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Thread: Safety Tip: Please Read Me Before you Write to any PCM/ECM with your Laptop

  1. #21
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    Reading the first post in this thread, it seems as if it is ok to power off of a wall outlet. Just make sure your laptop doesnt hibernate while tuning. Not sure about the inverters or a generator. I think I will stay with a solid 110v source.

  2. #22
    Potential Tuner Mac7504's Avatar
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    It was never confirmed, was it? I'm looking into a suite so trying to read up all I can before I purchase, so far, I'm not inspired after reading "it's on you sort of sentiment"...I'd feel better if I got some confirmation.

  3. #23
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    It should be pretty clear:
    - It is "ok" if the laptop is running 100% of it's own internal battery or off a wall socket from your house.
    - It is not "ok" to use an in car power inverter, no matter what it is.
    - Anything that disrupts the scanning/reading/writing process is considered "bad". So having the laptop fall into hibernation or power-saving mode is not "ok". When using the HPTuner interface, disable all that stuff. I go so far as to simply use high performance mode and make sure things like screen savers or anything else don't kick in.

    If your laptop battery cannot last for as long as you need it to, look into purchasing a new battery for it or for that matter, even possibly use another laptop. A new battery is cheaper than a new PCM, if the thing gets bricked up because the write was interrupted at the wrong time for whatever reason.

    I have 2 laptops that I typically use, a little Asus EEE PC for scanning, because the damn battery in that thing lasts for 12 hours. When editing/flashing, I have a Toshiba laptop with a bigger screen and the battery can last 2-3 hours in "high performance mode", which is more than enough to cover a flashing, scanning, analysis, editing and reflashing session in a short afternoon safely.

    Pretty easy peasy.
    Last edited by JerryPH; 11-24-2013 at 07:00 PM.

  4. #24
    Potential Tuner Mac7504's Avatar
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    Sounds reasonable enough; thanks for the confirmation.

  5. #25
    Tuner in Training J Alper's Avatar
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    So what about doing a bench tune, I purchased a benchtop programming power harness and it has a AC plug the plug for the ECM and the obdII plug is that ok, or am I asking for trouble,

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Alper View Post
    So what about doing a bench tune, I purchased a benchtop programming power harness and it has a AC plug the plug for the ECM and the obdII plug is that ok, or am I asking for trouble,
    I can't guarantee anything but I have powered my T8 ECU with my desktops power supply. I would imagine as long as it's a good, clean, low ripple 12v supply it should be fine.

  7. #27
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    I dont use HP Tuners but I do help tune Vehicles with it, What I do with my own personal setup is i run a jump box that has a cigerette plug in it to an inverter then to my laptop charger. I dont know if this would cause the same issue as bill says that causes the units to burn out, but atleast this way the power source is isolated and and lasts a full day.

  8. #28
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    Just FYI, I toasted an ECM buy using the same wall plug for the car battery charger and the laptop charger. Not sure what happened, but afterwards, the engine would run very erratic, spitting, and popping. It would not respond to any tune changes with AFR swings between max lean and max rich on the LC1. Replace the ECM to fix all issues.

  9. #29
    be safe..........bump;;;;;

  10. #30
    Advanced Tuner n0dih's Avatar
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    My laptop (Lenovo T530 i7) just got fried after plugging in my MVPI interface to a high end Agilent Lab power supply.

    I was using EFILive with no issues. So I switched to my HPT interface and when I plugged in the power to the power supply the laptop shut down and is dead as a rock.

    Any ideas what could have gone wrong? when I measured voltage from the + of the power supply to the USB power pins (1 and 4), I saw +12v. So is seems like the + and - of the USB cable going in the MVPI/HPT interface is grounded. Doesn't seem to make sense.

    The LED on the MVPI seemed to be working fine off the +12v power still. I am a little nervous to plug it into a laptop. It had worked fine only an hour before plugged into my desktop.

  11. #31
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    What would it take to find out the specified USB current draw for the hptuner interface when plugged into both the vehicle and the laptop??

    What speed is used for programming/scanning??

    Reason I ask is there are USB isolators that can be purchased exactly for this reason, however some of them have current limits and speed limitations..

    So far I can find one with 12Mbps and 500ma for about $40... Looks like the ticket if you want to be able to plug the laptop in or if your using a desktop with a long usb cable on your dyno..

  12. #32
    Advanced Tuner n0dih's Avatar
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    I was thinking just that, what current is there and make a fused connection for safety. The data could be isolated and done optically.

    I'll post back when I have a better idea what happened.

    Quote Originally Posted by tek1229 View Post
    What would it take to find out the specified USB current draw for the hptuner interface when plugged into both the vehicle and the laptop??

    What speed is used for programming/scanning??

    Reason I ask is there are USB isolators that can be purchased exactly for this reason, however some of them have current limits and speed limitations..

    So far I can find one with 12Mbps and 500ma for about $40... Looks like the ticket if you want to be able to plug the laptop in or if your using a desktop with a long usb cable on your dyno..

  13. #33
    Advanced Tuner n0dih's Avatar
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    I did a hard reset (remove all power from it, press power button for 15 seconds) and it powered back up. It must have got set in some strange state.

    All is well, nothing to see here, move along.....

  14. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by tek1229 View Post
    What would it take to find out the specified USB current draw for the hptuner interface when plugged into both the vehicle and the laptop??

    What speed is used for programming/scanning??

    Reason I ask is there are USB isolators that can be purchased exactly for this reason, however some of them have current limits and speed limitations..

    So far I can find one with 12Mbps and 500ma for about $40... Looks like the ticket if you want to be able to plug the laptop in or if your using a desktop with a long usb cable on your dyno..
    Something like this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/1116398...lpid=82&chn=ps
    Keyword incase the link doesn't work: "USB Voltage Current Meter OLED Charger Doctor"

  15. #35
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    Quick question about all of this.

    If you are using a windows tablet to flash/tune. Since it runs at a 12v supply and there is no converter is it okay to have it plugged in to like the cig lighter while performing a write if needed?

  16. #36
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    Personally, I wouldn't plug into the cigarette lighter for power under ANY circumstances. Just make sure the tablet is charged and you'll be fine. I use a Windows 10 tablet/keyboard-dock combo (Asus T100) to flash my car constantly - for the whole 2 minnutes it takes to flash the car, do you *really* need to be connected to AC power? Tablets typically last a long time on battery. Just make sure the tablet has at least 10% charge and you won't have any issues.

    Personally, I always use a fully charged device for flashing - just not worth the risk to do it any other way, IMO.

  17. #37
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    Guys, the reason you shouldn't use an inverter to get your 110v is that inverters output a square wave rather than a nice sine wave. Square wave signals cause all kinds of problems for electronics designed to run on normal house power (sine-wave). Also, most car battery chargers putout pulsed voltage that also wreaks havoc on digital electronics. So if you are trying to read or write tunes, or are monitoring anything and you have a battery charger on your vehicle and an inverter powering your laptop, you are lucky if anything works at all. Just charge everything before you start and run off of the straight batteries.

  18. #38
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    After reading the warnings about using a dc-dc converter (inverter) that were in the hptuners hardware instructions as well as reading posts here on the forum, I wanted a safe way to power my laptop/tablet (Dell Inspiron i7 7000 series) continuously from the car, and not rely on the internal or an external battery. I selected a pure sinusoidal dc-ac inverter (150W Samlex) and added an isolation transformer at its output (B&K Precision), with a 3-to-2 prong adapter to break ground connection. This combination ensures a clean, sinusoidal ac voltage waveform (very little harmonic distortion) and complete ground loop isolation of power source from car's electrical system. I mounted it in a box that I can place behind the seat or in the trunk. It runs the laptop and hptuners without any signal level shift (from the dual analog wideband O2 sensors) or any other issues. The single caveat is that the Samlex inverter has a low voltage input sense, and without the car running (at approx. 12.5Vdc input) with the load connected, a low voltage alarm is set from the inverter. Once the engine and alternator is running (at approx. 13.8Vdc) input then the laptop can be plugged in with any issues. [The available larger 300W unit in retrospect would have been a better choice, however, the typical cigarette lighter circuit cant really drive a steady state 300W load.] Several pictures are attached. Inverter, transformer and box from Amazon. IMG_0949.jpgIMG_0942.jpgIMG_0946.jpgIMG_0953.jpg
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    - Ken

    2014 Chevy SS, LS3 6.2L, auto, Whipple Supercharged, 8 psi on 91 octane.

  19. #39
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    If you want to also extend your laptop battery life, switch to a solid state drive.
    That by itself will speed up the computer and extend the battery life because it has no moving parts.
    If you use a program called HD clone, you will not lose any data on your hard drive.
    SSD hard drives are available in sizes up to 1TB for laptops, but are a bit pricey.
    As for my opinion, it is well worth the investment. The Toshiba I have right now
    will turn on automatically when I open the laptop, and be up and ready to run in 18 seconds.
    Last thing, laptop batteries are available on ebay all day long.
    Best thing when you get them, is to charge them inside the laptop for at least 12 hour straight uninterrupted.

    And I only have an Intel I5-5200. It would be even faster if I had one of the newer I7 quad core laptops.

    If anyone has any questions about doing the swap to SSD, shoot me a message thru PM and I will reply back.

    As for powering the laptop while plugged into an inverter....

    If you use the inverter and the laptop power supply to charge your batter to over 50% capacity, you should have
    plenty of power to perform the read and disconnect, then go back on the inverter power to perform the edits you need to.
    Once the edits are complete and you are ready to write, then you can switch off the inverter and perform the write.

    Making a power cord that reaches from the battery to the inverter only requires some 12 or 10 gauge gauge speaker wire,
    a pair of alligator clips, and a pair of ring terminals to hook to the inverter. Usually 10-15 feet of wire is PLENTY of lead to hook
    to the battery and have the inverter easily accessible for the power switch or button.
    Last edited by BigEd; 07-12-2016 at 10:19 PM.

  20. #40
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    The reason you shouldn't plug in your laptop to AC power is due to ground offset issues between your laptop and the vehicle. On some laptops you will have isolation between the vehicle and the AC charger due to the battery (If you can pull your battery and it won't run even with it plugged in to AC its isolated).

    If you need to charge and connect to the vehicle at the same time get a USB Isolator.