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A Primer on "Breakout Boxes" and Accessories

Glacier991

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Well we have looked at scanners and code readers in another post, and ended up on that post talking about "Breakout Boxes". A lot of people wonder what the H*ll is THAT? Simply put a breakout box inserts itself somewhere in a wiring harness or wiring arrangement, and allows the user to access the signals. They are used in computers, and in automobiles for example.

Ford used the EEC-IV (Electronic Engine Control, 4th generation) on the early Explorers. (and throughout their entire product line during that period.) The sophistication of todays computer technology did not always permit that information to be displayed, but it was there nevertheless. Question was, How to get it?
Enter the breakout box.

The breakout box put itself between the engine and the computer, and allowed the user to rapciously access the information being exchanged (I sound like Mike Tyson, no ?). They are simply a pinout board, mounted in a box, with associated cabling, like this:


15286dscn3562.jpg


You can see the way the cabling hooks into the computer and then bridges into the automobile system.

A closer look at the pinout board, little holes numbered to correspond to the numbered wires in the connector:


15286dscn3563.jpg


The output is readable with a high impedance (this is IMPORTANT- Digital Volts Ohmeter (DVOM) No cheap knockoffs here, they may fry the computer by introducing their own voltage.) Not as fancy as a scanner which decodes the meaning for you, but valuable nonetheless because you can always look up every meaning of the output signal somewhere. Like on the factory manual CD or in the manual itself!

FORD decided to make maximum use of the breakout box, and designed add ons to allow you to look at other systems. Here for example, is a harness (still looking new in the wrapper) that hooks into all the Distributorless Ignition System (DIS). It connects to the sensor connectors on a 3.0 litre engine... allowing you full access to the signals, even while the engine is running:

15286dscn3567.jpg


Yes it has been used, but only by me. I paid the princely sum of $25 for this setup on E-bay. More pics of it...:

15286dscn3569.jpg


each lead is clearly marked. The head unit, is like a cobra, and it plugs into the Breakout Box:

15286dscn3570.jpg


Overlays (which I'll show you in a minute" go into the breakout box to show you what's what. Ok something more of interest to you Explorer lovers... TFI (thick film Ignition) Yes there is a cable for this. Mine cost me $15. Here is the diagram on the blow mold case, yeah THAT was included for the $15 I paid:

15286dscn3572.jpg


As you can see, again there is a plug in head and then the harness plugs into the sensors letting the engine run and letting you plug into it and read it as it does. The head is similar... with a simple control on it:

15286dscn3571.jpg


Again an overlay in the box makes everything simple (Yes I know this is the 3.0 DIS overlay not the TFI, but they look a LOT alike):


15286dscn3566.jpg


ANyway there are other system overlays and connectors, but you start to get the idea of just how versatile the 60 Pin box was for FORD.

People ask abnout bleeding Anti-Lock brakes. Well guess what? There was an adapter for the breakout box that read the brake codes, AND... AND... did the procedure for properly bleeding them. It was called the anitlock Brake Adapter (ALA) and looks like this when installed in the unbilical for the breakout box:

15286dscn3574.jpg


The controls for the bleeder are on the end:

15286dscn3577.jpg


It works just as advertised, although aftermarket units do just as well without allowing access to the signals. These show up from time to ime on E-bay, about $75 or so. Mine ? It was in the breakout box case when I bought the breakout box. A surpise like in Cracker Jacks. The seller said he was selling it "as it" nothing taken back. I took him at his word <g>.

Ok well, that is what a breakout box is, and can do. Not a scanner - less. And more. Cost? Betwen $125 and $200 on E-bay. Worth every penny if you want to look inside that engine.

Happy Exploring

Chris
 


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MrShorty

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Thanks Chris. Some good information in these threads you've written up.
 




Glacier991

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I moved this old thread here, as this seemed like a more appropriate place for it. The Primer on Scanners and Code readers referenced in this thread is in the Computer subsection of forum.
 




ExplorerDMB

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I haven't seen a break-out box in a long time! Who really uses them still?

-Drew
 




Glacier991

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ME on the 1st Gen. I don't own an EEC-V box, but wouldn't mind one in my arsenal. But my cars are all EEC-IV. The breakout box has seen some use.
 




ExplorerDMB

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HAHA, Glacier - today, a guy at work was using a EEC-V break out box by OTC 14-pin on a '97 Explorer. I died when I saw it and I was in shock because I said what i said above and then the next day I see one. weird.

OTC-3235.jpg


-Drew
 




zhanx

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ExplorerDMB said:
I haven't seen a break-out box in a long time! Who really uses them still?

-Drew

you should see the break out "kit" i have to use to fix a smok generator. its got 3 box and a control board each box has 75 hook ups and 9 plugs with extra's thats fun..

cant wait to see more glacier
 




Glacier991

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Well if you notice, the first post in this thread is over 2 years old. I had thought there would be some interest in a component by component description with some testing ... but I was wrong. Nada. So this thread (and the others) sat until now.
 




DJ94

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Breakout boxes and such

I have two 90s cars; a '94 Explorer and a '93 MK VIII.

The factory manuals for both have lots of tests which involve breakout boxes. I was very interested to read these posts.

I have found some used breakout boxes and purchased one; has not arrived yet.

Question: I have an older analog volt/ohm meter. Can I safely use it? It has one 9 volt battery inside and one AA battery.

DJ94
 




Glacier991

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NO. You need a high impedance (more modern) model to be safe.
 




DJ94

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Breakout boxes, meters, etc.

Glacier;

I have an OTC 60 pin breakout box for Ford (it arrived last week) and also the Ford T90P-50-ALA Teves Anti-Lock Brake Harness. However I did not get any instructions with either tool. Will the factory shop manuals have enough instructions for me to be able to use these tools? I am particularly interested in learning how to diagnose the anti lock brake light in my '93 Lincoln MK VIII and the DTC 214 code in my 1994 Explorer.

I am a points-and-condensor, Holley 4 bbl kind of guy and all this hi tech stuff is new and quite mysterious to me. I am thankful that '90s cars are now so low tech that the tools one needs to work on them can be found for not too much money.

Also; my analog multitester is 50,000 OHMS/VOLT. Is that not satisfactory to use with the breakout box diagnosing these 90s cars?

DJ94
 




Glacier991

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I am not entirely sure where "high impedance" starts, but I am thinking it is higher than your analog meter.

The FORD manuals will give directions for use of a breakout box that you can follow. The Teves IV harness tool practically tells you right on the tool how to use it.

PM me if you cannot find a 93 FORD manual for your Lincoln
 




MarT

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Where's the 55-pin ABS plug?

I'd some brake issues and assumed there's air in pump to bleed. Bought a T90P-50-ALA but can't find the 55-pin plug in order to connect the adaptor. Am I stupid, need a jumper (T93T-50-ALA) or both? DId I miss something? Could someone help me, please? Thank's in advance.
 




MarT

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Adendum

Adding some information to help you guys to help me...

T90P-50-ALA has a 60-pin side which goes to the breakout box and a 55-pin side to 'vehicle harness' (the one that I can't find).

4WABS Control Module has a 25-pin conector (C186).
 




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Any ideas exactly what to look for as in " exact term" to try and find one of these kits so I can bleed the brakes on my 96 Explorer? Some one said the Theves Mark 4 abs 55 pin could be substituted? any suggestions, appreciated
Jim
 




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