SparkFun Troubleshooting Tips

Contributors: bboyho
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SparkFun Troubleshooting Checklist

Regardless of our level of experience, failure rates can be reduced and issues can sometimes be resolved faster by having a checklist. Here is a list of questions to ask yourself when troubleshooting your project:

Hardware Checks

Check Your Connections

     ▢ Is there continuity between the pins, and is the connection secure?
     ▢ Are there shorts?
     ▢ Is the wire or cable bad?
     ▢ Where did you get the USB cable?
     ▢ Was the component connected using the correct polarity?
     ▢ Did you use the basic hookup?
     ▢ Are your solder joints ideal and making a sufficient connection?
     ▢ Are there solder jumpers connecting pins where they should?
     ▢ Is there water-soluble flux residue on the boards?

Length of Wire

     ▢ Are you using extra long wires?
     ▢ Have you tried using a different computer?
     ▢ Is there a problem with the USB Hub or USB port that you are using?

Check Your Logic Levels

     ▢ Can you connect a 3.3V sensor to a 5V board?

Stacking Multiple Boards

     ▢ Are you stacking more than one board (e.g., Arduino shield, Raspberry Pi HAT, Beaglebone Cape, etc.) together on top of your development board?

Check Your Location for Interference

     ▢ Is the component not working in a particular room or building?

Power Supply

     ▢ Is your power supply sufficient?
     ▢ Does your Arduino stop working every time your motor starts up?
     ▢ Does your project work with a power supply connected to a wall outlet but not with a 9V battery?

Power Cycle

     ▢ Was your project working fine when connected to the wall outlet for a few months, but is now not working as expected?

Heat Dissipation

     ▢ Is your motor driver getting hot to the touch? Is this normal?

Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)

     ▢ Did you ground yourself before touching the device?

Limitations of the Product

     ▢ Are you using the component as expected?


     ▢ Will your wireless device not connect to the wireless network?
     ▢ Will your wireless device not work inside of a metal enclosure?

Software Checks

FTDI Drivers

     ▢ Did you install the FTDI drivers?
     ▢ How can you tell if you have the FTDI drivers installed?
     ▢ How can you tell if your FTDI is sending serial data?

Arduino IDE Versions

     ▢ Is there something wrong with your Arduino IDE?

Board Selection

     ▢ Did you select the correct board definition?

COM Port Selection

     ▢ Did you select the correct COM port?

Installed Arduino Libraries

     ▢ Does your example code require libraries to be installed?

     ▢ You installed the necessary Arduino libraries, so why is it still not compiling?

Corrupt Bootloader or Bricked Arduino

     ▢ How do you recover your Arduino if the bootloader is corrupt?
     ▢ Your Arduino with ATmega32U4 stopped working after uploading new code. What happened to the ATmega32U4-based microcontroller?