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Introduction And Bluetooth Connection Challenges

Hey all. I just received my EZB kit. All of my microcontroller/robot control projects to date have been Arduino based or simple RC receivers with motor controllers and I wanted to try something a bit different. I'm currently building a 1:1 scale R2D2 droid and someone in the R2 builders group had mentioned DJ Shure's EZ-B so here I am.

Unfortunately, I haven't gotten very far with connectivity. I have tried two different laptops (Windows XP Pro and Windows 7) with built-in bluetooth as well as an external IOGear v2.1 adapter that I picked up at a discount computer store. In all cases, I'm able to find and pair with EZ-B with no problems, but EZBuilder can't connect. When it tries to connect, the BT module status light goes solid for a few seconds, but then goes back to a fast blink and I receive a message in EZBuilder.

I have tried several power sources including 9V alkaline, 6 AA alkaline, 7.2v LiPo, and 11.1v LiPo (around 1Ah and 2.3Ah respectively) and no luck there. I don't have a bench power supply capable of 6v so I can't test that just yet (I could try 12v from a power supply and see if that helps). I searched the forum and never could find an official spec on input voltage range.

I have also un-paired, re-paired, rebooted, restarted, stood on my head, etc. and no luck from any of it. In full disclosure, I originally had the BT module misaligned on the pin header and powered up the board. When I saw the BT status light didn't come on, I knew something was wrong. Could I have killed it?

Here is the message from the debug console in EZBuilder. The message is always the same, but the COM port changes obviously depending on where the virtual COM port landed after re-pairing:

Attempting connection to COM4
Comm Err: The operation has timed out.
BbytesToExpect: 1

Connection Failed: System.Exception: Controller Not Responding
at EZ_B.EZB.Connect(String portName)

Sorry for the long first post and thanks for any help or troubleshooting advice you can provide.

Oh, and DJ Sures, thanks for a really neat project. Nice work, sir.



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Hey, Rob.

The Bluetooth Thingy is the thing I like least about the EZ board. You have only 3 secs to make everything work or it will time out. :-(
The good news is that most everybody gets it working just fine after fighting with it. Just remember, only 3 seconds.
I have confidence that it WILL work. You might want to read the tutorials. After you get through that part of things, everything else should be very EZ.

Good Luck, don't give up hope. It WILL work. Or my name isn't Deputy Dawg!

@ryates hello, ignore moviemaker's response about 3 seconds - that's a different discussion regarding an older firmware update. there is no timeout anymore.

The most common issue we experience is "third party bluetooth software". i have yet to see a third party bluetooth software package actually work. the suggestion is to uninstall the third party bluetooth software, reboot, and let windows install the native bluetooth software. you can tell if it is native bluetooth when your bluetooth software matches that of the videos.

Maybe your software is native microsoft bluetooth? Well, that's a whole new discussion now. In your description, you mentioned the RED bluetooth status light flashes, then stops, then starts again - during connection. That's good news.

Does the other LED flash rapidly or pulsate?
Hey, D.J. that is Great news. No more 3 secs. That makes the total package EZ now!

You did it again, my man!! :D
Thanks for the quick responses. I believe I am using the standard Windows 7 Bluetooth software. The only difference between what I'm seeing and the tutorial is that I don't get a success dialog with the virtual com ports listed on it. I shot a 2-minute, shaky YouTube video so that you can see what I see.

Update: I ran out and bought a new laptop to see if my luck was any better there. Again using the built-in bluetooth module and Windows native software, I got the same behavior on a fresh, out-of-the-box machine. I'm not sure what else to try and this EZ-B is starting to get expensive.

Rob, It looks like a faulty board. The blue light should stop flashing when a connectiOn attempt is made. You can try reseating the Bluetooth module. Or checking the solder joints for a short. If it looks okay, then you will need to send it back for warranty. Can yOu Contact Us ? Thanx:)

And sorry about that.
You might try the upper com port instead of the lower...
When I got my kit and 1st connected ARC to my EZ-B on my Win 7 Netbook, the Bluetooth pairing gave me 2 com ports as usually (5 & 6), but trying to connect to port 5 failed everytime, including firmware updates... After 20mins of frustration, I gave port 6 (the upper port) a try & everything works perfect.
DJ Sures,
I will contact you through the contact process. For the sake of the community post, I have visually inspected the board and solder joints look decent. Continuity is fine between the pin header solder connections under the EZ-B and the pin header connections on the top of the BT module and none of the pins are shorted on the BT header. I also tested 5v perfectly to the VCC+ port even when trying to connect. The only thing that seemed a bit odd was the land directly beside the VCC+ port that seems to be marked 3.3V. It wasn't clear which land that word was referring to, but I didn't get +3.3V on it - I got 3V.

Thanks for the suggestion. I actually tried that out of desperation, but didn't see any better results.

I contact you guys last Wednesday, but still haven't heard back :(. I know you're busy, but I'm really anxious to get this thing up and running.

United Kingdom
Hi ryates

Open up control panel and type Bluetooth into the right hand search box

Then click on change Bluetooth settings. You should be able to see all the Bluetooth hardware and more detailed com port settings
User-inserted image

This should help determine what com ports EZ-B is using and what the various settings are

Worth a shot?
I'm not trying to complain, but am anxious.

@MovieMaker - Ahh - I didn't connect the dots on them being at the Maker Faire - makes sense.

@winstn60 - Yeah, I know exactly what virtual COM ports the EZ-B *should* be listening on and the BT module clearly is listening on that port since the status light changes status on a connection attempt. Unfortunately, the EZ-B board itself isn't picking up the connection attempt so it appears to be a fault on the actual EZ-B.

United Kingdom
Rob just noticed that your board has D1, R1 and c1 fitted mine doesn't and has a diode fitted between D1 R1

User-inserted image

Looks like a IN4001 if you want to change it yourself or get another board

Also chech the little regulator VR3 is a L4931 33 (for 3.3 volts)

Cheers neil

opps pic upside down anyway you get the idea
Wow - good eye! I happen to have IN4001s laying around, but not sure if the EZB folks want me messing with the board if they're going to swap it out. I'll also check out that voltage regulator - thanks for the tip.

United Kingdom

ok good luck with it

Sadly I still haven't heard anything . . . I have a brand new EZ-B, a Wall-E, and a brand new laptop, but alas still no love from the EZ-Robot team. I'm starting to feel neglected :(.

hey rob, I don't know if it makes you feel any better - but I've got the exact same problem with my board *stress*

And am in the same situation - new ezb board, new walle (though I have pulled him apart! hehe...), two laptops and no connection...
Sometimes our emails go into your junk folder - I can assure we reply to every email:) We get a hundred+ per day, so it can take a few days or up to a week, sadly. There aren't enough of us:)
Thanks for the response. I did get an email last weekend and the EZ-B is on it's way back to the great north. I didn't want to be jumpy and I totally understand the several-day turnaround, but I was beginning to get nervous after three weeks. Definitely trying not to be the squeaky wheel.

Ryates, I wish we had more resources to have quicker response. I can assure you that your case will be handled very well:)