Help, My "..." Doesn't Work!

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We see this kind of post again, and again, and again:

"My (application or hardware) doe not work. Please help me!"

Alas, almost NO help can be provided to such requests. There can be many causes for incorrect operation. We simply cannot guess which of the many possible causes might fit your situation.

If you are having problems, here are some suggestions to get more prompt and more accurate help, Following these will also avoid the ire of "The Curmudgeons of the Freaks List" (tm).

1. Tell us WHAT you are trying to do. That is, please tell us (a) what you have done, (b) what you expected to happen, and (c) why you think that (a) should result in (b)!!

2. Provide us with CODE. Don't hand copy the code, but copy and paste, so that errors are preserved. Use the code buttons at the beginning and end of the code listing (works best if you click the code button, paste the code, then click the "end-code" button at the end). This will make it much easier to read and others will be more likely to look at it. If the code is big (maybe more than a 50-100 lines or so), reduce the code to a small version that demonstrates the same problem. Make sure that the code you provide COMPILES! PLEASE, tell us what compiler or assembler and what version you are using.

3. Tell us how the FUSES are set and what you use as a clock source.

4. Tell us what PROCESSOR you are using.

5. Tell us if you have tried to SIMULATE the operation of the code. If you did, tell us what you found.

6. Provide us with some DETAILED OBSERVATIONS about what it is or is not doing. This should relate to 1(b)(, above. "Doesn't work" covers a lot of territory! Is your LED off when it should be flashing, is your motor turning or not. Tell us what test equipment (volt meter, oscilloscope, etc) are available to you, what measurements you have actually made, and what the measurement results were.

7. If you have some suspicions about why it does not work, tell us what the evidence is for your diagnosis.

8. If you think that there is a hardware problem, provide a circuit diagram. Or, tell us what development board you are using and HOW you connect to it.

9. We understand that language is often a problem.. We understand that it is hard to understand specification sheets and application notes if you are not good at English [Note: its often not easy for those of us who speak English as our first language!]. If this is a major problem, please consider a board that uses your native language. When language is an issue, PLEASE ask your question the best way you can and tell us what you HAVE read.

10. PLEASE do NOT use shorthand "texting" language. Spell words out as real words and use a spellchecker. You will get faster and better help if you do. Also, "The Curmudgeons" will not make rude remarks about your post.

11. Words like "urgent", "ASAP", "I need it very quickly" and so forth do NOT get you good answers. All capitals, many question marks or exclamation marks don't help either. Asking the same question several times (duplicate post) will make a very bad impression.

Edited with suggestions from ArnoldB and JohanEkdahl.

Jim Wagner Oregon Research Electronics, Consulting Div. Tangent, OR, USA http://www.orelectronics.net

Last Edited: Sat. Dec 27, 2008 - 12:40 AM
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Quote:

1. Tell us WHAT you are trying to do.
1a. Tell us what you are doing

1b. Tell us what you expect to happen

1c. Tell us your theory why you think doing 1a should result in 1b happening. Note, "because I want it to happen", or "because that's what I mean", are not valid answers. Provide us with your reasoning (e.g. including references to documentation) why doing 1a should result in 1b in your opinion.

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2. Provide us with CODE.

2a Provide us with short code. If possible, reduce your code to a short example just demonstrating your problem. Often just the process of creating a short example reveals to you what's wrong, so you won't even have to ask.

2b Provide us with complete, compilable code. Yes, the code should be short, but not to short. It should be compilable out of the box. [To do so, also tell us your compiler.]

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5. Provide us with some DETAILED OBSERVATIONS about what it is or is not doing.
5a. With reference to 1c, tell us why you think this observation is not in line with the theory of operation you have given in 1c.

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9. We understand that language is often a problem.
10.
9a. Have you considered using a board in your own language if English is to difficult?

10a. / 9b. Use a spell checker.

11. Don't make an idiot out of yourself

Don't ask the same question multiple times. Don't whine. Don't rant. Don't change your nick name to something else. Don't use all caps or other strange formatting. Don't use multiple exclamation marks or question marks. Don't behave as being entitled. Don't treat the people here as your servants. Don't be impatient (adding "urgent" or "ASAP", or "I need ... now / until" to your posting won't gain you anything). Don't under any circumstances expect people here to do your homework.

Stealing Proteus doesn't make you an engineer.

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ka7ehk wrote:
We see this kind of post again, and again, and again:

"My (application or hardware) doe not work. Please help me!"

Yes, please help, it's urgent {, sir}!
There is only one serious flaw here - people who ask questions like this ( worded like this) tend not to read sticky threads.

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a sticky won't stop all threads like this. But it's definatly a help for serious beginners ... like me ^^

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Quote:

a sticky won't stop all threads like this.

No, but it will be a lot easier to answer them. Just point them to the sticky..

"He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack, or sit beneath the tree by the railroad track. Oh the engineers would see him sitting in the shade, Strumming with the rhythm that the drivers made. People passing by, they would stop and say, "Oh, my, what that little country boy could play!" [Chuck Berry]

 

"Some questions have no answers."[C Baird] "There comes a point where the spoon-feeding has to stop and the independent thinking has to start." [C Lawson] "There are always ways to disagree, without being disagreeable."[E Weddington] "Words represent concepts. Use the wrong words, communicate the wrong concept." [J Morin] "Persistence only goes so far if you set yourself up for failure." [Kartman]

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I was hoping that those that do get through could be pointed to a sticky without having to ruffle feathers, bring up the curmudgeon persona, etc.

Arnold has made some great suggestions. Thanks!

Jim

Jim Wagner Oregon Research Electronics, Consulting Div. Tangent, OR, USA http://www.orelectronics.net

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2b. Please try to reduce the code to the smallest possible that displays the problem you are facing. By doing this you will get more people interested, and will stand a better chance of getting prompt help. In the process of minimizing the troubling code, you might well solve the problem yourself - and that is a great learning experience and much more satisfying than getting the answer from someone else.

11. Please do not tell us that it is URGENT! You will come through as asking for special treatment, or that you have mis-planned your project (or worse, your school assignment).

"He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack, or sit beneath the tree by the railroad track. Oh the engineers would see him sitting in the shade, Strumming with the rhythm that the drivers made. People passing by, they would stop and say, "Oh, my, what that little country boy could play!" [Chuck Berry]

 

"Some questions have no answers."[C Baird] "There comes a point where the spoon-feeding has to stop and the independent thinking has to start." [C Lawson] "There are always ways to disagree, without being disagreeable."[E Weddington] "Words represent concepts. Use the wrong words, communicate the wrong concept." [J Morin] "Persistence only goes so far if you set yourself up for failure." [Kartman]

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Quote:

4. Tell us what PROCESSOR you are using.


4a. Tell us what language you program in.
4b. Tell us what brand of toolchain you use.
4c. Tell us the version(s) of this toolchain.
4d. If pertinent, include messages from the toolchain, major build options, and the like.

Lee

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

I've never met a pig I didn't like, as long as you have some salt and pepper.

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Also be sure and point them here:
General Information about Posting in the AVR Forum
http://www.avrfreaks.net/index.p...

Smiley

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Jim,
Great Sticky!! I think another part that we need to know is what equipment the person is using. STK500 etc.

The 'other' Jim

If you want a career with a known path - become an undertaker. Dead people don't sue! - Kartman

Please Read: Code-of-Conduct

Atmel Studio6.2/AS7, DipTrace, Quartus, MPLAB user

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ka7ehk wrote:
...(c) why you think that (a) should result in (b)!!
... All capitals, many question marks or exclamation marks don't help either.
:wink:
jgmdesign wrote:
Jim,
Great Sticky!!
:wink:

Stealing Proteus doesn't make you an engineer.

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"Help! My ... doesnt work!" My only advice is if it starts working, and works for more than 4 hours, get a cocktail and a smoke.

Imagecraft compiler user

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May I suggest that a shell script or some other utility to capture key information together with a predefined partial source code capture of THE non-working code [a user appointed segment] which is then posted together with the newbies request for assistance - would be a excellent help - to both the newbie and the guru trying to assist. We have computing resources, why not put them to good use :D

This way people trying to assist others will get a standard of known facts, which can be added to and greatly improved over time. Ultimately, we need to make any assistance to others in need a less taxing task IMHO.

I know this is relatively easy in Unix/Linux/OSX worlds, but it is over to Windoze Gurus' to make their mark and to provide same.

Ultimately, Atmel could then embed such a process into their own IDE products to improve Technical Support response.

My 2c.

Cheers Grahame

Last Edited: Wed. Jan 21, 2009 - 11:53 PM
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As long as we are talking AVR Studio the project, rinsed from generated intermediate files and binaries, is generally not very large. Studio could have a simple function to package the project in a ZIP that could be attached here, and it could create a file with all the pecularities (version numbers etc).

IIRC there is some functionality to package at least parts of a avr-gcc project through the makefile produced by Mfile.

"He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack, or sit beneath the tree by the railroad track. Oh the engineers would see him sitting in the shade, Strumming with the rhythm that the drivers made. People passing by, they would stop and say, "Oh, my, what that little country boy could play!" [Chuck Berry]

 

"Some questions have no answers."[C Baird] "There comes a point where the spoon-feeding has to stop and the independent thinking has to start." [C Lawson] "There are always ways to disagree, without being disagreeable."[E Weddington] "Words represent concepts. Use the wrong words, communicate the wrong concept." [J Morin] "Persistence only goes so far if you set yourself up for failure." [Kartman]

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In Linux some packaging would be relatively simple other bits not. It all depends on what is required to be captured, and the ease of accessing same -
I would suggest that the following details be captured for a start:

* OS + release/version;

* OS AVR programs + release/version especially the compiler and its AVR libraries;

* AVR Programming Language + Libs + release/versions;

* Host H/W details including CPU, Memory (Heap, Cache, Resident);

* Target H/W details including CPU + CPU signature, Memory, I/O, Firmware levels, ISP Mode details (Fuses, Lock Bits etc) as per Studio4 -> Tools -> Program AVR dialogs;

* Any Debug devices attached (AVRJTAGmkII, AVRONE! etc);

Anyone else wanting to add to the list

:D

Cheers Grahame

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Quote:
In Linux [...]

GNU/Linux has it's advantages and disadvantages. One advantage that I think that I observe is that the lowest level of competence is higher for GNU/Linux users than for Windoze users. I'll stick my ugly head out and claim than 90% of the "Help, my mojo is not working" posts are from Windows users. And if you'd have to ask for additional information about the machine, toolchain, environment etc you're much more likely to get a good answer in one round trip from a G/L user than from a W user. The former are just more technically seasoned..

(For the record, I'm mainly a Windows user :wink:)

"He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack, or sit beneath the tree by the railroad track. Oh the engineers would see him sitting in the shade, Strumming with the rhythm that the drivers made. People passing by, they would stop and say, "Oh, my, what that little country boy could play!" [Chuck Berry]

 

"Some questions have no answers."[C Baird] "There comes a point where the spoon-feeding has to stop and the independent thinking has to start." [C Lawson] "There are always ways to disagree, without being disagreeable."[E Weddington] "Words represent concepts. Use the wrong words, communicate the wrong concept." [J Morin] "Persistence only goes so far if you set yourself up for failure." [Kartman]

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JohanEkdahl wrote:
I'll stick my ugly head out and claim than 90% of the "Help, my mojo is not working" posts are from Windows users.
I'll take that bet. My guess is that the percentage of both of these groups asking for this kind of help is roughly the same. I certainly see a lot of "Help, my compiler is broken" messages from Linux users, since they have to chase down all of the patches while the Windoze users get to install WinAVR and step over that problem.

I'm actually both a Windows and Linux user. Warped personality, ya know. :wink:

Stu

Engineering seems to boil down to: Cheap. Fast. Good. Choose two. Sometimes choose only one.

Newbie? Be sure to read the thread Newbie? Start here!

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Quote:
I'll stick my ugly head out and claim than 90% of the "Help, my mojo is not working" posts are from Windows users.
Because 90% of computers use Windows?? :?

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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I can understand the comments above, but as yet no one has addressed in detail my suggestion - OK, it is a real bummer of a suggestion and a crock of .... - I can openly accept that (cause I too am both a Windoze and Linux user of least resistance) :D

Its really about whether or not we want to help oursleves in helping others more effectively, as I am not one with loads of time on my hands (have any of us really got that priviledge - Nope! NOT according to my better half or family), but I do enjoy giving back to the community - Its same electronics + DIY community of yesteryear that got us all started off into electronics/computing etc. I suspect.

Anyhow, quickly back to the slaves' desk before anyone sees me "relaxing and not doing much" as "thinking" usually gets a bad wrap with the boss :D

Cheers Grahame

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I will massage all of the suggestions, including Grahame's, and rework the top post.

Jim

Jim Wagner Oregon Research Electronics, Consulting Div. Tangent, OR, USA http://www.orelectronics.net

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The ellipsis is a device long favoured by romance writers: three dots at the end of a sentence that say it all, as this old comedy sketch shows. It’s Peter Cook, explaining to Dudley Moore the plot of Neville Shute’s A Town Like Alice. Pete explains that Jean is standing on the runway in a wet dress as Joe’s plane lands.

Dud: What happens after that, Pete?

Pete: Well the bronzed pilot goes up to her and they walk away, and the chapter ends in three dots.

Dud: What do the three dots mean, Pete?

Pete: Well in Shute’s hands, three dots can mean anything. But –

Dud: How’s your father, perhaps?

Pete: It usually means a bit of that, but Shute always uses three dots. It means ‘Use your own imagination’, that’s what it means. ‘Conjure the scene up yourself’. Whenever I see dots, I feel all funny.

Quebracho seems to be the hardest wood.

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A wise man once said:

Quote:
Did you turn it off and on again?
Are you sure it's plugged in?

(the second applies more that I care to admit.)

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."
-- Douglas Adams

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As there's been a spate of newbies hijacking this thread I'm going to lock it to force them to start new threads. If anyone has something to add to this thread PM me and I'll temporarily unlock it.

Cliff

Topic locked