View Full Version : [SOLVED !] USB key - no joy

29th May 2007, 16:18
Dear all,

I installed PDS as instructed and only then the USB key again as instructed. I found that the key LED lit up but although I know the driver file was in the folder (as instruction sheet) XP could not seem to ‘find’ it (only the folder).

1) tried the instruction at: www.picbasic.org/fag/question.php?qstld=18
(i.e. compiler error: USB key not found ) but had it did not solve the problem.

2) tried the suggestion from #74 10th feb 2007, 17:59 by spyder0069
(removing OEM files, re-installing etc.) but it did not solve problem.

3) notice that by this time the red led on the USB key was not working when plugged in and XP says a malfunctioning device.

4) I tried changing the sparkey.inf file as instructed by NavMicrosystems on sep 25th forum suggestion. Still no joy.

Nothing it seems will get the usb key to work.
Have I damaged it trying ??

Please help !

29th May 2007, 16:28
I think you damaged it and should post it to me right away before buying another one ! :D

I doubt if you've damaged it. I've just got a new PC going and had the same hickup initially. Try restarting the PC, you can also look in you hardware config to see if all is ok there. It should indicate when you plug / unplug the thing.

Don Stratton
29th May 2007, 22:20
Have I damaged it trying ??

Never hesitate to go plug it into a computer at a computer store! If it shorts out computers and kills their port you'll feel a lot better if it happens to a machine at Office Depot or CompUSA than a friend's computer. :)

I really mean it, too. :D


30th May 2007, 01:15
A fresh windows installation may help... but maybe you could use USBDeview and clean the USB device list a little bit first, yeah remove all USB device from you USB ports, run USBDeview, uninstall all of them (or at least those you no longer use and all possible Spark Dongle one).

Once done, reboot, then plug the Sparkey and see what happen.

USBDeview is free and REALLY NICE...

30th May 2007, 10:40
Dear all,

3) notice that by this time the red led on the USB key was not working when plugged in and XP says a malfunctioning device.


LED usually doesn't light until the driver for the dongle is installed for that port.
Note that if you use a different USB port from the one you previously installed the spark dongle, you will need to install the driver for that port also.

MickySoft works in mysterious ways, their wonders to perform.

13th June 2007, 02:06
Dear all,

I have now got my computer to install the driver, i still have a working usb key (the LED lights again) - but (!) the software still says Error: usb key not found!

so far 4 hours and no joy !

shall I send it all back?


13th June 2007, 05:45
Have you been talking to Crownhill ?

There have been one or two faulty usb keys.

I'm sure they will assist.

Have you tried an other computer and what OS XP as there is no support for vista yet?

Paul V.

13th June 2007, 21:39
Dear Crownhill,

I have tried three of the suggestions on the forum to solve the key problem (they are summarised on the forum - see the section marked: USB key - no joy).

I have also tried the whole procedure on another XP machine with no luck. I have followed all your the instructions carefully and correctly and the result is that the product you sent me does not work. I have already spent at least 6-8 HOURS trying to get around the problems.

I have contacted Lester at Crownhill who has been kind and efficient to reply but not able to explain simply what someone like myself, who does not have a great deal of computer expertese should do to solve the issues.

Is there a similar product that does not use the usb key?

I wonder someone in the company could bring together on one page all the supposed fixes (i.e. without much of the forum chat that goes on as time goes by) - with explanations on how and why. That way I can go through all that I can systematically - without having to spend hours reading everything.

If that's not possible then can you let me know the procedure for getting my money back. This is not ment in any way to be an aggressive message as I really want to have a working program rather than my money back but I seem to be just wasting a lot of time.


13th June 2007, 21:52
Dear Jonathan,

I understand your frustration the fact is that 99.9 % of the time the problem isn't Crownhill.

I have fix/maintain PC's for a living since before the IBM PC :o

And often its a conflict between other drivers an maybe a USB hub or sometimes a hardware problem.

Hang in there its the best software for the job !

Paul V.

Don Stratton
14th June 2007, 00:20
Hang in there its the best software for the job !

Somehow I am seeing a Monty Python sketch in my head...

Man walks in to computer software store, carrying a shrinkwrapped boxed copy of Photoshop that looks like it was mauled by tigers...

MAN: Excuse me, you sold me this copy of Photoshop earlier? Said it was the best in the world for image work? See, the thing is I work in recreations of Egyptian imagery and I normally work in clay tablets or thick stone, which I mentioned when I came in. I asked for a big rock to replace the old one I had that finally broke against the head of my chisel, but you insisted that Photoshop was the best thing ever for graphical image creation and editing. As you can see, it isn't holding up as well as the rock I had wanted.

VENDOR: But Photoshop is without peer! Paint Shop Pro is just a big piece of shareware, and don't even get me started about GIMP! I mean!

MAN: But I need a big rock.

VENDOR: Sir, I don't believe you are giving Photoshop a proper shake. If you can show me a better image editing program on any platform at any price I will gladly eat the installation CD with a snack of kippers!

MAN: But I need a rock!

VENDOR: Sir, I must insist you stay the course. There are several miiiiiiiiillion users of Photoshop who are extremely happy with it. Have you considered it might be you?

MAN: What do you mean?

VENDOR: Well, perhaps you need a book. There are MANY fine books about Photoshop. Wee small reference guides, great vast tutorials, the whole thing!

MAN: Are any of the books about fist-sized and hard enough to drive a chisel into stone?

VENDOR: MY WORD, SIR, THAT IS A WONDERFUL QUESTION! Most insightful, shows you are thinking about the problem! Umm... let me look... ... ... err, no, no they are not.

MAN: Then it isn't much use to me it is?

VENDOR: Well... no, not as such.

MAN: I'm sure Photoshop must be wonderful, but I cannot use it at all so it is absolutely useless to me!! I'd like to get my money back so that I can try to find someone who will sell me a bloody rock that drives my bloody chisel into a stone bloody tablet!!!!

VENDOR: Have you considered getting into a different field? One with fewer chisels and more desktop computers all laden with gobs of RAM? Photoshop runs a treat then!

MAN: ...


MAN: ...

Not that this is exactly the same, but the idea of insisting that PDS is great when a person cannot run it just struck me funny. You all will have to make allowances for the fact that I have a lot of free time and drink a lot of coffee. ;)


14th June 2007, 10:23
Well....I got my PDS today and wondered IF I was going to be infected with terminal dongle-itis ;) But it was not to be, the program installed, the dongle happily installed itself on my WIN XP service pack 2 machine, and I proceeded to download the updates, to upgrade my PDS. I guess the rest is up to me....Mmmm, whats a PIC? I better read the manual.....

14th June 2007, 12:04
Welcom Jack,

Good to hear it all worked for you, now the hard part starts, a PIC ????? What is that :D

Paul V.

14th June 2007, 18:03
It doesn't work because a dll is not copied inside c:\windows
and sparkey.dll, precisely installs then proton on a computer with windows XP you copy the dll and you go her/it to put then in your system in c:\windows you will see that it works.
If it doesn't install instead your updatings, it clicks then with the right one on the executable one on ownership and then on compatibility and flags the box in low, you Perform as administrator.
If don't have the possibility to install on xp I can send you the dll for mail
Hi :)

14th June 2007, 22:29
Dear Maurizio,

thank you for the message (in fact I thank all of you). Could you write again as I dont understand, sorry. It just needs a bit more explanation. Please send me the file and explain where it should go and if I need to do any other deletes / modifications before / afterward.
Thank you very much in advance.

send to: j.p.hare@sussex.ac.uk


Mark Rodgers
15th June 2007, 12:01
Hello Johnathan,
How do you like Brighton? I am just up the road near Lewes.

I am surprised by your trouble, I have installed PDS on more than 10 machines(all XP) at my office and personal without any problem(as 99.99% of people do) my new laptop was the same and no trouble.
The way I put it on the machine is put the CD in and install all the software and sparkey driver, restart the machine and then plug in the dongle.

All my machines were stand alone(ie not using network resources at the time of install) and all with administrator privelage(by default as only one user), my new laptop is fully networked up now(though not for any PDS related work) and it is no problem.

I have looked for the sparkey files on my (XP PRO)system, I have Sparkey.dll in C:\Windows and sparkey.sys in C:\Windows\system32\drivers.
I searched the registry and can find nothing in there at all.

All previous problems like this have proven to be an error in install or a clash of drivers(as far as I recall) or a faulty dongle and were finally resolved, none of which are directly Crownhills fault but down to Sparkey in some way or another.

Apart from doing an uninstall then a restore to a point before you put PDS on the machine and then trying the install as above I can not think of another soloution.

Best of luck, it is worth it you will not be dissapointed.

15th June 2007, 17:52
Dear Mark,
Thank you so much for the message, it may not seem much to you but it helps me a lot. Tel me how do you install the sparkey driver before plugging in the usb and letting the device install itself?

Do you mean you go to the sparkey key web site and download it?

I dont mean to be stupid but can you explain
(I am better with the soldering iron than the keyboard!)


15th June 2007, 18:28
In Windows XP, to uninstall Proton, go to

Start, Control panel, add-remove software.

Scroll down and check for any instance of Proton Development Suite.
Highlight these one at a time, there may be more than one instance if you have previously installed Proton Lite, and select to remove all previous installations of Proton. If, during installation you are prompted with the option of retaining an existing file on your system, select to remove same.

Once you have uninstalled every instance of Proton, exit the control panel, and re-boot your PC, without the Proton dongle inserted.

Insert your Proton installation CD in your drive and re-install Proton.

Be sure not to insert the dongle until you have re-installed Proton.

Once installation is complete, reboot your pc yet again.

One boot up is completed, you should insert the dongle into your USB port.

Windows should find new hardware, identify it as a sparkkey dongle, and prompt for driver location. Place the Proton installation CD into the drive, and let Windows search and install the driver automatically. Windows should find the driver, either on hard drive or on the CD. Allow Windows to install this dongle.

If Windows fails to identify the dongle, then you either have a conflict with previously installed USB
drivers, or possibly a faulty dongle.
If Windows completes driver installation, and the compiler still does not find the dongle, as new hardware, then you still have your original problem.

Try the suggestion of Mister_e in a previous post.

If all else fails, return the dongle to Crownhill for testing.

Mark Rodgers
15th June 2007, 18:31
You do not do anything except run the PDS install CD that came to you, all the software is installed automatically(I have never done any more than this) when the install is finished I always restart the computer(should not be needed but it is habit from older windows), once restarted the dongle should work.
If you have plugged the dongle in before installing then you may have caused a problem with windows not recognising the sparkey driver.

You could plug the dongle in the machine and got to the hardware device manager and into the USB section, if there are any yellow triangles you can right click on them and click on the uninstall to get rid of them from the system, also look for the "SparK Usb Key" entry, uninstall it and then unplug the sparkey before closing the program.

Next uninstall the PDS software and look in you "Program Files" folder for the directory "Crownhill", if it is there delete it, next look for "ProtonIDE" and if it is there delete it also, finally use the earch function(press F3 on the keyboard to launch it) and search for "sparkey", when you find these files make a note of their location and go to their directorys and delete the sparkey.sys and sparkey.dll, then reboot the machine.

I do not know if there are potential problems with a multi user system, but to be safe always log on with an admin account, as far as I am aware if there are more than one account the software will need installing for each

This should have totally cleaned the machine of any knowledge of PDS and sparkey, when rebooted put in your PDS disk and install it as instructed(put the dongle in another room so you are not tempted to plug it in!).
After it is installed I would restart the machine before plugging the dongle in, but its up to you, it probably does not do any real good but always makes me feel better.
Finger crossed when you go and find your dongle and plug it in it should work!

I can not think of any more to do and I am not able to teach you how to use windows and its tools, you have lots of information now its up to you!

15th June 2007, 20:06
Dear Bill9399 and Mark,

Thank you for your basic instructions, I can confirm that I have done everything correctly as per Crownhills and your instructions (everytime!) - but still no joy.

Over various trys I have had various degrees of success but never a working PDS. Recently I got the LED to come on on the dongle and also an apparent instalation of the drivers but it still would not activate the software.

Now the LED does not light and when plugged in windows say "One of the usb devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned and windows does not recognise it"

I am inclined to think that it may be a faulty dongle as I have never done anything apart from the correct installations etc.

do you know if the cd's sent out are paired with the dongle? If so do I need to send back both the installation cd and the dongle?

Thank you again for everything - I have now spent over 10 hours (perhaps longer) getting no where.

I recently e-mailed Crownhill telling them about the problems I have been having. I also asked them for the the UnLock code for a very old Proton (version 1.0) that I had but never used. On installation of this I have three days use before the code has to go in so at least I can get on and do things on this!

Not sure what to do other than return the dongle.
How frustrating!

Thank you!!


Mark Rodgers
15th June 2007, 23:37
Jonathan are you located at the Sussex Uni? I can drive down there with my laptop and test your dongle in 15mins if that helps.
The CD is in no way connected with a particular serial number, my dongle will run your disk and visa-versa.

16th June 2007, 10:59

I have sent you an email, but received nothing back from you. So incase you did not receiuved my email.

Please contcat me with your postal address and we'll send you a USB key in advance of you returning yours. This will then either rule out a faulty key or solve the issue.

16th June 2007, 12:52
Dear Mark,

I am a visiting research fellow at Sussex and am only their ca. 1 / week teaching (rest of the time I am self employed and live in Brighton giving lectures around the country).

I've just written to Crownhill (Lester) they have offered to send me a new key / dongle. But I must say I am worried its software not a hardware issue. Anyway we will see.

If I cant get any joy with the new key may I call on you again, it would be lovely if you could try and make out what, if anything I am doing wrong.

Thank you

Dave Stowe
16th June 2007, 16:57
I think I may have found the solution to some computers not allowing the key to install.

After many attempts at getting my key to be seen, I noticed the windows/inf folder was shadowed. I then right clicked, unchecked hide this directory, and my key installed !!!!

I have retried this and sure enough, when the inf folder is hidden, it will not install.

Hope this helps someone!

16th June 2007, 17:23
Do not totally discount the hardware. I have two keys, and one of them became intermittant. Many plug & unplugs were required, and sometimes torquing the key would help. Having two keys proved to me that the problem was not with my PC.

Since the case on it was not sealed properly from the factory, I pulled the board out... it was very clear that the crystal for the MCU was not soldered on both legs--one leg had a ball on it that just touched the pcb solder-pad. The connection was just good enough to install and use for a short while, but with time, the solder became dirty and failed.

Based on my experience of two examples of shoddy work on one key (no glue, plus bad solder), I would not be surprised at all if you have a bad key.

Mark Rodgers
16th June 2007, 17:29
Jonathan, please send me an email if you require help later.

16th June 2007, 20:21
Dear all,

I took all the usb connections away from the computer and pluged in the usb key / dongle (i.e. before extensions, front panel usb sockets etc). I found that after removing and re-installing the PDS software (virus scanner off etc) the dongle WAS acepted and installed (LED lights etc).

BUT still the software did not seem to 'see' / recognise it was there.

So what does this mean? - it seems to install but the software fails to be activated ?

I have reached this point before on a few of the many times I have been trying to get all this to work. If it is recognised by the computer, loads the driver then surely the usb key / dongal is ok?

why then does the software not see it - this must be a PDS problem Yes / NO, i dont know?


16th June 2007, 21:05
Dear Dave Stowe,

thanks for the suggestion of un-shadowing the folder. I tried it (I could not simply right click I had to go to properties as well) but it didnt help. After trying it a couple, of times the usb key does not get recognised now (again) and XP says the usb device has malfunctioned.

must be ca. 12 hours of playing around trying to get the software to see the dongle !

How many times can one un-install, re-install, un-install, re-install before it all gives rise to a WINDOWS XP monster further down the line I wonder??


17th June 2007, 10:50
Dear Dave Stowe,

thanks for the suggestion of un-shadowing the folder. I tried it (I could not simply right click I had to go to properties as well) but it didnt help. After trying it a couple, of times the usb key does not get recognised now (again) and XP says the usb device has malfunctioned.

must be ca. 12 hours of playing around trying to get the software to see the dongle !

How many times can one un-install, re-install, un-install, re-install before it all gives rise to a WINDOWS XP monster further down the line I wonder??


I use Registry First Aid from www.rosecitysoftware.com
This may also help diagnose your USB problems....

17th June 2007, 22:49
Dear all,

why then does the software not see it - this must be a PDS problem Yes / NO, i dont know?


Not necessarily. The dongle may in fact be working ok, but the software contents of the dongle may be corrupted, or it may have been incorrectly programmed.
Why not take Mark Rogers up on his offer?

18th June 2007, 20:22
Jonathan are you located at the Sussex Uni? I can drive down there with my laptop and test your dongle in 15mins if that helps.
The CD is in no way connected with a particular serial number, my dongle will run your disk and visa-versa.

Dear Mark,

Is there any chance you can try your usb key in my computer and see if it recognises it? I am free any time tomorrow afternoon from about 3pm onwards (+ eve). Thursday (21st) and Mon 25th eve ok also.

please e-mail me if / when you can: j.p.hare@sussex.ac.uk

Thanks very much

Mark Rodgers
18th June 2007, 22:47
I have emailed you.

19th June 2007, 09:54
Dear all,

Crownhill very kindly sent me a new usb dongle today, I plugged it in and PDS worked ! :)

Thank you everyone for all you help / advice, much appreciated.


17th July 2007, 17:08
Dear all,

after all my problem with the usb key and the solution (a new usb key / dongle) I find my usb ports are all mucked up. For example if I plug in usb memory sticks it tends not to be bale to install them ok, ipod the same etc.

I wonder if anyone know how to fix this problem.

I did download the nirsoft usbdevice but am not sure how to use this to fix the problem

Thank you in advance

17th July 2007, 17:47
Buy a PCI card that has 2 or 4 usb ports /USB 2.0/, these cards are not expensive.:)

17th July 2007, 17:57
the problem is with the the front panel 3 x usb sockets plus the CF and other memory card reader etc.
any thoughts?

17th July 2007, 21:36
Uninstall all usb devices ps if you have a usb keyboard that might be a problem.

reboot and it will reinstall all device drivers works for me 99% of the time.

Paul V.

18th July 2007, 21:07
Is there a 'best' way of un-installing all the usb devices?
how do you actually do this on XP?
can I do this for all usb devices without them having to be plugged in?
will I have to re-install the proton IDE to get it to see the dongle?
I know it sounds obviouse but until you have done it it isnt!
Is there anything I should not do, or make sure to do it properly.
(I can use a PS2 connection keyboard ..)

18th July 2007, 21:47
Have a look at this:


No you should not have to reload the software.

This is to the best of my information i'm no expert ;)

This removes the drivers out of the "active" database.
on the restart any connected devices should find there drivers and reinstall them.
the problem can be if you have 2 drivers for the same "usb ID" you can search the inf files etc. to narrow it down but lets see how you go.

Some of my "work PC's" had dozens and dozens of ghost device's its scary how much information is collected and kept.

Paul V.

19th July 2007, 20:33
Thanks for the suggestions, however I have tried uninstalling all the greyed devices and then tried one of the bold before doing all of them and letting XP install them. Now I have lost the front USB hub and the memory card slots. I darnt go further otherwise I might lose the interent and other usb devices.

The thing is that windows sees that the driver isnt there and tries to install its just that it cant seem to find the correct files. Even with the front panel usb hub / memory card driver cd in the cd drive it cant find it!

What to do?

19th July 2007, 20:45
Reinstall Windows XP.

19th July 2007, 21:21
Not yet that’s your last resort.

First are there yellows marks beside some items in the device manager. if so uninstall or reload the drivers as per the instructions.

On some cd the drivers are packed inside an setup/install program.

Have a look on the cd and look for install programs some cd's have many drivers for different boards/addons.

Also are the back ports ok ie if you plug the device's into the back ports do they work ? you might be looking at a double fault ??

Paul V.

24th July 2007, 18:57
Hi all,

After working fine on 3 different PC's, for the past 15 months, yesterday my USB key failed, on my work PC, i.e on compile, the IDE came up with the error message 'USB KEY NOT FOUND', so I tried my Latop & my home PC, both of which get heavy PDE use, normally quite successfully.

The same error message occurred!

In desperation & after referring to this forum, I decided to look for dry/ball joints on key PCB as per CGriffin post. On close inspection all joints appeared OK.

I then contacted Crownhill today by Email, and Lester promptly and very kindly responded that they would despatch me a new USB key today, without charge, requesting that I return the faulty and by now damaged key ASAP.

Lester also reminded me that Crownhill cannot return the key to their manufacturers as faulty, for exchange replacement, if the case has been opened.

The moral of this story is that all electronics devices, (including Proton USB keys), can and sometimes do develop faults, so don't tear your USB key to bits, try contacting Crownhill first, it's much easier, and quicker!

26th July 2007, 21:02
thanks for all the suggestions,

I have tried uninstalling the 'greyed' or noted devices but it hasnt solved my problem. The problem seems to be that windows recognises that a usb device has been plugged in (even recognises the name of the device etc.) it goes to try and install the driver but cant find it. The install wisard comes up but try as it and I might it cant seem to find any of the drivers (even with a cd inserted it does not 'instal' it). So now I have no fully working usb (front or back) and the usb dongle for the proton has fallen out also.

what to do ... oh humm


26th July 2007, 21:54

Do you have a spare Harddrive or can you get one, small is fine.

remove your curent drive and put the spare hard drive in your pc.
Just install windows and your support cd ( the one that go's with your system board )
Now test your usb devices if this works then its a software problem if not your hardware could be faulty or the drivers are not the right ones for your system.

Paul V.

26th July 2007, 23:00
As ever thank you all for your support.

In the end I did a full system restore to about a month ago. Now all seems to be ok and I have all my usb ports working including all memory sticks, usb dongles, cameras ... etc.

Thank you all,

15th January 2008, 02:03
Hello All,
I was reading this thread and REALLY want to know...:confused:
1) Was the dongle 'bad", ie not able to transfer KEY data to computer OR
2) Bad software install OR
3) Possibility of bad CD OR
4) Micro Crud Strikes AGAIN !!!!! OR
5) Internal Conflict in the P.C ???????????

Terry K9HA

15th January 2008, 18:04
Dear Terry,

when you get the software its very careful to explain the correct procedure so that the usb dongle is 'activated' correctly. Being fairly electronicaly skilled but not so confident with computers / programming I very carefully followed the instructions ... and also many many forum suggestions when nothing worked.

Crownhill were fairly confident that it would be unlikely to be the usb key and that I / software installation was the fault ... so I ploughed on trying to get the thing to work. In the end I sent it back and it WAS the usb dongle.

Probably a dry joint, they are cheaply made. I must say the now I have a working dongle the software works a treat - its really great.

However in the process of trying to get the (faulty) dongle to work I have a really mucked-up set of usb ports - which I have been unable to get to work properly - hence half my usb devices now no longer work. Its a real pain - the usb ports recognise devices being put in but completely fail to install the drivers when promted to do so - even if the proper working driver cd's are there.

The software is really great but that little usb device has caused me days and days of extra work and I still have a 'bad' usb hub (all 6 ports on my pc have problems because of that dongle!).