Retuning to this thread with another update:
Yesterday I got around to actually connecting my laptop to the car and..... it works!!!
I connected to the engine ECU, read faults, parameters and generally fooled around
So if anybody is wondering if they can use a 10 years old laptop for diagnostics, the answer is a definite, yes we can
A couple of points of interest:
I'm was getting "Latecy too high" errors every few minutes, causing disconnects. Hopefully I'll be able to do something about that - haven't investigated yet.
Looks like I have the Bosh 1.5.5 ECU, which is listed in FiatECUScan under the "AR 146 '98 1.8 TS 16V" model, even though my car is year 1999, and plastic top 1.8TS. I thought the '98 model was supposed to be the alloy top?
Had only two error codes, P0170 and P0130, both related to the lambda: one saying that the lambda output is too low IIRC and the other that the lambda output is not present. Since I disconnected the lambda a while back to get rid of hunting idle until I can buy a new one, this was not a surprise
I was pleasantly surprised though that there we no other errors.
Finally, according to the ECU's odometer, the car has 533 000km - the HELL!? The odometer on dashboard only shows 130 000. Now I was expecting that the dashboard odometer could have been set lower before I bought it, but a 400 000km difference?
I'd like to add, that the car isn't really in a bad condition (discounting having to go through an complete engine overhaul) - the underside shows hardly any rust, the electrics look almost new, I have yet to experience any BBOB trouble, the inside of the car looks pretty good as well... could the engine have been a transplant?