Hurry up and wait: My OneWireless incremental firmware update story


We keep a Honeywell XYR6000 field transmitter network setup at the Lesman offices for training, customer demonstrations, and site surveys. And part of my job is to keep the system in working order.

Honeywell releases incremental firmware updates when they need to fix a bug or add functionality to the systems.  I’d downloaded both the 201.1 and 202.1 update files from the Honeywell website, but had procrastinated in doing the installation. (Never happens to you, right?)

When I got around to doing the updates today, I pulled out the wireless device manager (WDM) manual [1.8MB PDF]. and turned to section 6.2, page 131. It has about 10 pages of step-by-step instructions on the update/upgrade process. 

But then, I found myself wishing for another of those “missing pages from the manual”. While it has all the steps, here’s what’s missing: A map that tells me how long the steps take.

You know, so I could avoid the standard “Oh no, is it hung up?” worries during some of the lengthier steps in the process.

Knowing where you are before you start

What firmware revision is currently on your transmitter?First, to find out what firmware level any of the XYR6000 devices is at, click on the Upgrade Firmware button and a splash screen tells you the current firmware version for the device in question (see screen shot).

Note: As these are incremental updates, they have to be run in order — in this case, the 201.1 and then the 202.1. If you don’t run them in order, it’s possible that you could overwrite new code with old, and undo some new functionality or reverse a bug fix. And, even if you don’t think you’re going to need the functionality written into an update, you have to install it, in its proper order. People who write software often build on or borrow from existing code. If you skip anything, or run updates out of order, you’ll eventually run into a failure of one kind or another.

Starting the firmware update process on your wireless systemThe 201 and 202 updates are radio firmware updates.  Only those components that are running (discovered and in-service) can be updated.

Now to the good stuff…

Roadmap to XYR6000 incremental updates

Here’s how the update process works: 

The complete roadmap to incremental updates on a Honeywell YR6000 wireless system

The entire update file is downloaded from the web to your PC (where you’ll need to unzip the file). Then, the unzipped file is loaded into the WDM from the PC’s web interface. After that, the FDAP is updated, and then each of the transmitters.

Firmware upgrade status bar shows percentage and status indicatorsThroughout the process, watch your computer screen. In the web interface, the device status window will tell you what’s going on, with a percentage value and a progress bar. Plus, the icon for each device also changes color to update you to the status.

The WDM user manual describes browsing to the file and initiating the transfer to WMD. In my case, that step was quick. It took less than a minute over a hardwired Ethernet LAN network connection. 

The FDAP update took longer, between 4 or 5 minutes. While the update progressed, the FDAP icon on my PC changed colors: first to blue, then to red, then to blue and then to green.  (Be forewarned: I almost had a heart attack when the icon went red, thinking it had failed, but it’s just a part of the process.)

Firmware update status window shows device is activatingThe last step in each update is for the status to read Activating. Activating can take more than 5 minutes. Be patient, and take the opportunity to grab a fresh cup of coffee.

Each field transmitter update takes about 10 minutes to transfer the file, about 5 minutes to activate, and another 5 minutes for the transmitter to come back on-line, so each field transmitter is a 20 minute exercise.

Wireless transmitter firmware update failed. Just run again to fix.I did experience a failure on one of the transmitters, but the work-around was simple. I just ran the transmitter update a second time, and it installed fine.

Of course, the times I’ve noted here can change for each update, depending on how much is changing, and whether you’re working over wired or wireless for the first couple steps.  But this should give you an idea of what you’re up against.

Bottom line: Figure that for each incremental update, you’ll complete about three transmitters per hour.

Now, grab your map and go for it!

===
Lesman Instrument Company is the authorized Honeywell stocking representative in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Upper Peninsula Michigan, and Eastern Iowa.

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