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Upgrading Motor Controller Firmware

Before you can upgrade firmware, your robot needs to be connected to the internet. See Connecting the Robot to Your Network.

We upgrade firmware using a tool that will by default install the latest released firmware. If an older fimware version is needed, it will require manual version entry seen in the Version column of the table below.

Improvements to out motor controller fimware (v35 and later) need the latest Linux host side software. Installing the latest Linux host side software can be done by following a process we call ‘Linux Host Software Update’ seen on this page.

Firmware Release Versions

The table below shows the default and latest available versions of firmware.

The Rate in the table is the rate at which the MCB STATUS led will blink which is handy to visually check. It is best to count the time of 4 or more blinks then divide by that number for more accuracy. If the blink rate is found to be other than in the table it is possible you have a beta or non-approved version.

DateCode was started around version v35 and shows up in /diagnostics topic along with the version. DateCode is in YYYYMMDD format for releases and YYMMDD for beta releases. It is the date of that particular version. If you have a version that the date is before the date in the table it is likely a Beta or unofficial release. DateCode did not start till around v35.

Ver Rate DateCode Description
v28 6.0 NA Production shipment version that does wheel movement check on startup. Users should do a firmware upgrade from this very old version
v32 5.0 NA Production firmware used in 2019. This is default if no version is entered. Supported by any host side software
v35 4.0 20190815 Current release as of Sept 2020 with double resolution wheel encoders and many improvements. Requires host side software update done after 11/10/2019
v37 4.75 20200620 Used in manufacturing only. 1st with a selftest.
v38 5.25 20201006 Beta release with many fixes. Seems ok but not fully tested
v39 5.5 202011?? Beta release for cutting edge experiments. In progress

To see more details about our firmware as well as our hardware revisions for the motor controller please view this page.

Checking ROS /diagnostics Topic For Firmware

The firmware version as well as the firmware release date are published by the motor_node to ROS topic /diagnostics

Use the following command for a couple seconds then use Control-C to stop the fast moving output. Scroll back and look for "Firmware Version" and "Firmware Date"

rostopic echo /diagnostics

Firmware Installation

To install any firmware first log into the Raspberry Pi:

ssh ubuntu@YOURROBOT.local

all of the following commands are to be run on the Pi.

Stop all running ROS nodes:

sudo systemctl stop magni-base

Run the firmware upgrade utility:

rosrun ubiquity_motor upgrade_firmware.py

After entering your email address, you should receive an access token. Enter this token and either accept the default version which is seen in the above table or specify a different version perhaps for latest features (eg. specify version 35 by typing in ‘v35’). The download will start and upgrade the motor controller board.

Should any problems show up you are always allowed to do this firmware upgrade again to select a version you know was best for your needs.

The process should take less than a minute; make sure that power is not interrupted during this process. Otherwise your robot may become inoperable and require factory servicing.

When done, reboot the robot with sudo reboot.

You are now on the latest version of the firmware.

Firmware Installation From A File

In some support situations you may be working with the development team here and be given a beta version of software in the form of an encrypted file.

Upgrade Firmware from a file that you place on your system:

rosrun ubiquity_motor upgrade_firmware.py --file  betaFirmwareFileName

Firmware Installation Using Non Standard Serial support

In some situations the serial port used for controlling the robot may not be the default port on the Raspberry Pi host computer attached to the MCB.

To specify a different serial port such as one plugged into usb:

rosrun ubiquity_motor upgrade_firmware.py --device /dev/ttyUSB0