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asking for summary recommendations on best USB cable to replace stock cable from MR

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  • asking for summary recommendations on best USB cable to replace stock cable from MR

    Hi!
    I noticed that in new MR orders, we have been getting black cables, instead of white; they look and feel different.
    That said, I'm looking to replace stock (old, white) MR cables, just in case that is a source of problems.
    Can people please recommend what they think is best?
    I tried searching, but got mired in data.
    Thanks,
    Martin Haeberli
    Mentor, FTC 7593, TigerBots

  • #2
    http://ftcforum.usfirst.org/showthre...ll=1#post18647

    Comment


    • #3
      MR Warranty

      When you purchase any MR module you are purchasing a module and cables (usb cable & power cable).

      The cables are purchased from MR so as to eliminate the guesswork as to which is the best USB & power cables to use with the MR modules.

      The white USB cables are covered under the 6-month MR warranty:



      Warranty Returns

      Modern Robotics warranties its products to be free from defects in materials and manufacturing for 6 months from the time of sale.

      If your item is defective or malfunctioning contact Technical Support ([email protected]) and we will attempt to resolve the issue. Technical issues can often be resolved without the need to return the item. If an item is to be returned our warranty return policy is;
      • All return shipments must include a completed RMA form (Return Materials Authorization) with the assigned RMA number issued by Technical Support. Any return sent to us without a completed RMA form will not be accepted and will be returned to you.
      • You are responsible for return shipping charges.
      • The warranty will be void if an item has been modified. Modifications to the circuitry such as adding or changing components, cutting or changing connector wires or connectors are examples of modifications that void the warranty.
      • Items must be returned using a trackable shipping service. We suggest US Postal Service (or your country's postal service) delivery confirmation service or UPS / FedEx. If your package doesn't arrive and you don't use a trackable method to return the item we will not be able to honor the Warranty Return policy.
      • In the event that we need to send you the repaired unit or a replacement, we will pay return shipping.

      Returns

      Items can be returned to us for a refund or exchange within 30 days of you receiving the item. Contact us for a Return Materials Authorization, (RMA) and instructions on how to return the item.
      • Returned items must be unused and unmodified and returned with all original packaging, accessories, cables and printed material …



      If you have several teams, you probably have ~10 defective white MR USB cables per team.

      You have to pay return shipping on the USB cables, but you can ship them all back in one package.

      Comment


      • #4
        Alec,

        Are you saying MR has decreed that the white cables are all bad? Seems a stretch. Good to know they are covered by warranty, but I suspect it's more hassle than it's worth to RMA 5-10 cables (assuming they are all bad) since few teams would want to be down for the time to ship them back, and then wait for replacements.
        Technical Coach, Newton Busters FTC 10138, FLL 3077
        Chicago 'burbs, IL

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by gof View Post
          Alec,

          Are you saying MR has decreed that the white cables are all bad? Seems a stretch. Good to know they are covered by warranty, but I suspect it's more hassle than it's worth to RMA 5-10 cables (assuming they are all bad) since few teams would want to be down for the time to ship them back, and then wait for replacements.
          It's one thing that the cables go bad so fast...

          but I'm more concerned that the US stocks of two-part replacement solutions (Micro-A A-Mini) all seem to be dwindling as FTC teams snap them up.

          ... Starting to scramble as my phone connectors get more and more worn.

          Phil

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by gof View Post
            Alec,

            Are you saying MR has decreed that the white cables are all bad? ...
            I doubt that MR will admit to anything. MR wont even release the serial numbers of the PDMs that they know are bad.

            FIRST has decreed that the white USB cables from MR are bad and should not be used.

            MR requires you to purchase USB cables from them. This is a good thing because MR is in the best position to know which USB cables are compatible with their modules.

            Comment


            • #7
              Do you have a link to where FIRST has declared the white cables bad? Also, is MR only shipping a non-white cable now? The last Core controllers I received fairly recently still had white cables in the package with them.
              Technical Coach, Newton Busters FTC 10138, FLL 3077
              Chicago 'burbs, IL

              Comment


              • #8
                Alec,

                Originally posted by Alec View Post
                ...

                FIRST has decreed that the white USB cables from MR are bad and should not be used.

                ...
                Please provide a reference to where FIRST said this. I hadn't yet heard.

                Thanks,

                Martin Haeberli
                Mentor, FTC 7593, TigerBots

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by mhaeberli View Post
                  Alec,



                  Please provide a reference to where FIRST said this. I hadn't yet heard.

                  Thanks,

                  Martin Haeberli
                  Mentor, FTC 7593, TigerBots
                  Hi Folks,

                  I don't think we've said to not use the MR cables. However, if you are having USB connect problems (regardless of the manufacturer of the cable) you should check to see if you have any loose or problematic cables (MR or any other manufacturer).

                  In my experience, the cables from MR are OK, but I have seen instances where replacing them helps improve reliability. In particular, I have seen several instances where the cable which connects the phone to the PDM seems to be problematic. I replaced this MR cable with a Monoprice OTG adapter and a Monoprice USB cable and the problem went away for the team's robot. Similarly, I have seen instances where one of the MR USB cables on a bot was loose and replacing it fixed the USB connectivity problems.

                  I personally like the Monoprice cables... they seem to be consistent and well made:

                  http://www.monoprice.com/Product?p_id=9724
                  http://www.monoprice.com/product?c_i...seq=1&format=2

                  However, please remember that the USB cables do become loose with time, so any cable (even the ones from Monoprice) could become problematic and need to be replaced. Also, we have tested the MR cables and they worked reliably for our test bots too (but we normally strain relieve all of our cables).

                  I think the most susceptible cable is the one that connects the phone to the USB hub (for the driver station) or the PDM module (for the robot controller). This cable can wear out over time (the cable is supposed to wear faster than the receptacle on the phone), so it's important to strain relieve it and protect it from impact too.

                  This past weekend I was at the Arkansas Regional Championship. They had 30 robots participating and the robots ran reliably. There were four robots that had stopped on the field (and that stopped in more than one match for some of these bots). Two of them we confirmed that they had bad cables. One had a worn out cable that connected the phone to the PDM. We replaced it with a monoprice OTG adapter and a monoprice cable and they ran reliably for the rest of the day. Another had a loose USB cable that connected a motor controller to the PDM. The team couldn't figure out what was wrong. Then they put the robot on its side and ran an op mode... the coach shook cables and when he jiggled one USB cable in particular, it caused a USB comm error. They repeated the test and it froze again when he jiggled that cable. They replaced the cable and they ran reliably for the rest of their events (and ended up being the captain on the winning alliance for the AR championship).

                  I helped the other two teams... We didn't fully resolve their problem,s but my suspicion is that they might have been having USB cable or wiring issues. The robots would disconnect when they were on the field (typically when they were climbing on the ramp). On one team's bot we replaced the USB cable that connects the phone to the PDM, and they ran more reliably but they still experienced one USB disconnect in a later match. The other team originally did not have their USB cables strain relieved. They ended up using a hot glue gun to strain relieve the cables, but they still had at least one (and I think more) USB disconnects afterwards. They did not try replacing any of their USB cables.

                  The other 28 teams ran reliably. They seem to use a variety of ways to strain relieve their cables (tape, hot glue, zip ties, etc.). These methods seem to be effective.

                  Tom

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tom Eng View Post
                    Hi Folks - I agree. I like Monoprice and we have tested their cables and found them to work really well. I agree with ctaranto - Monoprice offers top notch quality at reasonable prices. They do have a variety of cable lengths listed on their website.
                    I believe this Monoprice cable was the cable you were recommending over the MR cables.

                    Originally posted by Tom Eng View Post
                    ... In my experience, the cables from MR are OK, but I have seen instances where replacing them helps improve reliability ...

                    Tom
                    Suppose you need a USB cable to transfer your photos from one device to another. If you have an "OK" cable lying around, you are not going to launch a search for a better cable.

                    If on the other hand the USB cable is going to be used on your competition bot, you will launch a search for a better cable as this thread is doing. Teams can't afford to settle for "OK".

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tom Eng View Post
                      Hi Folks,

                      I don't think we've said to not use the MR cables. However, if you are having USB connect problems (regardless of the manufacturer of the cable) you should check to see if you have any loose or problematic cables (MR or any other manufacturer).

                      I personally like the Monoprice cables... they seem to be consistent and well made:

                      http://www.monoprice.com/Product?p_id=9724
                      http://www.monoprice.com/product?c_i...seq=1&format=2

                      Tom
                      While we weren't able to specifically identify the white MRI cables as the culprit of our system issues, our team has been MUCH more reliable when we replaced them with these cables we purchased from Amazon: http://amzn.to/1OS1Snn The 90 degree turn may not work for all robot designs, but it works well for us, especially as mini end stays flat to our deck and is easy to strain relief.

                      For the Phone to PDM connection (requiring OTG), we added a dongle like this one. (as Tom described above)

                      We recently ordered some additional MRI motor controllers and found it interesting that the ones we received came with thicker gauge black cables instead of the white ones that shipped with the original kits. Not sure if this is an odd coincidence, or if MRI has stopped shipping the white cables, just something for conspiracy nuts to chew on.

                      Anyway, we're rookies with a 50/50 match record, so we're just offering what has worked for us.

                      Good luck to everyone this season, and thanks again to Tom Eng for all he's doing to keep the ship afloat.
                      Michael P Clark
                      Founding Mentor, FTC 9958
                      http://www.redfishrobotics.com
                      "We're Hooked on FIRST"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the updates regarding the cables. We had been quietly running our robots without any communication errors until Sunday. We added different wheels on the robot and therefore had to put the PDM in a different location. It could be that the PDM isn't secured as well as before and it vibrates. It could be that our white cables are finally giving out. The PDM finds all of the motor controllers. BUT, the connection between the RC phone and the PDM is lost after very very mild driving...3 seconds of driving or so. Whereas before, we could charge over the churros and never lose a connection. I also began to wonder if it was an issue with the new wheels. Never the less, we will spend the money and order new cables and a new PDM (if they are in stock) and see if we can get a working robot before the next qualifier.

                        FTC 10520

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Too late, PDMs are out of stock. Fingers crossed that the new cables work.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            FTC 10520 ended up using a different motor controller and the emergency stop issue was resolved. So, either we use a legacy module in place of the fried motor controller or we wait until motor controllers are back in stock with modern robotics.

                            Desh

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Tom Eng View Post
                              Hi Folks,

                              I don't think we've said to not use the MR cables. However, if you are having USB connect problems (regardless of the manufacturer of the cable) you should check to see if you have any loose or problematic cables (MR or any other manufacturer).

                              In my experience, the cables from MR are OK, but I have seen instances where replacing them helps improve reliability. In particular, I have seen several instances where the cable which connects the phone to the PDM seems to be problematic. I replaced this MR cable with a Monoprice OTG adapter and a Monoprice USB cable and the problem went away for the team's robot. Similarly, I have seen instances where one of the MR USB cables on a bot was loose and replacing it fixed the USB connectivity problems.

                              I personally like the Monoprice cables... they seem to be consistent and well made:

                              http://www.monoprice.com/Product?p_id=9724
                              http://www.monoprice.com/product?c_i...seq=1&format=2

                              However, please remember that the USB cables do become loose with time, so any cable (even the ones from Monoprice) could become problematic and need to be replaced. Also, we have tested the MR cables and they worked reliably for our test bots too (but we normally strain relieve all of our cables).

                              I think the most susceptible cable is the one that connects the phone to the USB hub (for the driver station) or the PDM module (for the robot controller). This cable can wear out over time (the cable is supposed to wear faster than the receptacle on the phone), so it's important to strain relieve it and protect it from impact too.

                              This past weekend I was at the Arkansas Regional Championship. They had 30 robots participating and the robots ran reliably. There were four robots that had stopped on the field (and that stopped in more than one match for some of these bots). Two of them we confirmed that they had bad cables. One had a worn out cable that connected the phone to the PDM. We replaced it with a monoprice OTG adapter and a monoprice cable and they ran reliably for the rest of the day. Another had a loose USB cable that connected a motor controller to the PDM. The team couldn't figure out what was wrong. Then they put the robot on its side and ran an op mode... the coach shook cables and when he jiggled one USB cable in particular, it caused a USB comm error. They repeated the test and it froze again when he jiggled that cable. They replaced the cable and they ran reliably for the rest of their events (and ended up being the captain on the winning alliance for the AR championship).

                              I helped the other two teams... We didn't fully resolve their problem,s but my suspicion is that they might have been having USB cable or wiring issues. The robots would disconnect when they were on the field (typically when they were climbing on the ramp). On one team's bot we replaced the USB cable that connects the phone to the PDM, and they ran more reliably but they still experienced one USB disconnect in a later match. The other team originally did not have their USB cables strain relieved. They ended up using a hot glue gun to strain relieve the cables, but they still had at least one (and I think more) USB disconnects afterwards. They did not try replacing any of their USB cables.

                              The other 28 teams ran reliably. They seem to use a variety of ways to strain relieve their cables (tape, hot glue, zip ties, etc.). These methods seem to be effective.

                              Tom
                              With the set up here, having a USB A in the middle of it, we should be able to unplug the connection and charge from the Micro USB portion, into the phone right? We purchased some USB A to USB A cables as well, to try this with the cable listed here, and it doesn't seem to work. Any ideas Tom, or others? (we have this placed on the robot side, to allow us to hard mount the Micro USB Connection into the phone for the competition, and not have to remove the phone every time to charge...) Any ideas/ comments?
                              2015 FTC World Champion - Valley X Robotics 2844 - Founding Memeber

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