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Had this baby for 20 years at this point. Some rubber rot on the cables, but other than that, the set's in great shape.

RCX 1.0 with DC-in port. Serial tower. Fresh batteries in tower and RCX.

I have RIS 2.0 installed on a WinXP laptop with a serial port. Tower works and shows green light. The entire 2500-step firmware update process happens just fine (from the RIS settings menu). I've even successfully completed the IR range test, where it makes the RCX beep as long as it's in IR range.

After that, I get periodic "Trouble communicating with the RCX" messages. Downloading a program often takes 2-3 retries because of this. This seems like an okay work-around, but then other times, it just can never complete a download at all.

I just tried NQC today, and it downloads programs every time, reliably. That implies that this isn't an RCX problem or a tower problem. Some kind of RIS software problem.

I've seen discussions of other compatibility issues with newer Windows, but I'm not having those specific issues. Just really flaky program downloading with lots of retries. But the strange thing is that the firmware downloads just fine.... and that's HUGE.

As for why I don't just use NQC.... I'm trying to get this working for my kids. They've never done anything like this before, and the RIS interface is perfect for their skill level.

Update, More details:

Green light on serial tower comes on each time I try to download a program, so nothing else is blocking the serial port. Though you're right that NQC cannot connect to the port if RIS is running. I've tried both near and far range on the tower. Replaced batteries a bunch of times.

The only other bit of behavior that I forgot to mention is that when trying to DL a program, the green light on the tower comes on, and then sometimes the little "receiving" icon on the RCX comes on, but just for a moment. Other times, the receiving icon never comes on at all. Then, after several retries, the receiving icon on the RCX comes on, stays on, and the little progress "dots" on the RCX fill up.

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What a strange issue. I'm not sure the exact cause, but I have a few troubleshooting tips for you to try:

  1. Make sure the serial tower is set to "Long Range" mode (the little switch on the front).
  2. Make sure the RCX is set to "Long Range" mode (Go to the RIS settings page and change the RCX comm range).
  3. Make sure the RCX program slots are unlocked (also in the RIS settings page).
  4. Try replacing the batteries (again, particularly in the tower).
  5. Try downloading the program with the lights off (believe it or not, I've had lightbulbs emitting enough infrared to interfere with communications).
  6. Make sure that when the RIS software is running, no other mindstorms software is running. If NQC is running at the same time it might bind up the serial port.
  • 1
    Thanks for this. Green light on serial tower comes on each time I try to download a program, so nothing else is blocking the serial port. Though you're right that NQC cannot connect to the port if RIS is running. I've tried both near and far range on the tower. Replaced batteries a bunch of times. Haven't tried putting a shoebox over them both to shroud light. Will try. But again, NQC works fine. Haven't tried the RIS software long vs short range setting. Will try. – Jason Rohrer Jul 17 '18 at 14:40
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    The only other bit of behavior that I forgot to mention is that when trying to DL a program, the green light on the tower comes on, and then sometimes the little "receiving" icon on the RCX comes on, but just for a moment. Other times, the receiving icon never comes on at all. Then, after several retries, the receiving icon on the RCX comes on, stays on, and the little progress "dots" on the RCX fill up. – Jason Rohrer Jul 17 '18 at 14:40
  • @JasonRohrer It would be good to add some of those clarifications into your question if possible - just hit the "edit" link under the question to update it. – Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jul 17 '18 at 15:36

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