We know that CAN Communication is the most prominent communication protocol in the automotive industry. In a CAN Network, there are multiple ECUs talking to each other. Each ECU communicates with another ECU via a CAN message. Since there are multiple ECUs on the same network, it is essential that we as network engineers define the source and destination of a particular message. In this article, I will walk you through

What is a CAN DBC?

A DBC file (in CAN communication) is a text based CAN data description file containing all the necessary information about a CAN network. DBC stands for Data Base Container. This file format was introduced by Vector Informatik GmbH. These files are suffixed with a .dbc extension. Since these are text based files, they can be easily opened and read/analyzed using a simple Text Editor like NotePad++.

The following are the uses of a CAN DBC file:

  1. It is used to maintain all the network information.
  2. It is used to exchange the Communication data between OEM and Suppliers.
  3. It is also used for Communication Stack Configuration in tools like Vector DaVinci Configurator/EB Tresos or other configuration tools.
  4. It is also used in verification and validation activities using Vector Canoe or other relevant tools.

What are the contents of a typical DBC file?

A CAN DBC typically contains the following information:

  1. The Protocol type, whether it is CAN 2.0 or CAN FD.
  2. The network and the participating nodes/ECUs.
  3. The Baud rate used for the network.
  4. Messages and their respective source and destination nodes.
  5. Messages and the corresponding signals.
  6. Individual message and Signal properties.

Next we will see how we can create a CAN DBC.

How to create a CAN DBC file?

Previously we saw that, DBC files are text based and are easy to read/write. However, Vector provides a proprietary tool which can be used for creating, editing, viewing and analyzing a dbc file. This tool is called CANdb++, short hand for CAN Database handler. This can be downloaded from here. It is a very convenient and the most popular tool among the automotive network engineers. Here are the detailed steps of creating a DBC file.

Create a new CAN dbc.
Create a new Database
Choose a CAN dbc template.
Choose a template
CAN dbc first view.
Network view

Create Nodes/ECUs

CAN dbc : Add a new CAN Node
Create a node
CAN dbc after adding all required nodes
DBC view after adding the nodes

Create Messages

CAN dbc : Add a new message
Create your message

Add Signals

CAN dbc : Add a new signal
Signal creation

This is the process of creating a CAN DBC. There are some topics like Signal Properties, Value Tables, comments and others. If you want me to cover them, leave me a comment below. Also, if there is any other topic that you are interested in learning, let me know and I will try to cover it. Please share this tutorial with your friends and see you again.

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