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Dead M4 Express
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Dead M4 Express

by turbinenreiter on Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:43 am

Hello People,

Has anyone encountered a dead M4 Express before?

* When I plug it in, only the charging LED behaves as it should.
* Double-click to bootloader does nothing - red LED isn't flashing and the NeoPixel isn't doing anything either.
* There is no serial device showing up at all. I didn't do much except taking the board and carrying from my laptop to the other computer and plugging it in there.

Has anyone every killed a Feather with ESD?

I ordered a Segger, so I can re-flash the bootloader, but to me it feels like the chip died :(

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by turbinenreiter on Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:51 am

I'm at two dead M4's now :(

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by BryonMiller on Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:51 am

I had very similar thing happen to me. Since I could not positively rule out that I did something wrong with power I had to replace it myself. Replacement has been fine.

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by turbinenreiter on Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:03 am

Well, I'm at 3 dead boards now and I'm sure I didn't kill any of them, except the last one, where I erased the flash with a j-link, ruining the boatloader. Programming it with the j-link doesn't work either, which is beyond weird. I was able to debug it fine earlier, now the debugger can't halt the CPU anymore.

If anyone has good instructions on flashing the bootloader with j-link, I would appreciate.

So my score until now:
2 dead M4's due to unknown reasons
1 dead due to killed bootloader when experimenting

I have the slight suspicion that it is indeed the bootloader on all three of them, although I have no idea how I could have killed it on the first two boards.
I always had trouble flashing them with platformio, where I often had to try three times to flash it once.

The M4's are definitely a different experience to what I was used to from other Feather boards.

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by turbinenreiter on Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:18 pm

Ok, I was able to ressurect the board where I broke the bootloader.


Now I'll try to resurrect the others with this. Thanks to jerryn on discord for some valuable pointers.
Last edited by turbinenreiter on Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by adafruit2 on Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:29 pm

we just checked and we didn't lock the bootloader on the feather m4 in test, so if you're not using UF2 or Arduino it is *possible* you could get it overwrite the bootloader somehow (not easy but...)
we'll check that going forward all M4's come with locked bootloaders!

if you have an M4 that is fine, you can lock the bootloader by 'upgrading' the UF2 bootloader, the upgrade.uf2 will lock after update: https://github.com/adafruit/uf2-samdx1/releases - just doubleclick to get into bootmode, and drag the correct 'update-boardname.uf2' over

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by turbinenreiter on Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:30 pm

Resurrection successful, beer for me, love and respect for the people!

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by adafruit2 on Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:31 pm

:) thanks for finding this - we will fix our production jigs

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by BryonMiller on Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:19 pm

turbinenreiter wrote:Resurrection successful!


Does this mean you were able to get the first two back? I must have a different problem because I don't have a drive to drag the uf2 file over to. Even after a double push.

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by turbinenreiter on Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:03 am

I had to re-flash the bootloader using a j-link, and now it works again with the double-click and drive.

The list with the codeblocks a couple of posts up is a little how-to - but you need a segger j-link and some time. I think the instructions are complete, but there is a lot of implicit stuff ... so if you have a j-link and want to try, I'll be here and try to help.

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by adafruit2 on Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:09 am

byron if you dont have a jlink we can replace it - but when you get the new one please update the bootlader!

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by MakerMelissa on Mon Dec 10, 2018 1:43 am

I'm having a similar issue except with an Itsy Bitsy M4 Express. I just ordered a J-Link programmer so I'll update this after I get it to let you know if it works. I'm pretty sure I know how I caused it too. I had 4 Neotrellis boards using the 3V pin. I think they pulled too much power (the regulator is rated to 500ma) and I think the chip became underpowered and that might have caused the bootloader write protection to fail. Hope this helps with possible causes.

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by MakerMelissa on Fri Dec 14, 2018 1:04 am

Just got my JLink tonight and this fixed it. Things to note regarding above instructions:
[*]Since this was a different board, different chipset. This one has an ATSAMD51G19A
[*]Although not explicitly noted, you need to power the board with USB in addition to connecting the JLink

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by bradl001 on Fri Dec 14, 2018 7:47 pm

Is this J-Link programmer the best way to, hopefully, get an M0 adalogger recovered? Is the process explicitly detailed?

Clearly, I don't want to spend more $$$ on something to fix a $20 part but, perhaps, there is a recovery service available (i.e. I mail it in, you fix and mail it back)...

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Re: Dead M4 Express

by MakerMelissa on Fri Dec 14, 2018 8:38 pm

I decided to buy a J-Link instead of another board for the following reasons:
1. I was fairly sure it would work
2. Now I have a J-Link in addition to a working board for just a little more money
3. If it ever happens again, I can do it without spending any more money
4. I was really interested in what would be involved in getting a blank circuit up and running
5. The found the knowledge gained in the process far more valuable than the cost of the programmer

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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.