HexEngine Firmware Update Guide

Updated: 30-Jun-2009

This guide will explain how to update the firmware on our p.Brain-HexEngine, or p.Brain-µHexEngine.

Note: The p.Brain-HexEngine runs on the p.Brain-ds24 and p.Brain-SMB combo. The p.Brain-µHexEngine runs on the p.Brain-µ24. Make sure you are using the correct firmware file for your p.Brain board!

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Number02 Tools Required
Number02 PICBoot Tool Configuration
Number02 PICBoot Tool Connection
Number02 PICBoot Tool Firmware Update
Number02 Checking New Firmware Features




Number02 Tools Required

Image 01 - MicroSockets PICBoot ( Configuration Tab )



When designing the bootloader for the p.Brain modules, I used MicroSockets PICBoot Tools for Microchip 24H/33F micro controllers. In order to update or load new firmware you will require this tool which can be downloaded for free here:

PICBoot Tools for Microchip 24H/33F microcontrollers

You will also require:

  • A p.Brain-SMB/HexEngine combo or a p.Brain-µHexEngine
  • p.Brain-RJ232 serial lead (or similar)
  • The new firmware file in .HEX format
  • A windows PC with free COM port


Number02 PICBoot Tool Configuration

Image 01 - MicroSockets PICBoot ( Program Tab )


Start the PICBoot tool, and configure the tool as follows:

Under the Configure Tab: (Image 01)
Port: (The serial port you will be using, e.g. COM1)
Baud Rate: 38400

Under the Program Tab: (Image 02)
Processor: dsPIC33FJ128
Boot Loader Address: 000400
Source File: (Select the firmware file from your local hard drive)

Number02 PICBoot Tool Connection

Image 03 - p.Brain-RJ232 serial lead

  1. Switch off (VL) power to your p.Brain-SMB/ds24 combo or p.Brain-µ24.
  2. Connect your serial cable from the p.Brain-SMB or p.Brain-µ24 RJ11 4/4 connector to your selected PC COM Port.
  3. If your are using the p.Brain-µ24, set the JP1 jumper to the R position.
  4. Go to the Configure tab, press the "Init Port" button to open the COM port. If the port opens successfully, a message is displayed next to the "Init Port" button such as "Port 1 is open". The "Init Port" button will also close the port if it is already opened.
  5. Once the port is successfully opened, click the "Connect" button in the "Configure" tab. " The area next to the "Connect" button should display "Cycle power to the target board...". The PICBoot tool will search for a connected p.Brain-ds24/µ24 for approximately 7 seconds.
  6. Switch on the p.Brain-SMB/µ24 logic power.
  7. The PICBoot should now be connected to the p.Brain-ds24/µ24, the progress bar area next to the "Connect" button should display "Idle"

Number02 PICBoot Tool Firmware Update


Image 04 - p.Brain-SMB + p.Brain-HexEngine

Image 05: p.Brain-µHexEngine

  Go to the "Program" tab and press the "Program" button. The progress bar should start to increment. Programming takes approximately 60 seconds.

Image 04: The black connector to the top right of the p.Brain-SMB is the RS232 RJ11 4/4 socket. Servo pictured is not necessary. Power in this example is being fed through the VS pins of the terminal connector, with JP3 jumper between 1-2. Power supply is 6V DC.

Image 05: The black connector to the right of the p.Brain-µ24 is the RS232 RJ11 4/4 socket.

Number02 Checking New Firmware Features



Your new firmware has now been uploaded to the HexEngine. Some firmware updates have additional CONFIG parameters that will need to be configured prior to running the new firmware. In order to do this, close the PICBoot software, and open terminal software such as terraterm or hyperterm. Connect to the HexEngine using the same COM port used for firmware update, and your currently configured BAUD (Default = 115200,N,8,1) .

Now cycle power to the HexEngine, you should see the boot screen appear in the terminal reflecting the updated firmware revision in the top left of the screen.

If the new firmware has additional configuration settings, a warning message will have been displayed informing you that the configuration file size has changed, this means you will need to enter "CONFIG" mode and set the new parameters. New parameters are described within the update file included with the firmware update. Once these have been set, exit "CONFIG" mode and save the configuration file, the warning message should no longer be displayed.