Help! Booting only works sometimes... when it doesn't, it's white screen & some movement

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Kal-El
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Help! Booting only works sometimes... when it doesn't, it's white screen & some movement

From ebay, I just received a never-been-opened RS-Media.  When I first turned it on, the screen lit up white, the eyes flickered, and RS media booted (but, no sound, and just a white screen) and did it's initial exercise at the end of the boot.  I knew something was wrong, since there was no sound and the LCD had no image... stayed white and blank.  I could operate its arms and head though, after it "booted".  So, I shut it off.  Waited approx 10 seconds.  Turned it back on, and this time the splash screen showed up, the personality loaded, and RS Media was working.  I could operate it normally,  So, it sounds like things were working again... but, not for long...

Turned it off again.  Waited another 10 seconds, and powered it back on.  It went back to booting with a white, blank screen and no sound.  Once booted, I could again control the arms and head. But, that's all.  With a white, blank screen, not much I could do.  I couldn't change modes.  I couldn't see modes, I couldn't hear modes.  I kept trying to power cycle it over and over again (waiting at least 7 seconds or more between power cycle attempts.  Always the same thing.  White, blank screen, limited control after boot.

Eventually, after one of these "non-boots", I started playing with the remote.  Specifically, I played with the square stop button, and also tried the stop and Left shift.  At some point, something I hit on the remote actually rebooted RS Media (like a power down and power up, probably by holding the "square" button down at least 3 seconds, without the left shift).  And during this soft boot, RS Media came back up again normally, splash screen, sound, etc.  I was back in business.  So, of course, I had to try a true power cycle again.

Powered it down again (normal power button), powered it back up again (again, with at least 7 seconds after power off), and RS Media kept booting properly.  Was able to play with it extensively.  Recorded video, sound, pics.  Seems I could turn it off, wait, turn it on, and it was functioning as it should.  Was able to duplicate this proper rebooting a couple more times.

Well, finally, then I powered it down for the evening.  But, just before I was about to put rs media away, I was just wanting to make absolutely sure it would still work, so... I powered it back on.  And unfortunately, it went back to the white screen, no sound, and minimal control.  I decided to try the remote control and use the square button again.  Tried doing some soft boots that way, but I have not been able to duplicate it booting successfully since my earlier attempt.  I tried this on battery, and I've tried this with the power supply.

What is going on?  How can I get it to boot properly every time?  What triggered the successful boots?  And what's causing it to have unsuccessful boots?  Please help!  I'm really disappointed with what's going on.

Thanks,

Kal

Vader
Vader's picture

What I do know is that the white screen boot and limited movement are signs that the media board (the board the controls the OS and most movement functions) is not operating correctly.

The RS Media has a "watchdog" program on it that sends a signal to the robot board (the board that interfaces with the motors and sensors and controls basic movements) when the stop button is held. If this signal is not received, the robot board knows that the media board is not responding and resets the RS Media.

Your best bet is to open up the RS Media and look for any faults on the media board (which is located under the plate behind the neck). There are some disassembly guides around the net and on this forum.

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

Thanks Vader, I'll guess I'll have to be brave and try to take it apart. But by "faults", are you thinking cable-related? I ask because I tried something... since I'm still having problems with the white screen boot, I decided to try booting RS-Media while I had it in different positions. For example, I press the power button while I hold it vertical, or while I hold it on its side, or while it I hold it horizontally. Whichever position I held it in last out of the three got it to boot properly! (I forget which position it was as I type this.)

Of course, I just tried to boot it again, and I was back to the white screen. And trying to boot it in different positions now isn't working.

If it's a truly bad media board, why would it work sometimes? So, because it works sometimes, is it probably a working board, but a bad cable connection to the board?

Is this easily remedied?

And finally, is this common with these RS-Media units? Did many of them get manufactured with media-board access issues?

Vader
Vader's picture

If it works when you power it on with the laying the robot down it could be a component on the robot board drawing too much current (peoole have had this problem before). On the other hand the LCD or camera cable may be loose, which happens to be quite a common cause of boot problems.

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

But, if it's only the LCD or camera being loose, how does that explain why I get no sound or limited movements once booted (when the screen is white)? Would a loose LCD or camera cable interact with the other functions of RS-Media to prevent them from working?

Vader
Vader's picture

A loose LCD or camera cable can prevent the media board from booting (which is why there is a white screen). The media board handles most movements, while the robot board handles basic movements from the remote such as waist and arm movement.

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

So, here's an update... I was brave and took most of RS-Media apart to look for loose cabling. Got down to the media board. Even took the head apart to check the two ribbon cables up that way. All secure. Now that I had access to the media board, I was able to manipulate it and see if I can get reliable boots. And for a time, yes, I got some good boots. Figured it was something just not perfectly soldered somewhere, since the ribbon cables were attached. But, after putting the covers back on, white screen boots, that's all. Took the front and back covers off again, and I got proper booting sometimes. So, I focused on the rainbow cable. The colored wires seemed secure at the media board. However, just to make sure it wasn't something loose there, I taped those wires in place at the edge of the board. Ever since then, I hadn't had a failed boot, even after moving RS-Media to different locations. So, maybe something was up with the rainbow cable. Or maybe it's just coincidence that it started working.

However... now that it boots properly again, I find that when I move the head left or right, it now clicks when it goes 2/3 the way left or right. Also, When the head moves 2/3 way right, the right hand clicks open and then opens normally after the head continues turning past its click. Similar situation when the head turns left. Sometimes if it goes too far right or left, the head bounces back a bit. Wasn't doing this before the surgery. So, I must've done something to the head or neck, but I can't figure out what.

But, here's a bigger problem... So, I just tried to take apart the head so I could take a look see. And, I want to now put the head back together, but I can't! I don't remember exactly what the configuration is from after I took off the two half shells of the head. There is a black cylindrical piece at the neck, then a circular object with 4 springs below it that fit on the neck only one way, then the brains. And that's where I'm having the difficulty. I can't seem to fit the brains section on the circular spring thing properly so that I could then reattach the two half shells of the head. I've searched all over and cannot find any complete or clear disassembly pictures and instructions specifically for the head and neck. (There's that nice general set of disassembly instructions out there, but, it doesn't go on enough specifics about the head.) I'm really bummed because I was so close, but I can't get the head together without more details. Any pics or instructions out there on either taking the head completely apart or (preferably) putting the head back together again? Thanks!

Vader
Vader's picture

The rainbow-coloured cable is a serial cable that goes to the robot board. While I've never tried it, I'm positive the media board will boot without it connected.

As for the the head, i've never disassembled it, but there are a few other people who have and might be able to help you.

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

Thanks very much, Vader, for all your help. So, should I open a new thread about the head assembly?

I really need some good pics or even a video of re-assembly. Or even disassembly. I just looked at it again, and I can't figure out how to get a few of the pieces to stack on one-another. I can't believe I'm stuck on that.

(I wonder how close an RSV2 head is to the RS-Media head. But, I can't find disassembly or assembly info on that either.)

FreddyA
FreddyA's picture

Hello Kal-El, to reasemble the head you should fit the black ring with 4 springs over the neck support assembly with the guide notch. Then fit the top rubber neck guard and the spring loaded black ring into left half of the neck space of head part with the face on and square it straight into normal position on the bot. then while keeping the head position, slide the right half on keeping the neck parts compressed and it all should fit.

Freddy

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

Thanks FreddyA. Do you by some chance have any pics available of just that? I have no problem getting the ring/4-springs to fit on the neck with the notch. It's that next step you discuss. I can't seem to visualize exactly that while I'm in front of it. Pics might help. Or a vid. I'm so frustrated with myself over this!

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

Actually, FreddyA. I just tried out your method (using the left half first), and it worked! Thank you! I had been trying the right half first, to no avail.

Now, that I've got the head together., my final problem is figuring out why it's clicking at 2/3 turn right or left. I wrote about this with details on my 11:37pm post above.

Any ideas how to fix this? I'm sure it's related to my re-assembly of something!

FreddyA
FreddyA's picture

There are some units with a gear slider design that after time causes head snapping while turning. One of my bots had that and my fix was to add a layer of plastic under the sliding part where the "groove" is so it would hold shape and not let the gear slip. A mickey mouse fix but so far so good. You may want to look everything over real good and do a search for head snap or something before diving into disassembly.

Freddy

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

I don't think this would be a worn or time-based gear slider in my case, as this is a new out of the box RS-Media. (Just got it from Ebay; it had never been open before by the original owner.) Other than the booting problem, this bot operated normally when I brought it out of the box. No clicks with head turns. That is, until I disassembled it to fix the booting problem. I had disassembled the torso and the head (to check out media board ribbon cable connections). So, that's basically what I'm trying to find out... what I might've done in disassembly/reassembly to have made the head now start to click.

I've had the torso and head apart a couple of times now, I can't figure out what I could've done to it. I've stared at the slider mechanism, and just can't figure out what's happening at the point (right or left turn) that it clicks. Would the problem be within the head assembly or more the slider assembly below the neck, or something more in the torseo? (That'll tell me whether I should even consider having to take the head apart as I'm diagnosing this.)

Vader
Vader's picture

Did you put the head back in the same position as it was when you first took it off? It may be the gearbox under the head that is making the clicking noise.

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

That's the part I don't know. Basically, when I was doing the "booting" surgery, I removed the torso chest and back, and then the head. Actually, I never removed the wires from the head, so I never totally disconnected the head. I did remove the head shells and, as you know, seperated the black ring with the springs from the rest of the head before getting it all back together last night. I wasn't really considering that there was any other way to put the head back on, i.e., specific position, since it just went into place. i.e., afterwards, I assumed I was putting the head back into position, as it naturally went into position. Mind you, head movement forward and back work fine.

Where is the gearbox under the head? Is it actually in the neck? Is it the part of the slider system you can see from the torso? (I so wish I had pics of that whole assembly.)

And why would it be making a clicking noise now after RS-Media re-assembly?

And, so, once I identify the gearbox, how does one re-align the head back into the proper position for the gearbox? The head already looks straight-on while at rest. But, I guess something must be off. Fancy a trip to Baltimore to give me a hand? :)

FreddyA
FreddyA's picture

Double post

FreddyA
FreddyA's picture

take a peek inside the track and check for anything might have fallen in there. The slider mechanism is visible through the slit so if you turn on rsm and look to see exactly where it is slipping. the left and right gear box is behind the hand spring assembly and that??s a pain to get off and on. The fact that your bot is new doesn??t mean it doesn??t have that weird slider design that fails. it just might be that yours failed earlier than others. then again it might be just a broken gear tooth.

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

I'll take a look for the gearbox. Remember, everything mechanically was working before I took it apart, so if the slider design failed, it was probably because of... me. I really think I might have not put things back exactly where they need to be. My problem is that I don't know exactly where things need to be aligned. I'll try to figure out what you're referring to by the "slit", when you say the slider mechanism is behind there. (With the chest shell off, I see what looks like a slider mechanism directly in front of me. Are there any pictures online of this?

So, With the impending hurricane (actually, tropical storm, where I am), I don't know how long we're going to have power. So, when things settle, I'll update. Thanks very much for bearing with my lack of knowledge about the RSM's insides. (At least he boots now. :)

FreddyA
FreddyA's picture

there is not anything I can think of in the neck/head parts that might make it have the snapping on l/r. Only thing I can think of is in that slider gear slipping. By "slit" I meant where the pin guides the spring loaded sleds. if you turn the head slowly you may be able to see through the slit what makes it slip and where. keep us updated

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

Very good, I'll check it out after the storm passes through.

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

Oh, something else. I found this posting: http://www.robocommunity.com/forum/thread/17457/RS-Media-Head-Stuck-Down...

With this in mind, can you point out where in the pics there I should be looking specifically for what could be off-kilter?

FreddyA
FreddyA's picture

Actually, in those pictures the slit isnt visible but by removing the chest assembly black plastic and the springs and sleds you can see how the gear moves.

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

Well, I'm back after a few weeks of natural weather annoyances... a hurricane leaving me without power for 5 days, a tropical storm that left flood waters washing out a bridge on my street, and getting over a nasty cold. However, I do have some updates to my RS Media noisy/cracking/snapping head-turning issue.

A friend of mine worked with me to figure out what was causing the issue. We visually caught a glimpse of the rack and pinion system via some slits in the chest area. After removing the chest to get to the actual rack and pinion system, we found the rack gear in good shape. But, the pinion gear (a turquoise-colored gear) was missing a tooth. That's looks to be the problem.

So, a few questions come to mind. If you read a few posts back, you'll see that the head-turning operated just fine *before* I first opened RS-Media's front and back shells to fix the booting problem by folding over the multicolored cable and securing it in place. (Booting is now working fine, by the way)

1) How did my putting the media board back in place and putting the front and back shells back on make the pinion gear get a snapped-off tooth?

2) Could it have been a sensor that actually went bad as I was putting things back together after fixing the boot issue? And that sensor made the head move in some manner that ended up making the neck move in some fashion (that I didn't notice) that put too much pressure on the pinion gear and broke it?

3) Or was it just a coincidence that the pinion tooth decided to snap off after all that work was done?

And this now leads to some additional questions...

4) Where can I find such a replacement pinion gear? I assume Wowwee doesn't have them available any more. Anyone know anyone with a spare one to sell, give-away, etc?

5) Can an RSV2 pinion gear directly replace the one in RS-Media?

Maybe I should put a forum posting requesting where to find a pinion gear.

So... now that the gear issue is figured out, one more issue cropped up in all this assembly/disassembly of RS-Media... Now, my RS-Media's microphone has some issues. (Note, the mic worked fine before my original disassembly..)

1) Sometimes, the microphone doesn't record sound at all. I have to open up RS-Media and just play with some wires, and it starts to work again... until the next time or maybe the time after that.

2) When the mic does record, I hear the audio I recorded, but with some clicks in the recording. Is that normal? (I don't recall how it sounded when I first got the unit.)

3) I just want to verify... the mic is in the navel of the front shell, correct? and, so, that's the wire leading to the media board, and therefore, that should be the wire I'm having issues with?

What do you think is going on with the mic? Best way to troubleshoot this? If I've got the correct wire being the mic wire, then, I see it goes from the navel to a coupler connector to a wire that leads to the media board. And, the mic connection at board (I think it's ultimately two wires?) is somewhat difficult to make out how good the connection is. Lots of gunk at the connection point (glue? solidified flux?) Again, playing with those wires sometimes gets the sound working. Once I put the chest shell on, though, I tend to lose the mic again. Well, at least sometimes. Connections at the navel end seem solid.

I think that's it for now. I know I wrote a lot above, but, hopefully, you all will have some ideas with how to get me going again with a replacement pinion gear and with the mic audio problem. Your help has been invaluable! Thanks!

FreddyA
FreddyA's picture

Hi, I suppose the bot may have over stressed at one point. Has happened to me on the up down motor. I have transplanted that assembly from rsv2 and fits. I've also had mic issues with the wire ends soldered directly on the media board. yours may have a connector there, pull the glue off it and inspect it. see if there is continuity with atester or something.

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

I made it worse before I made it better. So, last night, in troubleshooting the mic problem, I saw there was continuity between each mic wire from the navel (the actual mic) and the connector/coupler that sits in the chest area. Getting continuity between the other side of that connector/coupler and the media board wasn't happening. I checked the mic wires at the media board end, and the black wire seemed loose. I ended up wiggling it enough (and remember, it's covered with that glue-like stuff), that it eventually came off the pad at the media board.

So, I had to solder that black wire back onto the media board. This was not easy. That pad was really covered with that sticky stuff, so it was problematic getting a good solder joint there. I had to get rid of a lot of that glue. (And, you haven't seen me try to solder. It's not a happy experience.) Luckily, my wife was a real trooper and held the media board in position for me... for a while. (I even used magnifier lenses and lights to see this pad, it's so small. Eventually, I did get a good solder joint. And I could now get continuity from the pin side of the mic wire connector/coupler (the one that resides in the chest cavity.)

However, when I plug both halves of that connector/coupler together, I lose continuity between the navel and the media board for both orange and black microphone wires. So, I surmised that it must be that connector/coupler between the two lengths of mic wires that wasn't allowing continuity. And I was right. I found that the one half of the connector, the part with the pins in it, its pins weren't long enough to make contact with the small metal tubes within the other half of the connector. And, I figured out why. It seems that on the pin side of the connector, its two wires pulled out of the connector a fraction of an inch... enough, though, to not allow contact to the other half of the connector. I pushed the pin connector wires further into the connector... and finally, I had full continuity with the other half of the connector. And... I now had working mic audio! (Of course, during one boot, the RS Media didn't actually boot up... I had to re-fold and secure the colored wire connector on the media board again, as described in earlier in this thread. Booted fine since that.)

Question about the mic... since I first bought the unit, when I'd used the mic for recording (when the mic actually worked... and now), I'd hear click, click, click in the background all through any working recordings. The clicks are sometimes lower in volume (more subtle), and sometimes, higher (less subtle), but are steady in rhythm. Even when the mic wasn't working, for those blank recordings, I'd still get click, click, click in the background. So, I'm thinking it's not the mic, but some other component in the RS-Media. Does RS-Media record directly (i.e, stream) to the final audio file? or to a temporary file in RAM first, and after the recording is done, it writes to a permanent file in nvram? Perhaps when it's recording and writing to its RAM or nvram, the clicking is added by something during the saving or streaming process, due to a component in RS-Media? Any ideas on that?

Do any of you get the same clicking during audio recordings? (videos with audio recordings get that clicking sound too.)

In summary, a) My RS-Media is now booting, b) its mic is now recording again, c) my audio recordings have a series of clicks in the background, d) I still need a pinion gear, and e) I learned one heck of a lot about the innerworkings of the RS-Media via these issues.

At this point, most everything on RS-Media is working, except, I can't turn its head too far left or right. I can deal with that until I get a replacement pinion gear. But, at least, the robot is mostly usable now.

Vader
Vader's picture

The clicks are probably the "heartbeat" from the rear speaker.

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

Heartbeat? From the woofer? What are you referring to? Here's the thing... I only hear the clicks for recordings I make through RSM, otherwise, I don't hear any clicks from any other audio that RSM produces (personality voice, games, etc.)

Vader
Vader's picture

Yes, from the woofer. The mic is strong enough to pick it up so it ends up being part of your recording.

FreddyA
FreddyA's picture

Hello, Like vader said. it is the tick from the woofer and I also have that happen in my audio/video recordings.. I'm not sure but maybe setting the line in on may rid that on recordings. Good work on getting your rsm mostly working. I am going to make some replacement gears and so happens that of the ones I need aswell so if it works out that I can print those gears out I'll send you a replacement.
Freddy

Kal-El
Kal-El's picture

Thanks Freddy! I never thought I'd have to delve so deep into a bot like this. A great learning experience, though!

What are you using to create replacement gears? A RepRap 3-D printer? Will a gear made of that material be about the same strength as a stock gear? How do you end up getting the exact specs needed from the original gear into your printer?

And yes, I really appreciate your offer of sending me out a replacement if you do make any. Thanks in advance! When do you think you're going to make the attempt to print a gear? Good luck!

Kal-El

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