up with the concept for M1. While spending some time in Italy, Macchina was the only word he learned.Last updated:
It reads and WRITES for starters. It also covers more protocols and subsequently more cars. Macchina in general believes in the value of completely open sourcing our hardware and building a community.
ELM chips (and other “interpreter chips”) are simply Microchip PICs with a different label and some closed-source code. Eric Evenchick from Linklayer Labs addressed the difference between M2 and ELM dongles well here:
Yes, starting a car is possible in a number of ways. Again, it depends on a number of factors: the car itself, your technological skill, and what others have already done that you can learn from. If others have already done it for your car, it’s straightforward to replicate what they did. If not, more skill will be needed to fill the gaps between what others have done and what you want to do.
Many tactics for starting a car pre-date “car hacking” with M2.Last updated:
We are amazed all the time when we see some of the projects people come up with. Just like any hobby or skill, car hacking is one where people of all backgrounds and skill levels can play. More complex projects require more skills and experience - re-tuning an engine is complex. One of the higher level goals of the community should be to try to make things like this simpler and more accessible.
You might want to consider starting with something simpler and working toward these more complicated things. We also believe everyone regardless of skill level can benefit from taking a step back and strengthening their knowledge in foundational stuff like electronics and automotive networks. If you are a beginner or need a refresh a great starting point is the “The Car Hacker’s Handbook”, chapter 13 even gets into performance hacking.Last updated:
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