Microchip CAN Bus Analyser Tool - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Microchip CAN Bus Analyser Tool

Author: rsc

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Test Equipment

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: Phytec PEAK PCAN-View, and PICAN2 for Raspberry Pi

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Software compatability between vendors. The PC programs would only work with their CAN interface even though they were all USB devices.

Detailed Review:


The CAN (Controller Area Network) protocol has been around since the late 1980's developed by Robert Bosch GmbH, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN_bus and is used for communication between electronic modules in cars and trucks.  It is also used for various laboratory instrumentation and motor control systems.  The CAN bus uses a three wire link between devices, CAN-High, CAN-Low, CAN-Gnd. The CAN-High and CAN-Low wires are usually a twisted pair with 120 ohm termination resistors at each end.  The CAN protocol was standardized to allow multiple modules to communicate at high speeds while avoiding electrical interference.

1) Unboxing

The Microchip CAN bus analyzer tool kit, part number APGDT002, arrived containing:

  • CAN bus analyzer assembly
  • USB cable
  • Warranty card
  • "Important Information" card
  • Software CD



2) Installation and Setup

I tried to install the enclosed software on a windows10 OS, and had many installation errors.

The first error was a win10 admin error.



The second was a driver error.



The third was a Win10 version error.


I downloaded the latest USB driver from Microchip and started over.

CAN BUS Analyzer Tool - APGDT002 | Microchip Technology Inc.





Finally, the USB driver was installed and working.

3) Software testing

I started the Copley CME2 software for communications with my motor driver and amplifier, the software would not recognize the Microchip CAN interface.



I plugged in both the Microchip and PEAK interfaces to see how the drivers interacted.

The Device Manager lists them as different devices.


My Copley CAN bus interface was out in the field with some equipment, so I can't compare it directly right now.

I opened PCAN-View and sent a few CAN messages using the PEAK CAN interface to the motor driver and captured the results.


Then I ran the Microchip CAN BUS Analyzer tool and sent some messages.



As you can see, the two programs look very similar, equally capturing the CAN messages with a few formatting differences.

The Microchip software is dated 2011, but they advertise another package:

>> "Sophisticated, easy-to-use Graphical User Interface option with K2L´s OptoLyzer Studio Entry."





I looked into the cost of this software, and a single-seat license is $390 for the OptoLyzer Studo Entry version (-%20 discount for University).

The software requires a USB License Stick to run.

A nice addition to the software package was the compiled HEX files for the internal Microchip devices, and the source code for both the firmware and the PC software.

4) Hardware

The hardware interface for the CAN bus is very simple, just CANH, CANL, CANgnd connections.

Here's the unit connected to my Copley amplifier and motor driver.


It was nice to have the same pinout for each board, all I needed was a DB9 male to DB9 female cable.

The Microchip adapter also has screw terminals, so I used them to look at the signals with an oscilloscope.


The CAN bus sits at 2.5 volts when idle, and the CANH and CANL are equal in time but opposite in delta voltage when

the bus is active.

5) Price

The Microchip CAN Bus Analyzer is listed at $99.99, The Standard PEAK PCAN-USB is listed  at € 180-220 depending on options.

The Copley USB-CAN-01 is listed at $290.  I didn't request quotes for the OptoLyzer MOCCA devices, but I'm guessing they are expensive.

Product Search


Copley Controls - CANopen PCI Card & I/O Processor


6) Summary

Other than a few installation hiccups, the Microchip CAN BUS Analyzer was an easy to use tool with a simple, yet effective PC interface.

The cost of the tool is half of its competitors, and the addition of source code increases the value for hardware and software developers.

When my other hardware gets back from the field I will run some more tests using this interface, and look at the software source code compared to some of our in-house CAN bus code.

7) Next steps

I will continue to add to this review as I get CAN bus equipped equipment to use it with.  I will also try some OBDII messaging and logging, since this group has asked for it.

I found my OBDII scan tool and another tool called Autotap OBDII streamer to parallel with the Microchip tool.  I will install the Microchip software on a laptop and see what my truck CAN bus looks like. 


To be continued....

  • Thanks for posting the resolution for the driver install failure. I had the same error messages and your explanation helped.

  • I hooked up the CAN bus analyzer to my truck, set the baud rate to 250 kHz, and put the key in.  Before I even had a chance to turn the key, the screen flooded with thousands of messages.

    Since the PC software source code for the 2011 version was included, I tried to compile it using Visual Studio 2015 Community edition, but it wouldn’t compile.


    >>Edit 10/23  got it to compile, still not sure what the differences between the 2011 and 2014 versions are.

  • Someone gave me a tool a few years ago that was attached to a used fleet vehicle he purchased called AutoTap.  It was hidden under the dash to log vehicle data for the fleet owners.  I haven't tried to use it until now, but it seems to have quite a few features.  Their web site has some OBDII info also:

    Technical Library - Diagnose, Repair, Optimization based on OBDII Information

    It came with a nice OBDII matching pair of connectors to breakout all the bus signals including CAN.

    So many projects.......so little time......


  • Thanks for the offer.

    Hadn't thought about combining them, and I do have an OBDII scan tool.


    I'll have to have a look and see if I can get into the inner workings, and I might be able to simply wire it.



    Next problem is getting the car inside to the second computer  image     ... maybe two laptops might be easier.





    I also found this link to Sparkfun, which should excite as it has some other links near the bottom.





  • Hi Mark,


    If you have (or can borrow) an OBDII scan tool, you can parallel the Microchip CAN bus analyzer and record the messages and responses to and from the scan tool to figure out some of the common parameters like RPM and sensor values.  That's what I plan to do.  I think I have both mating connectors somewhere in my boxes of "stuff" on a shelf in the basement to make a breakout box, If I have an extra set, I can send you one.



  • I'm still waiting on my kit to arrive image


    Interesting about the drivers, luckily I'm not Windows10, but I suspect downloading the driver is an advantage.


    The problem with vehicle diagnostics will be decoding all the messages from all the different ECUs looking for something specific

    That is going to be my issue.

    Someone must have done a lot of it, or there is information around, as you can buy Engine Tuners that modify various parameters and some work across different manufacturers.




  • Hi DAB,


    I used to work at Chrysler in the Engine and Chassis control groups many years ago when OBD was just being developed.  I have some OBDII cables around somewhere, I'll hook it up to my truck this weekend and see how it works.  The problem with vehicle diagnostics will be decoding all the messages from all the different ECUs looking for something specific.  If you've ever used Wireshark, you'll know what I mean.  Because Microchip has included the PC program Visual Studio source code, it may be possible to write a custom parser for the vehicle CAN bus using their code as a starting point.



  • Nice quick test report.


    I look forward to your comparison to the other bus analyzer.


    I think most of us are interested in seeing if this inexpensive device could help find problems with the vehicle.