TECH 1 / TECH 1A
This is where the serious kit starts! The Vetronix Tech 1 is a dealerissue diagnostic and programming tool suitable for Vauxhalls with an OBD port (vehicles built between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s). Comprising a robust handheld device with LCD screen and keypad, the system is cartridge based, meaning you load the cartridge applicable to your car into the Tech 1 in order for the unit to speak to the ECU. A mass storage cartridge (MSC) exists for entire families of popular Vauxhalls and their electrical systems, although there are cartridges specific to models produced in low numbers, including the Lotus Carlton.
“Writable cartridges enable you to load all software into one place,” says Marc, acknowledging the benefit of not having to constantly swap cartridges when working on different OBD-loaded vehicles. “They also enable to you to take a snapshot of your car’s ECU and electrical systems, which is great if you’ve spent time tweaking and tuning, but fear losing all your hard work through something as simple as disconnecting the battery.”
Tech 1A is the later version of Tech 1, boasting extra features, such as an RS232 serial port for connecting to a printer or PC. It’s also worth noting that you can buy an OBDII interface for Tech 1 or Tech 1A, allowing you to use the unit on early OBDII-compliant vehicles, including the Omega B (which has its own dedicated cartridge). This feature enabled dealers in period to use outdated diagnostic equipment to carry out basic work on the electrical systems of the first generation of Vauxhalls loaded with OBDII serial ports.
As you’d expect from dealer level diagnostic equipment, Tech 1 (and Tech 1A) can perform programming, actuator testing and scanning functionality on everything from engines to audio equipment. It’s a fantastic bit of kit, but it doesn’t come cheap. Keep ‘em peeled and you might bag one from a Vauxhall franchise advertising their workshop equipment on eBay after changing their focus to the output of a different manufacturer. You’re more likely to end up with a comprehensive set of cartridges and connectors than if buying from a fellow owner, but hold tight, shop around and there are bargains to be had (unless you want a Lotus Carlton cartridge, which can fetch more than the cost of the Tech 1 itself!).