Dragon Bane

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I thought I would start a collection of the different ways that people have killed their inexpensive, but highly useful Atmel Dragons. The idea is to help users avoid such pain and possibly diagnose the cause of death in order to resurrect their beasties.

So far the various methods of Dragon-cide have been:

Known:
1. Letting high voltage getting loose on the application board.
2. Touching the switching supply section when the Dragon is hooked up to a USB port.

Suspected:
1. Static discharge into JTAG or SPI port pins.
2. Inadequate power available from the specific USB port used to power the Dragon.
3. Surreptitious visits from St. George.

If you have killed a Dragon and know or suspect the cause, and it is not listed above, please add a post with details. No credit for multiple dragons slain.

_________
"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please." - Mark Twain

"It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission" - Admiral "Amazing" Grace Hopper.

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Well, I killed mine by doing NOTHING. I simply plugged the bugger in and magic smoke went out from the chip in the power supply unit part. Maybe I LOOKED at it in a mean way?

There are pointy haired bald people.
Time flies when you have a bad prescaler selected.

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I toasted one of mine the old fashioned way.....I screwed up!! :lol:

My local Atmel FAE tried his best, but Atmel said no way were they going to help anyone fix them. Either buy a new one or send it back to the factory for repair at cost. Since the address they provided is overseas, not worth it :evil:

Oh well, great thread idea

Jim

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jgmdesign wrote:
I toasted one of mine the old fashioned way.....I screwed up!! :lol:

My local Atmel FAE tried his best, but Atmel said no way were they going to help anyone fix them.

And I am really surprised by this!

I am disappointed that Atmel hasn't even offered to assist in solving these Dragon issues.

In fact, while I did get a response to that letter that I sent to Atmel, there has been absolutely nothing visible come from that - even though I was told that they would take the matter under review. At least a response stating that they'll do nothing would be fine. Then we'd know that we are totally on our own.

But, with the lack of Atmel support, I think that it would be most appropriate that they (Atmel) release the schematics, parts list, vendor sources and component layout of the PCB so we will have the information to solve our problems more easily. Nothing short of this would be acceptable.

You can avoid reality, for a while.  But you can't avoid the consequences of reality! - C.W. Livingston

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Plugging a Dragon into a USB port has been reported as a failure mechanism. I have listed this as a suspected mode, but it may well be demonstrable. Anyone willing to plug in another Dragon into the same USB port to try it?

The reason for the failure in this case (I think) is that the switching supply on the Dragon draws a lot of current at low voltages, i.e., when first plugged in. This can lead to a disasterous overcurrent problem in the switcher if the USB power supply isn't up to the task. Note that not all USB ports are equal. I have a portable hard drive that has a 'Y' USB cable. Operating instructions with it warn that some USB ports on some computers are unable to supply enough power and the second plug should be connected if this is the case. They mention nothing about checking the computer's operating instructions concerning which ports are high power power ports and which are not. And, the engineers might not trust them anyway.

Externally powered USB hubs that are marketed as being able to run HD loads is one possible solution to avoiding the problem. Then again, we might be seeing a "tail" of boards that will die when turned on.

Frankly, I don't see why Atmel doesn't publish schematic and BOM information. It isn't as though the design is useful or easily modified to support someone else's chips. And anyone who copies the Dragon and markets it under their own label is doing Atmel a favor. Maybe Atmel will favor us with enlightenment on the subject yet.

"It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission" - Admiral "Amazing" Grace Hopper.

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Microsuffer wrote:
Note that not all USB ports are equal. I have a portable hard drive that has a 'Y' USB cable. Operating instructions with it warn that some USB ports on some computers are unable to supply enough power and the second plug should be connected if this is the case.

Not that this is needed, but... I will confirm that there are drives sold this way, as I bought one last week that has this same USB "Y" cable. They say to try with the red connector, and if it doesn't work then plug the black connector into a second port or use a powered hub. Mine is a Maxtor One Touch 3(?) 2.5 inch 80GB drive. I was surprised when it worked on the single port on my old Toshiba laptop.

I also have an old USB/PCMCIA optical drive that says when using USB you might have to take power from the keyboard or mouse PS2 port.

Which makes me ask... Why doesn't the Dragon have a $2 external power connector? But that's getting off the subject pretty far.

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As you may know, I have a webpage dedicated to the Dragon. You can find there the reasons so far I heard of, that are lethal for Dragons. You will also find the link to Kasper's website: he analyzed the reason for sudden death of Dragons when powered by a USB-port: it's not the in-rush-current, it's the HUB saying: forget it, 850 mA for startup is too much, I will shut down.

Anyway, you can find it all here: http://www.aplomb.nl/TechStuff/Dragon/Dragon.html

Nard

A GIF is worth a thousend words   They are called Rosa, Sylvia, Tessa and Tina, You can find them https://www.linuxmint.com/

Dragon broken ? http://aplomb.nl/TechStuff/Dragon/Dragon.html for how-to-fix tips

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Has anyone monitored the current draw of the dragon at enumeration and programming/flashing modes?

It would be interesting to also monitor the requested current using a USB Analyzer to determine how much it is requesting at different states.

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Plons wrote:
As you may know, I have a webpage dedicated to the Dragon. You can find there the reasons so far I heard of, that are lethal for Dragons. You will also find the link to Kasper's website: he analyzed the reason for sudden death of Dragons when powered by a USB-port: it's not the in-rush-current, it's the HUB saying: forget it, 850 mA for startup is too much, I will shut down.

Anyway, you can find it all here: http://www.aplomb.nl/TechStuff/Dragon/Dragon.html

Nard

The USB spec limits the amount of current available at enumeration to 100mA. The device may request more current and the USB may deny that request. If it has current to spare, it can agree to provide up to 500mA.

Are you saying that the Dragon draws 850mA in-rush current when it is first plugged in during enumeration? Wouldn't that be a serious design flaw?

Smiley

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Yep Smiley, I am aware of the USB-specs. But the Dragon isn't ;)
How about these: Let's say you plug-in a USB-LED-light, or a USB-fan, or a pair of USB-slippers (no kidding .... these things are out there) .... no enumeration at all, yet they take easily 500 mA.

Quote:
Wouldn't that be a serious design flaw?
I am afraid it is .... it's true. KKP (Kasper) researched it, not me. I just wrote it down.

Nard

A GIF is worth a thousend words   They are called Rosa, Sylvia, Tessa and Tina, You can find them https://www.linuxmint.com/

Dragon broken ? http://aplomb.nl/TechStuff/Dragon/Dragon.html for how-to-fix tips

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Plons wrote:
Quote:
Wouldn't that be a serious design flaw?
I am afraid it is .... it's true. KKP (Kasper) researched it, not me. I just wrote it down.

Nard

Do you have links to this? Do you know if the proper folks at Atmel have been notified?

Smiley

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Quote:
Do you have links to this? Do you know if the proper folks at Atmel have been notified?

Links .... hmm ..... I tried the search, but hehe ... there a quite some posts on this beast.

KKP posted it, and e-mailed to Atmel.

A GIF is worth a thousend words   They are called Rosa, Sylvia, Tessa and Tina, You can find them https://www.linuxmint.com/

Dragon broken ? http://aplomb.nl/TechStuff/Dragon/Dragon.html for how-to-fix tips

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Wikipedia has the same information.

Some PCs have been designed with the knowledge of the heavy duty loads in mind. Rather than bothering with the hardware to monitor load currents, they simply make some or all of the USB interfaces very stiff power wise and automatically "grant" requests for higher power (if they get them.) I've also encountered PCs that require you to use the back plane USB to power heavy loads and front panel connectors for "normal" USB stuff. My advice is still to get a hub that is rated for 1A on any output and has its own wall wart.

"It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission" - Admiral "Amazing" Grace Hopper.

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A friend lent me a pair of not-yet-dead dragons, and they weren't as naughty as mine - though they were still naughty.

http://n1.taur.dk/avrfreaks/dragonpair.wmv

disclaimer: Very boring, no rehearsal, crap microphone, cheap webcam, poor lighting, one dead segment in the LED display. The Fluke meter and the power supply on the other hand are decent.

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KKP wrote:
disclaimer: Very boring, no rehearsal, crap microphone, cheap webcam, poor lighting, one dead segment in the LED display. The Fluke meter and the power supply on the other hand are decent.

Kasper,
Don't sell yourself short! This was an excellent demo :D of the problem and I really hope the new AVRFreaks will have a way to show such demos in a YouTube-like window so we don't have to download the whole thing.

Has anyone actually talked to anybody in Norway about this? The Dragon design team should know about this, but how would one go about identifying those folks?

Smiley

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smileymicros wrote:
Has anyone actually talked to anybody in Norway about this? The Dragon design team should know about this, but how would one go about identifying those folks?

If your talking about the Dragon issues, I send Eivind an e-mail several weeks ago, who then forwarded it to the Dragon team, as he called them.

To date, we haven't heard a thing from the the boys over there in the Dragons den. Maybe their getting all flamed out?

You can avoid reality, for a while.  But you can't avoid the consequences of reality! - C.W. Livingston

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I wonder if the Dragon Team has heard about AVRFreaks?

Smiley

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Did you notice that the USB interface uses a Philips USB chip instead of Atmel's own?

____________
In theory, there is no differenc between theory and practice. In practice everything is different. -Who?

"It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission" - Admiral "Amazing" Grace Hopper.

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Quote:

Frankly, I don't see why Atmel doesn't publish schematic and BOM information. It isn't as though the design is useful or easily modified to support someone else's chips. And anyone who copies the Dragon and markets it under their own label is doing Atmel a favor.

My suspicion would be that Atmel tries to hold back the backward engineering of the debugWire interface as best they can. By not giving any hints at all about the schematics / BOM they are introducing obstacles (that are penetrable at a cost) for such activities. There might be a substantial profit in the JTAGICE mk II, although I i) doubt it, and ii) find it less wise to rely on it.

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No guarantees, but if we don't report problems they won't get much of  a chance to be fixed! Details/discussions at link given just above.

 

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I suspect that the Dragon was developed outside Atmel by someone who doesn't want to give up what for them is a profitable little market. In any event we don't seem likely to be getting any help in supporting the Dragon. So, anyone identified the other 6 and 8 pin devices on the board?

"It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission" - Admiral "Amazing" Grace Hopper.

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When you think about the cost of the Dragon and the time one would waste fixing it....I know, I know, I have done the same thing with my AVRisp...I guess we all love gadgets too much to just throw them away. :?

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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Microsuffer wrote:
Did you notice that the USB interface uses a Philips USB chip instead of Atmel's own?

I believe the dragon design reuses as much as possible of the JtagICEmkII, and that the usb-avr's wasn't available at the time.

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@kasper
Thanks for the video !
Not boring at all. I don't own a Dragon so it
was quite interesting for me.

Nominal power seems to be 5V*0.14A=0.7W

But with lower input voltage you can reach a state
with Uin=3.8V, Iin=0.6A , Pin approx. 2.3 Watt.

So there goes much more power into it than it
needs. I normally would expect a good switched-mode-supply to start properly when the
input delivers enough power. So there seems
to be no good startup-behaviour or not a
sufficient under-voltage-lockout.

@microsuffer:
Many of the other small 6-pin SMDs are the same as
on the STK500: double transistors, probably used as
level-shifters (guessing from Kaspers photo).

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I spoke with the Apps Engineers at the Pico Power seminar in San Jose today. Atmel doesn't want to put any money into supporting Dragon documentation for the public. The design is, in their words, a cost sensitive kludge shrink down from the JTAGICEII. If the customer breaks it they are expected to buy another.

One of the things Atmel did in designing the Dragon was putting break point support into the studio and not into chips on the board. This makes for slower performance at much lower cost. (The studio knows that the more complex debugger hardware supports breakpoints in hardware and use that capability when it is present.)

I was told the Dragon was originally aimed at just China, then somehow it wound up selling in Mexico. After that the dam broke and it sold world wide. They are surprised at the success of the Dragon.

To some extent the restrictions on support and performance are there to protect the more expensive debug hardware (think in terms of keeping losses under control instead of protecting a profit center.) However, there was a hint that this was under consideration for change. Complaints about the lack of documents is being heard.

Another item - Atmel is looking at shipping the Dragon in a kit with a daughter board to deal with some of the problems of miss wiring the jumpers - this was mentioned just before one attendee at the seminar fried his Dragon by shorting +5VCC to GND - a jumper error in a hands-on exercise. More than one attendee mentioned this board and links to websites that have jumper pc board solutions, which seemed news to the Apps guys.

"It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission" - Admiral "Amazing" Grace Hopper.

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Quote:
which seemed news to the Apps guys.
...if only they spend a bit more time on AVRFreaks instead of ivory towers....

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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I had a similar situation talking with one of the Atmel reps. I got the impression that the dragon was not one of their top priorities which to me makes no sense as they used them throughout the events. It is a perfect introductory tool for the new user and many hobbyists who want learn how to use AVR's can't afford a ICE mkII for debugging and minimal prototyping.

As for the power issue I had forgot to mention they said that some group had received the STK600's about a month ago. They ended up finding some problems with the power supply and that is delaying it from launch. This is from the Atmel trainer so there may be more to it than that but it does hint at why it is not out yet. He also mentioned something about the retention mechanism for the add-on boards too being an issue of some sort.

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Similar experience. We were told the power supply was burning up the boards. Some error on the supplier's part. In any event they expected to see the new boards today (SJ seminar is at the SJ headquarters.) Retail price $269 IIRC, coupon therefore gives you $134.50. Haven't seen any documentation yet.

They didn't say much to us about the kit scheme, just that it was being proposed.

"It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission" - Admiral "Amazing" Grace Hopper.

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Quote:
this was mentioned just before one attendee at the seminar fried his Dragon by shorting +5VCC to GND - a jumper error in a hands-on exercise.

hmmm...thats something a cheap polyfuse will help prevent that is not in the Dragon design ...
better the Dragon than the users laptop USB port..what did that do just shut down?

Quote:
We were told the power supply was burning up the boards. Some error on the supplier's part.

and discovered after they shipped some or during factory test?

Quote:
He also mentioned something about the retention mechanism for the add-on boards too being an issue of some sort.

sounds like another Dragon design with a bit of spin thrown in for good measure, but at $250 a pop you can bet the buyer will scream if it isn't worth a crap!!!

thanks for the report, I can't wait to get a hold of the app dude during my seminar visit..

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bluegoo wrote:

Quote:
We were told the power supply was burning up the boards. Some error on the supplier's part.

and discovered after they shipped some or during factory test?

I got the impression it was after the first were shipped as the presenter used the word "Recalled."

-julie