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Buying MB Star

There are plenty of diagnostic solutions out there but why not spend a bit more and have what smart use in their garages?

Modification Details




What Is MB Star?

It's the common name for the set of tools used by Mercedes and Smart to perform all diagnostics and coding.

It consists of a laptop, various pieces of software, several cables and a multiplexer.



What Can MB Star Do?

You can code keys, activate paddles, activate auto, activate cruise control, turn off all the error lights, read out
all of the error codes, set the clutch, check all systems, actuate everything on the car etc. The list is enormous.

How Much Is MB Star?

Due to the varying prices, I won't put a figure here as it'll be wrong next week. Read the rest of the page and
at the base of this page you'll see a link to who I bought mine from. Click the link and have a look at the prices.

What Software Is Used?

Xentry DAS - Diagnosis Assistance System. This is the main diagnostics software.
WIS - Workshop Information System. This shows you how things are fixed.
EPC - Electronic Parts Catalogue. Lists out all of the part numbers for each car.

They are all handy to have and generally come as 1 package from the seller.

What Is A Multiplexer?

A multiplexer (or mux) is a device that can take several input signals and forward them all down a single line.
Essentially, it takes data received through several pins and transfers it down 1 line
into the laptop for the software to view. There are a few main types of multiplexer

C3 Multiplexer

This was the original design from Mercedes. It's a rubber capped aluminium brick with a connector at each end.
200mm x 130mm x 85mm and weighing in at 1.3 kilograms*. It has 1 LED on the front panel.



This multiplexer was created to communicate with the CAN bus cars that were being brought out. 
It could also communicate with K-line diagnostic cars like the smart 450 fortwo and Roadster.

C4 Multiplexer
a.k.a. SDconnect

The update was called the C4. An aluminium extrusion with a hard plastic surround and 2 connectors at 1 end.
215mm x 155mm x 50mm and weighing in at 1 kilogram*.

It has 4 LEDs, an LCD and 4 buttons. This multiplexer is wireless between the laptop and the multiplexer.



This replaced the C3 multiplexer due to an addition of a third diagnostic protocol.
It still covered K-line and CAN bus but now it also covered the new UDS protocol.

UDS is what is used in the smart 453 fortwo and forfour.

Most C4 clones come from 1 manufacturer. They aren't particularly reliable. More often than not
they don't last more than 2 or 3 years. They tend to have a problem with one of the power chips.

*Actual size and weight may vary slightly depending on the manufacturer.

Alternative C4 Multiplexer

Before Mercedes even came out with the official C4 multiplexer, a Chinese company decided to make
their own and attempt to sell it as an update. Steer well clear of this type. They are very unreliable.



Essentially, it is a C3 multiplexer, made as small as possible using the cheapest parts available.
They were a massive bodge up and they would fail all the time. Don't buy this type.

C5 Multiplexer
a.k.a. Xentry Connect

This is the newest multiplexer from Mercedes.

As of 2020, there are now clones of it.


I don't know how this differs from the C4 device but it is required for the new Merc hybrid (W222).

The clone C5 multiplexer is just a C4 multiplexer but in a different case.

Original Multiplexer Or Chinese Clone?

I hate to be the messenger of bad news but you aren't buying an official multiplexer for less than about £7,000.
So it's a no-brainer to get a Chinese clone multiplexer from a reputable company for less than 1/10th of the prce.

Software

The software you get will normally be preinstalled onto a laptop or hard drive for you to install into your own laptop.
Preinstalled is a lot easier than doing it yourself and will save you 2 or 3 hours of installing and messing around.
You will get cracked versions of all of the software that you require. Some companies will also add other
software on there too like the TAN code calculator.

Software Installation - The Easy Way

What is easier than getting someone else to do it?

When I bought my 1st and HDD with the Xentry/DAS software on, I noticed a file on the desktop called Team Viewer.
I quick Google search showed me that, with the right details, someone else could control your laptop.

I assumed that the reseller did this for a reason so I left my laptop on and connected online and sent the
Team Viewer details to the reseller, asking them if they could activate the software. Next day, it was done!

This was from MBStarShop (link at the bottom of the page) but it's worth asking 1st. Just to be sure.
I suspect it's a service that any good reseller would offer so again, it's worth asking 1st.

Laptop

The original MB Star setup uses an unknown Toshiba touchscreen tablet or the newer Panasonic CF-D1 tablet.
The CF-D1 used to be very expensive but you can now pick them up for about £150.

Can I Use Any Laptop?

You can but you really shouldn't. I don't advise it for simplicity sake.

The MB Star software was tweaked to work with 1 specific touchscreen tablet. When loaded onto other laptops,
it wouldn't always function properly. Wouldn't connect to the car, kept crashing and didn't do what it was supposed to.
This was mainly down to the MB Star drivers controlling the hardware in the computer.

Over time, many laptops were tested for compatibility but only 2 laptops were found to work correctly.

Dell Latttude D630
IBM Thinkpad T30


The IBM T30 has a smaller screen, slower processor and was launched in 2002.
The Dell D630 has a larger screen, faster processor and was launched in 2007.

As you can imagine, the Dell D630 is the better of the 2 to go for. It's also easier to find as they aren't as old.

Obviously, over time, people have managed to get many other laptops functioning well with MB Star

If you really want to use your own laptop, you can get the MB Star software on an external hard drive and run it
all through a virtual machine. This is a terrible way to do it, full of problems and I really suggest you don't bother.

The Dell D630 can be bought in working condition for around £50. I paid less than £100 for
these 2 including postage. The orange top is just vinyl to cover up the scratches on the lid.



It makes more sense to source your own laptop instead of buying it in a kit from a Chinese seller.
You'll pay more for the laptop, you'll pay more postage and you'll pay more import duty.

However, if you buy the laptop from the supplier, it will all arrive ready to use.
If you fit a hard drive to a laptop you bought separately, the software needs some setting up.
This involves collecting numbers and contacting the supplier so they can give you codes to enter.

The Dell Latitude D630 came in 2 subtle variations but they both work as an MB Star laptop.
The difference can be seen in the touchpad button layout.



What Laptops Can I Consider Using?

This won't be complete list. 
I just had a quick look on sites that sold the MB Star to see what laptops and hard drives they sold.

Lenovo X220
Lenovo T410
Lenovo X61T
Panasonic CF-19
Panasonic DF-C1
Panasonic CF-H2
Panasonic CF30
Dell D630
Dell D620
EVG7 DL46
IBM T30

Obviously I haven't tested all of these. If you are running a different laptop, let me know what it is.

Buying Or Building?

If you build your own system, you pay less import tax since you can buy the laptop in your own country.
Just buy the multiplexer and a pre-installed hard drive for the laptop you plan to buy.

It's worth noting that a hard drive meant for 1 model of laptop will not work on another model. Even the same brand.

If you buy the system, you pay a bit more but it'll arrive all set up and ready to go.
Setting up MB Star can be a pain as can connecting to the multiplexer wirelessly.
However, there are online guides that'll help.

Where Can I Buy These From?

There are countless shops online and 10 times more sellers on Aliexpress who will sell you these items.
However, it's always nice to have a company recommended that someone has experience with.

These are the people I bought my C4 and HDD from.

I'm sure they aren't the cheapest but they did answer all of my emails in 24 hours and my order
only took 7 working days to arrive. Their orders can be tracked online so you know where it is.
They seemed happy to connect tomy laptop and register all of the software for me.

Others

EOBDTool
OBDExpress
ProAutoDiagnostics
CarDiagTool
OBDToolShop


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