Can-bus communication for engine dyno

Volvo Penta engine dyno

Yesterday I was present at the official opening of the engine teststand, in which I participated. For this client I have set up a can-bus communication protocol for various electronically controlled diesel engines, so that the engines can be controlled from the control room with a click of the mouse.

Control room engine dyno

Can-bus protocol J1939

For large maintenance and overhaul, the customer gets the complete engines from the machines / boats. In order to ensure that the engines are in good condition after the repartion, the customer wants to have them tested for power output, before they are put back. The old engine test stand no longer met the requirements and could no longer cope with the higher powers, the reason to build a completely new engine test stand. One of the requirements for the new test mode was a simple operation (start / stop and (de-)accelerate) for the various engines. The engines can be controlled mechanically, electrically or via Can-bus communication. In the latter case, the electronically regulated diesel engines are equipped with an ECU, which provides the diesel injection. Advantage of engines with an ECU; they already have several sensors on board for controlling the actuators on the engine, so this sensor-information can also be read via the can bus. The commonly known Can-bus protocol for diesel engines is J1939. It describes various standards that brands of diesel engines use to communicate on the Can bus.

Engine dyno room

In the old situation, a copy of the original control system was mimicked in the test cell for the electronically controlled engines. Disadvantages of this are: control via a gas trade, no extra emergency stop protections, no live engine data (possibly via diagnosis tool), each type of engine its own hardware + software. For example, for Volvo Penta marine engines, the EVC system is often used to control the engines, but there are several generation and software variants that do not always communicate with each other. Setting up such systems would therefore include many components (duration!) And time. Time for a direct solution: direct control and readout over the CAN bus!

Reverse engineering Can-bus communication

However, not every engine is the same, and not every engine transmits the same data. It is also often the case that brand-dependent data / addresses are used outside the J1939. To find out well by engine, I have read and logged the can-bus system of each type of engine with the aid of a CAN analysis module. I labeled this data via reverse engineering, after which it is usable for the Horiba hardware and software.

Reverse engineering can-bus communicationIt took some evening hours, but the result may be there! A Can bus communication has been set up for various types of electronically controlled motors, and mechanical motors are controlled via an actuator. The actuator is also controlled via Can bus from the Horiba software ‘Stars’.
Do you have a question about Can-bus communication or do you want to know what the possibilities are? Feel free to contact me: or +316-42712295

EasyTrolling (Low speed) Volvo Penta D3

LowSpeed installed overview

1st ‘EasyTrolling’ unit for Volvo Penta D3 installed

This week I successfully installed the first ‘EasyTrolling’ unit on a Volvo Penta D3-EVC in combination with HS45A reverse gearbox.

lowspeed electrical unit

This electronic unit, which has been fully developed and tested in-house, makes it possible to sail at low speed ‘low speed’ with a Volvo Penta D3 from year 2010. The EasyTrolling unit is completely secondary to the Volvo Penta EVC system and thus ensures that the original wiring etc remains intact. The unit is supposedly plug-and-play to mount on the standard connectors. An additional button with LED indication can be mounted on the dashboard to activate the unit, if certain safety conditions are met, the unit will control the forward magnet valve with a configurable value. As a result, the reverse clutch (HS45) will switch forward, but allow a certain amount of slip, causing the propeller shaft to rotate at a lower rotational speed and therefore there will be less propulsion.


To protect the components and always switch to the original operation in emergency situations, various safety devices have been installed:

  • The unit can not be switched on if the engine is not running
  • The unit can not be switched on if the original control is in forward or reverse
  • The unit can only be switched on if the original trade is in Neutral mode
  • If the unit is switched on and the original trade is switched forward or backward, it will switch off automatically and the original operation will be active

LowSpeed installed overview

Fault code free

The unit has been carefully tested and also takes into account the self-diagnosis functionality of the Volvo Penta EVC system. The unit, if it is active, will fool the original computer with a signal that is the same as in the original situation. For example, there will be no error messages on the display and you will be assured of proper operation if it is switched off again.


I am busy preparing for production of the product and expect to have sales ready within a few weeks. There is even a variant with NMEA2000 communication on the schedule, which can be adjusted at a fixed (GPS) speed. These and other nice electronic accessories for your marine diesel engine will soon be available at: which is not currently live.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please let me know: