Victor Blinking Light Question

We’ve got a question about the indicator light on the victor. We’ve only seen this on an older 883 (rev F), and we can’t find an explanation in the manual for the newer ones. If you power on the controller while pushing down the calibration button, the indicator light flashes green for about 5 seconds. Sometimes (I’d guess less than half the time) it’s red instead. What is it telling us?

Also, when did they stop making the 883s?

Indication: Flashing RED indicator after calibration.
Problem: Calibration Failed.
Possible Solutions:

  1. Inadequate travel in forward or reverse. Repeat the
    calibration procedure and move the joystick further
    forward and/or further reverse.
  2. The joystick trim tab is NOT centered. Neutral cannot
    be extremely far from center.

Source: Page 4

I am aware of the calibration light, but I’m not calibrating the victor. There’s no PWM signal going in, and it still flashes green, and you can’t calibrate without a pwm signal.

I would start by removing anything that is connected to the output, disconnect the PWM, double check input wiring for 12 volts and apply power.

If it looks normal then try a cal without PWM and then with PWM.

The results of the above tests will be very helpful to finding out what is wrong.

The 888 is the same architecture as the 883. The 888 has new firmware which provides a more linear response curve, otherwise they are essentially the same units.

Because the response curves are different, I would suggest not mixing 883s and 888s on the same multi-motor mechanism.

Did you mean 884? The 883 is 24v.

Not Always

Here’s all the victors

Pre2003(?) red text 883’s -12V(what I have)
Post2003(?) blue text 883’s - 24V
2004(?)-200?- red text 884’s (incorrectly disallowed at some competitions)
200?-2011 - blue text 884’s
2012 green text 884’s
2013 green text 888’s

So, is the firmware the only difference between the Pre2003(?) red text 883 and the 2013 green text 888?? I would think some non-trivial hardware changes would have been made in the intervening 10 years.

The change from red to blue label 883s was a hardware change. The old ones required external transorbs (provided). They were implemented internally on the newer 883s.

From the 2000 robot manual:

There are two models of the Victor 883 speed controller being used in the 2000 FIRST
Robotics Competition. The older models are identified by a red “Victor 883” label, while the
newer models have a blue label. There is no difference in performance between the old and
new models. However, the older models do require the installation of a transorb (included
with the speed controllers) across the power input terminals.
Tip: Teams which purchased spare Victor 883 speed controllers in 1999 should be aware
that there is a low cost firmware upgrade available from Innovation First. Teams may use
Victor 883 speed controllers purchased in 1999 with or without the firmware upgrade. For
more information, consult the Innovation First web site at

I don’t know what the other changes affected. I find it hard to believe that there were no other hardware changes in the last 15 years, but can’t point to anything particular. I suspect better FETs were used in the 884, as the continuous current rating increased.

From a 2003 883 Manual…
Resetting Calibration to FIRST Pre-calibration:

  1. Power OFF the speed controller.
  2. Press and hold the Cal button.
  3. While continuing to hold the Cal button, Power ON
    the speed controller.
  4. A flashing GREEN indicator denotes calibration is
    reset. Release the Cal button.

I will make an assumption from this part that flashing red indicates a failure to return to factory calibration. This became a non-issue when it was realized that all joysticks are not created equal. Calibration to the joysticks used was highly recommended after that. I believe the 884 became available in the 2003 season(after kickoff). By 2004, 883s were not allowed on the robot per the Inspection Checklist. The change from red to blue labels on both the 883 and the Spike gave a lot of confusion during that transition. There was a period of a couple of weeks where red 883s were not allowed even though some had been provided in the KOP that year.
There is significant hardware changes in the 888, the FETs, for one, are different.

Thanks! That explains why we kept having to recalibrate all the time, we must have been resetting the calibration to watch the blinking lights. I’ve also noticed that the red flashing lights happen if you try to power on the victor with a PWM signal going in while holding the button down. It seems like it won’t reset this way.