(Topic ID: 195329)

Dialed In Bluetooth Interferes with HTC Vive


By eXntrc

3 years ago



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  • 28 posts
  • 17 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 years ago by pinball_keefer
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#1 3 years ago

I got my Dialed In LE (#111) on Sunday and had an unboxing party with a bunch of friends over. Some of the friends lost interest in pinball after the first hour and wanted to play some VR. Oddly enough, the HTC Vive base stations kept rebooting themselves. I could only keep them running about 60 - 120 seconds before they'd reset. I'd never seen this before and I was shocked. They'd been working just fine the day before.

I tried unplugging them and plugging them back in. I tried rebooting the PC. No dice. They just kept rebooting! So I started thinking, "What changed in the last 24 hours?" I knew that the base stations connected to the PC over Bluetooth. And the only new Bluetooth device in the house was the Dialed In. So I turned the machine off and lo and behold, the HTC Vive base stations started working again!

We played the Vive for over an hour without interruption before I decided to try and turn on Dialed In again. As soon as I booted Dialed In back up, the Vive base stations started rebooting again and again and again. So, I opened the Dialed In coin door and found the small bluetooth module (plugged into a USB extension cable to the left of the coin bucket) and unplugged the module. As soon as I unplugged the module, the Vive base stations stopped rebooting.

There's no doubt the Dialed In bluetooth module is causing problems with my Vive base stations. I have the latest software installed on Dialed In (1.13) and Steam does not show any outstanding firmware updates for the base stations or controllers.

I called JJP support and tried to report it but Frank was leaving for the day. I spoke with Paul and let him know about the issue. Paul said he'd have someone call me back in the evening shift but so far no calls.

I'm not sure how much JJP can do about this. I'm assuming this is a problem with the actual Bluetooth adapter that they chose. I know these machines run Linux so I'm hoping that JJP can support more than one manufacture of Bluetooth module. Before I removed the module I tried several times to get the app on my Android phone to connect to the table and it was never successful. I did the thing where you hold the left button on both the app and the machine and still no luck. Maybe I have a faulty Bluetooth module.

I just wanted to report this because other people might start having strange things happen to their Bluetooth devices like keyboards and mice when they have their Dialed In running and it might not dawn on you that the problem could be related to the pinball machine. If anyone else experiences something odd like this, please chime in and let us know.

-2
#2 3 years ago

it's pretty likely the code is crap in vive as it probably doesn't expect any other ble clients nearby, and didn't bother to handle error conditions.

#3 3 years ago

That opinion is not based on any evidence or verifiable facts, but you are certainly welcome to it.

HTC is 20 year old global communications company that specializes in cell phones and bluetooth related communication devices. HTC Vive has been in market for over a year in well over 100,000 homes worldwide and there have been no problems reported (that I can find at least) of the base stations co-existing with other BLE devices. My home alone has dozens of bluetooth devices, several of which are BLE devices, and they have all coexisted with the HTC Vive for over a year now with no problems.

By contrast, Dialed In is the first Bluetooth enabled device created by a 6 year old company that specializes in pinball. And anyone who's been following Dialed In knows there have been problems getting the phone app to connect to the table. Especially at conferences, which happen to be heavy Bluetooth traffic areas.

Again, you're entitled to your opinion but it's simply not based on any empirical evidence. All evidence points to a problem that JJP needs to resolve.

#4 3 years ago

Wireless is hard. Trust me. Fault could easily be on either side. Hopefully JJP figures it out!

#5 3 years ago
Quoted from eXntrc:

conferences, which happen to be heavy Bluetooth traffic areas.

What pinball conferences have heavy Bluetooth traffic compared to your house with "dozens of bluetooth devices, several of which are BLE devices"?

None of them. The vast majority have zero bluetooth devices in most areas, most of the time with the occasional headphone or phone earpiece wearer walking by.

#6 3 years ago

Maybe Vive and DI are fighting to use the same bluetooth channel/frequency? Normally, bluetooth devices should auto-negotiate if there are problems on a particular channel, but maybe vive and DI are trying to do it simultaneously and clashing each time?

Have you tried to disconnect and pair your vive again? Or tried to pair to DI again?

#7 3 years ago

Many people have bluetooth enabled on their phones even if they are not actively using a headset or connected to a bluetooth speaker.

And these aren't just my own words. Jersey Jack Technical Support has verified that they are experiencing problems in large venues and they expect it's related to interference from a large number of devices. But again, don't take my word for it. If you've bought a Dialed In and are having problems getting the app to connect, just contact phone support and ask. They will verify everything I'm telling you. They're actively investigating it.

Connection problems aside, the bigger problem is a bluetooth device that can actively interfere with the operation of another bluetooth device. That shouldn't be possible. As ForceFlow mentions, they should negotiate around each other. Obviously the HTC Vive is not handling a condition that the DI is causing. Whether the condition that the DI is causing is a "valid" or not would require a BLE protocol expert with a BLE sniffer and diagnostic software. This, more than anything, is what needs to be determined.

I personally feel fairly confident that HTC would have trapped for all "valid" error conditions in their BLE stack. But I will readily admit that I'm not a BLE protocol expert and I do not have the hardware or expertise to verify that. So I will not claim to be 100% sure JJP is at fault, because clearly I'm not.

What I will say is that I do believe it needs to be researched and I do believe it needs to be solved. Since there are over a hundred thousand homes worldwide that already have the Vive, and since this issue has not been reported before (that I can find), I do feel it's the right thing for JJP to research on their end. Simply saying "the Vive code is crap" and not doing any due diligence to research the problem, in my opinion, is not the responsible or respectable thing to do.

(And to answer your question ForceFlow, yes I did disconnect and re-pair the base stations. They operate normally as long as the DI bluetooth module is not installed or the table is not turned on.)

#8 3 years ago

I decided to test this out as I have both a Vive and Dialed In. I wasn't able to reproduce the problem. My Dialed in sits about 6 feet away from my lighthouses.

Are you actively playing the game at the time? Are you connecting your phone to the pinball machine when the outages happen?

#9 3 years ago

Thank you for trying to help reproduce the problem DeeGor.

At my house the pinball machine can just be turned on in idle attract mode. There does not need to be an active game in play. I still have not been able to connect my phone with the DI table at all. So, again, it may actually be possible that my DI shipped with a faulty bluetooth module.

As for the Vive, it really doesn't matter what you're doing but the base stations actually need to be on and tracking. You can just run Steam VR and be in 'Home' (without a game loaded) and it will still happen.

If anyone else owns a Vive and a DI and can confirm you're *not* having the problem, I'd actually be elated. That would just mean I need to call JJP support back, let them know what we've figured out, and ask them to send me a replacement bluetooth module.

#10 3 years ago

Oh, P.S., DeeGor, do you have all of the Bluetooth options installed and enabled for your Vive? Under Steam VR go to Settings -> General. Is "Enable Bluetooth communication" checked? And is "Put Base Station in Standby mode when VR is not in use" also checked?

Thank you again for helping troubleshoot. I do sincerely appreciate it.

#11 3 years ago

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#12 3 years ago

Bwahahahaahaha. That's some AWESOME photoshop work there DaveH. You really had me going for a second.

I'm headed to sleep. I'll check back tomorrow.

#13 3 years ago

I got the DI app to work on my Note 5 once, and could never use it again after that. Would always say connecting. Gonna put my money on the bluetooth in the pinball that's causing the issue.

#14 3 years ago
Quoted from eXntrc:

Connection problems aside, the bigger problem is a bluetooth device that can actively interfere with the operation of another bluetooth device. That shouldn't be possible. As ForceFlow mentions, they should negotiate around each other. Obviously the HTC Vive is not handling a condition that the DI is causing. Whether the condition that the DI is causing is a "valid" or not would require a BLE protocol expert with a BLE sniffer and diagnostic software. This, more than anything, is what needs to be determined.
I personally feel fairly confident that HTC would have trapped for all "valid" error conditions in their BLE stack. But I will readily admit that I'm not a BLE protocol expert and I do not have the hardware or expertise to verify that. So I will not claim to be 100% sure JJP is at fault, because clearly I'm not.

Pretty sure FCC certification says wireless devices have to accept interference from badly behaving devices without malfunctioning, so this is likely mostly a Vive issue (whether or not they trapped for it, it's still a failure to handle bad behavior from another wireless device), though the JJP Bluetooth in Dialed In is crappy, I will agree.

#15 3 years ago
Quoted from eXntrc:

Connection problems aside, the bigger problem is a bluetooth device that can actively interfere with the operation of another bluetooth device. That shouldn't be possible. As ForceFlow mentions, they should negotiate around each other. Obviously the HTC Vive is not handling a condition that the DI is causing. Whether the condition that the DI is causing is a "valid" or not would require a BLE protocol expert with a BLE sniffer and diagnostic software. This, more than anything, is what needs to be determined.
I personally feel fairly confident that HTC would have trapped for all "valid" error conditions in their BLE stack. But I will readily admit that I'm not a BLE protocol expert and I do not have the hardware or expertise to verify that. So I will not claim to be 100% sure JJP is at fault, because clearly I'm not.

It should be impossible for a non-paired Bluetooth device to cause another non-paired device to reboot. The device that is rebooting is at fault and is not handling radio wave interference correctly.

As an fyi, jjp uses off the shelf Bluetooth adapter with Linux drivers. They did not write their own Bluetooth stack or manufacture the Bluetooth device or write the driver for it. That off the shelf stuff might suck, who knows. But it is unacceptable to have your device react to external signals with a crash and reboot. I'd be all over vive on this.

#16 3 years ago
Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

What pinball conferences have heavy Bluetooth traffic compared to your house with "dozens of bluetooth devices, several of which are BLE devices"?
None of them. The vast majority have zero bluetooth devices in most areas, most of the time with the occasional headphone or phone earpiece wearer walking by.

Trade-shows or conferences of *any* type can be nightmares for Bluetooth. You reach a certain saturation of smart-phones in an enclosed area and they can't even handshake without stepping all over each other. (You don't notice most of them when you're "scanning" because they're already paired. Or set to private. Or both.) Very frustrating if you're trying to demo a product that requires Bluetooth. Many times I've been at a event with technology that worked perfectly before the show started, then they opened the doors and let the people in, and all my bluetooth connections became unreliable.

The fact that they had trouble in that environment doesn't really say anything, good or bad, about the quality of their product in a more sane setting.

Quoted from vireland:

Pretty sure FCC certification says wireless devices have to accept interference from badly behaving devices without malfunctioning

Yeah, but "without malfunctioning" does not mean "working perfectly". It can mean a controlled automatic shutdown or restart. Just so long as it doesn't break anything.
(It's mostly a legal fiction intended to make it so you can't sue someone for interfering with your pinball machine the way you could if they were interfering with your aviation radio.)

#17 3 years ago

We are looking into this, as we do all reports, but I can assure you our code isn't doing anything that should cause another device to reboot. I don't know enough about the Vive to make a guess at what the issue is, but as markmon said:

Quoted from markmon:

It should be impossible for a non-paired Bluetooth device to cause another non-paired device to reboot. The device that is rebooting is at fault and is not handling radio wave interference correctly.

#18 3 years ago
Quoted from eXntrc:

Oh, P.S., DeeGor, do you have all of the Bluetooth options installed and enabled for your Vive? Under Steam VR go to Settings -> General. Is "Enable Bluetooth communication" checked? And is "Put Base Station in Standby mode when VR is not in use" also checked?
Thank you again for helping troubleshoot. I do sincerely appreciate it.

I tried enabling both of those features and still no issues.

#19 3 years ago

Thanks deegor for investigating further. I sure do wish I knew what was different between our two setups. Any chance you could take a photo of your actual Bluetooth module or write in here any markings you see? I wonder if we've ended up with different modules.

I spent quite a bit of time on this today in an effort to make sure it's the Dialed In triggering the reboots and not something else. Unfortunately I must still confirm my original findings. The Lighthouse base stations run great when the Dialed In is off or the Bluetooth module is removed. The Lighthouse base stations reboot continuously as long as Dialed In is turned on and the Bluetooth module is inserted.

Yesterday I was hoping I had a faulty Bluetooth adapter, but today I was able to connect my phone app with the table multiple times. This was entirely my fault. I thought you were supposed to HOLD the left flipper button on the table and the app to connect but you're actually just supposed to tap and release the buttons (not hold them). It's worth noting that I can connect and keep my Pixel XL connected for a full game, but my daughters S7 will only stay connected for the first 30 to 60 seconds.

I was able to record a video of the lighthouse stations rebooting themselves repeatedly. The whole process lasts about 4 minutes but I sped up portions of the video so the whole video lasts only about a minute. You can check out that video here:

#20 3 years ago

I've got a Vive, but no Dialed In, just a Hobbit. If they backport the bluetooth connectivity I'd love to jump in.

For those saying that Vive needs to accept the interference... we really don't know what the cause is until someone qualified digs in. For example... (this example is total BS), the pin could have a bug causing it to try and send a reset signal to what it thinks is another device but happens to be the Vive in this instance. No harmful "radio interference" but still a pretty big bug.

The point is, who knows what the bug is, stop trying to assign blame .

#21 3 years ago

Off topic but for the people that own the vive, are you loving it? I have the psvr and I think it's sweet. Should I get the vive or is one system enough? Thanks carry on

#22 3 years ago
Quoted from Shado1w:

Off topic but for the people that own the vive, are you loving it? I have the psvr and I think it's sweet. Should I get the vive or is one system enough? Thanks carry on

Vive is better (roomscale is awesome if you have the space), but PSVR is "good enough" for now. Wait for the wireless Vive that's coming.

#23 3 years ago
Quoted from goldant:

the pin could have a bug causing it to try and send a reset signal to what it thinks is another device but happens to be the Vive in this instance.

Dialed In does not send any device any reset signal. Not even an Android or iOS app. It just doesn't happen.

#24 3 years ago

One of my old colleagues is a Vive engineer and he mentioned to me (off the record) that they really didn't do proper load testing on the Vive and so while he didn't know anything specific to try or configure or whatever, he wasn't surprised at all.

1 week later
#25 3 years ago
Quoted from dr_light:

Dialed In does not send any device any reset signal. Not even an Android or iOS app. It just doesn't happen.

Good to know. Fwiw, I meant only that we don't know what we don't know till we have JJP (and/or Vive) looking at the issue.

#26 3 years ago
Quoted from markmon:

It should be impossible for a non-paired Bluetooth device to cause another non-paired device to reboot. The device that is rebooting is at fault and is not handling radio wave interference correctly.
As an fyi, jjp uses off the shelf Bluetooth adapter with Linux drivers. They did not write their own Bluetooth stack or manufacture the Bluetooth device or write the driver for it. That off the shelf stuff might suck, who knows. But it is unacceptable to have your device react to external signals with a crash and reboot. I'd be all over vive on this.

I have to agree with this. If JJP's system was the issue, there would be a lot more issues across the board w/generic Bluetooth & Linux Drivers. While I don't have any exact evidence to speak to, my guess is the Bluetooth in the Vive is proprietary and more likely to be the culprit of the issue based on shear numbers alone. Also the fact that the Vive is rebooting based on outside signals also speaks to it being the issue. This simply shouldn't happen. Reboots are serious things. This means there is a fault in the code that is making routines exit because it doesn't know what else to do.

Either way this must be frustrating. I would focus on the the fellow that is giving you feedback with a similar setup. Exactly what version of Bluetooth is JJP running on his machine? What rev of Vive do you have? There has to be a difference.

#27 3 years ago

Interesting that one guy is getting Vive resets and one guy isn't. It might be a clue. Is it possible to further isolate the problem (or at least get more clues which might help JJP) by process of elimination? Can the DI bluetooth dongle be plugged into a laptop or something, then configure the laptop to talk to a bluetooth device... and does that cause Vive resets? If you power-up DI with bluetooth disabled on your phone, do you still get Vive resets? Do you have other bluetooth devices laying around that you can test to see if you get Vive resets when you use them? Like your phone talking to a bluetooth speaker? Similarly, do those bluetooth connections get balled-up when you turn on DI? Just some thoughts.

#28 3 years ago

The Vive seems to have lots of problems with interference. There are instances of it failing with nearby wifi and of it interfering with nearby wifi. Currently it's not faring well with leapmotion, either.

I didn't make my original post in jest; my wife had an HTC phone that was just absolutely total garbage. She picked it and I had to listen about it for 2 years!

I think you'll be much better off poking around vive fora for troubleshooting and grief support.

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