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Friday, February 27, 2015

DIY Lectrosonics SRb Firmware Update

Note: This post contains links to external websites that may or may not be permanent. I will do my best to keep them updated for future reference, but understand that Lectrosonics may choose to change their site at will. Links are current as of 2.26.15.

Make it easy on yourself and INSTALL THE SOFTWARE AND DRIVERS BEFORE CONNECTING THE ADAPTER.

SRb in UPDATE mode
Over here at Vandelay Sound Exports, Inc. we operate a heavy wireless arsenal to keep our productions running smoothly. We like to be prepared and flexible should any sudden need arise, from replacing a damaged unit in the field to accommodating an out-of-town crew for a day. For us, those abilities require having 40+ channels of talent wireless. Of those units, we operate 20 Lectrosonics SRb receivers. Of those 20 SRb receivers, 18 were running on "out of date" firmware. We were missing out on new features, bug fixes and other various enhancements that would typically require us to send in the units for an upgrade. Instead, we have the LectroLink. This hardware accessory gives us the ability to update the firmware of Lectrosonics SRx, 401 and T4 units, as well as customize channel assignments (more on that another time) for each of those units.

So I'm going to walk you through our experience and hopefully warn you of any pitfalls you may encounter. It's rather easy once you're all setup, but setting it all up properly was the toughest part for me, honestly. Running into unexpected issues like out of date drivers, out of date software, UPDATE mode procedures were all figured out the hard way and gathered here for your consumption to be presented as the "easy way." Before you get too far down this rabbit hole, see if you even need to update your firmware by checking out the master list of firmware history for your unit. If so, carry on. Beware, if you don't already have the firmware in hand, expect this to take at least one business day to finish.

First, gather these items

  1. Computer running Windows XP or higher (32-bit or 64-bit)
  2. Lectrosonics LectroLink hardware kit
  3. LectroLink utility software
  4. Current USB drivers
  5. Most recent firmware for each model to be updated
  6. Lectrosonics SRa or SRb (w/external plate , 401 or T4 IFB transmitter

Some notes before we actually start...


A) I use a Mac, as does nearly everyone I know, aside from my accountant/wife-unit. So I'm running Parallels (virtual machine) with Windows 8 installed over a Mac OSX Yosemite (10.10.2).

B) We purchased our LectroLink hardware from our 'usual suspect', Gotham Sound, for $145. To begin your DIY upgrades, ask your favorite dealer for the LectroLink, also known as item number "SLECLECTROLINK". It includes all the additional hardware and cables you'll need for upgrades and adjustments (USB cable, Serial adapter, Communications cable)

C) The LectroLink hardware package also comes with a CD-ROM chock full of potentially outdated software. Check the Lectrosonics website to verify that you have the most current version of LectroLink Utility (v1.02 as of this post).

- LectroLink Utility is a component of the LecNet2 software suite. Download here (see also http://www.lectrosonics.com/Support/category/55-software-installer.html#).

D) The USB Drivers that came with my CD-ROM didn't install correctly the first time because they were outdated. See Lectrosonics' website for the current version or download them here.

E) To see what the most recent firmware is for your wireless unit, go to the firmware revision history page on Lectrosonics' website, or see below. There is no difference in firmware between the regular SR(a/b) and the 5-pin version of the same SR. However, there IS a difference in firmware between the SRa and SRb. 

- SRa or SRa5P
- SRb or SRb5P
- 401
- T4

Once you figure out the version you need, you MUST to contact Lectrosonics directly to obtain the .hex firmware file. I talked to them about me posting the files directly, but they feel (me too, really) it's best to contact them directly so they can make sure you are getting the correct file for the correct hardware you have. You never know, they could find something and not update the website in time or something crazy like that. Send an e-mail to service.repair@lectrosonics.com to request the firmware you need.

F) Grab your gear and let's go!

Now let's actually update the damn thing


For the T4 and 401, it's easy:
  1. Make sure unit is OFF.
  2. Unscrew the top faceplate and outer metal housing (6 screws).
  3. Plug the USB into your computer with all software and drivers installed.
  4. Plug the communication cable into the designated pin slots (see the documentation provided with your LectroLink for proper pin placement) while paying particular attention to the orientation of the RED and GREEN pins. The documentation can be a bit confusing on which color is "Pin 1" and whether it faces left or right. Just pay close attention to this.
  5. While the unit is still OFF, provide a stable power source (break out those old CH20 AC power supplies!)
  6. Put the unit in UPDATE mode by holding UP and DOWN simultaneously while powering the unit on (transmit or tune is fine)
  7. Open the LectroLink Utility application and go through the proper selections (see video below). Select the .hex firmware file you received from Lectrosonics for the appropriate model of your wireless unit.
  8. Once the application has successfully updated the firmware, turn the unit OFF and then back ON again to verify that the firmware you have loaded is displayed on bootup.
  9. Turn unit back OFF and reassemble.



For the SRa and SRb it's slightly more physically challenging:

The steps for updating is the same, but the SR receivers present a unique challenge in order to update the firmware. Putting the SR into UPDATE mode will require some physical finesse and/or a second human being. I mean, they weren't designed to be updated by end users, so stop your bitching right here. Here's one key...your unit needs to be powered externally (i.e. not in the camera slot), so you must have the external plate to do this or make a custom serial cable for your slot receiver.
  1. Make sure unit is OFF.
  2. Unscrew the bottom external plate and remove the metal housing (4 screws).
  3. Plug the USB into your computer with all software and drivers installed.
  4. Plug the communication cable into the designated pin slots (see the documentation provided with your LectroLink for proper pin placement) while paying particular attention to the orientation of the RED and GREEN pins. The documentation can be a bit confusing on which color is "Pin 1" and whether it faces left or right. Just pay close attention to this.
  5. While the unit is still OFF, provide a stable power source (break out those old CH20 AC power supplies!)
  6. Turn the unit back ON by pressing the PWR membrane button on the front of the unit. This will let the unit "remember" to turn back on when power is resupplied.
  7. Without pressing the PWR membrane button, UNPLUG the wall wart power supply (or turn off your BDS if you went that route).
  8. Now go grab your significant other (the tinier the hands the better). Put the unit in UPDATE mode by holding UP and DOWN simultaneously while restoring power to the SRa/b. It will NOT go into UPDATE mode by holding the PWR membrane button. Don't ask why, just do. The serial connection where the plate meets the circuit board is most delicate part of this equation, which is why I recommend plugging/unplugging the power supply itself further down the chain.
  9. Open the LectroLink Utility application and go through the proper selections (see video above). Select the .hex firmware file you received from Lectrosonics for the appropriate model of your wireless unit.
  10. Once the application has successfully updated the firmware, hold down the PWR membrane button until you notice a slight strobe and the Lectrosonics text floats down to verify that the firmware you have loaded is displayed on bootup. If you mess it up, just turn it off and back on again like normal to verify.
  11. Turn unit back OFF, disconnect power supply and reassemble.

    Out with the old v1.2 and in with the new v1.7

    Voila! There you have it. So long as someone is around to help you in your time of need, it's a fairly straightforward process. It should go without saying, but you are at your own risk when updating the firmware. You could brick your unit. Remember, if you don't think you really need the latest firmware then simply don't update it. It's probably not worth the risk of you destroying your nice little wireless unit.

    Lectrosonics does provide some handy guides (links below). These also are not posted anywhere on Lectro's website, so as far as I know you have to ask for them, or just download here.

    LinkWithin x4

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