SymNet Designer Version 9.0 Release Notes

Copyright 2009, Symetrix, Inc.

Updated: May 22, 2009

 

Overview of contents of this file

Introduction

I) Changes from previous versions
II) Known Issues

III) Installation Notes

IV) Upgrading Firmware for V9.0

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

 

Introduction

This document is intended for those users upgrading from Version 8.0x. If you are upgrading from an earlier version, you may also want to review the release notes from the relevant intermediate releases (e.g. V8.0, V7.0, V6.0, V5.5, V5.0, V4.0, V3.5, etc.). These can be found on the SymNet web site.


Note that saving a site file in version 9.0 will change its format and prevent it from being opened in previous versions.  This is discussed in more detail in V) Issues with Site files from previous versions of SymNet Designer below.

I) Changes from previous versions

Main New V9.0 Features (compared to V8.0x)

SymNet Designer V9.0 is a major release and has many enhancements compared to V8.0x.

 

1)       Support for SymVue has been added.  SymVue is a new method of controlling SymNet hardware from a PC. It is intended for non-technical users. SymVue panels can be created using the existing Control Screen tools.  Once a Control Screen or screens have been created, they can be exported to a stand-alone file that can be operated by users without SymNet Designer.  Coupled with the “Enhanced” theme, attractive panels can be created without any programming. Nearly any control in the system can be added to a SymVue panel for end-user control.

2)       A new registration form is available for submitting venue registration information to Symetrix.  Upon receiving the registration information, a code will be supplied to fully unlock the SymNet hardware’s ability to communicate with SymVue panels. Without registration, SymNet devices will only respond to SymVue panels for one hour after power cycling or downloading. Note that registration is free.

3)       A Register Hardware command has been added to the Hardware menu. In addition to allowing hardware to be registered, it can also be used to scan a network and auto-detect SymNet and SymVue devices.

4)       Meters copied to control screens have a new scale option.  There is a “Single Tic” option that allows placing a single label at any location on the meter.  This is intended to be used as a “target” for users to shoot for.  This option replaces the “0 Point Only” option from previous versions that was similar but didn’t allow the flexibility of moving the single tic.

5)       The Preferences dialog box now has a new button labeled Adjust Default Folders.  This allows setting the default folder the application uses to save and open various types of files.  In addition, there is a checkbox at the bottom that allows turning off the prompt to change the default folder.  When unchecked, SymNet Designer will always change the default to match the recently opened/saved file.  Users who don’t want to be prompted about default file locations should uncheck this setting.

6)       You can now limit RS-485 downloads to a single device.  A new button labeled “Download to ARC-2” or “Download to Device” has been added to the Edit dialog box for each type of RS-485 device.  Previously, it was only possible to download to all RS-485 devices at once.

7)       The Preferences dialog box now has an option to adjust the WAN Delay, useful when connecting to a SymNet unit over the Internet or other high-latency connection.  It instructs SymNet Designer to wait an additional amount of time in milliseconds before giving up on a hardware command. Previously, this functionality was only available through the registry.

8)       Preset Recall Buttons now appear grayed out when the specified preset does not exist.

9)       When placing a Preset Recall Button on a control screen or in a design, the preset number can now be entered in directly instead of requiring the user to find it in the list of 1000 presets.

10)   The example Super-modules and Designs have been refreshed and re-organized for easier access. The new folder structure is based around common applications for SymNet. The new Designs section contains the examples used in our application-based training.

11)   The bandwidth parameter for Parametric EQs and the British EQ now default to Q instead of Octaves.  This makes them consistent with the Loudspeaker Manager modules.

12)   The Control Input Fader modules have now been broken into separate Log and Linear versions.  Previously a single switchable version was available. For existing designs, the old modules will be converted to the new modules of whichever is appropriate. This is for improved compatibility with SymVue.

13)   A warning message is now given when opening a site file that changes your current Ethernet address(es) from their defaults.

14)   The error log can now be read with SymNet Designer still open, making troubleshooting simpler.

II) Known Issues

1)       Some controls in SymNet Designer cannot be added to SymVue panels.  For a complete list, see the SymVue topic in the Help file.

2)       Some controls may need to be “re-exported” to control screens when opening older site files in SymNet Designer 9.0. For specifics, see the SymVue topic in the Help file.

3)       Large complicated graphs or button matrixes in SymVue panels may adversely affect performance.

4)       There may be slight discrepancies in displayed frequencies between SymVue panels and their corresponding control screens.  For example, in a British EQ frequency display, if the control screen shows 200.000 Hz, the panel shows 200.002 Hz.  These rounding discrepancies are visible due to the very high precision shown in EQ frequencies, and are generally less than 0.002%.

5)       For EQ modules that are switchable between Octaves and Q, the SymVue panel will always display the Q value, even though the label may say “Octaves:”. The label is created at the time of export and isn’t updated if the mode is changed. For best results, leave any filters in Q mode if they need to be exported to SymVue.

6)       In control screens with background images, it is difficult to wireframe select controls on top of the image since the wireframe dragging may select and move the image.  To work around this, first lock the image via the right-click menu.  Then hold down the Alt key when wireframe selecting controls.

7)       CobraNet audio and control does not travel across subnets.  This has always been the case due to limitations inherent to CobraNet.

8)       On older Express units, upgrading firmware when the computer running SymNet Designer is on a different subnet than the Express unit does not work properly. Express units manufactured after the release of SymNet Designer 9.0 do properly upgrade.

III) Installation Notes

If you are upgrading at an existing installation that loads a configuration automatically on start-up, note that the configuration will not load after the firmware is upgraded until you re-download the site file using SymNet Designer 9.0.  Immediately after downloading the firmware, the unit will revert to the “scrolling LEDs” mode indicating no configuration is loaded.  To deal with this, the following procedure is required:

 

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 8.0 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 pressing 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 in SymNet Designer 9.0 and choose Hardware->Download Entire Site File to SymNet (or press F4).

Following the re-download procedure listed above is necessary to ensure that the DSP code running in your hardware is the correct version to work with the new firmware and SymNet Designer application code.  In particular, the transition from version 8.0 to 9.0 has so many significant changes that a re-download is required.

 

Version 9.0 installs to a separate location than from previous versions on your hard drive. Version 9.0 will not interfere with your Version 1.x, 2.0, 3.x, 4.0, 5.x, 6.0, 7.0, or 8.0 settings. Version 9.0 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 9.0 will only communicate with hardware that is running the firmware released with Version 9.0, 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.

IV) Upgrading Firmware for V9.0

IMPORTANT: In order to run SymNet Designer version 9.0, the firmware in your hardware devices must be upgraded to the latest version. 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 also ‘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 Cirrus Logic (formerly 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 9.000 (applies to SymNet DSP, CobraLink, and BreakIn/Out devices.)

SymNet DigIO/Express Microprocessor file: Version 9.000 (applies to SymNet DigIO and Express devices.)

SymNet FPGA file for SymNet DSP Devices: Version 9.000

SymNet FPGA file for CobraLink Devices: Version 9.000

SymNet FPGA file for BreakIn/Out Devices: Version 9.000

SymNet FPGA file for DigIO Devices: Version 9.000

SymNet FPGA file for Express Devices: Version 9.000

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

 

Upgrading Firmware using Auto Upgrade

1.       Follow the step under Installation Notes above.

2.       Install SymNet Designer 9.0 using the provided Setup utility. This will copy the necessary firmware files to your hard drive.

3.       Launch the version of SymNet Designer that was just installed.

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 9.0, 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 under Installation Notes above.

2.       Install SymNet Designer 9.0 using the provided Setup utility. This will copy the necessary firmware files to your hard drive.

3.       Launch the version of SymNet Designer that was just installed.

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 9.0, 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 browse for firmware files. By default it should take you into the C:\Program Files\Symetrix\SymNet Designer 9.0\Upgrade folder. Select the file SymNet_MicroProc_V8000.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_V8000.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 RS-485 device firmware

New releases may include new firmware versions for Symetrix RS-485 devices such as the Control I/O, Modular ARC family, and ARC-II. If new firmware is provided, it will usually be listed in the release notes section. To upgrade RS-485 device firmware, follow these steps.

 

1.       Follow the step under Installation Notes above.

2.       Install SymNet Designer 9.0 using the provided Setup utility. This will copy the necessary firmware files to your hard drive.

3.       Launch the version of SymNet Designer that was just installed.

4.       Connect your RS-485 devices as they would be for normal operation. RS-485 devices must have unique addresses (set by DIP or rotary switches on the units—see the appropriate hardware Quick Start Guide for more information).

5.       If you are working with an existing site file that includes the RS-485 devices, open that site file.

6.       Choose Tools->Controller Manager. If your RS-485 devices are not listed under ‘RS-485 Controller Network’, you will need to add them. This can either be done manually using the ‘New RS-485 Device…’ button, or by sensing what units are connected using the ‘<< Upload’ button.

7.       For each RS-485 device that you wish to upgrade, select the device and click the Edit… button. In the dialog box that appears, click the ‘Upgrade Firmware…’ button. Choose the appropriate firmware file and press ‘Open’.  (You may also use ‘Verify Firmware’ to determine if upgrading is necessary.)

8.       Press ‘OK’ and continue to the next RS-485 device, if there are more.

 

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. However, these are minimums and it is advisable to use the most recent firmware which as of this writing, are V2.9.16 for CobraLink and 2.11.6 for Express Cobra. In particular, there are some important fixes in 2.11.6 that improve system reliability, so upgrading Express Cobra units to 2.11.6 is strongly recommended. 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”), Cirrus Logic’s utility for upgrading CobraNet firmware and monitoring a CobraNet network. This software is available from the Cirrus Logic CobraNet Downloads page.

2.       Obtain the latest CobraLink CM-1 or Express firmware from the SymNet web site. Unzip and copy the file to the CobraNet Discovery\firmware directory. By default, this is C:\Program Files\Cirrus Logic \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 is visible 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 2.9.16 for CobraLink units and Express version 2.11.6 for Express Cobra.

6.       When prompted, power cycle each unit.

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

In version 9.0, the site file (.sym file) format has changed from previous versions. You will be able to open all previous version site files in version 9.0 or later. However, files saved with version 9.0 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 V9.0, the Select Configuration dialog box appears asking you which configuration you wish to load. Note that the dialog box displays ‘empty’ after any configuration that was unused in the older site file to aid in determining how many configurations your file used. 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 V9.0 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 V9.0 site files.

 

If you intend to maintain both V9.0 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 9.0 design files.
C) Choose the default locations when installing software.
D) Do not use version 9.0 software with previous versions of firmware or previous versions of software with version 9.0 firmware.

A) Backup all previous version design files.

It is recommended that you backup your version 8.0x or earlier design files to a secure location before using or installing Version 9.0. 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 9.0 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 9.0 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 9.0.

 

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 9.0 software with previous versions of firmware or previous versions of software with version 9.0 firmware.

The versions of software and firmware must match! The only operation you should do that accesses hardware 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.