V1 Valve lighthouses identification and diagnostic

Today we (@TheIronWolf and myself) made an interesting observation about the lighthouses diagnostic, which I believe may help others to check possible source of problems, and while it is public info, I would like to sum up it here as it may not be obvious.

The only way to communicate with the v1 Valve lighthouses is by bluetooth. The known application is the power management. There is however another communication channel, which is one-way only and which allows the lighthouse to transmit some id, telemetry and diagnostics to the tracked device (i.e the headset or the controller) by using “omnidirectional light” (LighthouseRedox/Light Emissions.md at master · nairol/LighthouseRedox · GitHub), i.e. the red LEDs matrices (as the lasers do not transmit any info in v1).

The info which is received by the tracked device can be found in lighthousedb.json file, which appears at different places for different versions of PiTool:

EDIT2: It seems that there are two versions of the file. One is related to OG Vive operation (if it was ever installed) and is at \Steam\config\lighthouse\lighthousedb.json.

Pimax “version” is at:
with the older PiTool version, and at
%ProgramData%\pimax\runtime\config\lighthouse\lighthousedb.json with the newer PiTool versions.

The file contains dynamic_state records of the format:

   "dynamic_state" : {
      "basestation_mode" : 2,
      "faults" : 0,
      "firmware_version" : 436,
      "gravity_vector" : [ -0.0130861588, 0.830971062, 0.556161702 ],
      "reset_count" : 58,
      "sobChannel" : 0
   "first_id" : 1,
   "last_id" : 1,
   "tilt" : {
      "pitch" : 0.548768699,
      "roll" : 0.030082861,
      "variance" : 5.01351587e-06
   "time_last_seen" : "1548234142"

The interesting (and important) point is that if the lighthouse runs the latest firmware (v436) the firmware v298 and later, it also supports auto-diagnostic, which corresponds to the faults item and also can manifest itself as the red light LED on the lighthouse itself.

The different fields in the JSON file, including the potential faults code, are described here: LighthouseRedox/Base Station.md at master · nairol/LighthouseRedox · GitHub.

Anyone who faces problem with the tracking may this way first check the firmware version and then eventually also the errors reported to confirm that the lighthouse hardware works ok.

The reference thread: https://community.openmr.ai/t/yay-received-my-5k-but-cant-connect-bases/16270


Useful thread, thanks for posting.

Not wanting to hijack your thread, but wanted to point out an alternative quick way to find the firmware version and check faults, rather than look for the various json files is to generate a system report in Steam VR:


On my install (I used Vive before I got my Pimax), the file which is displayed in SteamVR System report is taken from \Steam\config\lighthouse\lighthousedb.json, while the one Pimax writes to is at %ProgramData%\pimax\runtime\config\lighthouse\lighthousedb.json (and is not reported in the system report).

The former one also seems to be written to at some time, but I have checked them both and they differ. I know, because I have my Pimax room space calibrated in the opposite direction than my Vive room space and the files reflect that.


is there a way to update the firmware of the basestation if you don’t have Vive headset and linkbox?

Yes, I was able to do that using this:

Credit goes to @risa2000 as he initially made me aware of this technique.

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Here is it directly from Valve: SteamVR/HowTo Update Firmware - Valve Developer Community


I’ve been having severe tracking issues - previously a/the wand(s) would lose tracking, then the headset would lose tracking. With the latest live pitool the wands don’t appear to keep losing tracking but the headset does. I am running firmware 436 on the base stations, and there are no fault codes being produced.

Just the fact that a pitool update seems to have fixed the wand tracking issues for me suggests to me that this is indeed a pimax hardware/software issue and not that an inordinately large number of people have suddenly developed faulty base stations.


Ok, very interesting. Thank you