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Remote Firmware Updates...


snipboy

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I bought 12 various used switches for my Control4 project. The dealer tells me he has to be on site to update their firmware on each one, and that each one would take a minimum of 5 minutes each to update. Apparently I live in an area where C4 programmers/experts are few and far between, so I may have to wait up to a month for him to come out.

I am thinking there has to be a better way. When I first bought into C4 I was told only the mechanisms and motorized items would have to be setup on site--that all of the branded Control4 equipment could be integrated remotely and virtually effortlessly.

So.... are there really any major issues barring remote upgrading firmware on C4 switches, and two, can I reach out to a C4 dealer elsewhere in the country to work with instead of the ones I am working with now? Do I have to officially change dealers or something?

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If the firmware update includes going from embernet to zigbee pro to identify the switches and upgrade would require each switch to be physically touched twice, and 5 minutes is definitely the minimum. It could be done remotely if you sat on the phone the entire time tapping things and letting him know which switches had LED's flashing which color. At that point if the dealer is local they would have spent more time on it than if they had just gone to your house. And then there is the chance something is wrong with one of the used switches, and troubleshooting that during an already complicated process wouldn't be fun. I do the majority of my work remotely and this is a project I would stay away from.

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I would agree.

Remote updates are possible, but when it comes to used dimmers/switches/keypads and ember upgrades - I wouldn't want to do it either. As Eff stated, doing it remotely would end up being more time consuming, riskier and is asking for trouble in this specific case.

Updating an otherwise running system, maybe after adding a few controllers/speakerpoints etc isn't that major, ember updates certainly are.

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It seems like there might be a market for dealers that upgrade old ember devices to zigbee? Something like ship them to someone, they update them, and then ship them back?

Maybe even a reconditioning program via Control4?

Still has to be cheaper than rolling a truck and onsite time?

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Not to mention that if you pull them out of your wall, you have other issues, such as getting them back into the wall correctly at the right depth, etc.

You're also left with gaping holes in the wall during the turnaround time.

I think the best option is to update them in-place, whether via your local dealer on-site, or a (very accommodating) remote dealer.

Good luck.

RyanE

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Well, it's good that for the most part you guys are validating what the dealer said. I guess I've been in the IT business too long and think that everything can be done remotely. I need to read up on embernet versus zigbee pro so that I can avoid this issue in the future for my dealer. I get the sense most people who pull out Control4 from their homes have no clue what version it was on.

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From any touchscreen, you can pull up an 'about' page, that tells the version of the Navigator (UI) and a version of Director.

Director prior to 1.8.0 was Embernet, 1.8 and later is ZigBee Pro.

The big issue with updating devices from Embernet to Pro is that there's not enough flash memory in the dimmer type devices to hold both the Embernet and the Pro image at the same time. Because of this, there's an intermediate step, which loads a 'update loader' firmware image. Once the 'update loader' firmware image is loaded, it can be brought into the Pro mesh, and updated to the final Pro firmware.

Just a bit trickier than normal. The nice thing is, it's pretty close to bulletproof, as much as a technology transfer such as this can be.

RyanE

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Thanks for that explanation, RyanE! Sounds like a lot of waiting around waiting for things to load...kind of the perfect situation for a remote SME who has more than one screen to do other things on while waiting on the other system. That's the manager in me talking now though... ;-)

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Not to mention that if you pull them out of your wall, you have other issues, such as getting them back into the wall correctly at the right depth, etc.

You're also left with gaping holes in the wall during the turnaround time.

RyanE

Getting a switch put back in after removing it isn't exactly rocket science and its about the most basic handyman project.

Gaping hole, only if they were in place first. But what about those who buy switches on eBay? Send them to a smart dealer who can upgrade them on a test bench. Also a good way to recycle and save the planet one switch at a time. C4 might not

see the value in this but our kids kids will appreciate us being smart with resources

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Thanks for that explanation, RyanE! Sounds like a lot of waiting around waiting for things to load...kind of the perfect situation for a remote SME who has more than one screen to do other things on while waiting on the other system. That's the manager in me talking now though... ;-)

Not really. You forget the part where this has to be done incrementally. The first step isn't the big issue, the second step is time consuming on-site, but more so remotely, on the phone, you walking through the house, going up and down because the dealer can't "see" the layout of the house properly. This will likely end up being MORE time consuming. That said, STARTING embernet update (step1) say the night before can shave some time off for sure, particularly on large scale jobs.

There are some other ifs and maybes in doing an embernet update that make me....hesitant to do all this remotely. Range being one of them. It's entirely possible one may have to move a controller around the house while updating to mini app so every piece is reached.

It's not impossible my any means, but IF you have someone relativly nearby, it's probably not cost effective at all.

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Getting a switch put back in after removing it isn't exactly rocket science and its about the most basic handyman project.

No, it's certainly not rocket science, but not all handymen are handy, and with the depth of Control4 dimmers (and most other automated dimmers), getting them back in isn't 100% easy, either.

But what about those who buy switches on eBay? Send them to a smart dealer who can upgrade them on a test bench. Also a good way to recycle and save the planet one switch at a time. C4 might not see the value in this but our kids kids will appreciate us being smart with resources

Sure, in that case, it makes as much or more sense to send them somewhere to get them 'up to spec' before putting them in the wall.

I think Control4 definitely sees the value in this, otherwise, they wouldn't have even given an update path from Embernet to Pro. The only devices in Control4 that were 'abandoned' in that transition were the V1 / V2 remotes, which didn't have enough Flash memory to support a Pro image. I think Control4 supports 'obsolete' lines for more than a generous timeframe.

RyanE

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From any touchscreen, you can pull up an 'about' page, that tells the version of the Navigator (UI) and a version of Director.

Director prior to 1.8.0 was Embernet, 1.8 and later is ZigBee Pro.

The big issue with updating devices from Embernet to Pro is that there's not enough flash memory in the dimmer type devices to hold both the Embernet and the Pro image at the same time. Because of this, there's an intermediate step, which loads a 'update loader' firmware image. Once the 'update loader' firmware image is loaded, it can be brought into the Pro mesh, and updated to the final Pro firmware.

Just a bit trickier than normal. The nice thing is, it's pretty close to bulletproof, as much as a technology transfer such as this can be.

RyanE

ok ryan , i know i'm not this good with control4 but your post interested me . So you tell us that the dimmer on 1.8 can be upgrade to version 2.2.4 (zigbee pro) only with push the button 2times etc... i dont have to remove it and plug it somewhere ??? Maybe its a idiot question but i didnt know that and yes i both some dimmer/switch on ebay :)

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If a device was operational on a 1.8.x system it IS zigbeePro and can be added directly to a zigbeePro system. Updating from there will happen automatically for zigbee devices.

The longer update time requiring manual work is when the device is NOT on ZPro, which would be from systems on 1.7.4 or earlier.

Keep in mind by the way that a ZigBee device is not on "2.2.1" or any other system software version - they have there own firmware versions that get calculated seperately and not every SOFTWARE update gets a FIRMWARE update for (all) devices. The reference to a lighting device being on "2.x" or "1.6" is valuable only in that it indicated what software verion it used to run on, giving an indication of age and if it's Embernet ZigBee or the newer ZigBeePro

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