New Black Cores - two different faults and neither working

I was delighted to receive my two new cores to complete the beehive monitoring project - but they don’t work.

The uFL core setup process goes through flashing blue, steady blue, flashing green and gets stuck there.
I have cleared wifi credentials, done a factory reset and tried setting the credentials by USB. I’ve confirmed that the credentials and wifi comms are good by reconnecting my old white core.
The power supply and router are fine and work reliably with my old core. I’ve tried two different routers (My usual TP link TD-W8968 and a TALKTALK D-Link DSL-3780 which both work fine with the old core) I’ve tried low and high gain antennae at different distances from the router. I’m in the UK so I’ve set the channel to a US compliant one.

The second new core has a chip antenna. This one breathes cyan as soon as I supply power. If I press the mode button it continues to breath cyan and I cannot get it into listening mode. I have done a factory reset and it goes through the expected sequence of yellow flash then white flash but then as soon as the mode button is released it is back to breathing cyan.

The troubleshooting guide doesn’t seem to cover this.

@phec,

WOW BLACK CORES! :smiley:

I had a simple closed door discussion about preparing for new cores that is coming online. Seems like you got me the 1st issue to resolve :wink:

Let’s see…You seems to have done everything correctly.

  1. Second core behavior is weird. Sounds like bad bootloader. Have a video?

  2. 1st core, we can try to reload the CC3000 patch again.

what do u think?

@phec For the first one, do you have an antenna attached?

For the second one, I’m not sure what’s going on. Can you take a video of the LED?

I’ve had issues with making sure my antenna was connected a couple of times. It seems like I need to make sure I feel two clicks when attaching the connector.

Here is a link to a video of the odd core
First it is newly powered up and breathing cyan…
I then press the mode button but it does not enter listening mode
Then I do a factory reset and it again breaths cyan. - I’ve just put it alongside my old core - the colour is less blue than the old one - maybe you’d call it breathing white.

The other core in frame is the uFL one just so you can see there is an antenna.

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I’ve just seen the size of the video - sorry @zach !

I changed the USB lead, plugged the chip antenna core into a NiMH battery pack and walked in 3 anticlockwise circles and the core worked perfectly for long enough for me to register it. Then after a short delay the core was back in its fault state. I can no longer get it into listening mode and it is breathing white/pale cyan after a factory reset…
and while I was typing that, the core spontaneously stopped breathing white and started to flash blue and I was able to re-connect and flash a program to it.
When I unplug and then replug in the core I get the white LED for one breath, around 1.5 secs then it goes through the usual green flash cyan and breathing cyan. This is the same behavior as my old white core so that seems to be normal, it is just that the new core has on several occasions got stuck in that white LED initial starting state.

I continue to have little joy with the uFL core. I don’t detect two clicks as I attach the uFL lead @wgbartley, just one quite distinct one, but it seems to be seated quite positively.

Is there a solder pad I can touch a wire antenna to in place of the uFL connector in case there’s a dry joint?

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I’ve just checked the resistance across the uFL connector and it is very low. Is this alright? I suspect not as the resistance across the antenna connector on my router is very high.

The resistance across the u.fl connector on my working core is very low too. About 0.5 ohm.

The u.fl connector has three connection points. The contacts parallel to the long dimension of the core are are ground and the one pointed at the middle of the core is the feed. In your picture it looks ok. To make a paperclip antenna, touch it to the contact pointed towards the center of the board.

Have you tried this antenna before for WiFi? Maybe you could try a “field expedient” antenna like the tip of a Pentel 0.5mm mechanical pencil or a paperclip held in place.

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Thanks for checking the antenna resistance @bko. I’ll try the paperclip antenna. The antenna I have been trying is off an old wireless router so I know that bit works. The uFL lead is new though. I’ve checked continuity and absence of shorts.
EDITED - No success with the paperclip. I’ve ordered another uFL connector just in case it is that.

With the breathing white core, I’ve just powered it up again and we are back with the breathing white (i.e. the first LED colour before the core would normally go into flashing green then cyan). It continues to be unresponsive to holding the mode button down to put it in listening mode.

As a teaser, here is the almost working core sitting on its board with the solar powered RFu-328 for the beehive monitor.

I planned to use the Spark for comms and data reduction and the RFu for data collection but if I can’t get a decent range with the Spark I’ll remove the chip antenna from the RFu (It is designed to break off) and add an 868MHz antenna and use the Spark for data collection.

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A friend of mine just got into beekeeping, and this blends bees and tech. I’d love to see a project share or spark.hackster.io project of it if you have the time!

Update on faulty Cores

@zach, @bko @kennethlimcp and @wgbartley
I have now taken delivery of two more cores (possibly due to finger trouble on my part - and yes I have paid twice!).
The two newest cores, one white uFL and one black chip antenna, both worked out of the box, so the two I am having trouble with are both faulty and the antenna problem is not due to my uFL lead or poor quality paper clip.
Incidentally the metal cover over the CC3000 chip on one of the new cores is noticeably tarnished with what looks like a sweaty fingerprint so I wonder whether there are some quality issues with the core assembly. Obviously the mark on the case doesn’t affect the performance, but all the other cores I have received have been pristine. The solder on all the new cores is semi-mat rather than the shiny silver on last year’s delivery.

Hi @phec,

Sorry for all the trouble but I’m glad you’ve got functional Cores in your possession! If you email us at hello@spark.io we can either replace or refund the non-functional Core, and both if it seems like the u.FL issue is on the board and not with the antenna.

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Thank you! I’ll email.