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Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up
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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.

Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up

by BeenDunn on Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:20 am

Hello,

We recently bought another order of several Bluefruit SPI Friends to replace another few that stopped working unexpectedly.
Thinking perhaps it was my PCB at fault, I wired two up on a breadboard and have been using them for the last several days with no problems.

However, today when we plugged in our FTDI chip to program the Arduino talking to the BLE chip, one of the two chips died.
The LED does not show or flash, the chip does not appear when scanning for BLE devices, though I've checked voltages and power is supplied.
One died, while the other is working fine. This leads me to believe that perhaps the others that died suffered the same problem, and perhaps it wasn't my PCB after all.

TLDR;

Specs;
- 2 x Bluefruit SPI friend
- 1 x Pro Trinket
- 1 x FTDI Adapter

- Running on 3.3V power rails
- Connected on breadboard
- Powered through USB connected to FTDI chip
- Standard wiring according to Adafruit guide & examples

Single chip dead on power-up, other chip still working fine.
Why has our BLE chip died? Has this happened to others and what can I do to prevent the next one dying?

Thanks very much,
Ben

BeenDunn
 
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Re: Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up

by BeenDunn on Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:00 am

TESTING UPDATE:

We were able to boot it into DFU mode, so the whole thing isn't fried.
We updated the Firmware successfully, but when following the instructions about recovering the device, we get to step 4 and it doesn't work.
When we connect the DFU to GND for 5 seconds it either does nothing, or powers down, depending on whether you are connected on the app still or not.

Either way, it does not perform a factory reset. We have also tried performing factory reset via AT commands and no luck there either.
So, the upshot is that we can boot it in DFU mode, connect, and update firmware. But something is going wrong from there, and when we power it back up again without DFU pin connected to ground, it will not run at all.

More info;
Product: Adafruit Bluefruit LE SPI Friend
Firmware versions tried: 0.7.7 & 0.7.6
Operating System: macOS Sierra, 10.12.6
Adruino IDE Version: 1.8.3

Thanks,
Ben

BeenDunn
 
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Re: Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up

by adafruit_support_rick on Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:39 am

Sorry foe the delay in getting back to you.

We really haven't see this sort of thing happening with these modules.

Can you post some pictures of your wiring?

Is it possible for you to run one of the adafruit example sketches and post the serial monitor output?

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Re: Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up

by BeenDunn on Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:33 pm

Hi Rick,

Thanks for the response.

This is the serial output from running the "factoryreset" sketch:
Code: Select all | TOGGLE FULL SIZE
Adafruit Factory Reset Example
------------------------------------------------
Initialising the Bluefruit LE module: OK!
Performing a factory reset:
AT+FACTORYRESET

<- Couldn't factory reset


Here is a pic of the wiring:
IMG_20171204_162544.jpg
IMG_20171204_162544.jpg (661.41 KiB) Viewed 607 times


Thanks!

BeenDunn
 
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Re: Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up

by adafruit_support_rick on Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:38 pm

Hmmm. Can you try running it off of BUS (i.e., 5V) instead of from 3V?

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Re: Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up

by BeenDunn on Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:24 pm

We tried powering using the BUS as instructed with the same result.

We think the problem is unrelated to the power supply or how we power it since pulling DFU to GND on power up activates the BLE in bootloading mode. We know that the BLE still functions in some way however this is the only way to power up the device and without starting it in bootloader mode the BLE doesn't function.

We have tried uploading various versions of the firmware (all of them), none has worked.

In bootloader mode we can connect using the Adafruit Bluefruit App and it seems to work fine. But as soon as we don't use DFU mode, the device doesn't turn on (no LEDs, not detectable).

We have 6 of these devices all with the same issue.

Are there any other tests we can run with the devices?

Thanks,
Ben

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Re: Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up

by BeenDunn on Wed Dec 20, 2017 10:51 pm

Hello,

Our final module of this board type just had the exact same issue occur again, which leaves us with no working BLE SPI Friend modules.
All of the modules we have ordered have suffered the same problem, and now can only be powered up in DFU mode, which isn't usable for anything other than firmware updates.

We know the chip can still work since we can connect to it in DFU mode, LED's work fine, etc, it just simply won't power up normally.
Please advise how to fix this, as we are currently looking at 8 dead modules with the exact same problem we will need to replace.

I have some suspicion it might have to do with how the module is powered, e.g. from battery, USB, etc.

Thanks,
Ben

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Re: Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up

by ktownsend on Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:05 am

This sounds like something in the non-volatile config memory is getting corrupted and the device goes off into the weeds on normal boot. I might have missed a detail in the posts above, but have you tried setting the FRST pad to GND to force a factory reset in HW (not using the AT command)? https://learn.adafruit.com/introducing- ... r-test-pad

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Re: Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up

by ktownsend on Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:05 am

PS: Sorry for the slow reply ... this post just came to my attention now!

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Re: Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up

by BeenDunn on Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:03 pm

Hi ktownsend,

Thank you for getting back to us, we had just about given up hope!
I think you're exactly right about the issue being with the boot process, and the factory reset seems to have worked with at least 3 of the devices!
I will continue to see if the rest of them are recoverable too, but this is definitely a good sign.

So now we need to figure out how to prevent this from happening in future, since factory resetting isn't really a long term solution once the device is out in the field.
Assuming it is an issue with corruption in non-volatile config memory, what can we do to protect from this?

Thanks again,
Ben

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Re: Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up

by ktownsend on Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:09 pm

The latest firmware should improve the NVM stability compared to earlier release. Try recovering a device, and immediately flash the latest firmware and available BSP, and let us know what happens.

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Re: Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up

by BeenDunn on Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:31 pm

Hello,

I've updated to latest firmware version available (0.7.7 BLESPIFRIEND).
Not sure I understand about flashing the available BSP though sorry, could you clarify what we need to do?

Thanks,
Ben

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Re: Bluefruit SPI Friend Dead on Power-Up

by ktownsend on Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:31 pm

I just meant make sure you have the latest library that goes with the board. You can update this from inside the Arduino IDE in the Library Manager. Latest code is visible online here: https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit_BluefruitLE_nRF51

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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.