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View Full Version : Does A7 Engineering Really Exist and Your Generous Help with My eb500



Bill Chennault
07-29-2008, 10:27 PM
All--

I have two questions . . .

1) Has anyone ever been able to get technical support from A7 Engineering? Every time I call, I get to talk to a machine that says no one is available. I always leave a nice, polite message but have never received a return call. None of my tech support e-mails are answered.

2) I have a new--found it in the parts cabinet--Bluetooth eb500. Long ago, I printed off all the documentation. I am using a Zoom Class I USB/Bluetooth dongle. Following the directions in the manual, I cannot get to first base with the eb500: It won't give me a ">" prompt in Hyperterminal. As long as the BOE is attached to my laptop via USB2SER, I can get "call" the eb500 from Hyperterminal and get the connection LED to come on. Plus, I can type stuff in Hyperterminal and have it appear in the DEBUG window. The little A7-supplied programs are very simple, but I still do not get a ">" prompt, so I am suspicious. Have you ever had success getting an eb500 to communicate with a PC via Bluetooth?

My envioronment .·. .

· Dell Latitude D530 with two USB ports
· D-Link USB 2.0 Hub
· Zoom Class I USB Bluetooth Dongle
· Parallax Board of Education with a BS2px24
· Parallax USB2SER adapter
· BOE powered by a 9 volt battery

The two little A7 programs to get you started . . .

' -----[ Compiler Directives ]-----------------------------------------------------
' {$STAMP BS2px}
' {$PBASIC 2.5}
' -----[ Program Name ]------------------------------------------------------------
' Connect.bpx
' -----[ Program Description ]-----------------------------------------------------
'
' -----[ I/O Definitions ]---------------------------------------------------------
' -----[ Constants ]---------------------------------------------------------------
' -----[ Variables ]---------------------------------------------------------------
' -----[ Initialization ]----------------------------------------------------------
' Wait for the eb500 radio to be ready
PAUSE 1000
' -----[ Program Code ]------------------------------------------------------------
' Connect to the remote device
SEROUT 1,396,["con 00:0c:396:00:41:EE", CR]
SERIN 0,396,[WAIT("ACK", CR)]
' Wait for the connection to be established and switch to data mode
WaitForConnection:
· IF IN5 = 0 THEN WaitForConnection
HIGH 6
PAUSE 300
' Wait for 20 seconds
PAUSE 20000
' Switch to Command mode
LOW 6
SERIN 0,396,[WAIT(CR,">")]
' Disconnect from the remote device
SEROUT 1,396,["dis",CR]
SERIN 0,396,[WAIT(CR,">")]
' -----[ Subroutines ]-------------------------------------------------------------



and . . .

' -----[ Compiler Directives ]-----------------------------------------------------
' {$STAMP BS2px}
' {$PBASIC 2.5}
' -----[ Program Name ]------------------------------------------------------------
' Receive.bpx
' -----[ Program Description ]-----------------------------------------------------
'
' -----[ I/O Definitions ]---------------------------------------------------------
' -----[ Constants ]---------------------------------------------------------------
' -----[ Variables ]---------------------------------------------------------------
bData VAR Byte
' -----[ Initialization ]----------------------------------------------------------
' Wait for the eb500 radio to be ready
PAUSE 1000
' -----[ Program Code ]------------------------------------------------------------
Main:
· SERIN 0,396,[STR bData\1]
· DEBUG STR bData\1
· GOTO Main
' -----[ Subroutines ]-------------------------------------------------------------

ANY help would be most appreciated!

Thanks.

--Bill

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You are what you write.

RobotWorkshop
07-29-2008, 10:43 PM
Hello Bill,

I have an eb500 module but I haven't had a chance to try using it yet. However, I have used the eb-501 modules from A7 engineering and they work great! Those are similar to the eb500 (at least the onboard bluetooth module) and I am using them with a Zoom Bluetooth dongle. I would expect that once you get the eb500 paired up with your Zoom Bluetooth adapter that you won't have any trouble. Sometimes the pairing of the modules takes a bit of work the first time but after that no worries. One reason I like the eb-501 a bit better is that it has a DB-9 for a serial connection and also has 5v and 3v logic level serial connections.

A7 has their support forum as an MSN group. Although they may not be responding to their phone calls you should be able to get a response from their forum. When I first tried out their modules I posted a couple questions on it and received some answers in a reasonable amount of time.

What OS are you using? Windows XP? Also, did you install any special drivers for the Bluetooth adapter on the PC side?

I'll have to compare the docs for the eb500 and the eb-501 to see if there is anything in there that will help.

Robert

Bill Chennault
07-29-2008, 11:12 PM
Robert--

The eb501 and antenna should arrive any day now. However, I had an unopened eb500 I bought from Parallax·with which·I thought I would experiment. I had no problem pairing the eb500 with my Zoom Class I USB/Bluetooth dongle. I installed the Zoom software, as well. Finally, I printed the eb500 manual (135 pages) and bound it. Then I READ it! :)

Alas, the best I can do is make the two little programs I posted APPEAR to allow Hyperterminal to send to the eb500 via the BS2px24 on the BOE and appear in DEBUG. This will only happen when the USB programming cable is attached, so I doubt anything is happening wirelessly. However, I CAN make the eb500 connection LED come on wirelessly, so something is happening.

I could easily be confused on port assignment, however. I am using COM 16 in Hyperterminal. It is unclear to me what ports the eb500 grabs to receive and send information to Hyperterminal via the Zoom dongle. I imagine that is what is bitting me.

Thanks if you can help and thanks if you can't!

--Bill

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You are what you write.

MSDTech
07-30-2008, 03:15 AM
A quick comment. If you are using the BS2px, you need to change the baudmode value in the code. For 2400,8,N,1 you should use a baud mode of 1646 instead of the 396 you have shown above. Also make sure hyperterminal is set to the same baudmode.
I believe there are always 2 com ports created in Windows with a bluetooth connection. One is used when the external device initiates the conversation and one when Windows initiates the conversation, its confusing for me since they both are bi-directional and which one you use is determined by the device that connects first.

Bill Chennault
07-30-2008, 04:06 AM
MSDTech (http://forums.parallax.com/member.php?u=51676)--

I am running at 9600 on a BS2px24. That means the number is 396. I only TRIED to get the thing to work by slowing it down. No joy.

I suppose my confusion lies in the area of "Do I need to even be concerned about these ports?" Obviously, when I write some VB6.0 code I should know about them. (In my case, they are COM 18 and 19; I don't know why.) But, do I need to know about them when using Hyperterminal, which I used for the first time today? And, assuming things work, when do I get to unplug the USB cable and send commands to the eb500 from the laptop?

I found a page on the Parallax site that lists the eb500 along with all the literature. I e-mailed tech support, but have not heard from them. (I bought it from Parallax, but I thought they dropped it.) I have e-mailed A7 many times and called them many times. They pretty much ignore me. I joined their forum--ha! that wasn't as easy as you might think!--and posted my entire situation. No response, yet. (But, it has only been out there for several hours. A person gets spoiled here!)

--Bill
ps A lot of the above is rhetorical, but if you or anyone else know anything about it I would sure appreciate reading it!



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You are what you write.

MSDTech
07-30-2008, 05:02 AM
Bill,
I just tried the second program on my BOE using a BS2 with my eb500 plugged into the appmod socket. The only change I made was to set the baudmode to 84 (for 9600 baud, as it looks like that is the only baud rate that hyperterminal will let me use for the bluetooth connection). I called the module and was able to see the characters I typed into hyperterminal echoed in the debug window.

My machine is using com ports 14 and 15. Since hyperterminal "makes the call" I selected com 14 based on the ports listing in the bluetooth control panel shown in the attached file. The key is to know if the com port is defined as an Incoming or Outgoing to the bluetooth link. The Outgoing or Incoming designation is only for the initial connection. Once they are connected, data can be transferred in both directions.

It really got confusing for me with the last set up updates I applied to my computer. I'm using a D-Link, but it is now controlled by the Microsoft Bluetooth control panel rather than the D-Link Control Panel (which still must be installed, but no longer shows my dongle as being attached).

Rereading your descriptions, if you typed the characters into hyperterminal, and they appeared in the debug window, then you had a wireless connection and had selected the Outgoing com port. When you try to initiate the connection from the BS2, you will need to use the incoming com port.

Also with the eb500 connected to the BOE, you will not see the ">" prompt. That is only seen locally (ie by the processor on the BOE) when the eb500 is in command mode. Once you get the eb501, you can connect it directly to a standard serial port and the ">" will be available.

RickB


Post Edited (MSDTech) : 7/29/2008 10:13:59 PM GMT

Bill Chennault
07-30-2008, 05:19 AM
Rick--

On a BS2, 84 is the number for 9600 baud. On a BS2px, 396 is the number for 9600 baud. So, we are running at the same speed. (The documentation says that 9600 baud on a BS2 might be a little "iffy!") Anyway, I will slow my BS2px down to 1200. I've already tried it at 2400 with no success. (I have a BS2, but I blew P1 several months ago and use the microcontroller for testing purposes. Ha! I should have read the eb500 docs a little better: Pin 1 is pretty important!)

I am interested in the idea that I might be using the wrong port. I am using the lower of the two numbers. I'll change it and see what happens.

Thanks for the ideas!

--Bill

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You are what you write.

MSDTech
07-30-2008, 06:10 AM
On thing I really liked about the eb501-SER modules was their "EasyConnect" feature. Once you have gone through the procedure you no longer need to monitor or control the Mode and Status lines as soon as both devices are on they will establish connection and open the data channel. The only connections required are power, ground and the transmit and receive lines (which frees up valuable pins). I use two of these in the weather station at the school and they have been very reliable.

Bill Chennault
07-30-2008, 07:20 AM
Rick--

I have read a tiny bit about EasyConnect. I am looking forward to it! That is for sure! The eb501 should be here tomorrow.

The eb500·is supposed to support EasyConnect, as well. I might delete my current object and give EasyConnect a try on the eb500 before I give up on the device.

Thanks for helping me. I'll keep you updated.

--Bill

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You are what you write.

Bill Chennault
07-30-2008, 07:29 AM
Rick--

Ha! This pretty much explains it! Essentially, my eb500 has been working perfectly since I set it up. It simply is not designed to be a serial cable replacement between itself and a Bluetooth device.

--Bill



Hello Bill,

·
The eb500 is designed to send and receive data wirelessly from another Bluetooth device. It is not designed to replace the USB cable that you use to program and debug the stamp board. Here an example that illustrates the point.
·
1. Write a stamp program that uses the bluetooth link. Something like HelloWorld for instance.
2. Connect your PC to the stamp board via USB and download the program.
3. Disconnect the USB link.
4. Make sure the eb500 is connected to the stamp.
5. Connect the eb500 and the PC wireless via Bluetooth.
6.·Watch data written from the stamp appear·in your Hyperterminal window on the PC.
·
Notice in this example that downloading of the program is done via USB and not Bluetooth. This is also true of debugging.
·
> If I unplug the USB cable, however, characters entered into Hyperterminal
>·immediately cease appearing
·
Unplugging the USB cable disconnects the link between the stamp IDE on your PC and the stamp. This is your download and debugging link and is separate from the Bluetooth link provided by the eb500.
·
> I never get the ">" prompt. None of the commands return anything.
These commands are available over the local wired link only. In other words you can use these commands from the stamp, but not over the wireless link. The wireless link is only for data (kind of like a connected serial cable).
·
Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
·
Sincerely,
·
Bryan Hall
--------------------------------------
A7, Inc. - bridging your world )))
http://www.a7eng.com (http://www.a7eng.com/)

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You are what you write.

Bill Chennault
07-30-2008, 11:12 PM
Rick--

FedEx delivered the eb501 early this morning and within minutes I had it plugged into a Parallax BOE with a BS2px24. The "discovery" and setup was a piece of cake. I am running EasyConnect. All I have connected at the moment are the Stamp's Vdd and Vss.

On the eb501 pin 2 is transmit and pin 3 is receive. To use the little programs I have been trying to make work (see above), I think all I have to do is connect eb501 pin 2 (transmit)·to BS2px pin 1 and eb501 pin 3 (receive)·to BS2px pin 0. I don't think I even need the first program "Connect." The little "Receive" program is probably all I need using EasyConnect . . .

Receive program from A7 . . .

bData VAR Byte
' -----[ Initialization ]----------------------------------------------------------
' Wait for the eb500 radio to be ready
PAUSE 1000
' -----[ Program Code ]------------------------------------------------------------
Main:
· SERIN 0,396,[STR bData\1]
· DEBUG STR bData\1
· GOTO Main

Does this sound correct?

Thanks!

--Bill

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You are what you write.

MSDTech
07-31-2008, 01:12 AM
Based on using these, I think that is correct. As an alternative, use a symbolic name for the transmit and recieve like:
BT_TX pin 1
BT_RX pin 0
and then use the Serin as
SERIN BT_RX,396, bData\1
Since you are not constrained to pins as the Appmod is, you may want to move them. Then all you need to do is change the one pin statement and you're good to go.

Bill Chennault
07-31-2008, 03:53 AM
Rick--

Thank you very much!

I will keep you updated on my progress.

--Bill

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You are what you write.