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gordoncj

Solution sometimes fails to load

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We have recently purchased a new Solution board, software 7.8.2.4, fitted with the option for remote switches etc. This replaces our former Fat Frog, which had proved extremely reliable over the years.

 

At present we are not using the remote option, but this worked when testing our remote switches (not connected at present) The Keyboard and Mouse are fitted in two of the ports at the back of the board. [The USB port on the front panel was not compatible with the Zero88 memory stick provided, but the stick worked satisfatorily on a computer. Different memory sticks worked on the board's front panel socket.]

 

We switch the unit on at the socket that supplies its Power Supply, and wonder if the latter has a soft start up characteristic. If so using the switch on the back of the board may give it a kick start. This is only a guess and may be irrelevant.

 

We are alarmed to discover that the board has frozen three times on the first screen visible, when starting to load just before live performances. The MFK displays are cycling but the load does not go beyong this first screen. [No USB memory stick was in the board as we read elsewhere that this sometimes caused problems.] The first 2 failures were resolved by switching off and then on again after a few seconds delay.

 

This evening it took 4 restarts before it loaded. This is a serious failure as one gets the impression that the situation is getting worse.

 

We need your advice urgently as we have another 5 shows this week.

 

Regards,

 

Gordon

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Does the desk lock even if you have the keyboard & mouse plugged in? If it does - then it may be that the compact flash card inside the desk may need reseating, the dealer who supplied it should have a technician qualified to open the desk & do this.

 

If the desk is crashing/locking with the keyboard & mouse plugged in - they may be drawing too much current from the USB Hub power supply rails. If you're intent on using a mouse & keyboard you need to ensure that they're low current devices or they can pull the desk over - try a boot without them plugged in.

 

You also need to bear in mind that boot times for the Solution is about 45 seconds or so - what you think is the desk locking may be the desk booting. What do you see on a video monitor connected to the video port? That can give a good indication of the booting process as you see almost everything happening as ZerOS loads and starts the window manager and so on.

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Thanks for the prompt reply Iank99,

 

I note what you have said about reseating the flash card we will sort this out with the distributors.

 

The display does not change from the initial picture (which says it is loading) but the MFK displays are switching continuously. On one occasion the there was no change for approximately 20 minutes and I was called up to the theatre as an emergency with about 10 minutes to spare before the audience was admitted. The memory stick was removed and switching off the power waiting a few seconds then switching on again achieved a normal start. Since then we have NOT tried to start up for a show with a memory stick installed.

 

[i did carry out a few tests with, and without, the stick installed and it will start up properly most of the time under both conditions but seems less reliable with the stick installed.] It occasionally failed to load even if the memory stick was not present.

 

Last night it took 4 attempts before it would start, which is obviously not acceptable.

 

This morning I started up the board by having the switch on the board off when the power supply was turned on. This allowed the supply to stabilise before the board was switched on. My thoughts were that if the processor starts to run before the power supply is up to full voltage it may go into an unexpected state and not load. There was no problem but I have left it running ready for tonight to avoid difficulties this evening.

 

Your comments about the keyboard and mouse loading down the USB ports could be very relevant to the problem, and we will unplug both before attempting to start up in the future. I will put in short extender leads in the 2 ports used to save wear and tear on the sockets on the board. We will also look into installing a low power mouse and keyboard.

 

It may take some time before we know for sure if this cures the problem as the loading fault has been quite unpredictable.

 

I would be interested to know if you have seen this problem before? Do you think that there is any possibility that the Option which is fitted is contributing to our problem?

 

Best Regards,

 

Gordon

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Gordon - generally I don't see a lot of issues with Solutions crashing on startup but I'm aware that they can crash from conversations with Keith & Jon.

 

The most common causes are USB keyboards and mice pulling too much current or using the USB port to charge mobile phones - a powered USB hub is the best "belt & braces" solution.

 

There shouldn't be any lag that would affect the boot up of the desk from the PSU - it's a switch mode PSU so pretty much "instant on" - there's no magnetic saturation of transformer coils needed and so on... The Compact Flash card may be the issue - there are two positions for it in the desk and Keith should be able to advise them which to try (if your distributors technician isn't sure).

 

The remote switching option shouldn't be a factor unless there's a problem on the cable that's connecting the remote switches (from memory the port can be twitchy if you short the wrong pins) unless you really need them - I wouldn't bother with them. If you really need remote operation then consider a USB extender for the keyboard and a monitor extender - the remote position then has more meaningful control.

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Hi iank99,

 

I will check if the keyboard is marked with its current consumption tonight, and let you know what it is. i have not found anything in the Specs for the lighting board which gives any details about available current from the USB's, and we have so far not had any difficulties during the shows, so the problem does appear to be just the very first stage of boot up. In view of this we will continue to

switch on using the switch on the back of the board. (Which is the recommended procedure in the manual anyway). Some switch mode supplies do have NTC resistors to reduce inrush current, and I will check how the power supply woltages rise with an oscilloscope during next week if I get a free moment.

 

The Theatre Manager has talked to the suppliers, who also talked about disconnecting the keyboard and mouse at start up. but he would prefer not to disturb anything during the present production unless absolutely necessary. The distributors will no doubt come down to sort out the flash memory seating or position.

 

The optional board was fitted because we do use the remote switches quite frequently, and we have never had any trouble with them on the Fat Frog. My concern about fitting the option was that it comes with other facilities such as MIDI, SMPTE etc., which is putting a small? additional load on the supply, or which might affect the initial boot in some other way.

 

Gordon

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One thing to consider is the really old version of the Fat Frog desks have a different configuration on the remote wiring to the Solutions/Leap Frogs and the later versions of the Frog range.

If I remember correctly this was something like input 1 and 7 were swapped over to bring this in line with our standard wiring configuration.

 

The smpte and midi inputs have no additional loading difference whether the card is fitted or not.

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Hi iank99 & KWR88,

I have checked our keyboard and mouse current requiremants and these are 50mA and 100mA respectively. I would not expect these levels to cause any problems, but we could replace the optical mouse with a lower current demand version if you consider that necessary. Can you please give us your opinion about the max. currents permissible/advisable, as we could not see any limits listed on the Specifications in the Manual?

Thanks, Keith, for the 'heads up' about the wiring change on the remote socket of the old Fat Frogs. The Fat Frog we had was sufficiently modern to have the standard connections, so our existing cabling and remote switches are working without any wiring changes.

 

To help us make a decision about whether we have a new Solution which should be returned for investigation, or not, we would be interested to hear if others on the Forum have had Solutions which failed to load further than the initial picture on the first switch on? Did they then load properly on the second try? Finally were they being switched on at the AC mains supply switch, or by the switch on the back of the Solution?

 

Regards,

 

Gordon

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The mouse is at maximum current for a "unit load" on USB - each port should take 500mA, of course the issue might be the startup current for the mouse but it's difficult to say. It might be worth trying an alternative mouse for 'peace of mind'?

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