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Old 03-21-2019, 10:11 PM   #1
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Alternative to VMSpc

A couple of months ago I found a thread in the Newmar owners group about an alternative to the Silverleaf VMSpc software. Here is a link to the thread:

VMSPC replacement option

For those of you familiar with the VMSpc program, it runs on a Windows PC. It does not run on Android or iOS. (There is an Android app that provides some of the data that the VMSpc program itself provides. And it only works with their Bluetooth adapter, which does not work on older coaches like mine.) I was stuck with the Windows version and a wired USB connection.

BlueFire consists of an adapter that plugs into the coach engine data port, and transmits a signal wirelessly via Bluetooth. The BlueFire Bluetooth adapter works on the newer engines as well as the older engines like mine. The BlueFire for Motorhomes app runs on Windows 10, iOS, or Android, and displays the data in a highly customizable format. And the apps are a full version, not a stripped down version.

After reading some of the postings, I decided to try it out. I just returned from a trip to AZ, and got my first opportunity to try it on the road. I am very happy with the results. Everything worked at expected.

I am attaching screenshots of the customized dash I set up in VMSpc and a similar dash I set up in BlueFire. Please note that when the digital reading reaches the warning level, the reading turns from green to orange. When it reaches the danger level, the reading turns to red. (See the Battery and Oil PSI readings.) It makes it very easy to see at a glance when something is going wrong. (You can also set up alerts if you so desire.)

Finally, for those who are NOT familiar with the Silverleaf VMSpc, both programs read the engine parameters from the computer port, data that Cummins uses to control their engine. There is a lot more data available than our stock dashboards provide. And the sensors used by Cummins are digital and more accurate. In addition, both programs provide a method to record and use mileage and fuel usage data to create trip odometers that can provide accurate fuel level calculations, MPG calculations, and miles to empty calculations that many of us are used to from our passenger car computers.

I highly recommend that anyone looking for this kind of information system look at the BlueFire. Not only is the user interface much nicer, the adapter is easier to install. And on top of that, a whole lot cheaper!
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Old 03-22-2019, 05:09 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim A View Post
A couple of months ago I found a thread in the Newmar owners group about an alternative to the Silverleaf VMSpc software. Here is a link to the thread:

VMSPC replacement option

For those of you familiar with the VMSpc program, it runs on a Windows PC. It does not run on Android or iOS. (There is an Android app that provides some of the data that the VMSpc program itself provides. And it only works with their Bluetooth adapter, which does not work on older coaches like mine.) I was stuck with the Windows version and a wired USB connection.

BlueFire consists of an adapter that plugs into the coach engine data port, and transmits a signal wirelessly via Bluetooth. The BlueFire Bluetooth adapter works on the newer engines as well as the older engines like mine. The BlueFire for Motorhomes app runs on Windows 10, iOS, or Android, and displays the data in a highly customizable format. And the apps are a full version, not a stripped down version.

After reading some of the postings, I decided to try it out. I just returned from a trip to AZ, and got my first opportunity to try it on the road. I am very happy with the results. Everything worked at expected.

I am attaching screenshots of the customized dash I set up in VMSpc and a similar dash I set up in BlueFire. Please note that when the digital reading reaches the warning level, the reading turns from green to orange. When it reaches the danger level, the reading turns to red. (See the Battery and Oil PSI readings.) It makes it very easy to see at a glance when something is going wrong. (You can also set up alerts if you so desire.)

Finally, for those who are NOT familiar with the Silverleaf VMSpc, both programs read the engine parameters from the computer port, data that Cummins uses to control their engine. There is a lot more data available than our stock dashboards provide. And the sensors used by Cummins are digital and more accurate. In addition, both programs provide a method to record and use mileage and fuel usage data to create trip odometers that can provide accurate fuel level calculations, MPG calculations, and miles to empty calculations that many of us are used to from our passenger car computers.

I highly recommend that anyone looking for this kind of information system look at the BlueFire. Not only is the user interface much nicer, the adapter is easier to install. And on top of that, a whole lot cheaper!
Great write up jim,

I'm getting ready for a trip to CA next week and looking forward to giving it a try myself.....for sure the VMSPC that we have has not been at all user firendly.........Oh BTW I have one of those for sale if anyone is interested
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Old 03-22-2019, 10:19 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by paul65k View Post
Great write up jim,

I'm getting ready for a trip to CA next week and looking forward to giving it a try myself.....for sure the VMSPC that we have has not been at all user firendly.........Oh BTW I have one of those for sale if anyone is interested
BlueFire has recently hit the RV show circuit (Quartsite and Perry), so I suspect there will be quite a few of those on the used market!
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Old 03-28-2019, 08:47 PM   #4
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Finally, another player in the market! I have been moderately happy with Silverleaf.
Likes:
  • Accuracy is outstanding.
  • Customizable interface.
  • Displays fault codes.
Now I use Silverleaf exclusively and only refer to one OEM (fuel) gage by way of comparison. All OEM gages were off, some by a little and others like the speedo fluctuate from 3 to 6 MPH slow. Seen it as high as 10 MPH.

Dislikes:
  • Clunky to use ... software just feels old.
  • Software not intuitive ... still have not figured out how to set some gage parameters.
  • Uses a ton of CPU resources.
  • Drains the battery in less than two hours. Have to keep the computer plugged in.
  • Bugs. Gages stop working for unknow reasons. Once had to uninstall and reinstall software to fix.
  • The $395 black box wiring harness seemed cheap for the money.
Certainly going to take a good look at the new competitor.
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Old 03-28-2019, 09:09 PM   #5
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BTW, every radar speed sign I pass confirms the speed reading of the Silverleaf is spot on.
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Old 03-29-2019, 08:18 AM   #6
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I picked up a Bluefire unit in Quartzsite this year and have yet to really play with it much.....(my issue). I plan to spend some time with it before we head back to AZ next week so will report back. My new to me coach came with a VMSPC set-up (RS-232) but I could never get it to work consistently with my Windows 10 PC and their technical support was suffice to say......lacking!!

I need to figure out how to rewire the diagnostic port to only power on with the key switched as it runs down the battery when sitting and I'd rather not have to remove when not driving.......(possibly user error??).

All in all, if making the decision today of which monitoring system to pick it's pretty hard to justify 2X for the Silverleaf system especially in light of my technical support experience!

PS. The speedo in my 2001 36FDDS is actually spot on when compared to my Garmin GPS
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Old 03-29-2019, 11:50 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by paul65k View Post

I need to figure out how to rewire the diagnostic port to only power on with the key switched as it runs down the battery when sitting and I'd rather not have to remove when not driving.......(possibly user error??).
I would NEVER recommend changing the wiring in the diagnostic port. I would buy a $20 9 pin (or 6 pin depending on your port) Y splitter from Amazon, and rewire it. Much easier and likely cheaper. Find the 12v power wire, cut it, and spice in a wire to a key-on hot source. If you screw up, take it off and try again. You have a second connector! You get two tries!!

I had to essentially do that with my Silverleaf adapter. It drew power too.

Please note that I didn't do that yet with the BlueFire. I am still evaluating if I really need to do it.
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Old 03-30-2019, 09:30 AM   #8
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I would NEVER recommend changing the wiring in the diagnostic port. I would buy a $20 9 pin (or 6 pin depending on your port) Y splitter from Amazon, and rewire it. Much easier and likely cheaper. Find the 12v power wire, cut it, and spice in a wire to a key-on hot source. If you screw up, take it off and try again. You have a second connector! You get two tries!!

I had to essentially do that with my Silverleaf adapter. It drew power too.

Please note that I didn't do that yet with the BlueFire. I am still evaluating if I really need to do it.
Good idea Jim
I'll mess with it after I get home and see how well it works for me.

Cheers
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Old 03-30-2019, 01:43 PM   #9
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I run VMSpc (module installed by previous owner) on a Windows 10 tablet that I had shipped to my house for $96. Runs on a USB charger and has done us well so far.

For future reference, if VMSpc fails on me, what connector is correct for the ISL?
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Old 03-31-2019, 11:01 AM   #10
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For future reference, if VMSpc fails on me, what connector is correct for the ISL?
Your '05 should have the 9 pin connector, as does my '04. Hopefully in your case, it will have both J1708 and J1939 data. Mine only has J1708, as that was the year Cummins supposedly started switching to J1939.

I am not sure which connector, 6 pin or 9 pin, ISL's produced before '04 used. I think it was first offered in '03 in the Alpine Coach?

The rear data port is easily accessible to verify it.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:38 AM   #11
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Shoot, i just purchased the VMspc and a $100 Win10 tablet (the RCA Cambio) to see the output. That's a $500 total price tag, could have saved $200 using the Bluefire..... great. Well, i expect to install the VMspc blackbox & setup this Saturday. Wish I would have seen this thread earlier. Will report back with findings though I dont expect much different expectation as others have reported here.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:02 PM   #12
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Sorry!!! Send it back??

Now that this thread is back near the top of the list again, I will add that now that I have been using BlueFire for quite a while and have 5K miles or so using it, I am still very happy with it. The app developer is very active, adding new features and improving old ones. Glad I made the switch.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:06 PM   #13
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Hey Jim, I bought a BlueFire on Amazon and in the midst of trying to learn how to set it up and start using it on my Apple iPad. Can you share via the BlueFire site or email to me the customized “dashboard” that you created and posted? It looks great and I believe it covers all the bases. Thanks! Best Regards, Max
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:00 AM   #14
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Hi Max,


I will take a screenshot of my current setup and send that and the dash file to you today via email.
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