Image showing the Serial decoding icon in PicoScope 7 Automotive

Serial decoding

What it does

You can use Serial decoding to convert serial communication network voltages to a human-readable data format. You can apply it to CAN, CAN-FD, FlexRay, LIN and SENT (Fast and Slow) networks.

The data returned by Serial decoding describes all parts of the message structure, including its data payload and other properties, such as IDs, lengths or checksums etc.

The decoded data is returned in a tabular format and directly under the voltage waveforms. The two representations are linked so that clicking on one will highlight the other in its respective view. Data can be viewed as hexadecimal, decimal, binary and ASCII formats and one format can be used for the decode table and another for the graph. 

The table view provides tools to search, sort, filter and export the decoded data.

Finally, you can select a data-to-text (link) file which gives the decoder the information it needs to turn decoded data into text form. Link files can be manually created from exported serial decoding data or from information within other sources such as Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) documents or CAN database (DBC) files.

How it can help you

Issues such as corrupt messages, missing controllers or a flooded bus might not be apparent when observing network voltages. However, by using serial decoding to convert the voltage waveforms into decoded messages we can directly check for these issues.

Some sensor outputs provide no directly useful diagnostic data and we have to rely on serial data decoding to gain further insights. For example, we can apply SENT decoders to sensors that return their output using the SENT protocol and export the decoded data for use in other tools (such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets). We are then able to manipulate or graph the decoded SENT signals to gain the insights we need.

How to use it

Click the More... icon and then, within the pop-up panel, click Serial decoding to access its dialog.

Within the Serial decoding dialog, select the decoder you need and click Next.

Generally, the available decoders have similar sets of configuration options, such as the channel (or math channel) you wish to decode, the serial network voltage threshold and hysteresis levels, whether the signal must be inverted, the baud rate and, on differential networks, whether you want to decode on the high or low line.

With the decoder configured, click Next to select the display options, such as the decoder name, the display format for the graph/decode table and whether you wish to decode the current buffer, all buffers or just the data found between Rulers.

With the decoder display set up completed, click Finish.

Tip - to decode differential network voltages, where you have a low voltage line on one channel and a higher voltage line on the other (such as with the High and Low lines on a CAN network), use an A - B math channel to subtract the low line from the high line and create an almost interference-free channel on which you can apply your decoder.

Animation showing how to use Serial decoding in PicoScope 7 Automotive