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FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot
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FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by elin05 on Sun Apr 04, 2021 1:51 pm

I've received two FONA 3G modules from Digikey now and both do not appear to work.

I verify the board itself with Direct USB Connection. I have a 1200mAh LiPo and a verified data USB cable plugged in.

Upon plugging in the USB cable, the green battery LED is solid and the orange battery LED flashes. Then, upon plugging in the LiPo, the orange battery LED stops flashing and stays off, while the green battery LED stays on.

While monitoring the available serial ports on my Macbook Pro (10.14.6) I hold the KEY button for 5 seconds. After 5 seconds, the only thing that happens is the Network LED flashes once and very dimly. The Power LED does not turn on, no new serial port is detected.

I also monitor the PS pin during this process. After pressing KEY for 5 seconds, PS briefly go up to ~1.6V, then settles at 0.06V.

This is the third FONA 3G I've tested. The first one came straight from Adafruit and had no problems. The second two came from Digikey and both have the same problem. Could there be an issue with Digikey's supply of FONA 3G boards?

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by adafruit2 on Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:18 pm

whats the serial port output? is there any text?
please also post a photo of your full setup

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by elin05 on Mon Apr 05, 2021 10:54 pm

No serial port even appears. I don't believe the boards are even powered on because the PWR LED is not lit.

When I hold the KEY button down for 5 seconds to power on the board, the Net LED does turn on DIMLY for a brief moment.

Here is my setup:
IMG_1720.jpg
IMG_1720.jpg (971.59 KiB) Viewed 238 times

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by elin05 on Mon Apr 05, 2021 10:56 pm

By the way, I now have received three FONA 3G boards from Digikey that have these symptoms.

I know that using batteries with the wrong polarity connector has caused issues with these boards. I've made sure my LiPo is inserted with the correct polarity.

Could it be possible that Digikey tests their boards with batteries of the wrong polarity and thus frying them all?

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by adafruit2 on Mon Apr 05, 2021 11:44 pm

no, DK does not charge the boards, they come packaged. we really think it is some power supply issue. do you have another, larger Lipo battery?

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by elin05 on Tue Apr 06, 2021 4:52 pm

I will verify the voltage on my 1200mAh LiPo today, and also find a larger battery to try, and report back.

Does the FONA 3G draw a lot of current when booting up? I thought the large draw was only during radio transmissions.

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by Tkall on Tue Apr 06, 2021 11:55 pm

Charge the battery fully. I had a similar issue, charging the battery solved the problem.

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by elin05 on Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:26 am

My 1200mAh battery is at 4.16V. I will try charging it fully, but I'm surprised that would not be enough to boot up the board. I tried a second 1200mAh LiPo as well but it did not work either.

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by Tkall on Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:39 am

If I think of anything else that might help I'll let you know.

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by elin05 on Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:34 am

Tkall wrote:If I think of anything else that might help I'll let you know.

Thanks!

Even with my fully charged 4.2V 1200mAh Lipo connected, the board still does not boot up. Again, the Network LED dimly turns on briefly after holding the KEY down for 5 seconds. I would like to try boards from Adafruit and Mouser to test my theory that it's Digikey's supply that is the problem (though at $80 each, this testing gets expensive fast).

EDIT: Actually, Adafruit's FONA 3G (US) just became out of stock...

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by rskup on Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:01 pm

If it helps any, my FONA 3G was from Digikey and it works fine, though I did get it last April.

My brain is old and I might remember wrong, but your description sounded familiar, and I seem to recall the pwr and net LEDs don't light when you only have the USB connection...so I went through the tutorial, and found this note about the Vio pin which I think confirms this...below is from the tutorial, "Pinouts" section, they capitalized it, not me:

"Vio - THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PIN! This is the pin that you MUST drive with an external voltage from 3V-5V to set the logic level converter. The converter also buffers the indicator LEDs so NOTHING will appear to work unless this pin is powered!"

Again, I seem to recall in my early testing last year, with only a USB connection, neither of those pwr or net LEDs would light up (though the board would work just fine). And it was only after hooking it up to an Arduino with a connection to the Vio pin did those pwr and net LEDs work.

I'd test my idea for you but I'd have to pull my board from my project and disconnect/desolder everything.

Am curious...the board mentioned earlier (from Adafruit) in your post that does work just fine, was it also powered through the USB with no other connections to any pins? If so, did the pwr and net LEDs light up on that board with only a USB connection?

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by elin05 on Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:27 pm

rskup wrote:If it helps any, my FONA 3G was from Digikey and it works fine, though I did get it last April.

My brain is old and I might remember wrong, but your description sounded familiar, and I seem to recall the pwr and net LEDs don't light when you only have the USB connection...so I went through the tutorial, and found this note about the Vio pin which I think confirms this...below is from the tutorial, "Pinouts" section, they capitalized it, not me:

"Vio - THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PIN! This is the pin that you MUST drive with an external voltage from 3V-5V to set the logic level converter. The converter also buffers the indicator LEDs so NOTHING will appear to work unless this pin is powered!"

Again, I seem to recall in my early testing last year, with only a USB connection, neither of those pwr or net LEDs would light up (though the board would work just fine). And it was only after hooking it up to an Arduino with a connection to the Vio pin did those pwr and net LEDs work.

I'd test my idea for you but I'd have to pull my board from my project and disconnect/desolder everything.

Am curious...the board mentioned earlier (from Adafruit) in your post that does work just fine, was it also powered through the USB with no other connections to any pins? If so, did the pwr and net LEDs light up on that board with only a USB connection?


Thanks for the info. I will no longer use the LEDs as verification when testing in Direct USB mode. However, I still see no serial port appearing when using in Direct USB mode with a fully charged Lipo. I'll try putting a logic high on Vio, although it was my understanding that this is not required in Direct USB mode.

My original FONA 3G from Adafruit is powered from the 5V pin which is supplied by another USB 5V. Vio also gets 3.3V from my microcontroller. Nothing is connected to the USB port on the FONA 3G. I never tested the Direct USB connection with that original board (which I also do not have at the moment), so I cannot say if that board's LEDs would light up with only a USB connection.

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by rskup on Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:40 pm

Personally, I wouldn't put voltage on that Vio pin if you're powering through the USB. It "should" work through the USB connection, just like the tutorial says, it did for me.

Instead, I'd try to figure out why you're not seeing the port show up.

Edit -- can you connect this board to the micro-controller mentioned above? That setup was working yes?
Last edited by rskup on Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by elin05 on Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:48 pm

According to the guide, the PS pin should be high when the board has booted up. However, that pin only reads about 0.6V after I press the KEY button down for 5 seconds.

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Re: FONA 3G modules from Digikey won't boot

by rskup on Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:15 pm

Hmmm...it does say it's tied to the pwr led though....

By some chance, might your online acct with the sim provider show a connection?

Also, you mentioned your original good board was hooked up to some micro-controller, can you just connect this board up to it?

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