Controlling Motors from Spark Max Client Via USB

Hey chiefdelphi,

My team recently purchased a few neo motors and are having difficulty controlling them from the Spark Max Client program. We plug into the Spark Max motor controllers with the included USB cables, and after successfully connecting navigate to the control tab. From here we are unable to set a control mode, and when moving the percent output slider the motor doesn’t drive but the graph accurately plots the output we set on the slider. We can drive the motors from code with the driverstation, however. When looking at the “USB Control” section of the Spark Max documentation, all it says is that information is coming soon. Has anyone else had success in this area? I would appreciate any help/tips you can offer. Thanks in advance :smile:.

You did not mention it, so I have to ask. How are you powering the SparkMax and motor? Do you have a battery connected to the SparkMax to provide the voltage for the motors? USB only provides power for the controller, not the motor.

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The motors are receiving battery power from the pdp.

I have found this feature in the client to be somewhat hit or miss, and failure of this function to not be indicative of any actual problem with the controller.

So you have been able to drive with it at times?

Yes we have before

Any tips you could offer? I would really appreciate it.

Hmm is the controller currently wired into the rio? Try disconnecting the CAN and running again from client


We have also been having this hit-or-miss experience with the Spark Max client. Nice to know we’re not the only ones. I might try what @risho900 suggested after school today and see if that fixes our problems.

Yeah its wired into the roborio. I’ll give this a try.

Are you running the latest 1.4.0 firmware version? If so, I suspect you are running into a new feature that was added to prevent simultaneous USB and CAN commands.

You can see a full list of changes (there were a lot!) on the SPARK MAX Software Resources page under Firmware Updates.

Yep, the original version of the client is definitely rough around the edges. There will be a new version for the 2020 season that should fix several issues as well as adding a few new features. Stay tuned!


Thank you!

Yeah, thanks for the update. I’m personally waiting with anticipation for the external encoder support via the data port, which I’ve been watching on your Trello board for a few months. I can’t wait…