Glossary

Here we try to offer you concise explanations for technical terms that frequently appear on this website.

CAN bus

The “Controller Area Network” bus is a relatively recent (by automotive standards) way for control units to talk to each other, and is nowadays (since the mid-2000s) also used to perform diagnostic functions. It has, in fact, been mandatory for new vehicles in certain markets since 2008. To talk to an ECU via CAN bus, you need a K+CAN interface.

ECU

“Engine Control Unit” or “Electronic Control Unit”. These are the computers that control your car. There is usually one for every major subsystem, such as engine, drivetrain, brakes, airbags, etc. When performing a diagnostic session, these are the units you want to talk with.

FTDI

“Future Technology Devices International” is a manufacturer of USB-to-serial converters. FTDI chips are generally more flexible than other brands when it comes to unusual modes of communication, a feature that is very important when talking to motor vehicles. CASCADE only supports diagnostic interfaces with FTDI chips.

K/L (also known as “K line”)

K/L is a mode of data transfer that uses so-called “UART signalling”, which is similar to a legacy PC serial port, although with different voltage levels. K/L has been commonly used in vehicles up to the mid-2000s and is still often used for secondary systems such as brakes or airbags. To talk to an ECU through K/L, you need a K/L or K+CAN interface.

 

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