HTC Vive Setup & Troubleshooting Guide

This guide will explain how to setup the Vive and troubleshoot commons errors. We’ll also include tips we’ve learned after setting up the Vive hundreds of times, introducing thousands of people to VR. And if this guide doesn’t solve your problem, Vive support is generally phenomenal (Of course, if you’re our customer, please don’t hesitate to call us!).

Hardware Setup

*Tip: start charging the controllers while you setup everything else

Space

The amount of space you’ll need will depend on your experience. If the user only needs to stand and take a step or 2, a 6×6 ft space can work. 10×10 ft is recommended, and non-square areas can also work (10×6 ft).

Base Stations

The base stations should ideally be on opposite corners and about 8 ft tall. The controllers and Vive headset must all “see” the base stations to operate. Diagonal positioning prevents a user’s body from blocking this line of sight, and the height prevents people standing in the play area from blocking the line of sight.

base-station-setup-diagonal

Diagonal Base Station Setup

The base station stations should be set to channels “b” and “c” by pressing the button on the back of the base stations. 2.0 base stations have 16 channels–each base station should be set to a different channel with a paper clip.

vive-channel-button-base-station-v1

Base Station V1 Channel Button

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V2 Base Station Change Channel Button

Channel is displayed in the bottom left of the base station (v1 only). For 2.0 base stations, hover your mouse over the icon in Steam VR to see the station.

Most experiences will still work if you need to set the base stations on one side rather than diagonal, e.g., experiences where the user faces one direction most of the time. In this case, the system should be calibrated so the user is facing the base stations.

base-station-setup-one-side

Dual Desk Base Station Setup

*Tip: Reflective surfaces can confuse the Vive (glass windows, glass white boards, TVs, marble floors). Base station 2.0s are much more affected by reflective surfaces! If you have a large-room setup, try only using (2) 2.0 base stations. We had to cover a marble floor with carpet at one location.
*Tip: Don’t mount the base stations to anything that will be bumped, like trade show curtain walls.

Computer Setup

In general, the wires will only fit where they belong. One thing to point out: we recommend using a mini-DP cable between the computer and Link Box, and NOT a HDMI cable. This is necessary on many laptops to ensure the graphics card is used and not the motherboard built-in graphics.
*Tip: Consider taping down the Vive cable before it goes into the Link Box. This prevents users from accidentally pulling out the cable.

vive-pro-link-box-setup

HTC Vive Pro Link Box

Base station light codes: green good, blue: stabilizing (make sure mounted to something sturdy–there’s a spinning motor inside), purple: syncing, blinking purple: can’t sync. The base stations must be able to see each other. Consider the sync cable (long cable with audio jack ends) if a ceiling fan or other object blocks the base stations from seeing each other (also change channels to A&B).

Initial Setup on a New Computer

A sizable amount of software needs to be installed, which can take up to an hour. Go to https://www.vive.com/us/setup/ to download and install the software. Note: HTC & Valve require you to make an HTC account and Steam (video game app store) account, respectively. For enterprise applications, Vive software can be installed without also installing the video game store Steam.

*Tip: After running a Vive application for the first time, an application called “SteamVR” will launch. Right click on this and pin it to the task bar. This is the only software you need to use VR and calibrate the system. We recommend preventing Steam from auto-starting with Windows.
steam-vr-taskbar

Pin Steam VR to the Taskbar

 

Controller Pairing

After turning on the controllers, you should see a solid green LED on the Vive headset and controllers.

green-led-vive-headset

Green LED on Vive Headset

Try moving the headset and clicking the trigger on the controllers if the LEDs aren’t solid green. If the controller LEDs are blue, you’ll need to re-pair them. Select Devices –> Pair. Then hold down the Settings and Menu button on the controller.

*Tip: The controller LEDs turn white when vibrating.
steam-vr-controller-pairing

Pairing Controllers in Steam VR

pair-vive-controller

Hold both buttons to turn on the controller and begin pairing

 

Calibration / Room Setup

Before using the Vive, you must calibrate it to the room, which essentially tells the computer where the virtual world should exist in the real world, and importantly, where the real walls are. Inside VR, Vive will show users a “chaperon” mesh when they get close to real walls.

vr-chaperone-mesh

Chaperone Mesh in VR

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The Chaperone Mesh keeps you from making any dangerous collisions

If the SteamVR software detects that the system has not been calibrated, it will auto-launch a program called “Room Setup”. You can also launch this from the SteamVR menu.

steam-vr-room-setup

Room Setup in Steam VR

 

“Run Room Setup” lets you trace the walls with a controller, and this is great if you have non-rectangular play area.

We generally use a much faster calibration process, available in the Settings of SteamVR.

  1. Set the headset on the ground in the center of the play area, facing the direction you want to be front.
  2. Select Settings from the SteamVR menu
  3. Select Developer on the left

  1. Scroll down until the Quick Calibrate settings are available
  2. Select a room size (small is about 6×6 ft, large is about 12x12ft)
  3. Click “Calibrate”

Not only is this method faster, but it effectively allows you disable the chaperon by configuring a larger room than the physical space allows. In many demos, we’re physically present to help keep people from running into walls, and we prefer to avoid the “what’s this mesh?” question. Interestingly, people will generally not try to go through virtual walls, so a small virtual room will act as a chaperon itself.

Important: After calibrating the Vive, test your experience! Oftentimes, the center point or direction will need to be changed based on how the virtual world lines up with the real one. For a trade show, you’ll likely want people facing out and not to a back wall.

*Tip: To disable the system button on your Vive controllers, navigate to the developer tab and turn off the default “Enable VR Dashboard.”
disable-system-button-vive

Disable Controller System Button

First User Introduction

After introducing so many new people to VR, we’ve learned a few tips that help ensure you get a “Wow” reaction.

  • Glasses
    • Vive Original: Take your glasses off–most people can see fine without them
    • Vive Pro: Keep your glasses on! The Pro has much more room for glasses. The lens distance can be increased if glasses hit the lenses. This should be minimized to keep the field of view large if not needed.
    • Bifocals & progressives: these are the most challenging, but users can sometimes adjust the position of their glasses on their nose to get a good image.
  • Before putting the headset on
    • Show the user the controller and which buttons they’re need BEFORE putting the headset on. Let them click the buttons to see what they feel like.
    • Also, show them the adjustment wheel.
  • Headset
    • Press the face cushion on the user’s face and THEN slide the head strap over their head. This prevents damaging glasses and generally produces a better first fit.

      htc-vive-hmd

      Place HMD on face before sliding head strap back over the head

    • Recommend that the user get the strap fairly tight to get a good image
    • Ask if the image is blurry, 90% of the time this can be fixed by wiggling the headset up and down a little.
    • The top head strap can be adjusted for extra small or big heads or hair
    • For longer uses, consider adjusting the IPD.
  • First Steps
    • First time users sometimes don’t realize they can turn their head and walk, have them take a few steps forward and backwards before starting. If using the chaperon, have them walk to the edge to see the warning grid.
    • Remind people they can walk throughout, some new users will lean out dangerously far to grab things rather than walk!

Troubleshooting

  • If the following suggestions don’t help, restart the computer and unplug / replug the link box.
  • Controllers move on their own in VR
    • Most of the time, this is due to something blocking the line of sight between the controller and a base station.
    • Other possibilities: reflective surfaces, other Vives!
  • World is strangely tilted
    • Recalibrate and / or restart computer
  • World is shaking, moving
    • Make sure base stations aren’t being bumped
  • Black screen
    • Make sure the LED on the headset is green. If red, restart SteamVR.
      In the case that its still Red, restart computer and power cycle the Link Box.
    • If using an HDMI cable, try a Mini-DP video cable
    • This could be faultly hardware, unfortunately. Contact Vive support, who explain how to send them a more detailed system log to check for deeper problems.
  • No audio
    • Make sure the system audio is set to Vive
    • Restart your experience application
  • Choppy view
    • Make sure laptop power supply is connected. Some laptops throttle performance when on battery.
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