Original Orangutan Programmer stopped working

MCU’s: Original Orangutan mega168 and Baby Orangutan 168 (tried both)
Programmer: Original Orangutan Programmer
AVR Studio
4x1.5v or 9v power (tried both)

First of all, the reset button of my regular (ie, not baby) orangutan has stopped working. I don’t know why, it just doesn’t do anything anymore. The power light does not change and the program does not stop running.

For my actual problem: I soldered wires onto my new wheel and encoder set, plugged them into my microcontroller and then went to program them on Windows (eww :smiley: ). I started by uploading the simple-test from the pololu avr library. I now realize that my orangutan is incompatible (the mega168, not the babyO). Anyway, it uploaded, and then my MCU started clicking(maybe a few times per second) and the green power led flashed very rapidly(probably in sync with the clicking). The red LED did nothing, nor did the screen (I’m assuming because the code is incompatible). Anyway, oh well, I realized they were incompatible and tried the orangutan-lib pwm example. It did not work: I got “Entering programming mode… FAILED!”. I tried a couple things, including all the steps of the programmers troubleshooting (including the programmer frequency changes, I’ve tried a few speeds, all below 1/4 the MCU’s frequency, but none work. I tried again a few times, unplugged, restarted computer, switched wires, switched power sources (I was originally using the 4x1.5v, which were almost dead), tried a new MCU (baby-O) and got the same problem every time. I’m at a loss of what to do next…

Any ideas?


Can you still talk to the programmer using AVR Studio (i.e. can you open the AVRISP dialog)? Does your Orangutan show any signs of life? Given that something weird happened with your Orangutan shortly before things stopped working, I’d be inclined to think that the problem is with your Orangutan if not for the problems programming your Baby Orangutan. It definitely does not sound good that your MCU was “clicking” (are you sure it wasn’t the buzzer?).

At any rate, it sounds like there’s a good chance something got damaged. If you can’t narrow down what’s at fault, you can send both your Orangutan and programmer back to us to take a look at.

Also, I don’t know if you can test this with your Orangutan in its current state, but the reset problem is probably a fault of the button itself. If you touch a grounded wire to the reset side of the button, does the board reset?

- Ben

Can you still talk to the programmer using AVR Studio (i.e. can you open the AVRISP dialog)?

Does your Orangutan show any signs of life?
The Green power light turns on. On my baby-o the green and red lights turn on. Before on my orangutan (large) the red light was on even if the code didn’t tell it to, it is now off.

Given that something weird happened with your Orangutan shortly before things stopped working, I’d be inclined to think that the problem is with your Orangutan if not for the problems programming your Baby Orangutan. It definitely does not sound good that your MCU was “clicking” (
are you sure it wasn’t the buzzer?

I’m not sure… It is either the buzzer (given that the code I was uploading used the buzzer, this is a possibility…) or the board rapidly turning on/off. I’m inclined to think its the latter. I’ve been able to stop the clicking and flickering by moving it, it’s very odd. At one point there was a connection between altitude and the flickering. If I brought it above a certain point it would flicker and below it it wouldn’t. Usually that happens with wires, but moving the wires had no effect, just moving the actual device.

I tried again on my mac, with AVRDUDE, and got this:
avrdude: stk500v2_command(): command failed
avrdude: stk500v2_command(): unknown status 0xc9
avrdude: stk500v2_program_enable(): cannot get connection status
avrdude: initialization failed, rc=-1

At this point, it sounds like I will need to see the boards in person. You can send all three devices (Baby O, Orangutan, and programmer) back to us at the address listed on our contact page and we’ll take a look at them. Please include a reference to this thread so we can identify the package, and make sure to clearly specify return shipping information.

- Ben

I’m still trying to figure out what to do. I live in Canada, so it was kind of pricey both monetarily and time-wise for me to do that. It costs about $20 to ship it there and takes about a week. Times that by two and that’s a lot of time and money, not to mention the time it would take you to fix it, and the possibility of it not being fixable.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I’ll get back to you as soon as I figure something out.

Sorry for the double post.

I successfully programmed the baby-o just now. So the problem is with the orangutan itself, I think it is probably broken beyond repair… That clicking does not sound good.

Anyway, the programmer is fine, so that’s good.

Now I need a new MCU. I guess that’s as good of a reason as any to upgrade to one of the newer models =D. Thanks for your help Ben.

It’s possible a simple swap of the MCU on your Orangutan will fix it, though I can’t promise it will be as simple as that. If you ship it to us and we can repair it, we’d cover the return shipping, but I understand if it’s easier for you to use this as an excuse to upgrade! I’m glad to hear your programmer is still working, but you also might consider upgrading to our new second-generation AVR programmer, which you can get for $12 in combination with an Orangutan SV or LV. This programmer is better able to monitor the power on the target device and abort programming before damage is done to the MCU in the event of power fluctuations or disruption, and it has a few bonus features that our original programmer lacks.

- Ben

Maybe I will send it in then, it’s useless to me anyway so I have no reason to keep it…

If you do fix it and cover return shipping, could I piggy back an order on that free shipping? :smiley:

Or…we could piggyback your fixed Orangutan with your order! It depends on what shipping method you want and what you order, but it’s possible we can work out something to cover or discount your shipping.

- Ben

I seem to have the same issue with my Baby-O 328. Neither avrdude or AVR Studio 4.17 can enter programming mode. I’ve tried to program with both my Original Orangutan USB programmer and my STK500, so I don’t believe I’m having an issue with my programmer. I have successfully programmed the Baby-O several times in the past and the last code I wrote to it still functions. The following pseudo code is what is running.

while(1) {
for (i = 0; i < 200; i++) {
set_motors(i, -i);

My programmers are able to talk to the Baby-O but cannot enter programming mode.


What do you mean when you say that your programmers can still talk to your Baby Orangutan? In what way are they able to talk to the Baby Orangutan?

- Ben

I was referring to the STK500v2 protocol which, after further thought, I realized only indicates that the programmer is working. However, after carefully checking my soldering of the ISP header I found one questionable joint. I re-soldered and was able to erase the device with AVR Studio. So a word to the wise; even if your device worked before doesn’t rule out improper soldering.

I’m glad to hear that you were able to fix the problem. It was definitely a good sign that your previous program was running. Programming problems tend to come in two main varieties:

  1. Bad connection between programmer and board (easy to fix if it’s not the result of a burned-out programming pin).
  2. Microcontroller is damaged/dead or in an unresponsive state (hard to fix; typically requires replacing the MCU).

- Ben