Where to get Star Diagnosis with Developer mode for your retrofitting need?
For those of you retrofitting your MB with variant OEM components, you will come across a seemingly insurmountable obstacle of reprogramming your car with a Star Diagnosis. Every car (import or local) are now equipped with OBDII, a diagnostic interface that is standard. In addition to the common diagnosis, many car manufacturers have their own programming tool through this same interface to program their car, e.g. level of power for heated seats for "low", "medium" and "high", and how long each level will stay on until it lowers automatically to the next level.
In any MB, the car is full of various modules programmable to different extent. So for example I replaced my OEM halogen for Xenon, and after the manual installation, the module needs to know that it's a xenon (it's not plug and play today, but maybe some day?) so it will give it the right voltage and current. And without a Star Diagnosis and the appropriate multiplexer, there is no way to do it.
On top of all that, one extra catch that MB throws out is a prerequisite for re-coding, also known as variant coding in the MB SDS (Star Diag system), viz. it CANNOT be done without a SCN--Software Coding Number. How does one obtain an SCN? ONLY through the Germany MB mainframe! So in other words, your MB dealership received your request to retrofit the Xenon on the halogen-equipped car, and they talk to Germany MB to obtain a SCN for the work. They put in the SCN in the SDS when connected to your car, and it's done!
Sure, in the name of centralizing everything and keeping all customers' car in a database for sake of easy repair work, they have this system. I am sorry but I have a problem with that. Why is it that when I own the car, I cannot have access to it?! Our European friends have fought on this and won (friends please correct me if I am wrong). All end users are allow to work on their cars and have access to recoding, SDS, if they wish. Not so in North America. To date, if you want anything done, it has to be through MB dealership, and of course it's a cash cow!
Now, from halogen to Xenon is easy, but say from the COMAND APS to the new COMAND NTG 2.5 (one with SD card, Bluetooth, DVD, HDD Navi), MB told me it's not do-able. Why? That's because it is NOT even a possible option in my car! So now what?
All these are overcome by a SDS in developer mode. This is a SDS that will bypass the need for a SCN to perform variant coding. So no need to talk to German MB, no need to go through MB dealership, and off you go, you can do your own retrofitting!
Now, of course, the big question, WHERE can one find a SDS in developer mode?
Well, on eBay! with the mulitplexer costing up to $1000, computer $300 and the software installation (if you are savvy with looking for stuff on the internet you'll find it yourself, but if not, you'd be paying a premium to have the SDS setup). All together it will cost you some $1500 or so.
Most people do not care to spend that kind of money, but if one thinks about it. A lot of MB owners go on to own more MBs, and $1500 is not difficult to pay for itself.
Back to the retrofitting need: Most people would rather just look for someone who has a SDS in developer mode than to buy one.
Now here is the point of the post: To gather a list of people, garages, dealerships in North America who has SDS in developer mode and can do variant coding for our fellow MB owners, at a reasonable cost. For those of you who have had a good experience or know where to have access to one, please reply. I'd love to compile a list for people who wants things done!
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