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yurijgera

Base station weraing - failure by design?

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Posted (edited)

One of my base station started reporting error just few weeks after the warranty run out.
The tracking works, but its somehow less preciese and glitches a bit. And Vive error message permanently shown on the desktop. Reflashing doesn't help.

I realized that there seem to be some king of rotating / vibrating mechanical component inside the base station which is permanently running, no matter if HMD is turned on or not. It must have been running and wearing out for more than a year until it finally broke. Simlilar has been reported by other users: https://www.reddit.com/r/Vive/comments/50ctgj/should_i_power_down_the_base_stations_when_not_in/ . Support seem to be also well aware of that.

To me it seem to be a significant design flaw.

In my understanding the base stations must go into standby and turn off all mechanics when HMD goes off. They don't.
HTC must at least WARN the customer (no small print, big red notice in the package): "Don't forget to manually power off each base station in order to avoid permanent damage!"

I had to buy unnecessary replacement and now unplug both stations each time. Why didn't HTC just implement standby?

Edited by yurijgera

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@yurijgera, The mechanical nature of basestations offer higher precision tracking due to the fact that they are high-speed mechanical devices. A 1.0 basestation has two motors which each spin at over 200,000 revolutions per hour - they can accumulate tens to hundreds of millions of revolutions over a relatively short time and they also have other components like lasers which can also degrade. It's similar to a car racking up 100k+ miles and aging out.

There is a standby mode but it's not automatically enabled because Valve based SteamVR tracked hardware is using a broadcom driver which requires a separate installation pathway due in part to Windows UAC. That part is unfortunately out of our domain of direct control as we are not authors or redistributors of the driver and the Bluetooth power management API functionality of SteamVR is managed by Valve, not HTC (and SteamVR and SteamVR tracking overall is managed by Valve - we license it).

You enable it by going to SteamVR -> Settings -> Bluetooth and installing & enabling the bluetooth drivers and then going to SteamVR -> Settings -> Basestation -> Power Management. There are two power management settings in there - "Sleep" is the one you want to select to completely power down the motors. It does add a few seconds of start time to SteamVR startup overall.

The newer 2.0 stations have the same fundamental limitations, although there is 1 motor rather than 2. It's just a tradeoff of using mechanical tracking rather than something solid state. If you were to say, buy a Valve Index - power management is not automatically enabled there either and enabling them is the exact same flow.

I do personally agree that I wish the power management features within SteamVR were more insinuative and defaulted to being in sleep mode by default.

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