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How to rule out software problem in a malfunctioning USB device


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  • Deputy Sheriffs

How to rule out software problem in a malfunctioning USB device ?

 

A common support case we have is for strangely behaving axes in a yoke, rudder, throttle, etc.

Symptoms are :

 

  • Non or partially-moving axis
  • Some/all buttons/switches not detected
  • Device not recognized at all
  • Vibrating axis
  • Dead zones
  • Non linearity
  • Axes acting like ON/OFF contacts

 

These can of course be the result of an electrical malfunction like :

 

  • Broken internal wire or USB cable
  • Shorted potentiometer
  • Mechanically loose potentiometer
  • Damaged USB board
  • Etc.

 

But the unit may be perfectly functioning and still appears as malfunctioning in the simulator because of external reasons :

 

  • Axis isn’t assigned properly (Wrong function or function type)
  • Axis sensitivity isn’t properly set up in the simulator
  • Device isn’t calibrated in Windows
  • Computer USB power supply is to weak or overloaded
  • Device driver or computer USB driver has problem
  • The unit is hooked to a USB hub causing problem

 

The method to locate the problem is to start from the bottom level, NOT from the simulator.
You must make sure Windows receives correct and consistant signals from the device and correctly send them to the simulator or any third-party software (FSUIPC, Spad.Next, etc.)

 

Otherwise, no matter what you do, the result in the last link of the chain, the aircraft, will be wrong.
 

So, once again, don’t start from the top. Start from the bottom.

Follow these steps :

 

  • Find another computer (No simulator, nor driver required. ANY Win 10 PC will do)
  • Again : DO NOT install any driver !
  • If possible and applicable, use another USB cable
  • Connect the device to the computer directly - DO NOT use any USB hub.
  • Test it with the standard Windows Joystick utility
  • Perform a full calibration and apply it.
  • Check linearity and stability of all axes.
  • Check all the buttons one by one and see if they illuminate on the utility interface.
  • Disconnect the device, restart the computer, reconnect the device and check that 
    the calibration is still correct.

 

See here how to access the calibration utility in Windows.

For symmetrical axes, make sure you follow this procedure.
NOT FOLLOWING IT MAY RESULT IN AXES “JUMPING” ON 50% OF THE COURSE.

 

These are very basic and down to earth common sense steps.

They insure the unit is working well and sends correct information to the computer.

Only then it makes sense to investigate on the software side.

 

 

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