I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pre-release hardware and software package from Hex Code of Stellenbosch, South Africa. Its called the GS-911 Emergency Diagnostic tool for CAN-BUS equipped vehicles and it works great on the R1200GS, Adventure and HP2. It also works on older model BMWs, e.g. the F650GS/Dakar and R1150GS. Theres a PDF brochure available from their download page.
What it does is plug into the bikes diagnostic socket under the riders seat, and via a USB cable (supplied) connect to a laptop running Windows XP, or to a laptop or cellphone via Bluetooth. A software application allows you to get diagnostic information, view fault codes, clear fault codes, etc.
Heres a picture of the hardware:
Mine was a pre-production unit. I downloaded the software and USB driver from Hexs Website. The advantage of getting the software from their Website is that you can always get the very latest version(s). And upgrade whenever you need to.
The yellow gizmo is the part that connects to the bikes diagnostic plug. It simply screws in, just like the BMW computer that your dealer uses. There are two versions, one thats USB only, and one that is USB and Bluetooth. Mine is the latter.
Heres the drill to using it:
Load the USB driver and GS-911.exe application onto your laptop, or load the Java application into your Bluetooth-capable cell/mobile phone. The Java application is meant for cell/mobile phones only.
Start with the bike on the centerstand, in neutral, with the ignition OFF.
If youre using the USB connection, plug the USB cable into the GS-911. If youre using the Bluetooth connection, ignore the USB cable.
Plug the GS-911 into the bikes diagnostic plug. A green light on the GS-911 should come on. In my case, I got a flashing red light which they tell me indicates a "K-line" is shorted. This is sometimes the case if the bikes wiring has been modified, or if the bike has been in an accident, or if the battery is low, or if the Analog measurement firmware is not calibrated or is calibrated incorrectly — leading to an incorrect Battery Voltage measurement.
Plug the USB cable into the laptop, and fire up the GS-911.exe application. As soon as I did that, my GS-911s light stopped flashing and turned solid green. I suspect my bike (purchased April-2004, 43k miles) has battery that wont fully charge.
Turn the bikes ignition ON. You dont need to start the bike (though you may if you wish), you wont hurt it by leaving the ignition on while you check the diagnostics.
Run the software by clicking the appropriate buttons. Its super easy, and no instruction manual is really necessary. [A more detailed instruction manual will be available from Hex Code soon]
When youre done, just reverse everything. Turn off the bikes ignition, unplug the USB cable if you used one, unplug the GS-911 and replace the protective dust cap on the bikes diagnostic plug.
I was a bit worried about the flashing red LED at first, but the manufacturer assured me that the GS-911 is quite passive and CANNOT (their emphasis) harm the bike. Theyve been selling similar devices since 2002 for other CAN-BUS equipped vehicles like Audis, Porches, VWs and BMW automobiles so I trust they know what they are doing. My bike was built in January of 2004, so it was damn near pre-production itself!
Heres the first screen I saw, when I selected Setup and then Test Interface.
In spite of the fact that my OEM BMW battery charger said the battery was fully charged, I suspect it is a bit low.
I clicked on Start Diagnostic Wizard, and then selected the R-series...
...and then the R1200GS...
Finally I got to the page showing the R1200GS CAN-BUS controllers. I started with the engine controller, and ran through all the other controllers listed in turn. As just changing a bunch of 1s and 0s (figuratively speaking) could extend the functionality of this tool, I expect that Hex Code will provide S/W updates in the future to make the product even more useful.
This is the Engine controller display. I looked at the controller info then checked the fault codes. I had only one fault code (in the ZFE controller), and it was a "permanent" one for parking light malfunction.
My friend Steve had a couple uncleared faults on his newer R1200GS, which he was able to successfully clear with his GS-911. The faults, in his case, were for two for light bulb failures (both of which he had replaced), and another fault for low brake fluid, which also had been corrected. So in his case it was probably simply that the dealer forgot to clear the codes the last time he had his bike in the shop.
Although, come to think of it, Steve does all his own maintenance, so maybe thats why the faults were never cleared. Now that he has a GS-911 he can read and clear the faults himself.
Heres the display from the ABS controller. No faults here either.
Heres the one and only fault code I had. I tried to clear it, but no joy. Steves headlight bulb faults were also "permanent" but he could clear them since hed replaced the bulbs. Im guessing my bike has a burned out parking light bulb. Since I never use the parking lights, I never noticed.
All in all, this is a very cool diagnostic device. I imagine that using the Bluetooth version with a compatible cellphone would be the Hot Setup™. [Hex has a s/w tool you can download to your phone to see if has the JSR-82 runtime environment needed by their GS-911 application] — Imagine, all youd have to carry is the GS-911 device itself (which is 11 x 6 x 4cm and would fit in a tankbag side-pocket) and youd always have the ability to diagnose problems with your bike or your friends bikes wherever you are. Neat!
[Jan-2007] My friend and fellow R1200GS owner Steve is a hardware engineer, and is currently working with Stephan of Hex Code to see if he can get the Bluetooth interface working with his Blackberry. If hes successful, Ill update this Webpage with the results of his efforts.