Part 1: The Firmware Struggle is Real

I have spent the last decade on the control programming side of an AV integrator house and worked for another manufacturer. As I step into my new position at QSC, I am using this blog series to share some lessons I’ve learned along the way. I’m here because I have total empathy for your daily struggles and want to offer fresh ways to combat AV programming challenges.

Topic 1: A Friday Afternoon with Firmware

We’ve all been there…moving on the system Friday evening because you are petrified to break the system during working hours. You push the update button and hold your breath… hoping the update goes smoothly with no issues.  Or walking into a routine service call and walking out three days later after firmware updates are done.

When I start to think about the “joys” of updating control firmware on a traditional hardware-based AV control system, there are a few general rules I try to stick with:

  1. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – If this were “Fight Club” and I was Tyler Durden, this would easily be rule #1 AND #2.
  2. Don’t update over Wi-Fi – On most systems, the new “wireless” is WIRED! Don’t run the risk of effectively “bricking” a product and setting you back hours. Take the few extra minutes and plug directly into the network switch.
  3. Make sure your computer is plugged in – Don’t get stuck with a computer that goes to sleep in the middle of an update.
  4. Have more than one computer on hand – When you need to push firmware to multiple devices, best to have more than one computer. Don’t risk pushing too many devices from a single source.
  5. Don’t trust automatic updating – If you don’t trust that feature on your phone, why trust it for your meeting room? No one likes coming in to find parts of the system no longer working due to a mismatch somewhere in the system.

While we all have our own list of “best practices”, we continue to struggle with the ins and outs of today’s world of traditional control programming.  We should ask ourselves – why does a simple firmware update have to be so arduous…and time consuming?

Consider the Alternative

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been working in the same control environment for years. You are comfortable with it, and haven’t had time to consider the other options. Software-based options like Q-SYS can actually save you some time and heartache.

When it comes to firmware updates, platforms like Q-SYS make this process painless. First of all, compile time on Q-SYS designs is lightning fast.  Most designs compile in a few seconds, while the biggest designs finish before you have time to grab another Red Bull.

Updating firmware on a Q-SYS system is automated and takes only a few minutes to complete an entire networked enterprise system. First, the new firmware gets loaded onto the Core, then the Core automatically updates every peripheral in its design.

If you have multiple Cores on the system, you can start an update on one system on the network, then from the same computer, start a second system update in parallel.

When it comes to thinking about exploring new integrated platforms, consider those that allow you to spend your Fridays with family, not firmware.

Learn more about Q-SYS control and Request a Demo here.


One response to “Part 1: The Firmware Struggle is Real

  1. When you release a new firmware, do you check Crestron, AMX, etc modules in your lab? I think 9.1.1 broke v5, which, is not your problem, except when Q-Sys releases a new software, we get it, which updates firmware for you, no choice, and if that bricks your Crestron control, well, your SOL?

    Can you please check your downstream compatibility before releasing stuff? Crestron and AMX, and Extron run 80% of AV systems which means we need Q-Sys to ALWAYS be compatible. Now I have to figure out how to downgrade my firmware. Or call QSC, which might end in ‘That’s a Crestron problem – ‘, followed by Crestron saying ‘That’s a QSC problem-‘.

    I enjoyed your article, but I feel like QSC releases a new version every month, violating your ‘don’t fix what ain’t broken’ rule.

    Sorry for the small rant but Q-sys monthly firmware software updates are themselves creating the headaches.

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