Support

This page is for technical support. We hope that the advice here will make your experience with our products and technical support better. On this page:

What you can expect from technical support

Most technical support issues are handled by the engineers who design our products. We can provide assistance in the following ways:

It is typically beyond the scope of our direct (phone or email) technical support to offer help with project design or implementation (e.g. we cannot tell you all of the parts you will need to make your autonomous lawn mower, and we cannot write your code for you). However, Pololu engineers and other customers are often happy to provide this kind of support on our forum.

Our technical support is driven by two key principles: we stand by our products, and we want our customers to have good experiences with them. If you contact us to report an issue with our products, our goal is to identify the nature of the problem (what is wrong?), determine the cause (why did it happen?), and figure out the best resolution (what can we do about it?). In many cases, the problem might be obvious, but we will still want to troubleshoot the issue with you to determine why, for example, your motor driver caught fire. If the problem is our fault, we want to understand what went wrong and make the situation right, and if it is your fault, we want to help you avoid making the same mistake in the future.

We inspect and test every electronics module we make so we can have confidence that the units we ship are working properly when they leave our facility. Unfortunately, exposed electronic boards are very easy to break, and a certain degree of engineering expertise is required to use many of our products properly, so the vast majority of problems customers experience with our products are due to customer error or misuse, especially when the same problem seems to happen with multiple instances of the same product. Fortunately, “nonworking” units turn out to be just fine in many cases. If you contact us about an issue with our products, we generally approach the issue by looking for something you might be doing wrong, though we recognize we are not infallible and are open to the possibility that we made a mistake.

Thank you for your attention and consideration. We hope your experience with our products is a pleasant one and you never need to contact us for support, but should you need assistance, we hope the information on this page makes that process easier for us both. If you have any feedback for us on this page or on our technical support in general, please do not hesitate to share it with us!

Information tabs on Pololu product web pages.
Wiring like this makes it hard to double-check your connections.
Don’t expect this to work; header pins must be soldered!
This soldering is not okay!
Oscilloscope capture showing a 35 V LC voltage spike when 18 V is applied to a stepper motor driver.

General troubleshooting advice

If you need help troubleshooting a system or product that is not working, here are some basic things you might try before contacting us:

How to contact us

There are four ways to contact us for technical support:

If you or someone you are working with has contacted us about this problem previously or in multiple ways (e.g. via a forum post and an email), please let us know so that we can avoid having multiple people independently working to provide support for the same issue.

Posting to the forum is a great way to get help as your post will be read not only by our engineers but also by many other users who have experience with our products, general electronics, and programming. Our forum is also the best place to get general project design advice, as our technical support cannot help you design or implement your project. If you choose to use our forum, you should post your question publicly to the appropriate subforum in a new thread with a subject that lets readers know what the thread is about. You can start a new topic by clicking the “New Topic” button found near the top of any subforum. Unless you are in the exact same situation as someone else, it is usually best to start a new topic for your problem to avoid confusion (having trouble with the same product does not in itself count as “the exact same situation”). Please do not send the Pololu staff private messages with questions that are not private forum issues.

We usually respond to emails, feedback submissions, and forum posts within one business day. If you have not heard back from us in a couple of days, please consider calling to follow up or send another email. You might also check your spam folder to see if our response was blocked. It will not help you to get a faster response if you send your email to multiple Pololu email addresses or only give us a few hours to respond before emailing again. However, if your problem is urgent (e.g. your robot died and the competition is in two days), please tell us so we can give it appropriately higher priority—or call us!

If you have a complex technical issue, especially one that involves debugging code or referring to a schematic, it is usually better to write to us instead of calling. Please do not be surprised if you call and we request that you send us additional information in an email.

We welcome feedback on our various social media accounts, but we do not provide technical support over Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

What to write

If your problem is still unresolved after following our general troubleshooting suggestions above and you need to contact us for support, there are a few things you can do to help the tech support process go more smoothly. A good initial email or forum post makes it possible for us to help you more quickly without having to ask you for more information. We recommend that you say a bit about your overall project, say exactly what you did, say what happened, and say what you expected to happen.

1. Say a bit about your overall project: What is this project about and what are you trying to accomplish? We might be able to save you some time if we know of an alternate solution to your problem or notice an issue with your plan.

2. Say exactly what you did: Try to provide enough information so we can either verify that you set up everything correctly (and conclude that a particular component is malfunctioning) or identify the source of the problem in your setup. Include details about the entire system, including what is connected to the device in question, how that device is configured, how everything is wired, and perhaps most importantly, how everything is being powered. Please use specific product names whenever possible and let us know where they came from if relevant. Whether the product came from us or from another company, providing the exact product name along with links to product web pages and datasheets is very useful. It is fine to post links to our competitors on our forum.

Wrong: “I need help programming an AVR.”
Right: “I need help using the Pololu USB AVR Programmer under Linux (with AVRDUDE) to program the ATmega328p on my 3pi.”

Pictures like this are not very helpful.
This picture is great; it clearly shows all of the components and how they are connected.

Please consider including the following information when you contact us:

3. Say what happened: Describe your actual problem in detail. The more details you can tell us about what actually happened (and how that differs from what you expected to happen), the easier it is for us to identify the problem.

Wrong: “My robot doesn’t work.”
Right: “When I try to make the robot drive forward (using command X), it just spins in place.”

Say what you actually observed, not just how you interpreted it.

Wrong: “The controller freezes up.” (this is too vague and could be wrong)
Right: “The servo controller seems to freeze up: the servos stop moving and all the LEDs on the controller turn off.”

Some potentially important things to tell us:

4. Say what you expected to happen: If it is not clear from the context, let us know what you expected your system to do and how it differs from what actually happened. It can be very difficult to provide assistance if we do not have a clear picture of what you are trying to do.

Wrong: “My program only outputs odd numbers.”
Right: “My program only outputs odd numbers, but I want to print out only even numbers.”

Other resources

You might find these additional resources helpful. You can get to all of our user’s guides, application notes, libraries, and software utilities from the following links, and our list of Pololu and community projects might give you some ideas for projects of your own:

If you have a cool project that you want to share, please let us know and we will consider adding it to our list of community projects!

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