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Customer Testimonials » programming the NerdKits SUCKS!

November 13, 2009
by TheHamRadioGuy
TheHamRadioGuy's Avatar

in my opinion trying to program the NerdKits microcontroller with the DOS command line is a royal pain. all you get is one error after another, frankly I've given up. there's got to be an easier way to program the chip. I have an Arduino kit & it's a snap to program. I like learning how to use different types of microcontrollers,but I guess I wasted my money on NerdKits
signed PO'ed & Discussed

November 14, 2009
by mrobbins
(NerdKits Staff)

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Dear TheHamRadioGuy,

You've been a repeat customer since July 2009, but this is the first we're hearing from you on our forums, and you've never contacted our official support e-mail address. I think you are unfairly jumping to an emotional reaction without trying the methods at your disposal to address the underlying issue.

We are here to help, and if you can describe your error messages in an objective way, we'd be happy to figure out what's going on. Debugging little issues and working problems through to their solutions is a key part of really learning and understanding how these systems work. Don't give up -- make use of the resources around the NerdKit, which include these forums and our support e-mail address, to learn!

We don't hide the details of what's going on from our users like some other systems do, because if you want to actually become empowered to design microcontroller-based systems for yourself, you shouldn't be treated like a baby. Sometimes that means you have to use your brain a bit more, but in the end, it means you're going to be more capable to deal with future issues, or to extend the system as you wish.

Please get in touch with us, either via the forums or our e-mail address, and let's figure out your specific issues.

Mike

November 14, 2009
by Rick_S
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TheHamRadioGuy...

N9IWX - here... Give it time. These guys are GREAT with their support. They are quick and very good to answer any question you have. I too have had some challenges with the quirks of C. I come from a basic programming background and C is a whole new world entirely.

I'd recommend getting a basic C language reference and beginners book. Check our your local bookstores - I'm sure you'll find something there that will help with the basic structure of the language. That was where the bulk of my compile time errors occurred.

Ask questions both directly to Mike & Humberto at support or here in the forum.

Lastly, a google search of the error message you're given may provide the remaining help you may need.

I am still fighting my way through the language but I feel if I can learn C I'll be better off than I would have been otherwise.

Don't give up. I'm sure you can do it.

Rick

November 14, 2009
by TheHamRadioGuy
TheHamRadioGuy's Avatar

sorry about that guys, I'm just a newbie & a tinkerer yet with microcontrollers & when I get PO'ed or frustrated I tend to let mouth &/or my thoughts get the better of me. your right I need to take advantage of NerdKits support. it won't happen again.

TheHamRadioGuy

November 14, 2009
by wjh308
wjh308's Avatar

KB1HRG here... Nerdkits use a bootloader to serially program the chips. You can do away with the bootloader and use ISP to program the Mega168. That is my preferred method with my STK500 and AVR Studio. Regardless, either way you will need to know the basics, best learned by blood, sweat, and tears.. I've lost count of the times I stayed up at night to figure out something.

November 15, 2009
by tech20
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If you can tell us the errors, we can probably help you, and if it is a problem contacting the programmer/chip, check your connections on the Tx/Rx and PB0 to gnd. After that, it may be another problem and the nerdkit staff/community will be happy to help you.

December 20, 2009
by BobaMosfet
BobaMosfet's Avatar

TheHamRadioGuy--

We all appreciate and share your frustration-- but this is the problem with being new. You are overwhelmed with many things coming together and because of this-- and knowing nothing to begin with-- a person many times doesn't even know what questions to ask or where to begin.

I recommend this--

  1. Ask here for help-- we all, and the NerdKits founders have a lot of help to offer.
  2. If you get frustrated with one direction, step back and see if there is a different location you can start at-- sometimes that will help you back into a solution to your previous problem.
  3. Don't expect it to be easy-- it isn't. You are expected to bridge the gap between both circuit designer and low-level programmer. No simple task.
  4. Make sure your expectation is realistic. The arduinos may be easy to program-- but that is because you aren't working at bare-metal-- there is a layer between you and it. With great power (access to bare metal) comes great responsibility. You have the power to do with this project what the Arduino folks still only dream of doing.

Don't let the excitement in you die-- nurture it; determine where you are having difficulty specifically, and then ask questions. Read threads, surf google, buy books.

Happy Holidays! BM

December 28, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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ok i have this problem. when i try to use the command line to compile the program, command prompt says" C:UsersJEFFREYDesktopnerdkitsCodeinitialload>Make avrdude -c avr109 -p m168 -b 115200 -P COM5 LINKOBJECTS=../libnerdkits/delay.o . ./libnerdkits/lcd.o ../libnerdkits/uart.o -U flash:w:initialload.hex:a

Connecting to programmer: . Found programmer: Id = "Ω ""; type = m Software Version = . ; Hardware Version = . avrdude: error: buffered memory access not supported. Maybe it isn't a butterfly/AVR109 but a AVR910 device? Make: *** [initialload-upload] Error 1

C: "back-slash" Users "back-slash" JEFFREY "back-slash" Desktop "back-slash" nerdkits "back-slash" Code "back-slash" initialload>"

what is this? i have spent hours trying to figure this out and im stuck. i am running vista. thanks for any help.

December 28, 2009
by Rick_S
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That error typically means that the pc and chip aren't talking for some reason. There can be several causes.

It appears you changed the line in your makefile to COM5. Double check to be sure that is where your progamming (USB-Serial) interface is in fact located. Double check your wiring. Make sure the wires from your programmer are in the correct locations, make sure your pin one wire is in fact tied to your +5v, make sure the programming switch is at pin 14 with the ground connected to it's center. Don't forget to flip the switch to program mode then disconnect and re-connect power to enter program mode.

If you still have problems, take a couple of good quality overhead photo's and post them. Maybe we can help sort it out.

Good luck!

Rick

December 28, 2009
by Farmerjoecoledge
Farmerjoecoledge's Avatar

Hi monkeywithawrench,

You didn't say which programmer your using. They just introduced the NK003usb so i will assume it's the older serial shifter(adapter). Take the blue rs232 off and plug it directly to your serial port, edit the make file to device manager serial port settings. If that don't work check the bottom of the programmer for shorts if no shorts then send it back.

December 28, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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ok im nwe so i dont quite get it. i just got the kit for christmas. it5 is a newer usb kit. i used notepad to edit the makefile. i am about to use programmers notepad to see if that works. again, i am on vista. i have checked all of my connections. i am getting the error where it says its not a butterfly, but a device. thanks for your quick responses. il see what i can do. if i cant get it i will post pics of it.

December 28, 2009
by hevans
(NerdKits Staff)

hevans's Avatar

Hi monkeywithawrench,

Like Rick_S said, there are a few things that could be causing that problem. It is most often miss-wiring, but it could also be a software problem, or your cable might just have gotten damaged during shipping.

Are you sure that COM5 is what Vista is assigning to your cable. It the software is talking a to a different device you would see an error like this. Sometimes, high COM port numbers on Vista can be finicky sometimes. If you can, try reassigning your COM port to a lower one. You can do this by right-clicking on the prolific 2303 device in the device manager, click on properties. Click the port settings tab, and then click on the advanced button. You might be able to reassign your cable to a lower com port number that might work better.

If none of these things work, send us an email to support <at> nerdkits <dot> com, we will see what we can do about getting you a new working cable!

Humberto

December 28, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
monkeywithawrench's Avatar

ok i just checked this forum now. i actually just sent you guys an email about 20 minutes ago. i have changed the COM port number numerous times. i have re-booted my desktop twice. i have checked my wiring. i have changed the battery. i have checked the voltage of the batteries with a volt meter. in the email, i included super macro shots of the nerd kit, written out copy of the message from command line, pics of the voltages of the batteries, a screenshot that has a pic of command prompt. i have replaced the whole code folder with fresh ones from your site, changing the makefile the the correct COM port. i have edited the makefile using notepad and programmers notepad. i have made sure that the switch was up. when i plug in the battery with the switch up, it gets the 2 rows of black boxed. when it is down, i get the default message just fine. at first i had a hard time getting the software for both the serial adapter and the avr suite to work, but i reinstalled them and they both work fine. again, i am running 32bit windows vista. i have tried every COM port from COM7 down to COM4. any more info you guys need i can easily provide. just ask for anything i forgot to add. thanks for any and all help you guys provide.

December 28, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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oh yea, it is the newer usb kit that has the 1 piece usb serial adapter. it came bundled with the led array kit.

December 28, 2009
by Farmerjoecoledge
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Hi monkeywithawrench,

Holy smokes man, and it still doesn't work? I think they should go back to the original serial programmer. Somehow they think these are better (usb power) I had one too and did just as much as you before they believed me, they want to make sure you didn't overlook anything. You know they're tested so shipping must be causing them to malfunction. Their good for another one, they didn't wait to get it back before sending another one.

December 28, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
monkeywithawrench's Avatar

well thats great to hear. im glad you guys are taking care of any problems anybody has. i havent goten an email back yet and im not sure i will tonight, unless they check thier work email from home. any help from anyone is greatly appreciated. so you think that the problem is the usb serial adapter then, right? Thanks for your help. it is some assurance for me. by the way, i have just hooked up the dc power supply that comes with the led array so i dont have to keep pulling out my volt ohmn meter to check the voltage of my 9 volt battery. i still have to unplug my adapter just like with a 9 volt battery not because of the battery loosing a charge, but because of the adapter building up an increasing charge and frying it becaust when i checked the 9 volt adapter provided with the led array, it was putting out 14.28 volts if i remember correctly. it was either 14.28 or 14.29. that close though and it doesnt even matter which one it was. like i said before though, thanks for the help.us

December 28, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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and just for the record, nerdkits support alone is enough to sell their products. thanks nerdkits!

December 28, 2009
by mongo
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WOW!

Even though I am not new to electronics and such, I too had some little problems at the beginning. What I am new at is the ATMEGA stuff and the programming associated with it.

Fortunately, with a little patience, I got it figured out and after getting the first program to load and run correctly, I wrote the step by step procedure so I have something short and brief to follow, rather than jumping around from page to page in the guide. It was actually quite easy once I got it down and I think it will be the same for anybody else. My biggest issue was getting the port right but I have that set up now and have had no problems since.

Best of luck - and if things get frustrating, take a break and start with a fresh mind later.

December 28, 2009
by jastermerrel
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Is there anyway you can take a top down picture of your setup and post it? I'm very much a newbie and feel your pain. The picture might help these guys verify that everything is connected properly.

December 28, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
monkeywithawrench's Avatar

i am not totally sure how to post pics, but either someone explain how to post them, or give me an email address and i will gladly forward you the same email i sent to nerdkits with all the pics. for now though, since i i am on my wii typing with my wireless keyboard, i cannot send those pics in a new email, post them on the forum, which i dont know how to do anyways, or post them on a website. tomorrow when i am on my desktop i will try that though. as for now, i can forward them and my email address is monkeybuilderman@gmail.com

again, as i have said before, thanks for your help guys.com

December 28, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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nevermind. i just re-read how to post the images. i read it wrong before. as for now though, i still cant post pics cause i am on my wii and dont have access to those photos other than through my email so email me or give me your wmail address and i will email them to you. thanks

December 29, 2009
by Rick_S
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monkeywithawrench, you are going through the 5v regulator when using the power adapter right?? Use of a power adapter like that without going through the regulator to drop the voltage can easily and permanently damage your micro-controller.

If you are using the regulator, you will be fine as it's output is 5v.

Rick

December 29, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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thanks for your concern, but i did make sure that it is being regulated with the 5v regulator. i may be new to programming, however i am great with circuits. i can build and to some extent i can design circuits:)

December 29, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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okay nerdkits got back to me and had me preform a test using putty software available on the servo squirting guide. he had me connect the green and yellow wires from the usb serial adapter together on an empty row on the bread board, ten follow the directions on the nerdkits page. he said that since the yellow and green wires are send and receive wires, if the cord was good i would get an echo back of anything i typed on putty. i tried it, no echo, so my usb serial adapter is bad.

December 29, 2009
by Farmerjoecoledge
Farmerjoecoledge's Avatar

G'd day,

You got me worried. They supply a 9v adapter? I didn't know, so you got usb power for programming and 9v regulated power to run it. Well, when i first got mine i was doing the same thing, running on an adapter. I had a working system and OOPPS! The power was applied to board when i plugged the programmer into the usb. It instantly shut down the port. Now did that have something to do with why the programmer was completely dead too? There's another reason the old system was better, one power, less chance for accidently crossing them.Is there a chance you could have done that?

December 29, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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no. it wasn't working well before i used the adapter. i used the voltage regulator with the adapter for it. the adapter came with the led array expansion kit.

December 29, 2009
by Rick_S
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Good to hear you are up on the circuit end of things. Don't always know what level people are at so I sometimes ask what may seem like simple or obvious questions...

Glad to hear it is getting sorted out.

Rick

December 29, 2009
by Farmerjoecoledge
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No No No, the adapter doesn't come into play until "after" the code is loaded. I did understand you haven't loaded any code yet? So the adapter should still be in the box.

December 29, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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yea i havent loaded any code yet

December 29, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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no, i pulled the adapter out because i was having to use batteries that weren't all to strong anyways so i kept having to check them with a volt-ohm meter, then replace them. i dont need anny code to use the dc wall adapter.

December 29, 2009
by Farmerjoecoledge
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Very Good, sorry didn't mean to insinuate. So have they sent you another NK003 yet?

December 29, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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yea. he sent it out today

December 29, 2009
by VE6GWL
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Fellow Hams I'm a newbie to nerdkits and would like to know about any Ham radio projects in the works VE6GWL

December 29, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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ok these are the pics of the setup of the usb nerdkit.

pic1 pic2 pic3 pic4

and these are the pics of the setup for the test.

pic1a pic2a

and this pic is the setup i have for the dc adapter.

pic1b

December 29, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
monkeywithawrench's Avatar

sorry i do not know anything about HAM radios

December 29, 2009
by Farmerjoecoledge
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monkeywithawrench, is that your hookup? Man these guy's are too much sometimes. Put the yellow wire in cpu pin 2, the green in cpu pin 3, the red to red rail and the black you can leave where it is. I argued with them about the yellow to row 9 on the board but they wouldn't listen, too confusing. Try that and let us know.

December 29, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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are you talking about when the yellow and the green wire are on the same row? also, you don't need the ed wire. thats why its connected to row 9. it is a blank row. it has its own power source. the reason the yellow and green wires are connected to a blank row and not to the 2 and 3 pins of the chip is because the test didn't actually need the chip at all. it was basically only needing that the yellow and green wires were connected together. the test was to test only the usb serial adapter. i used Putty, the program from the servo squirting page, to talk directly through the usb serial adapter. one of the yellow and green wires is for sending data and the other wire is for receiving data. if they are connected together and the usb serial adapter is good, then whatever i type on putty should be displayed on the screen since it was sending the text, then receiving it back. if it is a bad usb serial adapter, then what you type will not be relayed back to the computer and you will not see anything.

December 29, 2009
by monkeywithawrench
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i actually have confirmed proof as a result of that test that the problem is because of the usb serial adapter.

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