If you use one of the earlier machine models with a Windows 10 computer, you may have noticed recently that you can’t get your software to recognize your machine through the USB cord. You get a message such as “Connect a machine,” “Could not Connect,” “Unavailable,” etc. That can be so frustrating! The reason: a recent Windows 10 update and a specific type of USB port. The solution: update the firmware. Note that this is ONLY for Windows computers and ONLY for the Cameo 1, Portrait 1, SD and Original QuicKutz machines. I’m going to go through the steps for each type of machine and will show you a video on how to do the firmware update on a Cameo 1.
What is firmware?
Firmware is the computer program stored on the computer chip inside your machine itself that runs it. Unlike software, you don’t work in it or often change it. But sometimes it does need to be updated. With the newer models, the software can update the firmware (see info on that here). With the older models I mentioned above, you need to do a workaround.
How do I update my machine’s firmware?
This differs by machine, so I’m going to talk about each one separately.
Cameo 1 firmware update
The Cameo 1 has a gray body with a white lid and push buttons for loading (later models have a touch screen). To do the update on a Cameo 1, you need a blank SD card. An SD card is a mass storage device used mainly in digital cameras these days. Silhouette American recommends one with 2GB capacity or less. I successfully used a 4GB card. If you don’t have one, check your local Walmart in the camera section. You can find one there for around $5-10 that should suit your needs. Here’s what one looks like:
Once you have your SD card ready, follow these steps (if you prefer, you can skip down to the video to see the whole process):
- Go to the Silhouette America website here and scroll down to the section Cameo 1 model. Click that title to expand the instructions.
- In step #1, there’s a link to download and save a zip file. Click on that. Your computer may ask your permission to download the file. Make sure to give that. If it gives you the option to save or open, just save for now in a location that’s easy for you to find. If you have any problems, try a different web browser. Just in case, here’s the link. That downloads a folder called cc300.zip and the file is in that.
A zip file is one that is compressed so that it’s faster to go over the internet from a website to your computer. Think of it like a packing away a comforter in one of those special bags that compresses things to save room. To use the file once it gets to you, you need to unzip it (open the bag so that the comforter puffs back up). To unzip, you need to find the folder where you saved it. If you didn’t choose a location, it will by default be in the Downloads folder (look at the top section of the folder structure on your computer). You can also type CTRL+j on your computer keyboard while on an internet browser. That opens a menu that shows files you have downloaded from the internet.
- Once you’ve found the folder, click on it and look for the word Extract at the top of the screen. Then look for and click on Extract All. That’s how you tell your computer to “unpack” the file.
- Once unzipped, you need to copy the file to your SD card. Not all computers have SD card slots any longer because it’s old technology, so you may hunt for one. Open the folder and look for the file called cc300.mhx. Save ONLY the file on that SD card by dragging it into that folder — do not copy the whole folder or it won’t work.
- Once you have it on the SD card, remove it safely from your computer.
- Turn your machine off and unplug all cords, both from your computer and your machine.
- Put the SD card into the machine, making sure it goes all the way in (just the tip should be sticking out),
- Press and hold the left and right arrow keys on the machine. While continuing to hold that with one hand, plug in only the power cord to the machine. It will turn the machine on by itself.
- Keep holding the buttons until you see the message Boot Ver1.00 on the machine screen, then let go.
- Let the machine do its thing. It takes a few minutes. Wait until you see the message Write Finish.
- Take the power cord out of the machine.
- Take the SD card out of the machine.
- Plug the USB cord into your computer and machine.
- Plug the power cord into the machine and turn it on.
- Go back to your software and see if it can now find your machine.
- If you can’t get it to connect, go back to Step #1 and try again.
- You can delete the file and folder from your downloads and the SD card, as the computer chip inside the machine is now up-to-date.
Here’s a video of the whole process:
If it still doesn’t work — What next?
–Sometimes the order you plug in the cords and turn the machine on makes a difference. Test all different sequences.
–Try using a USB 2.0 hub. That works sometimes, but not always.
–Technically, Silhouette America no longer supports connection issues on older machines. But if you do continue to have problems, you can try contacting the Customer Support department via the Chat feature on their website or by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org. They will have you go through all the steps above, so make sure you try that first.
–You can also use the machine by saving files to that SD card and cutting from that. In that case, you have to make sure to save the file in a special format. Use File>Save As>Save to Hard Drive. In the Save As Type section at the bottom of the folder structure, make sure to choose GSP.
Portrait 1 firmware update
Not sure if you have a Portrait 1? It’s the one without an AutoBlade option. I can only give you the steps — not a video. It’s tricky, because you have to do it on a computer that is NOT Windows 10, or one that can connect (like one a Windows 10 version lower than 1809). Hopefully, you have an older computer around or can find a friend with one.
- Go to the Silhouette America website here. Scroll down to the section Portrait 1 Model. Click that title to expand the section.
- In Step #1, click the link to download the zip file and save it to your computer. Your computer may ask for permission to download the file, so give that. If it gives you the option to save or open, save it in a location that’s easy for you to find. If you have any problems, try a different web browser. Just in case, here’s the link. It downloads a folder called Portrait1FirmwareUpdate.zip and the file is in that.
- Read Step #3 above.
- Read Step #4 above.
- Turn your machine off.
- Unplug the USB cord from your computer and the machine, and the power cord from the machine.
- On your computer, open the unzipped folder called Portrait Firmware Update Tool.
- In the folder is a file called Silhouette_Firmware_Update.exe. Click on that to run it. Give permissions as needed. Don’t worry — this is a file from a trusted source.
- Follow the instructions on your computer screen. Again, I can’t show you any more because I don’t have a Portrait 1 machine.
- If during the process is a message to connect your machine, do that to check the connection again. If so, you can bypass that step in the instructions by holding the CTRL and SHIFT keys together and clicking OK.
If you still can’t get a connection, try the steps again or contact Silhouette America. Some people also have luck with using a USB 2.0 hub (but no guarantees).
SD and Original QuicKutz machines
If you are still using these machines that are pretty old by now, you might be out of luck. Although the SD machines do have an SD slot, Silhouette America has not come out with a firmware update for these. Their only recommendations are:
- Use a different computer — Mac, Windows operating system below 10, or Windows 10 below version 1809.
- Try a USB 2.0 hub, although there’s no guarantee that will work.
Those aren’t great options, but it’s like driving a car that’s 50 years old — you’re going to have trouble finding new parts for it.