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Question Could use fresh eyes troubleshooting - no motor movement

Discussion in 'DIY Motion Simulator Projects' started by Squonk, Feb 16, 2020.

  1. Squonk

    Squonk Member

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    Hello, again. It's been a long time since I posted the final BOM and build details on my 6 DOF rig. Here is the original thread.

    In the interval, I bought a new home, and the simulator was disassembled, moved, reassembled, worked well for a few months and was then disassembled and moved about 12 feet straight up (into a loft), where it stopped working completely. The main problem is no movement from the motors - either through Game Engine or SMC3 Utils. I don't even get the usual twitch when I connect the USB hub to the PC after powering up the motor controllers.

    Brief overview of my setup for those not wanting to dig through the build thread:
    6 crab pot puller motors
    3 Arduinos with the SMC3 sketch, driving 3 Sabertooth 2X60 controllers, each powering two of the motors.
    Power from 6 LED power supplies, all in parallel with each other and a 12 V battery.

    What I've tried so far:
    - Checked continuity on all power wires
    - Cleaned all contact/connection points
    - Confirmed correct connections from hall effect sensors to Arduinos, Arduinos to motor controllers, and motor controllers to motors
    - Replaced USB hub (as I was getting a "Last USB device connected was not recognized" from Windows 10.
    - Rolled back all of the Windows 10 updates that were installed when I turned on the PC after moving the simulator
    - Changed baud rates on all Com ports (1 is the USB hub; 3, 4 and 5 are the Arduinos) so that they matched at 9600, then 115200, then back to 9600. The baud rate in the Game Engine interface settings is 500000, which I recall being the original setting, but I tried matching that to the Com port settings as well, and then switched it back.
    - Uploaded SMC3 sketch to all Arduinos again
    - Isolated each Arduino/motor controller pair by connecting directly to the PC without the hub to see if I could get any pair of motors to respond.

    When I run SMC3 Utils for any of the Arduinos, I get a display that looks like this (again with no motor movement):
    Untitled.png

    I've been away from this project for a while, so troubleshooting isn't as instinctive as it used to be when I was up to my ears in it. I was hoping to find a simple, single problem that would explain the lack of motor response as I can't imagine all three Arduinos and Sabertooths having failed at once. If anyone has any ideas, I'd really appreciate them! Thanks for wading through this.
  2. Ads Master

    Ads Master

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  3. Markku Lorenz

    Markku Lorenz Member Gold Contributor

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    Hi,

    what about the Voltage measurements ?
    Maybe there is something missing...

    ML
  4. BlazinH

    BlazinH Well-Known Member

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  5. Squonk

    Squonk Member

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    Thanks for the replies, guys. @Markku Lorenz, at last check, I had 12 V at each motor controller, and the controllers are all showing one, green LED indicating ready with no faults. I don't have any measurable voltage coming out of the controllers during output testing in Game Engine, however, leading me to believe that they are not receiving signal from the Arduinos. However, @BlazinH, I am using that sketch, and in SMC3 Utils, I see a yellow line (albeit wonky) which, I believe indicates the PWM signal from the Arduino. So I'm kind of lost at this point.
  6. Markku Lorenz

    Markku Lorenz Member Gold Contributor

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    Hi Squonk,

    in the last corner of my brain there is light (i hope so).
    When I started my Project in 2018 i had also problems in getting the 2 Motors working. That problem appeared with the small SG90 Motors (for the Mockup) and later with the wiper Motors. Now I´M NOT SURE anymore, what the real Problem was (at least it was me) but there were issues with the installed Arduino files.
    When i am right, the wiring was ok (after i prepared it) and the SMC was also ok. But just the Arduino didn´t work right.

    So maybe you should erase the Arduino and load the SW again. Eventually try the things mentioned within the following thread https://www.xsimulator.net/communit...3dof-motor-driver-and-windows-utilities.4957/

    Maybe it will be helpful.

    ML
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  7. Zed

    Zed VR Simming w/Index Gold Contributor

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    Hey Squonk, a wild guess is does the SMC3 code disconnect outputs if it doesn’t like the feedback signals? Maybe there are issues with the feedback sensors being out of range or somehow damaged in the move?

    The Arduinos should have an LED blinking if they are receiving data but not certain if that is universal. I believe the sketch can disable that and am not familiar with the SMC3 code.
  8. spyderwash

    spyderwash genesy sim

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    use smc3 with h-bridge and never with Sabertooth if the same operation from the photo can be seen pwm min 0 raise this value
  9. Squonk

    Squonk Member

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    I'm really pulling my hair out over this. The simulator was supposed to be used at an upcoming party, but that's looking doubtful now.

    I reinstalled SMC3_SPS-softstart on all three Arduinos. Com ports are all set at 9600 baud. In SMCUtils, I can see the green feedback line change when I physically move the lever arms on the motors, so I know the hall effect sensors are working. However, none of the PWM settings in SMCUtils will make the motors move. What I see is similar to the screen cap above. When the sine wave hits the target line, it seems to trigger a couple of spikes of PWM in a "downward" direction, giving that funky looking waveform.

    I disconnected the Sabertooth drivers from the Arduinos and set the dip switches to put them in analog mode per the troubleshooting directions. That resulted in all motors free running, so I know that the motor drivers can pass voltage to the motors. The problem seems to be with the Arduinos or the software somehow, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what would have gone wrong basically all at once to take me from a fully functional sim to where I am now.

    Thank you for all the suggestions so far. If anyone has any other ideas PLEASE let me know!
  10. Zed

    Zed VR Simming w/Index Gold Contributor

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    Hey Squonk, sorry about my earlier advice. If I understand the screen grab, coms look fine. What is the yellow line? That it flat tops and has inverted bottoms really has me wondering what it is.

    Is 35kHz PWM the proper frequency? Also, as BlazinH mentioned, maybe best to work through the SMC3 tutorial? Since it was disassembled and moved, it’s almost like a new build for sorting things? I think PWM max is also typically set lower so accidental or reversed movements don’t break thinks with full-force movements and only set back to 255 once sure things are good?
  11. Squonk

    Squonk Member

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    Hi, @Zed. Thanks for your reply. The yellow line represents the PWM signal from the Arduino to the Sabertooth, as far as I understand it. And, yes, it looks funky. I did go through the SMC3 tutorial again after reinstalling the sketch on all three Arduinos, but I cannot get any motor movement no matter how I adjust the PWM max/min. As for the 35KHz, I don't know, but I don't seem to have an option to change it in SMC3Utils. I never made a note of that frequency in my original set up, so it may or may not be correct.
  12. Milt

    Milt Member

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    Are you using the Sabertooth Packet Serial version of SMC3? If so, make sure you uploaded that sketch to the Arduino, not the regular SMC3 sketch. Also, verify your Sabertooth baud rates match in the DEScribe software and DIP switches are in the correct positions. If you have an oscilloscope you could troubleshoot the data comms, but most people don't have one laying around...

    https://www.xsimulator.net/communit...ket-serial-pid-motor-driver-w-softstart.9277/
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  13. Zed

    Zed VR Simming w/Index Gold Contributor

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    Hey Squonk, if that yellow line is PWM, that’s not PWM. Something is wrong. Also, where is zero volts on that trace? PWM won’t go bipolar either. What you should see is a square wave of varying duty cycle as you give it numbers from 0 to 255 or however the software is configured. From a regular Arduino it would be at or near OV on the bottom and 5V on the top. Best to just do a web search for PWM if you aren’t familiar or don’t already know.

    The only way you get a sine wave like that is by having some kind of RC or LC filter on the output and measuring on the side of that filter (the load side) opposite where the Arduino connects.

    But again, I’m not familiar with Sabertooth or the SMC3 utility. Software can smooth a PWM signal into that waveform too. I’d look deeper into what that waveform is supposed to look like in SMC3 utility because that definitely is not a traditional PWM signal. You may also have hardware issues if something got miswired.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  14. Squonk

    Squonk Member

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    Thanks, @Zed. PWM is what it's labeled in SMC3 Utils. Either way, it's the line that represents whatever the Arduino is sending to the Sabertooth. Tonight, I set up one of the simulator's Sabertooths on my kitchen table, uploaded the sketch I've been using on the simulator to a spare Arduino, wired up a Hall effect sensor that I could just turn by hand and attached a spare motor. Everything works exactly as expected. So, I'm trying to figure out what could be different on the actual simulator that would result in none of the motors moving. I have to assume it's wiring at this point, but I can't think of a common point, and it's difficult to imagine that the wiring to all motors went flaky at once. At least I now have confirmation that I have the correct sketch.
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  15. Zed

    Zed VR Simming w/Index Gold Contributor

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    That’s good news, Squonk! Just as a question, do you see that funky sine wave in the working system or do you see true PWM? You got me curious.

    With disassembly/reassembly it’s anyone’s guess what changed but it sounds like it happened on all axes from your description. Good luck!

    Unfortunately there is also the possibility of hardware damage having happened. Dead inputs and outputs can really mess with signals. But with a working table system you can maybe now swap pieces in and out to see what lives.
  16. Squonk

    Squonk Member

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    Thanks, @Zed. The yellow waveform on the table top set up is still a very analog looking signal. I guess hardware is always a possibility. What's confusing, and frustrating, is that the rig worked briefly after it was moved to the loft and set up, but then stopped and has not responded since. That, to me, indicates a single point of failure, but I can't think of what that would be. So, for now, I'll pull each Arduino/controller/motor group and recheck all wiring.
  17. Zed

    Zed VR Simming w/Index Gold Contributor

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    That’s odd it worked then stopped on all axes at the same time. In your original post you didn’t say it worked in the new location. It read more like it had never worked properly upstairs.

    That it worked properly for a bit and then stopped implies wiring was all correct at least initially. I also agree - single point of failure though with electronics, one failure can take out other parts under the wrong circumstances.

    A loose wire for example could allow voltages/currents to go out of spec on other parts and possibly damage them. We generally are mixing high current 12/24V, low current TTL, 0-5V analog, and maybe RS-232 signal levels on boards, and things can go south if something goes out of range or undefined. We are headed out of winter in the USA so maybe static shock fried something? Maybe lightning strike or other surge on the mains?

    But to keep from wasting effort, double check that PWM signal display. I’m not familiar with that software and you do have sine selected. Maybe there is filtering or something where you aren’t supposed to be seeing true PWM square waves. It could also be a clue to what is going on if you are. That inverted part of the bottom of the sine wave is especially funky to me. I could be way off base on the sine/square thing.

    That working tabletop setup will be handy to swap parts in and out to verify proper function and to compare software behavior and voltages.

    I bet it’s easy to find if you are methodical but to have it working in the new location and then all stop does imply wiring is all correct though something might be loose. Kind of out of ideas now though. Good luck!
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2020