SymNet Designer Version 5.53 Release Notes

Copyright 2005, Symetrix, Inc.

 

Overview of contents of this file

Introduction

I) Changes from previous versions

II) Installation Notes

III) Upgrading Firmware for V5.5

IV) Issues with Site files from previous versions of SymNet Designer

 

Introduction

 

This document is intended for those users upgrading from Version 5.0 or 5.5x. If you are upgrading from an earlier version, you may also want to review the release notes from the relevant intermediate releases (e.g. V4.0, V3.5, etc.). These can be found on the SymNet web site.

 

I) Changes from previous versions

Changes in V5.53 from V5.51 (note: there was no V5.52 released publicly)

SymNet Designer V5.53 is a maintenance release for version 5.5x. It is recommended that all users of V5.5x who use SymNet RS-485 devices (ARC family, Control I/O) upgrade to V5.53. For users who do not use SymNet RS-485 devices, the upgrade is optional. This release contains new firmware files for a) the SymNet, Express, and DigIO Microprocessor (V5.505), b) ARC-2 (V1.11), and c) Modular ARCs (V1.08). You must upgrade all firmware after installing this release to receive all the enhancements.

1) A problem was fixed that prevented the LED ladder from updating properly on expansion EXK panels in some situations. New Modular ARC firmware V1.08 is provided for this fix.

 

2) A problem was fixed that prevented the switches from working properly on expansion EX4 panels in some situations. Various other minor Modular ARC display issues were fixed as well. New Modular ARC firmware V1.08 and new Microprocessor firmware V5.505 are provided for these fix.

 

3) A change was made so that if a user attempts to program an ARC-2 as an ARC or ARC-1 from any version of SymNet Designer, it will not accept the programming. With the existing ARC-2 firmware, a loophole existed where previous versions of SymNet Designer (such as 5.0) would allow programming an ARC-2 device as an ARC (now known as ARC-1), which resulted in a corrupted ARC-2. ARC-2 firmware version 2.11 is required for this fix.

 

4) Several problems were fixed that could have resulted in various intermittent RS-485 communications issues, especially on downloads and in designs that use Virtual Mixers. New Microprocessor firmware V5.505 is provided for this fix.

 

5) A minor problem was fixed that resulted in Rev. C SymNet Express units appearing as “Rev. 0” in the Upgrade Firmware dialog box.

 

Changes in V5.51 from V5.5

SymNet Designer V5.51 is a maintenance release for version 5.5. It is recommended that all users of V5.5 who use Modular ARC hardware upgrade to V5.51. For users who do not use Modular ARC hardware, the upgrade is optional.

1) A problem was fixed that scrambled some settings on a Modular ARC. If a site file containing a Modular ARC was saved and then re-opened, the following three settings would be scrambled: "Enable locking with hardware lockout input pins"; "Locked when hardware lockout input pins open"; and "Auto-Dim after 30 seconds". Exporting and then Importing a Modular ARC also caused this problem. This applies to all types of Modular ARCs: ARC-K1, ARC-SWK, ARC-MIC, ARC-XLR, and ARC-Custom.

 

Main New V5.5 Features (compared to V5.0x)

SymNet Designer V5.5 is a major release and has many enhancements compared to V5.0x.

 

1) Support has been added for new ARC (Adaptive Remote Control) hardware devices: ARC-2, ARC-SW4, ARC-K1, ARC-SWK, ARC-MIC, ARC-XLR, and ARC-Custom. The ARC-2 is similar in look and feel to the original ARC, but includes many enhancements such as more menu items, longer menu text, scrolling menu text, limits on continuous parameters, field-upgradeable firmware, and additional user options. The “Modular ARC” family is a group of completely new devices, offering simple controls such as on/off buttons and knobs. The ARC-Custom allows for various user-defined combinations of switches and knobs. See the SymNet web site for more information on these products.

 

2) New BGM (background music) Combiner modules have been added. These room combining modules support background music source selection and a room volume for each room. When rooms are combined, the background source and room volumes are automatically linked. Additional versions of these modules are also available for use with automixers.

 

3) Priority Selector modules have been added in the Routers category. These modules can be used in paging applications, allowing the highest priority input source to be selected and routed to the output. Mono and stereo modules with sizes from 4 to 16 inputs are available.

 

4) Continuous SPL Computer modules have been added. These act as a complement to the existing gap-sensing modules. They can sense and adjust for background noise changes without requiring a gap in the foreground audio.

 

5) A Gain-sharing Echo Reducer module has been added. It is intended to reduce echoes in simple teleconferencing applications. It can be found under the Conferencing heading.

 

6) New Summer modules have been added. These very simple modules allow summing (mixing) two or more audio signals with minimal DSP usage. Think of them as mixers with all gains set to unity. The following channel counts are offered: 2, 3, 4, 8, and 16.

 

7) Support for sending unsolicited data out the accessory RS-232 port has been added. The unsolicited or “pushed” data from all units in a site comes out at a single point on the RS-232 port on the master (Ring #1, Unit #1) unit. This can be enabled on a per-controller basis. In the Assign Controller dialog box, a new check box labeled “Automatically Send Out RS-232 port” enables this feature. Data is sent out whenever it is changed or explicitly requested. New accessory commands have been added to allow enabling and controlling this feature. See the updated SymNet RS-232 Control Protocol document on the SymNet web site for full details.

 

8) Support for Ethernet gateways has been added. A gateway IP address and subnet mask can be entered for each unit in the IP Options dialog box. This feature enhances the ability to control SymNet devices in more complex network environments.

 

9) Many of the dynamics modules have been improved both in terms of audio quality and DSP efficiency. Compressors, Expanders, and AGCs are all improved.

 

10) A new feature has been added to copy ARC menu items. A Copy Menu to ARC button in the Controller Manger allows copying an existing menu item to the same ARC or a different ARC. This can speed up the process of creating ARC set-ups, especially when custom enumerated menus are used. The copied menu can later be edited and fully customized (e.g. change controller number and name, etc.).

 

11) Software support for 16 input CobraNet channels and 16 output CobraNet channels of on Express Cobra units has been added. Previously, Express Cobra units were limited to 8 CobraNet inputs and 8 CobraNet outputs. This change also requires hardware support (a physically different CobraNet chip). Please contact tech support for information on the availability of 16x16 CobraNet hardware.

 

12) The RS-485 baud rate on some devices can now be set to 115200. Previously, it was always 38400. Use caution when increasing the baud rate as not all RS-485 devices can use the higher setting. The main benefit to the increased speed is faster RS-485 uploads/downloads and improved responsiveness with large number of ARC devices connected (probably 15 or more). However, very long or fragmented RS-485 network cabling may be more susceptible to communication errors at the increased speed, and additional termination may be required. In summary, when in doubt, stick to 38400.

 

13) In the Edit Control I/O dialog box, you can now double-click on items listed under “Inputs and Outputs” to edit them. This shortcut can be used instead of selecting and then clicking the Edit button.

 

14) ARC devices can now be programmed while attached to any SymNet unit. Previously, they were required to be attached only to master SymNet units (i.e. devices with unit addresses of 1).

 

II) Installation Notes

 

If you are upgrading at an existing installation that loads a configuration automatically on start-up, the following procedure is recommended:

 

1. Make sure you have a copy of the original site file (.sym file). If it exists on your local drive, skip to step #2. Otherwise, open SymNet Designer 5.0 and choose Hardware->Upload Entire Site File from SymNet. This will save the file to your local drive.

2. Turn off the automatic configuration load by going to Upgrade Firmware, clicking on Erase Memory, selecting only “Triggers and Power on Default” and hitting Erase. Repeat for all connected units.

3. Upgrade the firmware as described below.

4. Re-download your entire site file to the hardware. Open the site file it in SymNet Designer 5.5 and choose Hardware->Download Entire Site File to SymNet (or press F4).

Following the re-download procedure listed above guarantees that the DSP code running in your hardware is the correct version to work with the new firmware and SymNet Designer application code.

 

Version 5.5 installs to a separate location than from previous versions on your hard drive. Version 5.5 will not interfere with your Version 1.x, 2.0, 3.x, 4.0, or 5.0 settings. Version 5.5 can cohabitate with previous versions on your PC. It is important to note, however, that the firmware on the hardware must match the version of SymNet Designer that communicates with it. Version 5.5x will only communicate with hardware that is running the firmware released with Version 5.5x, etc.. If you intend to switch between versions of SymNet Designer while using the same hardware, you must remember to change the firmware each time. SymNet Designer checks this on download and warns you if a mismatch is detected.

 

III) Upgrading Firmware for V5.5

 

IMPORTANT: In order to run SymNet Designer version 5.5, the firmware in your hardware devices must be upgraded to the latest level. If you are receiving this software with a new SymNet device from the factory, then the firmware versions should already be correct. However, if you are using it with an existing SymNet device, then the firmware must be upgraded. (Information about the latest release versions is always available on the SymNet web site.) When you try to download a design to SymNet hardware, the firmware versions will be automatically checked and you will be told if an upgrade is required.

Note that there are "Verify" buttons in the Upgrade Firmware dialog for the Microprocessor and FPGA files. These allow verifying that the Microprocessor and FPGA firmware files in your hardware exactly match the files on your hard disk.

NOTE: For CobraLink and Express Cobra units, there is also firmware from Peak Audio that controls the CobraNet features. You may need to upgrade this firmware as well. See “Upgrading CobraNet Firmware using CobraNet Discovery” below for instructions.

 

Current Versions

As of this writing, the current versions of the SymNet firmware are as follows:

SymNet Microprocessor file: Version 5.505 (applies to SymNet DSP, CobraLink, and BreakIn/Out devices.)

SymNet DigIO/Express Microprocessor file: Version 5.505 (applies to SymNet DigIO and Express devices.)

SymNet FPGA file for SymNet DSP Devices: Version 5.500

SymNet FPGA file for CobraLink Devices: Version 5.500

SymNet FPGA file for BreakIn/Out Devices: Version 5.500

SymNet FPGA file for DigIO Devices: Version 5.500

SymNet FPGA file for Express Devices: Version 5.500

 (See "Why are there two different files?" below for more information.)

 

Upgrading Firmware using Auto Upgrade

1.      Follow the step above under II) Installation Notes above.

2.      Install SymNet Designer 5.5 using the provided Setup utility. This will copy the necessary firmware files to your hard drive.

3.      Launch SymNet Designer 5.5.

4.      Connect your hardware devices as they would be for normal operation. Disconnect or power down all audio devices, especially power amps and speakers, connected to SymNet during the upgrade.

5.      In SymNet Designer 5.5, choose Hardware -> Upgrade Firmware. Press the Auto Upgrade button. This will upgrade all connected units. If you want, you can verify the correct versions on the connected units. Click the Close button when you are finished.

If you encounter problems with this procedure, try the manual operation procedure below.

 

Upgrading Firmware – manual operation

1.      Follow the step above under II) Installation Notes above.

2.      Install SymNet Designer 5.5 using the provided Setup utility. This will copy the necessary firmware files to your hard drive.

3.      Launch SymNet Designer 5.5.

4.      Connect your hardware devices as they would be for normal operation. Disconnect or power down all audio devices, especially power amps and speakers, connected to SymNet during the upgrade.

5.      In SymNet Designer 5.5, choose Hardware -> Upgrade Firmware. The dialog that appears will tell you the version of the firmware in your hardware devices.

6.      Click the Upgrade button under SymNet Microprocessor file. An open file dialog will appear allowing you to navigate for firmware files. By default it should take you into the C:\Program Files\Symetrix\SymNet Designer 5.5\Upgrade folder. Select the file SymNet_MicroProc_V5503.bin and click Open. (If you are using a DigIO or Express, select that file instead.)

7.      After this finishes, click the Upgrade button under SymNet FPGA file. Select the SymNet_FPGA_V5500.bit file and click Open. (If you are upgrading a CobraLink, BreakIn/Out, DigIO, or Express device, select the respective file instead.)

8.      If you have more than one SymNet device, select each device using the address dropdown at the top of the dialog box and repeat steps 5-6.

9.      If you are using CobraLink or Express Cobra and have more than one ring, also repeat for all devices on all rings using the Ring dropdown at the top of the dialog box.

10.     When finished, click Close.

 

Why are there two different files?

SymNet firmware has two components, the microprocessor file and the FPGA file. They are generally independent and both may need upgrading.

The microprocessor file contains the code that SymNet's embedded microprocessor runs. This microprocessor is responsible for communicating with the host, managing the DSPs, external control, and many other tasks. One version of the microprocessor file is common to all SymNet devices other than the DigIO and Express, i.e. SymNet DSP, CobraLink, and Break In/Out devices. A second microprocessor file is used with both DigIO and Express devices. The microprocessor file for these devices is prefixed with DigIO_Express_MicroProc. The file for all other devices is prefixed with SymNet_MicroProc. In both cases, the version number is contained in the file name.

The FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) file controls the programmable logic devices used in SymNet. These devices manage the SymLink bus, handle audio I/O, facilitate DSP communication, and perform several other tasks. The FPGA file is common to all SymNet DSP devices (i.e. 8x8, 8in, 8out). However, a different file is required for each of the CobraLink, BreakIn/Out, DigIO, and Express devices. The file intended for SymNet DSP devices is prefixed with SymNet_DSP_FPGA. The file intended for CobraLink devices is prefixed with CobraLink_FPGA. The file intended for BreakIn/Out devices is prefixed with BreakIO_FPGA. The file intended for DigIO devices is prefixed with DigIO_FPGA. The file intended for Express devices is prefixed with Express_FPGA. In all cases, the version number is contained in the file name. By default, SymNet Designer only shows you files valid for your particular unit and additionally checks the file contents to prevent you from using the wrong type of FPGA file.

 

Upgrading CobraNet Firmware using CobraNet Discovery

To take advantage of some new CobraNet features in SymNet Designer such as low latency, CobraLink units need to have CobraNet interface firmware V2.9.6 or later. Express Cobra units should use firmware V2.10.6 or later. You can check the version of firmware running on your CobraLink unit using SymNet Designer. It is listed in the Upgrade Firmware dialog after “Cobra Interface Firmware Version”. If you need to upgrade the firmware, follow these steps.

 

1.             Download and install CobraNet Discovery (aka “Disco”), Peak Audio’s utility for upgrading CobraNet firmware and monitoring a CobraNet network. This software is available from http://www.peakaudio.com/Download.html. More information and help on Disco is available at http://www.peakaudio.com/downloads/Disco_Manual/Disco3.0.2_Manual.htm.

2.             Obtain the latest CobraLink CM-1 firmware from the SymNet web site. Unzip and copy the file to the CobraNet Discovery\firmware directory. By default, this is C:\Program Files\Peak Audio\CobraNet Discovery\firmware.

3.             Launch CobraNet Discovery and power up all CobraLink or Express Cobra units. All units must be attached to a network that can be “seen” by the PC running Disco.

4.             For each unit, assign an IP address by right clicking and choosing New IP Address. The assigned address must be in the same sub-net as the PC running Disco.

5.             For each unit, upgrade the firmware by right clicking and choosing Update Firmware. Select Symetrix CobraLink version 2.9.6 for CobraLink units and Express version 2.10.6 for Express Cobra.

6.             When prompted, power cycle each unit.

 

IV) Issues with Site files from previous versions of SymNet Designer

 

In version 5.5, the site file (.sym file) format has changed from previous versions. You will be able to open all previous version site files in V5.5 or later. However, files saved with version 5.5 will not be readable by previous versions.

 

If you are working with site files from version 3.5x or older, there are some additional issues. Since version 3.5x and older site files supported eight configurations instead of only one, you must choose the configuration to load when opening site files from these older versions. When you first open a V3.5x or older site file in V5.5, the Select Configuration dialog box appears asking you which configuration you wish to load. (If a particular configuration was not used in that site file, “empty” is displayed after the configuration name.) After you select a configuration, the file is opened with the filename changed to indicate the selected configuration. For example, if the original site file was named My Site.sym and you selected Configuration 1, the new filename would be My Site-Configuration1.sym. If your older site files use only one configuration, opening and re-saving once is all that is required to convert them to V5.5 format. If they use more than one configuration, you must repeat the process for all configurations. For example, if a previous-version site file used 3 configurations, you would need to open it 3 times, once for each used configuration. The result would be 3 new V5.5 site files. Note that the Select Configuration dialog box displays “empty” after any configuration that was unused in the older site file to aid in determining how may configurations your file used.

 

If you intend to maintain both V5.5 and previous versions on your computer, we recommend the following guidelines to minimize difficulties with file formats:

A) Backup all previous version design files.
B) Don't use the same file names for Version 5.5 design files.
C) Choose the default locations when installing software.
D) Do not use version 5.5 software with previous versions of firmware or previous versions of software with version 5.5 firmware.

A) Backup all previous version design files.

It is recommended that you backup your version 5.0x or earlier design files to a secure location before using or installing Version 5.5. Even if all else goes completely wrong, as long as you have those files, there is a way to recreate your old setup. Note that once you save a file with SymNet Designer 5.5 and overwrite a file from a previous version, it will no longer be readable in the previous version of SymNet Designer.

 

B) Don't use the same file names for Version 5.5 design files.

If you are going to maintain both versions of the software on your PC, it is highly recommended that you include something in the file name of all previous version files you save to indicate their version. This way you will be able to tell the files apart if they become co-mingled.

Even if you are not going to maintain both versions, it is a good idea to use this practice at least until all your design files have been converted and you have fully embraced Version 5.5.

 

C) Choose the default locations when installing software.

When you install any version of SymNet Designer software, allow the installation to go to the default folder. This ensures that multiple versions will not interfere with each other.

 

D) Do not use version 5.5 software with previous versions of firmware or previous versions of software with version 5.5 firmware.

The versions of software and firmware must match! The only operation that accesses hardware you should do with mismatched software and firmware is to upgrade to the correct firmware. Upgrading is generally possible regardless of the firmware mismatch. If this is not the case, the release notes will make a point of mentioning this.