SilverLeaf VMSpc

We picked up VMSpc, a USB to serial cable and an Acer Aspire One 9" netbook in October 2008 to monitor our motorhome engine while driving.  VMSpc is a device and software for Windows that hooks to the diagnostics port of a diesel engine and comes from SilverLeaf Electronics.  We bought an Acer Aspire One since it comes with Windows XP and we were able to look at a display model at Fry's Electronics but they did not have them in stock and didn't know when they were getting more.

Friend Norm Payne has been using VMSpc for years and has a nice write-up here.  He uses it on a larger screen than we do.

Our setup for our first trip with VMSpc hooked up between Las Vegas, NV and Bullhead City, AZ:

We are still messing with how we want to secure the computer but this is our first attempt.

The display layout we settled with on the first trip:

Now we hope we will have more information if we get a check engine alarm.  We also will have more useful information as we travel on how well the engine is doing.

VMSpc was just under $400 with the USB to serial adapter, needed on newer notebook computers.  This Acer Aspire One configuration cost $400 but some other netbooks running Windows XP are cheaper, including a another configuration of the Acer Aspire One.  If you a diesel engine and already have a notebook secured for travel, as many do to run GPS software, then all you need is VMSpc and maybe the USB to serial adapter if your notebook does not have a serial port.  Some engines use a 6-pin connector (our friend Mike uses this with his Cat engine) and some use a 9-pin connector (what we needed) and you have to specify the connector when ordering.  The Windows software is free and can be downloaded from the internet or loaded from CD.  We copied the CD to a USB memory stick and loaded it that way on the Acer since it has no CD or DVD drive.

The VMCpc software is old fashioned and saves everything to its c:\VMSPC folder.  When the Acer Aspire One died we copied its c:\VMSPC folder to c:\VMSPC on the new Samsung N130 and everything came up the same.   We tried the latest driver for the serial to USB cable on Windows Vista and it was not reliable, so we felt we needed Windows XP and that is what the Samsung has.

Update: Their is now a new version of the VMSpc module that uses USB instead of serial plus it can access the new information from 2008 and later diesel engines and transmissions.  We now use it since the USB driver seems to be more reliable than the serial to USB driver. 

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