Routing the CAN Cable

Picture of the Infinitybox 3-Way CAN Cable

Picture of the Infinitybox 3-Way CAN Cable

Now it is time for routing the CAN cable through the 1967 Mustang.  As we’ve described before, our Infinitybox system is different from a traditional wiring harness.  We distribute switches and outputs throughout the car using our MASTERCELLs, POWERCELLs and inMOTION Cells.  Instead of running power through large wires from every switch to the outputs, we pass data through small wires.

Our system works using something called CAN.  That stands for Controller Area Network.  It is the vehicle bus standard that was created to allow different controllers to communicate on a common protocol.  You can read more about it by clicking this link.  CAN has been around since the early 1980’s and is used in all modern passenger cars and commercial trucks.

The OEM’s use this technology to reduce weight of harnesses, simplify wiring and get more functions that you could from just a simple relay.  Our Infinitybox system brings these exact features and benefits to anyone building a race car, restoring a vehicle or manufacturing commercial trucks.

Just because a system has CAN doesn’t necessarily mean that it can communicate with other CAN systems.  The term CAN is pretty generic.  It is the protocol that is the important part.  For our aftermarket systems, we use a proprietary protocol that follows the CAN 2.0b standard.  This lets us get much more control and features in our systems.  For our commercial vehicle systems, we use J1939.  This lets our hardware communicate with other J1939 peripherals and systems in the vehicle.

The CAN signals are passed between the MASTERCELL, POWERCELLs, inMOTION Cells and other modules through two wires in the CAN cable.  Once a second, the MASTERCELL sends a command out to all of the cells attached to the network to check in.  The blue heartbeat light on the cells is the confirmation that the cells are communicating.  When you step on your brake pedal, turn on your ignition or turn on any other switch connected to the system, the MASTERCELL instantaneously sends out a command on the CAN network to the target cell.  This signal is sent and received in a few milliseconds.

In the CAN cable, there are the two CAN wires.  There is also a red power wire and a black ground wire.  This is how the MASTERCELL gets is power and ground.  This link will take you to a separate blog post talking in more detail about the anatomy of a CAN cable.

If you have a 20-Circuit Harness Kit, you get a 3-way CAN cable.  This has a CAN plug on each end and one spliced about 1/3 of the way along the length of the cable.  In you have one of our 10-Circuit Harness Kits, you get a 2-way CAN cable.  This has a CAN plug on each end.

Our customer started at the back of the car.  They plugged the long end of the CAN cable into one of the CAN ports on the POWERCELL.  Both of these ports are identical so it doesn’t matter which you choose.  They ran the cable along the driver’s side of the car up to the MASTERCELL, through a channel under the door sill.  They plugged the CAN plug that is in the middle of the cable into the MASTERCELL then ran the short length to the front POWERCELL.

In your kit, there are two accessory plugs that are very important.  The both look like this.  Please note that the plugs in some kits may be yellow.  Others may be cream-colored.

Infinitybox CAN sealing plug

Infinitybox CAN sealing plug

There is a difference between the two plugs.  One is just a seal to plug the unused CAN port in your system.  This must be installed to keep dirt, debris, moisture and water from entering your cell.  The second is a CAN terminator.  It is marked with an “R” on the top.  This is also a seal to plug up an unused CAN port but it also does something important.  There is a resistor in the connector that balances the impedance of the CAN transmission line.  This terminating resistor must be plugged in to the cell that is on the longest length of CAN cable from the MASTERCELL.  You system will not work correctly without this terminating resistor.  In the case of our customer’s 1967 Mustang, the resistor is mounted in the rear POWERCELL.  This picture shows the CAN cable connected and the terminating resistor installed.

Picture of POWERCELL with CAN cable in 1967 Mustang wired with the Infinitybox system

Picture of POWERCELL with CAN cable in 1967 Mustang wired with the Infinitybox system

This picture shows the CAN cable connected to the MASTERCELL.

Picture of MASTERCELL installed in 1967 Mustang with CAN cable connected

Picture of MASTERCELL installed in 1967 Mustang with CAN cable connected

This leads to one of our favorite pictures ever.  Take a look at this.

Picture of power and CAN cables running to the back of a 1967 Mustang wired with Infinitybox

Picture of power and CAN cables running to the back of a 1967 Mustang wired with Infinitybox

This is the entire bundle of wire running from the back of the car to the front.  Yes, there is a separate starter cable running from the battery to the starter solenoid and there is fuel wire sender wire bundled in with the CAN cable.  Outside of that, the two 8-AWG power cables and the CAN cable are all you need to control everything in the back of the car.  This wire is run through the channel under the driver’s door sill.

There are a few more points to hit about the CAN cable.

First, a lot of customers ask if they can lengthen or shorten the CAN cables.  Depending on where you mount you cells, you may need different lengths.  The answer is “YES”.  This link will get you more details on CAN cable lengths.  We also get questions about custom, pre-made CAN cables.  We also do that.  Contact our sales team to discuss details.

Second, there are some considerations that you need to make when you run your CAN cables through the car.  The CAN protocol is very noise immune.  There are things that we do in hardware and in software to make sure that this is a very reliable signal.  That being said, you want to keep your CAN cables (and all of your other electronics in the car) away from the high-voltage coil wires for your ignition system.

Lastly, there is an addendum sheet that comes with any kit that uses the 3-way CAN cable.  The CAN cable provides power and ground to the MASTERCELL.  Depending on the way your car is assembled, there may be slight differences between the ground potential at the front POWERCELL and the rear POWERCELL.  These need to be isolated.  You must cut the red and black wires in the one of the lengths of your CAN cable.  Click on this link to view this addendum.

Click on this link to contact our team with questions or comments about this post.



CAN Cable

The CAN cable is the main backbone of the Infinitybox Multiplex System.  It takes the commands from the MASTERCELL and routes them to the peripheral cells, like POWERCELLs and inMOTION cells, in a system.  We get a lot of questions about this cable and how to work with it so we put this post together to answer these questions.

One of the first questions that we get is what does CAN mean?  CAN stands for Controller Area Network.  This is an automotive standard created to let different electronic systems talk together.  It was originally developed by Bosch in 1983 so it’s been around for a while.  You can read more about CAN at this link.

There area many different CAN protocols.  When a company says they communicate on CAN, that is the equivalent of saying you speak English.  English spoken in the Bronx sounds like someone speaking with a South-Side Chicago accent.  Both use the same basic works but one may not completely understand the other because of inflections and local slang.  The Infinitybox system uses a proprietary version of CAN 2.0b.  We take this standard protocol and all extra data to get more functionality out of the system.  We also have versions of our hardware that communicate on J1939, which is the commercial vehicle CAN standard.

Inside our CAN cable, there are two main wire: CAN High and CAN Low.  These send the commands between the different cells in an Infinitybox system. Additionally, we run a power and ground wire to provide voltage to the MASTERCELL.  The POWERCELLs have the ability to put out voltage through the CAN connector.  There is a very important addendum that we include with our 20-Circuit Harness kits that talks about power and ground in the CAN cables.  Please check out this link when you’re installing your kit.

A lot of guys ask where they can put their different cells on the 3-way cable that comes with the 20-Circuit Kit.  On very long CAN cables, over 30 feet, you need to have the MASTERCELL on one of the cable and the POWERCELL with the terminator resistor on the other end.  This has to do with proper impedance matching of the CAN High and CAN Low lines in the cable.  For most aftermarket installs, where the CAN cable length is under 30 feet, you can put the MASTERCELL anywhere on the CAN cable.

A lot of guys also ask about the length of the CAN cable.  We include a standard CAN cable length in the 10-Circuit and 20-Circuit Harness Kits.  This length was derived from a few years of learning from our customers and how they place cells in their cars and trucks.  We also have options when you order your kits to build custom CAN cable lengths.  You can call our sales team about this.  At the same time, there is nothing keeping you from extending or shortening your CAN cable in the system.  You can do this a few ways.

The first option is to cut the cable and splice in a new length of wire or cut out a length of wire.  There is nothing wrong with this and this is a completely acceptable way to do it.  The wire that we use is 22-AWG TXL wire.  You can buy this wire from a few sources.  We get ours from Waytek Wire and you can buy it in reasonable lengths.  This link will take you to the 22-AWG TXL section of their website.  The colors that we use in our standard CAN cables are black, green, blue and red.

It is very important that you do not cross the wires in the CAN cable.  When you’re reconnecting the connector, make sure that the wires go back where they came from.

If you’re going to splice the cables, we recommend a good butt splice connector and heat shrink.  This link will take you to a good 22-AWG butt splice from Waytek.  An 1/8″ piece of heat shrink over this will keep it protected and insulated.  Here’s a link to heat shrink.  The key to a good splice is a good crimp on the butt splice connector.  The right tool will guarantee a good job and isn’t very expensive.  Here’s a good tool for the crimp.

While a splice is completely acceptable, some guys don’t wan them in their wiring harness.  We get that.  You can create your own custom cable lengths and crimp the terminal right on the end of your wire to connect into the connector.  The connector system used for our CAN cables is very easy to work with and requires no special tools.  This picture shows you all of the parts that go into the CAN connector.

Imaging showing the different components of the Infinitybox CAN connector

Imaging showing the different components of the Infinitybox CAN connector

The yellow part is called the strain relief.  It helps to route the wires out of the connector.  The green part is the seal.  Please note that in some newer systems, the cable seals are black.  It makes the connection between the connector and the mating port on the MASTERCELL or POWERCELL water tight.  The grey part is called the connector.  It holds the terminals from the harness.  The last part is the retainer.  This is the clear clip on the front end of the connector.

The terminals that are used in this harness are made by Aptiv.  Their part number for the terminal is 15435885 and it can be sourced easily from Mouser.  This link will take you there.  This link will take you to a good quality crimp tool for these terminals.

You can cut your CAN cable to length and crimp the terminals onto the wires.  These instructions will show you how to dissemble the connector to plug these terminals into the connector.

First, get a small screw driver and gently pry up on the strain relief clips on the strain relief.  This part opens up like a clam shell.  Next, remove the Retainer from the connector.  Use a small screw driver or your fingernail to pry up on the short sides of the strain relief where it clips on to the grey connector.  Once that is done, you can gently pry up on the terminal retention tabs on the grey connector.  These hold the terminals into the connector.  When you lift them, you can pull the wire with the terminal out through the strain relief.

Reassembly of the connector is just as easy.  Crimp the terminals onto the wires and get ready to put it back together.  Just make sure that you put the right wires back into the right cavities in the connector.  The cavities area marked with an identification number on the inside of the strain relief.  Here’s how the wires should go back in.

5- Black

6- Green

7- Blue

8- Red

Make sure that the terminals are pushed to the front edge of the grey connector.  Once you have all of them in, you can snap the clear retainer back onto the grey connector.  Then close the strain relief using the strain relief clips to hold it closed.

Give our team a call if you have additional questions about working with our CAN cable or the connector components.  You can contact us directly by clicking this link.