Read Before You Post: General Advice for Getting Help

Before you post, we recommend following this general troubleshooting advice:

Make sure you have read the user’s guides and other relevant resources that are linked from the “Resources” tab of the product web pages. The help there will usually be more detailed than anything you would get on the forum.

Search the forum and our entire site for keywords related to your question to find out if it has already been asked and answered. Google is also a useful resource.

Simplify your system as much as possible to narrow down the problem to a single component, event, or line of code.

Electrical issues: Check your power supply, especially if you have an problem that gets worse when additional power is being used (for example, when connecting a second motor). Compare the specifications of the board and power supply, use a multimeter to check the actual voltage on the input pins of the board when it is powered, and note these common issues:

  • Batteries might be discharged.
  • Fully charged batteries have a higher voltage than their nominal value.
  • 9V batteries are not generally strong enough to drive motors.
  • Most servos are not rated for more than 6V; a 4- or 5-cell NiMH battery pack is recommended.
  • Older wall-wart power adapters are unregulated, so that a “9V” adapter might initially output 12V, with the voltage dropping as the load increases.
  • Electrostatic discharge (ESD) can instantly destroy electronics if you do not take appropriate precautions.
  • LC voltage spikes can instantly and unexpectedly destroy electronics even if you are careful about ESD.

If you have access to an oscilloscope or logic analyzer, use it to check whether boards are outputting the signals you think they are.

For serial devices, use the Pololu Serial Transmitter to check whether the problem is with the device or with the program you are using to control it.

Making a good opening post:

Choose a thread subject that is specific to your problem or question and lets readers know what the thread is about. Do not use a generic subject like “New, please help!!!” or “A question”.

If you or a friend has separately emailed us about this problem, please mention your email here (or mention your post in your email).

Tell us a bit about your overall project so we have context for your problem.

Post the specific names of the parts you are using.
Wrong: “I need help programming an AVR.”
Right: “I need help using the Pololu USB AVR Programmer under Linux (with AVRDUDE) to program the ATmega328 on my 3pi.”

Include details about the entire system, including what is connected to the device in question, how everything is wired, and, perhaps most importantly, how everything is being powered. If possible, post a picture of your setup - it really is worth a thousand words!

Describe your actual problem in detail.
Wrong: “I can’t get the robot to drive forward.”
Right: “When I try to make the robot drive forward (using command X), it just spins in place.”
It is important to convey exactly what you have tried so far and what the results have been. It is very important that you tell us if there was ever a time when things were working as expected; this is typically a very different situation from one where the device was never working. If a system change coincided with your problems, make sure to tell us about it!

Questions about code: Post your entire code so that someone can test it. If it is really long, you can upload a zip file, but you should almost always be able to simplify it to just a few lines that are problematic. Please don’t expect others to spend an hour trying to understand your 100-line program. Also, when posting code, select the code and press the “Code” button to make it display nicely in your post.

Thanks for your attention. By following these suggestions, you will be saving everyone’s time, especially your own!

Update: We now have a more comprehensive support page that includes additional troubleshooting tips and advice on the best ways to contact us with technical support questions.

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