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Thread: Exploring the MB STAR C3 (SDS)

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    Exploring the MB STAR C3 (SDS)

    PART 1 -- BACKGROUND

    This thread will be devoted to a thorough explanation of the MB STAR C3 system in depth, over time. Another good reference thread can be found here.

    First off, some history and background about the system. The MB STAR C3 is a diagnostic system that is provided by the factory for dealerships and independent repair shops, and is used to interface with the cars' computers to diagnose systems and pull/reset codes, and even to program certain elements of the systems on more modern cars. The system costs upwards of $20,000 from MBUSA, and is applicable for MBs from model year 1989 and newer.

    Of course, cars of model year 1989 only had 2-3 computers in the car; however all successive MBs have had an increasing number of computers, and this is where the MB STAR C3 system really comes into its own -- with the newer cars. For the purposes of the cars that are the focus of this forum -- the 124.036 E500E -- and to a lesser extent the 400E/E420 and the later C126 coupes, the computer setups are rather crude and limited when compared to cars starting with the W210 models, which debuted in model year 1996 in the USA.

    What I'm saying is that the MB STAR C3 systems are much more suited and capable, coming into its own, the newer the car that it is used with. However, the good thing is that it is able to fully exploit the built-in computer diagnostics as found in the E500E. It does this using a compatibility mode that emulates the Mercedes-Benz Hand-Held Tester (HHT), which was a diagnostic tool that was used for the 1989 and up cars, commonly until about 2001 when the MB STAR system debuted. The HHT is literally a hand-held unit (it is actually quite a handful) that allows the user to pull and reset codes, provides access to "live" engine data on the M119 and M104 engines (though a larger array of live data on the M119s), and generally pull compete diagnostics of the computer systems.

    Mercedes Hand-Held Tester (HHT)
    hht01.jpg

    The MB STAR system, when it made its debut, was much more capable because it was PC-based (IBM T30 laptop), but it was also very versatile because it incorporated a HHT emulation mode (for backward compatibility) along with a "multiplexer" intermediate unit between the PC and the car, which allowed the connection of a variety of different diagnostic connection cables, depending on which diagnostic system the car in question happened to use. For the oldest cars (i.e. the C126, early R129 SL models, early W124s and W140s, etc.) a "four-pin" diagnostic cable was provided. For second-generation cars, such as the E500E, 400E/E420, middle and later R129s, middle and later W140s, the familiar "38-pin" plug is provided. There are also OBD-2 interface cables for model year 1996 and later cars, as well as a 14-pin cable for European diagnostic systems. All of these cables allow the combination of the MB STAR with the in-line multiplexer unit to fully interface with any particular car's computers.

    As I said, the MB STAR system debuted around 10-11 years ago, in 2001. Because of its expense, it has been very much "out of reach" of most MB owners and enthusiasts. To pull codes and get information about the car, owners were forced to buy limited testers from companies like Snap-On, Trisco, and others that perhaps allowed one to pull and reset codes, and a couple of solutions provided some limited "live data" where the car allowed it. These systems would typically run from $500 to well over $1,000. The other option was to somehow obtain a used HHT (they are occasionally available via eBay, and are quite expensive) or a used MB STAR system - still a huge expense of multiple thousands of dollars used.

    In recent years, Chinese forgers, who excel at making fake copies of everything from Louis Vuitton purses to Guess Jeans to Rolex watches, have set their sights on the MB STAR market (and other automotive diagnostic systems for other marques). This has resulted in a cottage industry whereby one could purchase an MB STAR system for anywhere between $600 and $1,200. Over the past year or so, as Chinese copies of the MB STAR C4 system have come onto the market, the prices of the MB STAR C3 system have come down to a typical range of $250-450, depending on the vendor and the items included in the package.

    These "clone" systems are easily available on sites like eBay and also Alibaba.com from hundreds of vendors. As with any Chinese copy of anything, quality varies and quite often -- but not always -- one gets what they pay for. The recent reduction in price of the MB STAR C3 systems has made even relatively good quality systems very very affordable for the DIY mechanic and/or MB enthusiast -- providing them with the same diagnostic power as the dealership mechanic (but not the same level of training and knowledge). Typical options that are available with MB STAR C3 systems available on the Internet include: an array of cables; a multiplexer; a hard drive containing the MB STAR software package; and instructions on how to set up the system. The software typically includes: MB Xentry, WIS, EPC, STAR Utilities; EWA net; Star Browser; Star Finder; and a recent MB parts price list (which goes out of date quickly). Quite a number of vendors also provide Internet support, including the ability to remotely control systems over the Internet (with the user's permission, of course) to diagnose installation and software problems.

    There has been precious little information on the Internet about the Chinese MB STAR C3 systems, how they operate, and in general how the system operates. This thread will be a thorough, methodical investigation of how the system works, what it looks like, and how it can be used with the E500E (and by extension, the 400E/E420). It is up to the individual owner as to whether they need or would want such a unit. It would be overkill for many if not most owners. However, there are a number of owners who do want to do their own maintenance and want the tools to help them do this properly. For these owners, purchasing an HHT or MB STAR system may be a good idea.

    I will not go into the nuances and details of ordering the system. All that should be said is that one should do their research carefully, and pay attention to the ratings from other buyers as to the honesty of a particular vendor. Most of these vendors are based in Hong Kong or on Mainland China. Quite often they speak decent English and are quite responsive and communicative when inquiries and requests are made. It would be recommended that prospective buyers utilize an escrow service to complete the transaction, so as to maximize honesty and straightforwardness of the transaction from both sides.

    Some vendors offer free air-mail shipping via DHL or other international shipper. These packages can arrive in as little as three or four days after a payment goes into escrow and the seller is notified by the escrow company that they have received the cleared payment. Once the package is received by the buyer, they inform the escrow company that the package has been received in good order, and the money is then released to the seller. Pretty seamless, and because of the escrow service -- a fairly safe transaction. Certainly better than sending off a Western Union or Credit Card payment to an unknown party in a foreign land.

    So, the photos below illustrate what is commonly received with an MB STAR C3 package. It is a 4.5kg (10-lb) box that is nicely packed, and includes all of the items described in the seller's site. A typical package will include the cables, a USB hard drive (or internal hard drive for an IBM or Dell computer, if specified), a multiplexer box and a packet of adhesive stickers that are placed on the multiplexer and the computer-to-multiplexer cable. The box is unpacked and the contents are checked against the web site's description to ensure that all contents were included. Some sellers also sell individual pieces of the sets, if they are ever needed.

    Next, after the contents of the package are ascertained to be correct, the recipient should install the software on a computer. It is HIGHLY advisable that a standalone, separate laptop computer be used for this, seeing as it will be used in a garage (next to the car) environment. For versatility (and because most people don't own the specific IBM and Dell laptop models that are needed for the internal drives) it is advisable that the buyer specify the external USB hard drive model of the MB STAR C3. This way the hard drive can be plugged into any qualified laptop and used.

    Requirements for a laptop that can be used with the MB STAR C3 system are generally as follows:
    • Must have a SERIAL port
    • Must have a processor frequency rating of 1.8 GHz or higher
    • Must have at least 1 GB of RAM; more is highly desirable
    • Must have a USB 2.0-compatible port
    • Must be running Microsoft Windows XP

    It is best to just purchase a used laptop via eBay or Craigslist that meets these specifications, and use this computer SOLELY as a DEDICATED computer for the MB STAR installation. It can be kept in the garage and used for these purposes. It really doesn't even have to be connected to the Internet. One can also put the laptop on a dedicated cart, which allows the computer, cables and a printer (if desired) to be rolled around the workshop/garage next to specific cars. Although the cables are quite long, it's nice to have the computer next to the engine when using it.


    Looking Ahead - PART 2 -- Initial Setup and Configuration
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    PART 2 -- INSTALLATION AND INITIAL SETUP

    Tonight we pick up Part 2 of our series: installation and initial setup of the MB STAR C3 diagnostic system.

    As mentioned, it's best to have a dedicated "shop" laptop computer that is used for the MB STAR C3 installation. I actually mimicked the actual MB STAR system by purchasing at Sears a Craftsman rolling cart with hinged top, two drawers and a lower shelf, to hold a Hewlett-Packard inkjet printer for printing out reports generated by the MB STAR C3 system. The drawers come in handy for storing the diagnostic cables that go with the system; I also added my home-made "blink code reader" and my 38-pin "Mushroom" diagnostic adapter just to round things out and to have all of the MB diagnostic equipment in one place.

    First of all, the hard drive of the computer needs to be 160 GB or greater; the processor frequency of the computer should be at least 1.8 GHz, and the computer should have at least 1 GB of RAM installed (more is better). My computer had all of these parameters except that it has 3 GB of memory installed. This is a real bonus as you will see in a little while. If you can purchase RAM and add it to the computer, it is advisable to do this as RAM is pretty cheap, particularly for older-model computers.

    The first step is to prepare the computer for the installation. Using the operating system master disk that came with the computer, it's recommended to just re-format and re-install a virgin copy of the Microsoft Windows XP operating system onto the computer's hard drive. Then, you should connect the computer to the Internet (via wireless or via RJ-45 "Ethernet" cable) to update the software, to bring it up to full Service Pack 3 status and to install all of the current security and product updates, as necessary. Next, you will need to partition the hard drive into two logical drives, using a free disk-partitioning program that you can download on the Internet. There are dozens available for Windows, so it shouldn't be hard to find one. I recommend that you partition your hard drive into two equal 80GB partitions. One will likely be drive "C" and the other partition will likely be "E" or "F" when you are done. You can also choose to partition your hard drive BEFORE you re-install the virgin copy of Windows XP, depending on what you want to do. Either/or.

    Next, you want to "clone" the USB hard drive you that comes with the MB STAR C3 kit onto the second partition. Again, there are numerous, free, downloadable disk-cloning software packages available on the Internet. It wlll likely take about 3-5 hours to completely clone the external drive onto the new drive. The reason for doing this is two-fold:

    a) you want to preserve your external hard drive as a backup "master" copy of the MB STAR C3 software, in case something goes wrong and it has to be re-installed;
    b) performance of the MB STAR C3 system is MUCH better when it's installed on an internal hard drive than when it's installed on an external drive; and
    c) it's just unwieldy to have a USB drive hanging off the side of the computer connected with a USB cable; much cleaner just to have everything inside the laptop case.

    So, now you've cloned the disk and you're ready for the install.

    First, a little background about the MB STAR C3 DAS system, as it comes from the cloners. Essentially, what ships on the hard drive is a Virtual Machine copy of an official MB STAR C3 IBM T30 laptop as shipped by Mercedes-Benz to the purchaser. The Chinese cloners have saved an image of this hard drive as a Virtual Machine image, which is then "played" in a Virtual Machine (in this case, VMWare) on the new computer. So, technically, it's a computer operating within a computer, hence the name "virtual machine". Because no processor or software emulation needs to be done, i.e. you're not running Windows on a Macintosh or vice versa, the speed is actually pretty fast once the Virtual Machine is up and running.

    In any case, once you have cloned the MB STAR C3 hard drive to the computer, then you will see a VMWare Player installer icon. You double-click this icon, and it will begin the installation process for the VM. It will ask you a bunch of questions (you just keep clicking on the "Next" button and then it installs the VMWare Player on the "C" (main) hard drive of the computer. It will probably put icons for the VMWare player on the desktop, in the menu bar and in the Start Menu folder as part of the installation process.

    After that, you will have to restart your computer to complete the installation process, which is normal. After you restart, everything should be installed correctly. It's a pretty typical Windows software install and it goes pretty quickly and smoothly. Remember, you're just installing the Virtual Machine PLAYER that the MB STAR C3 disk image runs inside of. So next, you have to tell the Virtual Machine WHAT it needs to run. To do this, you have to go to the hard drive that you cloned the external hard drive to (typically the E: or F: drive) in your "Windows Explorer" program or by double-clicking on the "My Computer" icon on the desktop or in the Start Menu. From there, you will see an icon with the name something like "DAS_2012.10.vmx" or something similar. This is the disk image file with the date of the cloned copy in the name of the file -- in this case, corresponding to the October, 2010 copy/update of the MB STAR C3. The .vmx extension on the file name indicates that the file is a VMWare virtual machine image.

    So, you should double-click on this file, and it should automatically launch the VMWare Player that you installed, and the MB STAR C3 software playing in the Virtual Machine will ask your for an 8-digit password. Typically, with the Chinese clones you take the first 8 characters off of the serial number sticker that is on the hard drive (it's the hand-written alphaneumeric character string that is on the label on the hard drive case) and type that in. From there, it will start loading the MB STAR C3 software. After a minute or two, the main ("Desktop") screen of the MB STAR C3 system will appear. You have the option to run the Virtual Machine full screen (which I recommend) or you can just run it within a window on your screen.

    The Desktop screen of the MB STAR C3 (see first image below) contains a number of icons, which correspond to the various program elements that comprise the system. These individual programs generally correspond to the following functions (various clones may have slight to moderate variations of what is listed below, depending on the vendor and the extent of the clone):

    • Xentry - the "master control program" which is the hub of the MB STAR C3 DAS system, serving as the gateway out to most of the other individual key DAS modules
    • Star Finder - a program that allows (beginning with W210 cars, and all newer chassis) the user to pinpoint the location of components on the car
    • EPC - the Electronic Parts Catalog (same as US users have access to online; the MB C3 STAR versions are probably a bit out of date)
    • WIS - the Workshop Information System, a collection of all processes and documents pertaining to repair and maintenance of all the vehicles
    • Star Utilities - a collection of utilities that help the user administer the MB STAR C3 system -- must be used VERY carefully !!
    • Info - information about the MB STAR C3 system
    • EWA net - the administration program for the core, EPCnet and WISnet functions that tracks passwords and user access
    • Star Browser -
    • PL 65 - a price list of MB parts prices (generally out of date, but often a good indicator of pricing)
    • SD Media - a collection of instructional information and video procedures for diagnosing and solving problems
    • TeamViewer 6 - a non-Mercedes remote access program that allows the vendor to control your computer if you need technical support/assistance. Specific program varies by vendor.

    EWA Net software interface


    Typically, because the Chinese cloned copy of the MB STAR C3 DAS is a copy of a real system, taken at a point in time in the past, you will at this point have to change the day and year of the Virtual Machine (not your Windows XP system date and time, though you can do this too if you wish) to correspond with that of the day, month and year found in the file name of the Virtual Machine image on the hard drive provided with the system. Generally, the vendor will provide you with a specific date that you should change it to. It is IMPERATIVE that you do this before EVERY time you start up the MB STAR C3 system; otherwise you will get errors and you won't be able to properly run the Xentry software because it will be out of date.

    So, after you've changed the system date in the Virtual Machine, you should double-click on the "Star Utilities" icon on the desktop to begin the actual configuration of the MB STAR C3 installation. You will then click on the "StartKey Manager". At this point, a dialog box will pop up, and you have to select the "Xentry diagnostic" option in the Application menu.

    The system will then provide you with several pieces of information, which you should write down. These bits of information include:

    • HW-ID
    • APP-ID
    • Start Date
    • Finish Date

    Then you will see a place to fill in a long alphanumeric string of characters, which is an overall system access password. To obtain this, you have to provide the aforementioned bits of information to the vendor, and they will generate the alphanumeric code for you. This is several dozen characters in length. You enter this alpha code into the provided field, and if everything checks out and is correct, you will see a small box pop up that says "Saved Successfully!". That means you are good to go, and you can then start and enter the MB STAR C3 DAS system.

    From there, what you want to do is to fire up the Xentry software by double-clicking on the Xentry icon. The second and third images below show the Xentry software in the process of loading, as well as its main screen.

    Next installment will be a detailed exploration of the Xentry software and its links out to the various components of the MB STAR C3 DAS system.

    Hope you enjoy this!


    Looking Ahead - Part 3 -- Exploring and Using the Xentry software
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Gerry.

    - The Star finder has not been updated (I think its cancelled) latest car it has is pre-face lift W211.
    - SD Media has info+vid+pic of different procedures
    - Which edition xentry did you get?
    - For W124,W124,R107 you only need the HHT software... just shortcut the HHT32 so you can start the programme without the need to start DAS.
    - Xentry is $hit ! but have to use it for newer cars like W204,W212

    Let me know if you need any help in these.

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    • I'll have to check but I think the Star Finder has more recent cars too. I'll check this out
    • You are correct with the SD Media -- it was late at night when I wrote that and I was confusing it with another icon. I edited my post above -- thanks for setting me straight in the fog before I went to bed last night....
    • My Xentry is Sept 2011
    • You are correct that for the pre-210 cars you really only need the HHT emulation (actually HHTWIN) to pull/reset codes and access the live data. And yes you can just fire up that HHTWIN program and not have to deal with the entire Xentry. I was actually going to do this exact thing for the future part of this series that deals with using the HHTWIN with the 036/034 !! That will probably be Part 4 or Part 5 of this series, though.
    • Yes, Xentry is very clunky (actually the entire MB STAR C3 is clunky!) and such, but it is comprehensive and it's basically better than all of the aftermarket solutions that are out there !!

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    I love my SDS C3 system... Yes HHT is used up to 2001 Mercedes and up. I diagnosed for instance a W202 C200 of 2001 and it does Diagnosis with DAS, but as soon as you want for instance reset ASSYST service reminder, it starts the HHTwin.exe, with which (oddly enough) you can do the whole diagnosis you can do in DAS on this particular car (error codes, live-data, activations/actuations).

    Please also take notice of my post here: https://www.500eboard.com/forums/show...ll=1#post22194
    There are issues you can tap-in if you buy "any" SDS clone of Ebay or so. Some cables are not fused, to low PCB thicknesses in the Multiplexer, cheap used electornics, etc etc.
    There are quite some topic in german Forums (a few years old though!) where people grilled their ECUs with cheap SDS clones. So again for the matter of buying them on Alibaba, i'm not that convinced about it. There are sets offered for as low as 1$ (if you take 1000 Sets) which look the same on the pictures as the "good" clones. I would be careful after all.
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Folks,

    I haven't forgotten this project (in terms of posting more info about using the Chinese SDS Star 3 with the 036 ... and 034) -- I have to process some screen shots I've made and post things up.

    In the meantime, per some MB enthusiasts on another venue, I came across this link on Benzworld () that has some great information on how to SET UP, and USE the Chinese SDS. Wanted to repost this here, with props to the creator on BW, a user named (interestingly) "ricebubbles".

    http://www.benzworld.org/forums/w220...y-chinese.html

    TONS of detail here and should be informative to anyone considering getting and setting up/using a cloned SDS.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    I have the problem of software communication error 870 please help

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    thanks very much. but what's different between mb star C4 and mb star C3

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Gerry,
    I'm starting to look into getting an SDS system. In my brief research, there are two versions of the cloned SDS. You purchased the version on an external USB hard drive but there is also a version on an internal hard drive for Dell D620 or IBM T30 laptops. Can you describe the differences? It looks like the version on the internal drive does NOT run in a VM, is this correct?

    Thanks,
    Glen

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Quote Originally Posted by phyhoe View Post
    thanks very much. but what's different between mb star C4 and mb star C3
    I'm starting to research these now, it looks like the C3 is a "wired" only system while the C4 uses WiFi to communicate between the laptop and MUX. From what I've been reading, the C4 is less stable. YMMV.
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen View Post
    Gerry,
    I'm starting to look into getting an SDS system. In my brief research, there are two versions of the cloned SDS. You purchased the version on an external USB hard drive but there is also a version on an internal hard drive for Dell D620 or IBM T30 laptops. Can you describe the differences? It looks like the version on the internal drive does NOT run in a VM, is this correct?

    Thanks,
    Glen
    I believe they are functionally identical; the "external" version is just adapted for much broader use on any system with a serial port. The "internal" versions that are specific to the T30 laptops are "native," meaning they will run without the overhead of the virtual machine software and associated bootup time, etc. Essentially, they would be the same thing as the "real deal" and much faster at bootup, etc.

    Personally, for me, the additional overhead/time hasn't been a major issue. Once you have it up and running (admittedly this takes up to 10 minutes to fully boot up, etc.) it runs just fine and at normal speeds, etc. There's no emulation or anything like that -- the VM just runs it in an insulated "sandbox" environment so it can be installed on any system. To be honest I don't use it all that often. I expect I would if I had newer cars that have the increased instrumentation afforded by computerization & sensor-ization. For the 036 though, other than the "live data" and extended (more specific) digital codes ... to be honest the SDS doesn't give a ton of benefit. It's almost more of a novelty than anything else.

    If you have or do plan on getting anything that's a 210 or newer car in the future, then I think an SDS clone would be an excellent investment for the money. But for the W124s, honestly the home-brew blink tester is going to suffice 80+% of the time.....

    Also for 1996 and newer cars, a cheap OBD2 tester (if you don't have one already) is a good idea.

    My two cents.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Quote Originally Posted by phyhoe View Post
    thanks very much. but what's different between mb star C4 and mb star C3
    Quote Originally Posted by Glen View Post
    I'm starting to research these now, it looks like the C3 is a "wired" only system while the C4 uses WiFi to communicate between the laptop and MUX. From what I've been reading, the C4 is less stable. YMMV.
    I recommend (at this point, for a clone purchase) to just get a C3. Indeed it's more reliable and tested in clone form, and you're not really gaining any more functionality unless you have a brand new MB (which would be under warranty anyway). Just save the bucks and get the C3.

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Thanks for that feedback. My old school analog blink code reader has served me well which is why I have held off on getting an SDS clone. I know there are advantages to the SDS but I wasn't sure if the cost was worth it over good old fashioned, logical trouble-shooting. I don't see myself getting a newer MB anytime in the near future so maybe I don't really need an SDS. Hmm.

    For my newer, non-MB's, I have an off the shelf OBDII code reader that has worked well. And it was really inexpensive compared to an SDS clone.

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Blink codes point you in the right direction... but for difficult problems, the live data is fantastic. You do need to know how to interpret the data of course. Having another 034/036 is a huge help as you can compare the data between cars. Basic DIY'ers should stick with the blink code reader. Advanced folks can definitely make use of the live data available (and also the actuator tests, which can also be very useful).


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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    You can get an SDS clone for around $300 shipped from China, plus the cost (~$100) for a used/good condition laptop to run it on. It's not a bad investment. At some point in the future I'm going to get my wife a G-Wagen, so I expect the SDS clone will come in handy for working on that. It's sort of a "future proofing" thing ... "just in case".

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    I ordered one of these for myself. I placed the order thursday evening and I got it this morning from Hong Kong. It includes a Dell laptop with the software already installed. 550$, including shipping. Still have no clue about how to use it but for sure Gerry's write up is gonna help. Hope I can contribute with my own experience soon.
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Which reminds me ... I have at least two more installments of this to write, including screen shots. If only I could find the time....

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Quote Originally Posted by 500ESpain View Post
    It includes a Dell laptop with the software already installed. 550$, including shipping.
    What are the hardware/software specs of the laptop?
    "I think that in any race engine, the nearer you are to it disintegrating, in general, the better it's performance will be." Keith Duckworth

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Basically the laptop just needs to be Intel- or AMD processor-based (x86) with a native serial port to which the multiplexer can be directly attached.

    Requires the Windows XP operating system. I WOULD NOT use Windows 7 or Windows 8. That being said, seeing as the Star C3 operates within a virtual machine on the laptop, it may work with those newer operating systems.

    One other thing....DO NOT enable the laptop's wireless connection with your wireless network, if you have one at home. Reason being is that it will try to update itself over the Internet, which you don't want. The laptop is just fine being operated in "standalone" mode as a separate machine. I use mine as a dedicated laptop for shop use only.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    By the way, you can download updated versions of the software from a German forum. Considering our cars are 90's, I doubt the updates will matter to us. You still need the connectors, so might as well use the box they send you.

    Link here in case you were wondering, feel free to remove if needed.

    Sent from my BlackBerry Q10
    Last edited by bgalakazam; 07-13-2013 at 10:43 PM.

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Using an MB HHT this morning to pull codes and diagnose an ME-injection-based M119 engine, as found in a W210 chassis.

    Two of the engine's eight coil packs were defective and causing the engine to run roughly.
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    I'm envious of that HHT. How much would something like that cost on the used market?
    Jon D.
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Quote Originally Posted by emerydc8 View Post
    I'm envious of that HHT. How much would something like that cost on the used market?
    Probably $1,200 minimum, if you could find one. $1,500 isn't out of the question for a complete one.

    BTW, we should be glad that our M119s use distributor caps/rotors/coils. EACH of those eight coil packs on the ME-based M119s lists from MB at $132; available from AHAZ for about $60 each. Ouch.

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    I'd love to have one of those.

    What was the reason for the individual coil packs? Was there any significant gain to be had?
    Jon D.
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Quote Originally Posted by emerydc8 View Post
    What was the reason for the individual coil packs? Was there any significant gain to be had?
    Several benefits:

    • No moving parts (no cap/rotor)
    • Coil packs provide a stronger spark (no distributor wires; short plug cables (i.e. coil-on-plug design))
    • Better reliability (coil packs don't fire nearly as much as a traditional coil & distributor does)
    • Better emissions through more efficient burning process
    • Better control of the spark (makes for more efficiency, tunabiity, precise spark mapping, etc.)
    • Consolidation of the KE or LH computer & EZL ignition computer into a single engine-management computer


    On the M104 from 1993-onward, there were only three coil packs ... so each coil pack provided spark to two plugs. On the M119, there was one coil pack per plug. Contrast this with the M103 in-line six (father of the M104) and the M117 V-8 (father of the M119), both of which used a single coil and a massive distributor cap and rotor. And an EZL.

    The M119 in its early KE-injected format (the 1990-1992 500SL) used two coils, as did the M119 used in our LH-injected cars. Both of these too, used EZLs. The later ME-injected (coil over plug) M119 eliminated the EZL.

    Our M119s were sort of the last gasp of the old-school distributor ignition, combined with new technologies being phased in such as the CAN, OBD1 (soon to be OBD2), etc.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Thanks, Gerry. That's interesting. The irony seems to be that with all the aforementioned benefits of the new system, twenty years later it looks like this new (old) system is more expensive to maintain than our old (old) system and not much power increase for it. Has anyone had two coil packs fail at the same time on a 500E?
    Jon D.
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Coil failure on the E500E is not unheard of, but it is not super common either. Quite often though, when a coil goes bad, it will take out the EZL. For warranty purposes, MB requires that both coils be replaced when a factory new EZL is installed.

    It seems that the M119 in LH form is quite tough on ignition components, when you look at the entire system (caps, rotors, wires, coils, EZL).

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    I agree they are high maintenance and not cheap when it comes to replacing the moving parts. I noticed the boots on the W210 are much cheaper than the 2K Ohm monsters on our cars. Maybe there is no need for the resistance. I am still skeptical of anything Mercedes did after they decided to compromise the quality to compete with Lexus, circa 1996.

    Back to the Star system, I was going to go for the Chinese knockoff when you first started this string, but it sounded fairly complicated to load and I am not as computer savvy as you or Dave, so I was reluctant to dive into this project. The handheld unit appealed to me as being a plug-and-play, idiot-proof device. Also, my Dell Inspiron laptop running Windows XP crashed about that time (the screen went blank) and it's been sitting on the shelf since then. I have an HP Netbook that runs Windows XP. Would that work with the Chinese software?

    UPDATE: Never mind. I see that it requires 1.6 GB RAM and a 1.8 Ghz processor. My Netbook is only 1 GB RAM and 1.66 Ghz Intel Atom CPU N455.
    Last edited by emerydc8; 11-09-2013 at 11:44 PM.
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    The Bosch ME did have its benefits as detailed above (though not as drastic as MB advertised) and also included more advanced diagnostics capabilities (OBD2) with more sensors; the ecu can be re-flashed via OBD port as well. On the other hand the Coil over Plug was not so reliable and the coils seemed to die one after the other,even at low mileage; The LH coils rarely fail.

    I would prefer to have the Bosch ME with 722.6 ... But not period correct for a .036

  32. #30
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Quote Originally Posted by gerryvz View Post
    Using an MB HHT this morning to pull codes and diagnose an ME-injection-based M119 engine, as found in a W210 chassis.

    Two of the engine's eight coil packs were defective and causing the engine to run roughly.
    Why not using star, which is fully emulating the HHT? And even further it had received updates till the very last STAR updates, in contrast to the HHT which will never get any updates ever again.

    Quote Originally Posted by emerydc8 View Post
    Thanks, Gerry. That's interesting. The irony seems to be that with all the aforementioned benefits of the new system, twenty years later it looks like this new (old) system is more expensive to maintain than our old (old) system and not much power increase for it. Has anyone had two coil packs fail at the same time on a 500E?
    Well i disagree. These coilpacks last at least 10-15 years without ANY maintenance... Now in those 10-15 years, try to count how many distributor caps, rotors and back covers you replaced and what amount of $$$ that was on the older M119s.
    Also the real benefit i see in the single coilpack per cylinder is, that you can replace the defective ones one by one.
    Its also very rare that more than one coil fails at the same time. I really like this todays standard system, as its much more reliable and so forth.

    Also even better is that you can get those coils from Bosch in the Aftermarket below 60€ (at least in Germany) - even if you replace all 8 of em and invest 500€ after 15years or so, still cheaper than the probably 4-8 caps, rotors, back covers you replaced on the M119 distributor during the same time.
    Christian K.
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Using the Star system on a 1997 E420 is overkill. An HHT works just fine and gets you everything the car had to offer in terms of codes. What updates would MB have provided to the SDS' HHT emulation software that an HHT cartridge doesn't have? Has MB continued to update the HHT emulation system since discontinuing the HHT around 2002 or so?

    Many shops continue to use the HHT for appropriate cars, and this is one reason why they continue to hold such high value on the "used" market. For a mid to late 1990s MB, which is only instrumented for and requires an HHT, using the full SDS is like using a baseball or cricket bat to swat a house fly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Christian_K View Post
    Well i disagree. These coilpacks last at least 10-15 years without ANY maintenance... Now in those 10-15 years, try to count how many distributor caps, rotors and back covers you replaced and what amount of $$$ that was on the older M119s.
    Also the real benefit i see in the single coilpack per cylinder is, that you can replace the defective ones one by one.
    Its also very rare that more than one coil fails at the same time. I really like this todays standard system, as its much more reliable and so forth.

    Also even better is that you can get those coils from Bosch in the Aftermarket below 60€ (at least in Germany) - even if you replace all 8 of em and invest 500€ after 15years or so, still cheaper than the probably 4-8 caps, rotors, back covers you replaced on the M119 distributor during the same time.
    Well, I've had my E500 for more than 10 years now, and I've only replaced caps and rotor one time, although I have only driven the car about 70,000 miles (112.000 km). Not yet replaced a back cover.

    It may be rare that two coils fail, but I saw it with my own two eyes yesterday morning MB charges in the US (list price) $132 each, or $60 aftermarket Bosch part.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Quote Originally Posted by gerryvz View Post
    Using the Star system on a 1997 E420 is overkill. An HHT works just fine and gets you everything the car had to offer in terms of codes. What updates would MB have provided to the SDS' HHT emulation software that an HHT cartridge doesn't have? Has MB continued to update the HHT emulation system since discontinuing the HHT around 2002 or so?

    Many shops continue to use the HHT for appropriate cars, and this is one reason why they continue to hold such high value on the "used" market. For a mid to late 1990s MB, which is only instrumented for and requires an HHT, using the full SDS is like using a baseball or cricket bat to swat a house fly.
    If you have both a HHT and STAR, using the STAR might be an overkill, because the STAR has more cables+multiplexer+laptop. But it is true there were countless updates for the HHT Software emulated in XENTRY/DAS during the last years. I've seen changelogs of it.Also i tend to believe that the STAR emulated HHT might be more accurate with diagnosis that the HHT alone (when judging by the WIS DTC sheets). Especially for ignition codes on early engine computers like "HFM" and/or "ME", it seems the
    HHT emulated by star was more accurate than the sheet say it would be.

    There are the digital codes that you can't get by blinker boxes, that are according to the DTC sheets in WIS, HHT only and they show that code XYZ is "Either ignition ampilifier T1/2 or ignition coil T1/2, bla bla bla", while my emulated HHT in DAS showed my that it was the COIL. So it can distinguish between the coild and ampilifier as oposed to the DTC sheets. I find that quite interesting.
    Quote Originally Posted by gerryvz View Post
    Well, I've had my E500 for more than 10 years now, and I've only replaced caps and rotor one time, although I have only driven the car about 70,000 miles (112.000 km). Not yet replaced a back cover.
    It may be rare that two coils fail, but I saw it with my own two eyes yesterday morning MB charges in the US (list price) $132 each, or $60 aftermarket Bosch part.
    Christian K.
    06/1992 500E - DB199 Blauschwarz-Metallic
    09/1989 300E - DB172 Anthrazitgrau-Metallic
    11/1998 E430 - DB339 Violan-Metallic
    06/2003 CL55 AMG KOMPRESSOR - DB197 Obsidianschwarz-Metallic


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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    Here's an interesting post on the PointedThree G-wagen forum about malware with the Chinese Star C3s.... if you have one, DO NOT connect it to your home network. Keep it as a standalone system for garage/shop use only.

    http://www.pointedthree.com/disc/for...osts=4&start=1

    Cheers,
    Gerry




    HUGE +1 to that.

    I did the Craigslist D630 route, eBay for the multiplexor & software.

    To say the Chinese HDD included with the Mux may have contained some 'malware' is a gross understatement. I brought it up on an isolated access point and sat back with a packet sniffer to watch it. It captured network information and attempted to send that data to a rolling pool of IP addresses somewhere in the mainland (very, very sophisticated, someone spent a LOT of time engineering the hooks and payload generation on that one).

    The HDD itself contained keyloggers, Trojans, malware windows services, hacked browser objects, infected shared libraries/exe's, some really nasty low level network stack hacks hijacking DNS, and two rootkits.

    I corrected the OS's environment, but, one (or more) of the viruses managed to infect several core shared libraries of the Xentry application rendering it inoperable (I found a stripped D630 image on a Russian torrent site that I loaded up on a spare HDD to get Xentry working cleanly). The supplied HDD still has a newer WIS/EPC that works fine, but I usually opt to use a VMware WIS/EPC I built (for the on-screen real-estate). Though it would be nice to have DAS/Xentry/WIS/EPC/StarFinder all functioning in one location (my next endeavor I suppose).

    Regardless, the point to all this is to BE CAREFUL with any supplied software from China, treat it with kid gloves, and under no circumstances put it on your home network or plug a thumb drive you don't want a virus on into it..

  36. #34
    Senior Member txbrit's Avatar
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    I think its worth adding that you can get refurbished Dell D630 for $150-200 - so as mentioned upthread its a minimal investment to have a dedicated "shop laptop" so to speak rather than use your daily machine or anything else you might need to connect to the laptop. I plan on getting a STAR system after the new year and going this route, or maybe spending a few extra $$$ to get an old Panasonic Toughbook
    Connecting via two tin cans and a piece of string
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    The HDD itself contained keyloggers, Trojans, malware windows services, hacked browser objects, infected shared libraries/exe's, some really nasty low level network stack hacks hijacking DNS, and two rootkits.
    Our government would be envious.
    Last edited by emerydc8; 11-20-2014 at 10:51 PM.
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3

    I'm finally pulling a Dell D630 running Win 8.1 off my production network.

    Anyone have a link to a trustworthy seller for MB Star System for W124's, W202's, and W210's ? If it handled W211's that would work too.

    I prefer to purchase a pre-installed SDD for a Dell D630, and all the interface cables.

    The malware infected OS scares the crap out of me, even though it will be an "air gapped" setup.

    I would pay someone on this board to clone me a clean D630 setup onto a supplied SSD, and I'll still purchase the cables et al.

    TIA,

    neil

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3 (SDS)

    If someone want -I may help with xentry ,just pm me

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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3 (SDS)

    I’ve got a D630 saved for a C3. Do we have any recommended seller for a multiplexer, cables and a HDD/SSD? There’s loads of them on Aliexpress, I’m mainly looking there.
    Thomas
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    Re: Exploring the MB STAR C3 (SDS)

    Quote Originally Posted by doolar View Post
    I’ve got a D630 saved for a C3. Do we have any recommended seller for a multiplexer, cables and a HDD/SSD? There’s loads of them on Aliexpress, I’m mainly looking there.
    For the HDD, ping Gordy and ask what he has available:
    https://www.ebay.com/sch/gordysgadgets/m.html

    The hardware is a crapshoot no matter where you buy it. I got this kit with HDD, before I learned about Gordy, otherwise I would have bought from him instead. Setting up the licenses / keys for EPC, WIS, DAS, Xentry is a major exercise in frustration. The Aliexpress seller is responsive via email but if they just included instructions in the first place, it would save a lot of headaches.


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