Automotive OBD-II On-Board Diagnostics Reader for Smart Phone Users

Torque OBD Reader for AndroidSince I’ve been using this for several months now, I’ve decided I should share it. Last year, I brought my car to a mechanic to have it re-aligned and also asked him to run the diagnostics on it since the check engine light was coming on constantly. I was charged $60 just for them to run the diagnostics! I thought to myself, “I should get my own diagnostics reader to avoid this in the future.” I also do most of the work on my cars so I thought it would be a good thing to have around.

OBD-II or On-Board Diagnostics 2 is an automotive term referring to a vehicle’s self-diagnostic and reporting capability. OBD-II was required to be on every petrol vehicle manufactured after 1996 and every diesle vehicle manufactured after 2004. In most vehicles, it is located in the driver’s area inside the vehicle, usually under the dash or sometimes in the dash. Just take a peak down there, you’ll probably see it. Refer to your vehicle’s manual or do a Google search on where it is located in your vehicle if you have trouble finding it.

Here is what you’ll need:

  • Android Smart Phone or Tablet
  • Bluetooth OBD-II Reader

Using your android smart phone or tablet, you can read the codes which cause your check engine light to turn on. They are called trouble codes. These codes tell you why your check engine light is on. Then you can clear the codes, to turn off/reset your check engine light. It is suprisingly easy! All you have to do is get what is called a Bluetooth ELM327 OBD-II Reader. This device will transmit the information from your car to your Android device. These devices can easily be purchased for around $10 to $15 on eBay or Amazon. That is all you will need to pay for.

Once you have everything you need, just follow the steps below and you will be ready to tell your mechanic what is wrong with your car or fix it yourself!

Prepairing your Device

  1. On your phone, goto the Google Play store and install Torque Lite for free (QR Code Below).
    Some vehicles will have the OBD port visible. Some are hidden behind the dash.

    Some vehicles will have the OBD port visible. Some are hidden behind the dash.

  2. Plug your OBD-II reader into the port on your car (Usually to the left, below your steering wheel) and make sure the LED lights on the OBD reader turn on.
  3. If the lights do not turn on, try turning your car key to the running position or accessory position.
  4. Now make sure Bluetooth is enabled on you phone.
    • Go to Under Settings > Wireless & networks
    • Touch Bluetooth. Your phone scans for and displays the IDs of all available Bluetooth devices in range.
    • Touch the ID of the Bluetooth device in the list to pair with it.

      Follow the instructions to complete the pairing. If you’re prompted to enter a passcode, try entering 0000 or 1234 (the most common passcodes), or consult the documentation that came with the device.

      If the pairing is successful, your phone connects to the device.

Setting Up the Torque Android App

  1. Open Torque on your Android phone.
  2. Launch Torque, and go into the applications settings menu
  3. Select the “OBD2 Bluetooth Settings” settings option
  4. Scroll down the list of items until you see ‘Connection Type’ in the list. Make sure this is set to ‘Bluetooth’
  5. Scroll down to the bluetooth preferences section, select ‘Choose Bluetooth Device’ and select the adapter you paired with earlier.
  6. Torque is now setup, and should connect to the adapter. To speed things up you might want to quit the app and restart it.

Using Torque to Read Codes

Torque will display the codes as well as a brief description of what the code means.

Torque will display the codes as well as a brief description of what the code means.

Each time I have used Torque, it has provided the error code as well as the description of what the error code means. With your OBD-II read already plugged in, use the following steps to read any trouble codes that are causing your check engine light to come on.

  1. Open Torque on your Android device.
  2. Open the menu and select “Actions”
  3. A menu will pop up with some actions you can perform. Choose “Show logged faults”.

Using Torque to Clear Codes/Reset the Check Engine Light

  1. Open Torgue ony your Android device.
  2. Open the menu and select “Actions”
  3. A menu will pop up with some actions you can perform. Choose “Clear logged fault(s)”. Your check engine light should no longer be lit.


Scan the code below to install Torque.

How to Unlock your AT&T iPhone

So you want your iPhone 3, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S or whatever version unlocked?

Just a few minutes ago, I tried following the steps found at Unfortunately, AT&T is no longer unlocking iPhones over their chat system. After trying on two separate occasions, I was informed by AT&T’s chat representative to call their customer support center to verify whether my iPhone was eligable to be unlocked.

To have your iPhone unlocked the phone must be out of contract. AT&T is starting to filter out more of these iPhone unlock requests by also requiring that you provide the phone number that the iPhone was under contract with. In my case, the phone line was eligable for an upgrade so my iPhone 3GS was no longer under contract after the upgrade had been used.

So, after preparing to deal with a begrudged AT&T representative, I called the customer support number (AT&T Customer Support). In my experience, tech support representatives are the most reasonable people to deal with over the phone, so I went through the automated phone system to get tech support. Sure enough, I got a layed back tech support representative who was very willing to help. After simply stating that I have an iPhone that is out of contract and providing the IMEI number and phone line that it had previously been used with, he submited a request to Apple to have the phone unlocked. He assured me that it would take up to 24-hours for the request to be processed.

He also provided insturctions over the phone that were also emailed to me on how to backup and restore the iPhone. Upon doing so, a message would be received stating that the iPhone has been unlocked. On a side note, he mentioned that on occasion this message will not appear and offered to have a phone call scheduled for the next day to see if I needed help with the final steps.

So here is a list of things to have ready before you call…

  • Your phone’s IMEI Number (found under Settings > General > About)
  • The phone number that the iPhone was previously used on
  • An active AT&T phone number
  • An active AT&T account number

HowTo get Canon Pixma MP495 All-in-One Printer Working with Linux

Canon Pixma MP495After a few years of wanting one of these printers they are actually very cheap. We picked ours up from Walmart for $49 and they are getting cheaper every time I go there! After looking around online for a wireless all-in-one printer that would work with both of our laptops over wifi network we found that this one was well supported. It was actually easier to setup this printer with my Linux system than it was on our Mac running OSX! (To install this printer with your Mac, running OSX, just follow the instructions on the disk.)

Below are the steps for setting the Canon Pixma MP495 on a Debian, Ubuntu or any other Debian based distro. These instructions can be done without any system tweaks!

The following steps have been tested with Debian Squeeze (kernel 2.6.32-5-686), Ubuntu 11.10 (3.0.0-15-generic, on a 64-bit system), Backtrack 5 r1 ( and Linux Mint 11 successfully.

  1. Download these files:
  2. Place these files in their own directory. Extract them (tar -xvf *.gz)
  3. Install your respective .deb packages found within the extracted folders, inside the packages directory (dpkg -i *i386.deb). In all there are four packages that need to be installed.
  4. Change the SSID of your wifi router to BJNPSETUP.
  5. Activate wifi on the printer by hitting the “maintenance button” 13 or 14 times… until you see a character that looks like a capital “G” without the horizontal line. Then press the color start button.
  6. Find out the IP of your printer by viewing the list of clients that are connected to your router. The IP address of the printer seemed to be automatically assigned by the router.
  7. Open your web browser and type in the IP address of the printer.
  8. Change the SSID to whatever SSID you want the printer to connect to. Hit “Okay” at the top.
  9. Change your SSID back to whatever you set the printer to look for.
  10. Print a test page… and if it worked you’re done!

NOTE: scangearmp (actually none of the apps) was not added to my Application menu. You’ll have to create a launcher and add it to your menu yourself, if you want.

If this worked for you too, please leave a comment with the distro and kernel you are currently using (uname -r). Enjoy!