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avramd avatar image

Avoiding/bypassing forced firmware updates

Has anybody found a work-around to Victron products requiring firmware updates, and preventing use of the product until they are conducted?

I have an MPPT 75/15 solar charge controller, with the bluetooth dongle. This is the only means of charging the battery on my boat, and it is my best source of monitoring the health of my battery.

I really need a way to make these updates optional, so that I can defer conducting the update when my signal is weak. Has anybody found a way to bypass a forced update so that you can use the products?

Has anybody asked Victron why they do not give the option to defer these updates? Do they not understand that being blocking use of their products puts their users in danger? I use this product to manage my boat's electrical resources. The update process is dangerous. It requires a much better signal than the process of simply checking to see if there is an update. From what I can tell, shutting off my phone's connectivity isn't good enough, b/c the app remembers that there was an update. I would need to proactively shut off my data access before I knew whether or not there was an update, every time I connected to the device.

BluetoothsolarFirmware Update Issue
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4 Answers
Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) avatar image
Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) answered ·

Hi @avramd,

It is a strangely persistent rumour that MPPT firmware updates require an internet connection. They do not - it is mentioned in the VictronConnect manual too.

Do I need to be connected to the internet for updating firmware?

No. Updating firmware does not require an internet connection, the latest Firmware files are already loaded inside VictronConnect, on your phone/tablet/laptop. When updating the app, all firmware files are updated as well automatically.

Adding a bit more to Mark's answer: Firmware updates are forced if you update the app and want to change any settings, so if you do not want to update firmware, do not update VictronConnect either. There is no check done when starting the app to see if there is a new app version. That update check is done as part of the phone’s normal app updating process. So you would need to disable those automatic updates on your phone app store settings.

As Mark mentioned, the firmware update does not require any internet signal, it can happen completely off grid.

The reason the app knows there is an update, is because the app itself was updated, and already includes the firmware update.

The update process is quite safe, and if a firmware update fails, you can turn it off and attempt it again. The firmware update process does not effect the bootloading part of the MPPT (or BMV), so the MPPT will start up and be able to try again to update if it gets interrupted.

Firmware updates are not forced if you are just looking at history or status data, only when changing settings.

The reason why the firmware update is forced when changing settings is for safety, reliability and ease of troubleshooting. Having a single app version connected to a single firmware version reduces potential for differences between the two.

This greatly improves testing and reliability, meaning more phones and more MPPT combinations can be tested in the same amount of time before releasing a feature update or bug fix. It means there are less variables and edge cases.

Supporting old firmware versions, with new software versions, combined with all of the MPPT products, and the different model mobile phones, would create a further exponential in the scale, complexity and time required to test.

That is why it is the way that it is.

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I have turned off automatic app updates now, thank you. I will do my best to wait to update the Victron app when I see that there is an update until I know I'm going to be in a good position to update firmwares as well.

If I understand you correctly, the disruption I experienced while updating the bluetooth firmware was not related to internet connectivity. However, it still happened. My phone was less than a meter from the dongle when it happened. The app stopped making progress at around 10%. We waited for over 10 minutes. Eventually we had to leave the boat and couldn't wait any longer.

At this point, the phone itself can connect to the dongle when I tap on it in my Bluetooth preferences, but the Victron app never discovers the dongle. Is there any recourse for me at this point, or do I need to buy another dongle?

Thanks,
Avram

If the dongle has failed for some reason, then it would be covered under warranty.

I have personally updated 100's of dongles with dozens of different types of phones. The process has failed for lots of reasons like the app quit, phone went to sleep, I got distracted by a customer and had to walk off, and for no obvious reason at all.

I have never seen a failed firmware update destroy a dongle or MPPT. From a technical level it should never happen, the firmware update process is designed to be able to fail gracefully.

Tell your phone to Forget the dongle in the phone preferences, and do not tap on it there. The connection to the bluetooth dongle must be made through VictronConnect, not via the Bluetooth settings screen on your phone (and could cause issues connecting).

Start from Scratch again.

Tell the phone to forget the bluetooth dongle in settings.

Turn off airplane mode,

Turn on location services, bluetooth and wifi.

Turn off the phone completely.

Power down the MPPT completely including Battery and solar.

Disconnect the bluetooth dongle.

Reconnect the bluetooth dongle.

Power up the MPPT. Is the Bluetooth dongle light now blinking?

Then turn the phone back on again.

Open up VictronConnect, wait 15 seconds - sing happy birthday twice.

Refresh the VictronConnect page.

Can you see the dongle or the MPPT?

Tap it, if you have changed any passwords, use the change password. If you haven't use 000000. If you have forgotten your changed password, or do not know, search the community or open a new community question.

If it asks for any updates, agree and do them.

If that STILL doesn't work...

Last resort, before sending the dongle back for warranty, try a different phone, and then a different VE.Direct device to further isolate the troubleshooting to that one dongle and no other issue.

Should be good :)

hello,


if we have a problem with new firmware, is there a solution at Victron to downgrade firmware and go back to a previous version?


Since the update in early April, v5.20 (Released officially) of 2020-04-06, my regulators (100/30 serial number: HQ17346C9MF and 75/15: HQ1942SINJ7) have erratic behavior with my solar panels, in particular my 100W 12V "mobil" panel which only goes up to 30W maximum whatever the state of discharge of my battery and whatever the sunshine.

Can you send me the firmware in effect in February when my entire installation worked perfectly that I change the firmware 1.5 to revert to the previous version in April? And the process for downgrading in firmware library.

Thank you so much.

Mark avatar image
Mark answered ·

The firmware for all devices is stored in the app, you don't need any internet/phone signal - you could do the update in a submarine if you wanted...

And only updates that rectify bugs are treated as mandatory updates.

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avramd avatar image
avramd answered ·

I thought I would write in in case anybody else finds this thread - I was eventually able to recover the bluetooth dongle.

Here is what I did:

  • unplugged & reconnected the dongle. Lights switched to alternating fast blue/red flashing
  • app still couldn't find it, even though iPhone was already connected to it
  • Tried the app on a different iOS device, and older, original iPad mini
  • The mini discovered the dongle & MPPT controller
  • It forced a firmware update. This firmware update may have actually been a downgrade to match the version of VictronConnect that was on the mini
  • then the app on the mini was able to connect and use the MPPT controller
  • Went back to my phone and deleted the dongle from its Bluetooth devices
  • Went into the app, and this time it found the dongle & MPPT controller
  • It forced a firmware update again - presumably b/c it was a different version of the VC app
  • And it asked me for the PIN again.
  • After this, the app phone was again able to manage the MPPT controller
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avramd answered ·

It appears as though my response was swallowed up by the ether.

Thank you for explaining about the firmware being downloaded by the app first, and about iOS automatic app updates being being the cause of forced firmware updates.

In my case then, it doesn't make sense that the firmware update of my bluetooth dongle failed, because the phone was less than a meter from the dongle the whole time. The update stopped making progress at around 10%. We waited for over 10 minutes. Eventually we had to leave the boat.

Now the Victron app does not find any devices when it does its scan. My phone does successfully connect to the dongle if I tap on it in my Bluetooth settings. Is there any recourse for me at this point?

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Normally yes, please try to reset everything (including deleting the device from the phone/tablet device list) and start again - follow all the steps that Guy provided above.

When pairing/connecting to the BT smart dongle you need to do so using the VictronConnect app and not through the phone/tablet BT settings.

Also have a read in the Bluetooth troubleshooting section of the VictronConnect manual. It has some specific instructions about what to do when a firmware update with a BT smart dongle fails very early: https://www.victronenergy.com/live/victronconnect:start#common_bluetooth_problems_and_how_to_solve_them