AVR Dragon will only do one action before requiring target reset

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I have used the AVR Dragon for many years, with a variety of Atmel devices, and with a variety of computers and "flavors" of Windows. Just recently, I had to work on a project for a client, and I fired up my W10 laptop and connected to the target using my AVR Dragon and AVR Studio 7. After several frustrating hours of trying to trying different Dragon drivers, and trying to read and program the device (ATtiny4313), I finally discovered that I could only do a single operation (for example, read the device signature, or read the fuses) at a time. If I tried to, for example, program the part where I had selected "erase before programming", the erase would work, but the programming would fail. If I read the fuses, then tried change one, I'd get the same kind of error. The error said that an invalid device signature was read. However, if I reset the target by cycling power, I could perform the actual programming. This is a new behavior since the last time I used the AVR Dragon (about a month ago). I updated my AVR Studio 7.0.1417, but same result.

Any ideas as to what is going on?

 

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OK, I tried the Dragon and target on a totally different computer (i7, running W10 with latest updates) and same version of Atmel Studio. Same result. Screenshot of error is attached. How can I tell if this is a software/Studio error or something wonky in the Dragon hardware, without buying a new Dragon?

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Could be something "wonky" in the target design/setup also.

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I thought about that, but I tried with some other boards that had not had problems in the past - same result. I also found that I cannot debug - as soon as I try to debug (start debugging and break) I get the message that I need to enable debugwire (which is typical of past development sessions) I click the button, and get the same error message - invalid signature.

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At this point, the Dragon has apparently stopped working, as I see zero activity on the ISP lines when I try to do anything, so I am assuming a hardware problem on the Dragon. I am disappointed in the longevity of these boards, the one I just ordered will be the fourth in about 8 years, and they don't get that much use.

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Hmmmm... I hooked up to a mega168PA device, and after fiddling with plugging & unplugging the Dragon, resetting the target device several times, I got the Dragon communicating with the target, but still showing the "only do one operation without having to reset" behavior.

Drat...

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Do you have a Win7 machine and Studio 6_2 running on it that you could test against?

 

Jim

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

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No, unfortunately I don't. I did try version 4.19 on the W10 machine, but it forced a firmware downgrade of teh Dragon, and still would not talk to the Dragon afterward. This may have been a driver issue, although I wonder how it was able to do the firmware downgrade if it wasn't "talking" to the Dragon. I may see if running W7 in a virtual machine will have any different result, but that will be a process to set up and run. I can say that the last time I used this setup, it worked correctly. I did find something interesting while poking around online. In the Atmel App Note AVR910, which discusses in-system programming, it mentions that a signature of $000102 is returned if the lock bits are set. This is what I'm getting back when the operation fails, even though I have performed a chip erase, which should un-program the lock bits. The fact that performing a reset does, in fact, allow access to program memory indicates that the lock bits aren't actually programmed, but the Dragon thinks they are. I also read in the app note that the reset line should pulse high after a chip erase, and I'm going to check that out tomorrow, as when I looked at the reset line earlier while trying other commands, it always stayed low, which is apparently correct for ISP mode, but I didn't check after a chip erase command.

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By any chance does your reset line have a capacitor on it? Might be a reason things are flat lining

Just a thought

Jim

I would rather attempt something great and fail, than attempt nothing and succeed - Fortune Cookie

 

"The critical shortage here is not stuff, but time." - Johan Ekdahl

 

"Step N is required before you can do step N+1!" - ka7ehk

 

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

"Why is there a "Highway to Hell" and only a "Stairway to Heaven"? A prediction of the expected traffic load?"  - Lee "theusch"

 

Speak sweetly. It makes your words easier to digest when at a later date you have to eat them ;-)  - Source Unknown

Please Read: Code-of-Conduct

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

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The original dragon (no holes in PCB) had a serious flaw in its power supply that meant that in the wrong conditions a component on the board could be destroyed. The later dragon (with holes) had a modified PSU that was a bit more robust but there is still a potential to damage it.

 

See:

 

http://www.aplomb.nl/TechStuff/D...

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I've only slayed one dragon so far (an early no holes version), the latest one has been in service now for several years, so seems quite robust, although I keep a spare in reserve just in case. 

Sounds like it's time to replace yours.  The Atmel ICE is a step up, but has issues with a weak usb connector, posts here show adding an external cable support to reduce stress on the usb connector.

 

 

Jim

 

 

(Possum Lodge oath) Quando omni flunkus, moritati.

"I thought growing old would take longer"

 

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Update - I have XP Pro running with VirtualBox, and I installed AS6.0.1996 (I had already downloaded it quite some time ago). It responds the same was at AS7 - you can do one command, then you have to reset the target before you can execute another command.

jgmdesign - I understand your questinon about the capacitor on the reset line. I have all that disconnected. As I mentioned earlier, a month ago all of this worked just fine.

It is now pretty obvious that my Dragon has died (or is injured). In the past when the Dragons failed, they were totally unusable - nothing worked. It seems that this one is not dealing with reset properly or something.

At any rate, thanks for the suggestions, I have a new one coming in next week.

I would love to be able to get some technical info on the circuit the Dragon uses and see if I can fix it, but I haven't found anything on that yet.

clawson, mine is apparently a newer one, as it has the holes, but since it is mostly functional, I don't think it is a PS problem (but you never know nowadays). I might see if any of my older Dragons are repairable with the technique shown in the link you sent.

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davetelling wrote:
I would love to be able to get some technical info on the circuit the Dragon uses and see if I can fix it, but I haven't found anything on that yet.
You did read:

 

http://www.aplomb.nl/TechStuff/D...

 

that I linked to above didn't you?

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Yes, I saw that, and I'm going to see if I can resurrect an older Dragon. Stay tuned...

Well, drat! The Dragon (older version) seems to light up, plugging it in, Device Manager recognizes it, AS7 shows the correct serial number as an option, but after trying 4 different drivers, it will not connect when I click "Apply" from the interface settings in the device programming dialog. I am not being prompted for a firmware update, so I'm not sure what the isue is now. Any ideas?

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davetelling wrote:
so I'm not sure what the isue is now. Any ideas?

 

AS said before buy an Atmel ICE and move on?

 

JIm

I would rather attempt something great and fail, than attempt nothing and succeed - Fortune Cookie

 

"The critical shortage here is not stuff, but time." - Johan Ekdahl

 

"Step N is required before you can do step N+1!" - ka7ehk

 

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

"Why is there a "Highway to Hell" and only a "Stairway to Heaven"? A prediction of the expected traffic load?"  - Lee "theusch"

 

Speak sweetly. It makes your words easier to digest when at a later date you have to eat them ;-)  - Source Unknown

Please Read: Code-of-Conduct

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

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Well, if this Dragon I have on order blows up, I'll try the ICE, but it is almost double the cost (with the cables). I'm obviously out of the loop, I didn't know that Atmel had an inexpensive ICE. :-(