If you have a Cameo 2, 3 or 4, Portrait 2 or 3, or Curio machine, you need to know about firmware. Just like computers have software programs to run them, machines have firmware. Firmware helps the machine communicate correctly with your computer. If you have firmware that’s working incorrectly, you get problems like odd cuts, loading issues, the machine pausing and not restarting, etc.
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Just like software updates, Silhouette America provides firmware updates for these machines free of charge for as long as you own them. You can find firmware updates on the Silhouette America website. Check the version number there against the one on your machine (see this post for how to find the version number on your machine). If the one on your machine is lower than the one listed on the website, then you need to update.
Updates scare some folks because they hear horror stories about bugs in software updates. See this post for information and advice about updating the software. Firmware updates are ALWAYS to your advantage. They don’t come out often, but they do fix significant bugs. For example, the latest Cameo 2 update fixed an issue where starting and ending points of a cut weren’t meeting up.
Before you start, it’s a good idea to make sure the Sleep mode on your machine is off. (This is an option on Cameo 2 machines only.) That just makes sure it isn’t going to go to sleep during the firmware update process. It probably isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s best to play it safe. I’ll remind you to turn it back on later if you want to use that. Once that’s set, turn your machine back off. Keep the USB cord unplugged for now.
How to update the firmware on a Windows computer
Step 1 — Download the file
Save the PC file found on the website to your computer by clicking on “download file.” Your computer may or may not open the downloads folder of your computer when the download is complete. If it doesn’t, navigate to the folder in your file explorer. Or, while still on the web browser, click CTRL+J to show recent downloads.
Step 2 — Unzip the file
The file should have a zipper on the folder showing it is zipped. The file extension — the letters after the period — tell you this, too.
Zipping in a way of compressing files so that they take less room and therefore download more quickly. Think of it like packing a ton of clothes in your suitcase when you’re travelling. If you can get it all in a smaller bag, you save money in airline fees. Once you get to your destination, you unpack the clothes and give them more room by putting them in a dresser drawer or hanging them up.
How you unzip the file can depend on your computer’s operating system. On Windows 10, I double click on the download in my downloads folder on my computer. This shows the files that are in that folder.
Then I double click on the “Silhouette_Firmware_Update.exe”. The computer asks me if I want to extract the files (unzip them). I choose “Extract All” and then “Extract.
My computer starts unzipping (unpacking) the file.
When it’s done, I see the folder again. Notice that this time the folder name (see highlighted area below and compare to pic above) now says “exe” instead of “zip” at the end and the icon next to the file name has changed. That tells me the files are now unzipped.
Step 3 — Start the firmware update program
Hover over the file name in the folder and do a quick double click, or a right click and choose “Run.”
Step 4 — Check the firmware version
When the update program starts, you’ll see this screen–
In this step, the computer is going to check which firmware version is currently on the machine and tell you if you need to update. Plug in the USB cable to the machine and your computer. Turn the machine on and press OK on the updater on your computer.
The updater will quickly check to see if your machine needs an update.
- If the program tells you that you don’t need to update, you can close the updater and skip to the Up Next section below.
- If it does need an update, the updater will tell you this and warn you that the process takes approximately 20 minutes.
Step 5 — Install the firmware update
Click OK. The installer tells you to turn off the machine and unplug the power cord but keep the USB cord connected.
This is the slightly tricky part. Hold the power button, plug the power cord back in and continue holding until the screen turns light blue. Once it does, you can let go and then press OK on the updater on your computer.
Step 6 — Wait
The Cameo screen (if you have one) will change color several times during this part of the process. This is perfectly normal.
Make sure you don’t turn the machine off or unplug any cords. By the end it should be dark blue.
Step 7 — Complete the process
The installer should tell you the image update is done. That means it updated the way things look on the LCD screen. But it still needs to update some commands in the brain. Click OK to update the firmware itself.
The screen will briefly turn yellow again, then back to the dark blue. The installer tells you this part of the update takes about 30 seconds.
Now there’s a message that the update is completely done. Unplug the Cameo, plug it back in and turn it on. Then close the installer.
Step 8 — Check the firmware version
You will now be back to the normal welcome screen. Double check the firmware version in the preferences to ensure that all went well. If the number is correct, you’re done and can skip to the Up Next section below. Now is the time to reset that Sleep mode if you want.
Step 9 — Reset sleep mode if desired
How to update the firmware on a Mac computer
The process is very similar on a Mac computer but you just start a little differently.
Step 1 — Download the file
Save the Mac file found on the website to your computer by clicking on “download file.”
Step 2 — Restart your computer (Mac Sierra only)
For Mac users with the Sierra operating system, after downloading you need to re-start your computer before running the firmware update. If for some reason it doesn’t work even after restarting, see the instructions on the Silhouette America website here.
Step 3 — Start the firmware update program
Run the DMG file to launch the “Silhouette Firmware Update” program.
Steps 4-9 — Same as above
If the firmware update doesn’t go well and the machine gets “bricked” (won’t do anything), don’t panic. You just need to restart the process—
- Unplug the power cord from the machine.
- Hold the power button down on the machine and then plug the power cable into the machine. Continue to hold down the power button until the LCD screen turns light blue.
- Launch the Firmware Update Tool again.
- Once you see the window “Please connect the CAMEO and power it on,” press CTRL+SHIFT on your keyboard and then click the OK option on the screen as you hold down those keyboard buttons.
This will send the firmware update to the machine again and everything should be fine.
Silhouette doesn’t usually send out an email when a new firmware version is released. It doesn’t happen very often – it isn’t nearly as common as software updates. It’s just a good idea to check your number against the version on the website occasionally. I’ll also alert folks in my newsletter, so be sure to sign up for that.
Now you’re all set up and ready to begin! The next series is called Software Basics. It takes you through—
- Opening the software and setting preferences
- The icons
- Setting up a new project
- Grid settings
- Navigating around the software
- The library
- Getting your free shapes
- Adding images to the page
- Moving and resizing images
- Basics of working with text
- Making the first cut
- Saving your work and shutting down
Feel free to comment below if you have any questions about the Before You Begin Series. If you wound up here accidentally, you can start with lesson 1 of this series here.
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