Update. Upgrade. Firmware. Software. So many terms are tossed around when it comes to discussing Silhouette Studio and the Silhouette machines – it can be downright confusing! But when you understand what each of these terms mean and their function, your Silhouette journey will be much smoother. Today I’ll help clear up some of the confusion and explain why one component in particular – firmware – is so important.
Let’s begin by defining exactly what each term means:
Software – the general term used to describe a computer program. For the Portrait, Cameo, and Curio machines, Silhouette Studio is the software.
Firmware – software that is embedded into a piece of hardware. Your Silhouette machine is the hardware.
The Cameo 3, Cameo 2, and Curio are the only machines that require firmware updates at this time; the original Cameo, Portrait, Portrait 2, and Mint do not. Update, September 2019: Recent Windows 10 updates have caused connection issues with the original Cameo and Portrait machines. More information, along with firmware updates for those models, can be found here: https://www.silhouetteamerica.com/faq/solution/machine-cannot-connect-to-silhouette-studio-software. A firmware update for the Portrait 2 can be found here: https://www.silhouetteamerica.com/firmware.
Upgrade – a paid enhancement to software that adds to or improves its features. In the case of Silhouette Studio, there are three levels of upgrade – Designer Edition, Designer Edition Plus, and Business Edition. When you purchase an upgrade for Silhouette Studio, there is no new software to install. You will either receive a license key code via email or be sent a physical card (similar to a gift card) that contains a scratch-off to reveal the license key code. Once you enter the license key code into your software (Click on the Help menu and select “Upgrade Silhouette Studio”), additional features will be unlocked.
Update – a free download that either improves the functionality of or fixes bugs found in software or firmware. In order to easily identify the most recent update, a sequential numbering system is used. For instance, the current version of Silhouette Studio as of this writing is 4.1.206, with “4.1” indicating the software version and “.206” identifying the update in sequence. Any number lower than this is out of date (although it may still work properly with your computer and Silhouette machine) and any number higher than this means that it’s a beta version and still being tested. Silhouette firmware versions follow a slightly different naming convention, but the numbers are still sequential.
Why update your firmware? Simply put, if your firmware is not up to date your machine and your software may not communicate properly, which can lead to cutting issues. As previously mentioned, updates to firmware contain improvements and may also fix bugs that have been found in previous versions. Glitches due to out-of-date firmware are more common with the Cameo 3 than other machines, but it’s still a good idea to keep your version as current as possible. (NOTE: Keep in mind that updating your software has no effect on your firmware, and vice versa. Each one needs to be updated separately.)
How to check your firmware version:
Note: the firmware version can be checked in this manner for all machines, but this is the only method available for the Curio.
- Insert the base into the front of the Curio.
- Push the base inward until the leading edge of the base extends out the back of the Curio.
- Connect the power source and turn on the machine.
- Connect the machine to your computer via USB.
- Open Silhouette Studio.
- Click on the Send panel. (Silhouette Studio v4)
- Once the machine has finished syncing and shows “Ready”, click on the “Silhouette Devices” icon in the lower right of the Send window. This will open a pop-up window and you will see the firmware version listed underneath the Curio icon.
- With the machine turned on, press the gear icon in the upper right of the LCD touchscreen. This will open the Preferences menu.
- Press “About”. The firmware version will be displayed.
(All Cameo 2 photos courtesy of Cut Class with Grammie.)
- With the machine turned on, press the gear icon in the upper right corner of the LCD touchscreen. This will open the Preferences menu.
- Using the arrow key, scroll down until you see the button labeled “Firmware”. Press to display the firmware version.
If the numbers displayed are not the same, or are any lower than the most recent firmware release, you will need to update your firmware.
How to update your firmware:
- On your computer (not a phone or tablet), go to https://www.silhouetteamerica.com/firmware.
- Locate the photo of the machine you wish to update.
- Underneath the photo, you will see icons for both PC and Mac along with the number of the most recent firmware version. Click on the one that corresponds to your operating system.
- Follow the instructions at the bottom of the page to download the firmware and complete the installation.
Here are a couple of tips from Silhouette America to help you avoid the most common issues that arise when updating firmware:
- Make sure that you can dedicate 20 minutes to updating the firmware on your machine. Interruptions, such as the computer going to sleep or powering down, can cause the firmware update to fail.
- Close Silhouette Studio before a firmware update. Firmware update connections can be prevented if the machine is connected via the Studio software.
- If you continue to experience problems, refer to the general firmware FAQs at https://www.silhouetteamerica.com/faq/solution/firmware-update.
Updating firmware doesn’t have to be intimidating and I hope the information I’ve provided you with today takes some of the fear and mystery out of the process. Keeping your software and firmware up to date is one of the best ways to avoid cutting issues and make sure that your precious time is spent creating rather than troubleshooting.
If you still have questions about firmware (or any other Silhouette-related topic), leave me a comment below or visit me over on Facebook. I’m always happy to help!
Until next time,
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Lycia is a lifelong crafter whose goal is to help others find value, confidence, and joy in whatever they create. She geeks out on using technology to supercharge craft projects with Silhouette Studio, Design Space, Glowforge, sublimation, etc.! Lycia teaches these skills and more through online tutorials and videos as well as in-person classes at both the local and national levels.