Light Duty: Saving Interface

Striving for industry compliance with diagnostic standards.

4. The adapter is not supporting multiple applications simultaneously. To identify if that is the issue, look for applications that are minimized to the Windows task bar.

DeGrant said most adapter vendors have some type of application that is used to troubleshoot the communication status. Verifying the communication with these applications, can help to answer the question: “Who do I call; the application vendor or the adapter vendor?”


Being an informed consumer is critical when it comes to purchasing diagnostic communication adapters. It’s important to know not only what applications the fleet needs, but also what those applications themselves require, said David Shock, product manager for Snap-On/NEXIQ Technologies, who also served on the S.12 panel.

An application OEM may specify a specific adapter and not test with all available RP 1210A adapters for several reasons. First, it’s very costly to test all adapters and manufacturers are committed to their own dealer network/products. Second, TMC RP 1210 is only a voluntary standard so not everyone feels obligated to comply.

Noncompliance to standards also contributes to hidden costs. Technicians become frustrated and lose valuable time, and fleets find they must go out and buy multiple adapters.

Lee Lackey, technical sales lead for Noregon Systems, Inc., reported that SAE and ISO committees have found that simply providing examples of a standard doesn’t do enough to clarify how to interpret a given specification. Compliance standards do a much better job of providing methods and processes to verify that a device or application has implemented a standard correctly.

In light of this, TMC’s S.12 Study Group has created a RP 1210 Compliance Task Force with Lackey as chairman. The Task Force plans to:

  • Develop a compliance test plan for both RP 1210A and RP 1210B versions, including compliance for both drivers and applications;
  • Define known incompatibilities that have been coded around by existing applications; and
  • Encourage application developers to test their software against all major RP 1210 adapters.

Preliminary recommendations from the Task Force thus far include:

  • Discouraging hard coding for a specific adapter(s) in production release software;
  • Ensuring an RP 1210-compliant application provides the ability to select any RP 1210 adapter;
  • Ensuring the application is robust enough to work even with slight variances in the .INI file; and
  • Encouraging both application owners and adapter vendors to provide contacts for resolving engineering and test issues.

A compliance standard, however, does have limits. It may not adequately address changes in technology, such as a lack of serial or parallel ports, or increases in processor speed.

And compliance testing does not come free. However, Lackey said having adapter vendors and application developers working closely together will reduce support costs and reduce the frustrations of the end user of the tools.
In the end, that’s what everybody wants—especially customers.

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