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How to Upgrade Allen Bradley Panel View Firmware

I don't typically working on older automation equipment, therefore I feel sheltered when it comes to trying to make older hardware work. In the case of needing to upgrade firmware would fall into this category. There are a few occasions when I get some practice. We had a customer call that needed an HMI program loaded into a "spare" Panel View 550. This spare older Panel View 550 had a firmware of FRN 2.1. The program came from a program that was developed in FRN 4.0. Changing the program firmware type to 2.xx caused some compatibly problems in the application, so the only solution was to flash the firmware on the older Panel View 550 and upgrade this unit, so the original application would be compatible, rather than re-doing the application in FRN 2.1.

Since I have never done this personally, I went searching on the Internet first at Rockwell's website. Apparently Rockwell has removed all the firmware downloads from the website for older Panel View. But you can download firmware for Panel View Plus. I made a call to my Allen Bradley distributor who informed me that the firmware software is located on the Panel Builder 32 installer cd-rom. This was ok, but did I forget to mention I was at the customer facility, on the road, and the Panel Builder 32 cd-rom was back at the office? Ok so plan B was to have my office e-mail me a copy of the firmware installer software, not likely at 132 MB... I placed a second call to my Allen Bradley distributor, which I forgot was within driving distance from where I was located. This was a great save able to drive there and pick up a cd-rom with exactly what I needed.

Before starting this process, make sure you have a backup of your HMI application. Replacing the firmware will cause your application to be erased. If you don't have a backup of your application, but you do have a PCMCIA adapter and a compact flash card, you can press both right and left arrows on a keypad Panel View to access the setup menu. Once in the setup menu, insert the CF card in the back of the Panel View and use the file transfer utility in the setup to backup your application to the CF card.

So I got the firmware software, now what? I've never used it before. I looked at the readme file about how to use it. Since I had a DH-485 panel view only, no additional ports like an RS-232 port and all I had with me was1747-PIC to load the firmware. The help file says that you cannot have the panel view connected to any other device, like a SLC 5/03 port. This causes "network traffic" and the firmware software will refuse to load. No problems, but there is a problem... the PIC module gets it's power from the SLC 5/03 port. So now that I've realized I am in a catch 22 situation, I wasn't sure what to do next.

I tried plugging the Panel View back in to the SLC port but then the firmware software actually detected that scenario and gave me an error that said "Network Traffic Detected". I have only DH-485 ports on the back of the Panel View, so I couldn't use a CP3 cable directly, and I can't use the 1747-PIC because it has no power unplugged from the SLC port, and plugging it in caused the firmware software to freak out. I didn't have an AIC module with me to save the day either. An AIC module would supply power to the PIC module for me while connected to the Panel View. Better luck next time? Hardly...never give up.

I noticed the firmware software had an option to copy to a file. So I used the copy firmware to file option. Luckily I had a PCMCIA adapter for my 32 MB compact flash card. I put the firmware files on my CF card from my laptop, then I inserted into the Panel View and rebooted just to try it....no where in the help file does it say you can do this mind you, I thought I would just try it...well it ended up working...about 10 minutes later, the firmware transferred and the Panel View 550 booted up with FRN 4.41.

If you have better luck than me, you should be able to use the COM port option to transfer the firmware. What's supposed to happen is you choose what Panel View you have, then the COM port. You should get a window prompting you to reset or restart your panel view. I just unplugged mine from 120 VAC, then powered up again. I assume at this point the firmware will start to load when the Panel View reboots. That should be all there is to it.

After the firmware is upgraded, you'll need to reload your HMI application. WARNING! your application probably won't work by just dumping it back into your Panel View. Chances are your back up application was designed with a lower revision or wrong revision Panel Builder. It's best to open up your application in Panel Builder 32, then go to Application Settings, Terminal Setup, then click on the tab Catalog and Revision Numbers. If you installed the latest FRN 4.41, you'll need to select this firmware option. Next you should validate your application for any firmware mis-match issues. If you validate your program ok, you should be ready to download your application to your Panel View.

Second WARNING, if you are using FRN 4.41, make sure you have the latest Panel Builder 32 software that supports FRN 4.41. I am using version 3.81. You've been warned.