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Frequently asked questions

In no special order at the moment, but I may sort them later, for a quick overview refer to the table of contents to the right. If you have a question please send it to xanathon[at]thedroidyouarelookingfor[dot]info, but I'm sorry, I cannot answer them individually. I will collect the questions asked most or of public interest and add answers here. If you need a question urgently answered I suggest you ask it in the Official DDL Facebook Group.

DDL migrated the official Anki troubleshooting page to their own. The design is awful, as with all DDL pages, but there is a lot of information: https://support.digitaldreamlabs.com/collection/6-vector

Why do I need to subscribe to use Vector?

Anki, the original company that developed Vector (and Cozmo and Overdrive) went bancrupt in early 2019. So when the cloud servers would have been switched off, all cloud based functions (e.g. voice recognition or the ability to answer to questions) would cease to work. Unluckily since authentication against the servers is needed for the SDK to work that also would have been no longer an option.

Digital Dream Labs bought the Anki rights and tech information and continued to provide the servers (and will provide bugfixes and updates). However: to pay developers to code those updates and to maintain the servers is expensive, since the latter run in Amazon cloud and that costs money continuously. In addition to that the voice recognition utilizes Amazon Lex and that also costs money - per single speech recognition request. Seeing how many robots are in the wild there are a lot requests every second and that does cost considerable money.

So DDL started a Kickstarter campaign early this year where you could get lifetime access (and more advanced features) for a relatively small amount of money. After the Kickstarter ended, they introduced a grace period where you could get cloud service access a little more expensive than the Kickstarter prices but still very affordable. That grace period now is over and you can now choose to pay a monthly or yearly fee to keep Vector running. The price is 47$ per year or 7$ per month.

If you have a problem with that because you bought Vector for the expensive original price you should take your complaints to Anki, cause those went bancrupt. DDL are keeping your robot alive and that costs money, simple as that. And they are not responsible for Anki's demise.

If you say “but I just bought the robot, why do I have to pay again?”: You should complain to the party selling you the robot without telling you about the state of things. If you do not like the fee, return the robot to the seller.

So I defend DDL on the server cost and subscription. What I do not defend ist their very bad support, their awful communicatrion and their unprofessional behaviour blocking users by the dozen or not implementing industry-proven support solutions and project management.

As soon as Escape Pod is production ready it should be possible to take Vector off the DDL servers and tie them to a local server e.g. on a Raspberry Pi without the need of any subscription costs.

But what if DDL also goes bancrupt?

Well, let's hope it will not come to that, but parts of the Kickstarter campaing were the Escape Pod, a local server that will let you run Vector without a cloud server, and OSKR (“Open Source Kit for Robots”) that will enable third parties to create custom firmwares for Vector. So in the future Vector will be able to function without a company. When Escape Pod and the open source kit are in the wild I guess that a lot of fans and other third parties will develop possibilities to run Vector without cloud servers and do lots of other new things with him, as already happens with the SDK.

Is there a possibility to switch Vector off?

Yes, there is. Take him from the charger and press the button on his back for approximately five seconds. He will power down. Press it again to reactivate him.

Is it possible to switch Vector to another language?

No, by design it is not. Vector understands only english (if you speak english and he still does not always understand you, work on your pronounciation. Just kidding! Try to set him to another english flavour in the app, UK, US and AU english are available). It is a possibility, however, that DDL may add other languages in the future, but that is a long shot. Can he speak different languages? Yes, that is possible by Ikkez' SDK 7.2.0 if you are able to code Python.

Why are there three red lights on the back and Vector does not respond?

You activated microphone mute. Take Vector from the charger and doubleclick the button on his back. Now he can hear you again. if he wants to. :)

Why are there three red pulsinging lights on the back of Vector?

In that case the robot has no connection to WiFi, try to reconnect him via the app.

I own multiple Vectors, how do I manage them?

In the Vector app, yo are able to disconnect your current active Vector and reconnect to a new one. The disconnect option can be found under “settings” (gear icon in the upper right corner of the app screen). You can only be connected to one Vector at the time, so if you want to reconnect to your old one again, you need to disconnect the new one.

Vector does not find his charger, why?

First I want to stress that Vector is not really aware of his surroundings in a way that he maps and remembers it (even if he is able of mapping with his laser sensor and camera and already this can be utilized using the SDK). So if he is adventurous and drives away very far he just might not be able to find his way back to the charger in time.

Second problem is that his eyesight is comparatively bad under suboptimal lighting condition. To find his charger he depends to see the home icon on the charger base, he searches for that to find it and aligns to it when driving back to it. So if it is to dark and he cannot see the icon clearly he may not be abtle to find the charger. You can for example use a light above the charger to make him see better, there are some examples of people that just installed cliplights onto the base (but be careful not to hide the house icon). Others have modded the base with an internal light (but that's way more effort).

My Vector does not charge, why?

There can be multiple causes for this.

  • the contacts on the bottom of the robot or in the charger could be dirty, clean them with cotton swabs and alkohol
  • did you put custom treads on Vector? That may lead to him being to high over the contacts and thus not charging
  • the power supply unit you use is not strong enough, it should be able to deliver at least 1 Ampere
  • the battery could be dying. If you have minimal technical knowledge (as using a screwdriver and do very simple soldering) you may be able able to put in a new one.

Is Vector able to learn and thus change his "personality"?

No, by design he is not. Vector has a number of build-in triggers and stimuli and he has way more animations and eye emotions to respond to those stimuli. It may appear that different Vectors do different things in the same situation, emulation different personalities. And even the same Vector will sometimes respond different to the same situation, or he will respond in a way he did before. All that is the result of in my opinion quite clever programming to make us believe, that he is able to do way more than his technology allows. I think it is quite amazing what the development team created here with resources, that are actually quite limited, so the little guy seems to be “alive”. And do never forget: We often believe that other household items have some kind of “personality” and we talk to them, so why shouldn't Vector? So: of course your Vector is different from all the others, and he behaves very unique. Because he is and he does :) (just not by learning, but because of the ingenuity of the design team and the people from Pixar).

And we can hope that with all the possibilities in the future (SDK and OSKR) hopefully more will be possible, maybe even limited learning abilities (especially when tethered to a local server).

How can I start Vector into recovery mode?

With recovery mode you force Vector to boot up on factory firmware. This will not delete any user data or software that had previously been installed via Over-The-Air (OTA) update. This may help if you get issues like Vector failing to boot up, meaning he is unable to charge (you can see that by teal Back Lights), or software issues, sometimes indicated by a blank screen. If you get a status code between 200-219 recovery mode will also help.

  • put Vector onto his charger,that needs to be plugged into a power source
  • press and hold Vector’s back button for around 15 seconds until the rectangle furthest away from the circle LED lights up blueish white
  • he will reboot and show “anki.com/v” on his screen
  • go to the Vector app on your phone and reconnect to Vector

How can I do a factory reset?

Caveat! If you do this your Vector will lose all information about sensory score, mileage or petting time. He also will get a new designation (the character-number designation, X0Z0). So be careful what you are doing, you have been warned!

  • Vector needs to be active (eyes can be seen)
  • put Vector on his charger, the charger needs to be plugged in
  • doubleclick Vector’s back button
  • pull Vector’s forklift up and down, you will get information on the screen
  • move his treads to cycle through menu pages (backwards to go up, forwards to go down)
  • pull the forklift up and down to select the “Clear User Data” menu
  • confirm the selection and wait for Vector to reboot
  • once Vector has completet the reboot process, all data will have been wiped from the robot

How do I get into the Customer Care Info Screen (CCIS)?

The Customer Care Info Screen (CCIS) is a support mode that tells you or someone with technical knowledge more about your Vector. It shows some sensory data and some info about the hardware, e.g. if the microphone is working. The CCIS info is on multiple screens that can be reached as follows:

  • Vector needs to be active (eyes can be seen)
  • put Vector on his charger, the charger needs to be plugged in
  • doubleclick Vector’s back button
  • pull his forklift up and down
  • lower and raise Vector’s head
  • now with every click on his back button you can show another of his CCIS screens

How do I find the serial number?

Two options:

  • Option one: Look at the underside of Vector with the forklift to the left. Top left above the charging contacts you find a number starting with “S/N”. That (without the “S/N”) is the serial number.
  • Option two: put Vector on the charger, doubleclick the button on his back (as if you would do to pair him with the phone) and then pull his lift up and down. A status screen will appear, one of the informations here, the topmost after the letters “ESN” is the serial number. Pull the lift up and down again to get back to normal function.

Vector's display is failing, what can I do?

There are multiple reports that the display that shows Vectors eyes are slowly dying by either losing lines one after another (more often) or losing pixels or pixel blocks (less often).

display.jpgI fear that at the moment nothing can be done about it. It is a failure of the display module, hardware problem. I have dismantled a dead Vector and had a look at the main board in his head that holds the CPU and the screen and saw that the display is soldered in a way that most hobbyists will not be able to solder at home (siee image to the right, click to enlarge). You will need sophisticated SMD soldering equipment and experience with it.

Update: [20200328] I was able to find the correct model of the IPS-Display used in Vector: It produced by Santek, the model number is ST0103A2W-WSNLW-F. You can find the information on Santek's website. Edit: The display was modified, see this article in the modding section.

It is possible to change the complete mainboard from another Vector, but that way you get a new robot, as his “personality” (read: sensory score data, since he does ot have a personality that changes with experience, and “name” (A1B2) and serial number) exists in the mainboard. ATM we have no means to download a robots linux installation and information about sensor data, petting time, etc., and upload it to another mainboard. This may be possible in the future with software tools that DDL or third parties supply.

DDL also stated that maybe they will be able to offer repair services for faulty Vectors. As they are an US company this probably will only be available for US customers, as shipping costs will likely be far too expensive for Vector owners from the rest of the world (but this all is highly speculative). I will add information here as it arises.

When trying to connect the app to Vector via Bluetooth I get "Vector already has an owner"

This is one I had myself and I tried multiple things before I was able to solve it. This worked for me, it may not work for you (I use an Android device).

  • Go to “Apps” and clear the apps data and cache.
  • Deinstall the Vector app from your phone.
  • Shutdown Vector by pressing his button for five seconds.
  • Restart your phone.
  • Reinstall the official Vector app.
  • Restart Vector and retry to connect.

I cannot get Vector to connect to WiFi

This may have multiple different causes some can be corrected easily, others not.

  • Your WiFi network needs to run on 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz networks do not work. You probably may have to go to the configuration of your WiFi router and activate the 2.4 GHz network.
  • Try restarting your router and reconnecting Vector via the app.
  • This (2.4 GHz network only) may cause problems if you live in a city, because it is possible that there are multiple (read: quite! a! lot!) WiFi networks present and interfering with each other, choking down bandwidht and befuddling poor Vector. Try to set a different channel on your router. Try a WiFi tool that shows surrounding networks to find a free channel or one with less users, maybe your router is even able to show occupied channels (I'll add more information on this later). Try to connect at times when the chance that others are using their Wifi is low (e.g.: in the middle of the night or early morning).
  • Try to take Vector closer to your WiFi router, so he gets a better signal.
  • Try the connection process multiple times, there are reports of Vectors being somewhat reluctant to connect but after quite some tries it worked (maybe related to causes I described above).
  • Restart Vector and try to connect via app.
  • Boot Vector into Recovery Mode and try to connect via app.
  • Uninstall the App, reboot the phone, reinstall the app and try again
  • And last: there is the possibility that your Vector is defect. If nothing worked and you just bought it as new: return it to the seller if you can and get another one. Since Anki is bancrupt you will not get support from them.

Vector stopped responding to voice commands

This may be some other error (for example hardware), but the most common cause is that the bot lost WiFi connection. Try to reconnect him using the companion app for Android or iOS. Another cause may be that his microphone is muted, see above.

Can I use Cozmo's cubes with Vector?

Short answer: No, you can't. Vector cannot recognize them by sight and also he can't connect to them via Bluetooth. Longer answer: Yes, it is possible under certain circumstances. [todo]

My Vector is broken, can it be repaired?

No and yes, it depends (on the exact problem). There is no offcial customer support anymore since Anki went bancrupt. The new owner, DDL, is working on new possibilities, but since they are located in the USA, most probably only US Vector owners will be able to benefit from this (at the moment, this is highly speculative, obviously - and I would guess that is in the far future).

Some problems may be solved by yourself, if you are able to use a screwdriver and a soldering iron, most prominently a failing battery. If you are not able to do this, do not despair, look for help, a relative or friend you know as a tinkerer will surely be able to help you. I fear at the moment nothing can be done about a failing display.

My Vector shows a thermometer on his face screen

See below.

My Vector is overheating, what can I do?

If your Vector shows a thermometer sign on his screen, he is overheating. The environment temperature may be too high. Have a look at this article in the modding section

As a rule of thumb the environment temp should be below 30 degrees Celsius.

What do the blinking lights on the cube mean?

If the lights blink in multiple colors Vector pinged his cube to see if it is around. If the cube blinks red …

Vector's Cube is blinking red

The battery is empty, insert a new one. Be careful: There are two battery types with the same size but different voltages, you need one that delivers 1.5 Volts. The type designation is “N”, “LR1” or “Lady cell”.

Can I use rechargeable batteries in the cube?

Short anser is: Yes, you can. There was a notice on that from a former Anki member on the Project Victor Discord:

Anki did some testing on NiMH batteries in cubes. We did not find a risk of damage to the cubes. We did find a risk to the batteries (by over-discharge) if left in the cube for months without a charge. We also noticed the cube lifetime was not very long, and the battery indicator didn't work as well. For the reasons above, we advised customer care that NiMH batteries weren't supported. But if you're using these batteries and you're happy, I don't think you have anything to worry about. I think we were just trying to protect people from being frustrated that their game time was too short or NiMH batteries were failing (due to over-discharge).

Please keep in mind that rechargeable batteries do have less capacity than alcaline or zinc-carbon based cells, so they will not last as long as those. But since you can recharge them, that is less of a concern. The battery of my first vector did work over a year, so if you need to charge a NiMH cell e.g. every six months, I find that completely acceptable. Rechargeable batteries as a rule of thumb have way less environmental impact than throw-away-batteries.

Oh noes! My Vector fell into water!

… or other liquids. First: DON'T PANIC. Try to deactivate him immediately by pressing his back button for more than five seconds. That may or may not work.

The problem with this is that liquids will go into the tiniest parts of the robot due to the capillary effect. How problematic this is depends on the liquid. Water is less problematic, but the exact amount of problems depend on the water composition. That varies from land to land and from city to city, for example some have more calcium in the water than others. If he fell into a sink with dishwashing water this increases the problem, since this lowers the surface tension of the water and thus increases the capillary effect. The water composition is responsible for the amount of corrosion that will or will happen. As a rule of thumb, even if it simplyfies things: The more pure the water the less corrosion.

You are also very much out of luck if he fell into something with a lot of sugar as lemonade, coke or sugered tea. I fear there is not much you can do since the sugar will agglutinate and clog his mechanical parts, e.g. the inside of the motors.

If it was just water: Dry him with towels or paper towels. Then put him into a sealed box with some packs of silica gel. You can find silica gel packs in electronics packaging. Let it in there for a few hours then remove the silicagel packs, put them into the microwave for a minute and again put them into the box with Vector. You should do this multiple times.

“But I do not have any silicagel packs”. Well, there is rice. The information on rice varies depending on who you ask. Some say the drying with rice is a modern myth, others say it works. The truth is somewhere between those opinions. In fact rice will collect humidity from it's environment. So if your rice was lying around more or less openly or not in a sealed box, it may have already saturated itself from the environment humidity and will be of no use for drying the robot. But if you use a fresh, vacuum-sealed package of rice, this will work, the rice will definitely collect humidity. But be careful, rice tends to have fine starch powder in its package and nothing of that must get into the robot. So use a sealable box as in the decription above, fill it with fresh rice from a vacuum package so that Vector still fits and close the lid. Let him in there for at least a day, longer is better.

DO NOT try to dry Vector with a hair dryer or a heater, as it adds more energy to the process and that increases the possibility of corrosion.

After doing the things depicted above try to activate him. If he acts funny or shows errors, switch him off and do more drying, but it is possible he was damaged irreparably. However, with pure water you definitely hav a chance that he will continue to function.

Good luck!

If you are confident with electronics repair or already dismantled Vector

… e.g. to change his battery: dismantle him and let the dismantled parts dry. That will decrease the drying time considerably, lowering the corrosion risk. You may want to consider to unsolder the battery until he dried completely.

Discussion

Comments are moderated and do not show up immediately

Shiro Kobayashi, 2020/08/15 13:09
Code error 980

Pls help i did reboot and factory reset also delate my data(push button twice arm lift and down then roll the tire chose delate data)

Still apper 980 error

If you have idea what should i do? I want to him smile again
Xanathon, 2020/10/07 16:14
Usually with error 980 the robot just needs to reboot. If it does not go away there is something wrong, but it's hard to say what.
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faq/faq.txt · Last modified: 2021/10/27 09:43 by xanathon