As with most equipment, manufacturers often make improvements to their products after you’ve purchased them. The nice thing with electrical equipment is these improvements are often related to the way it works rather than a physical change, so this can be updated. In this post I’ll show you how you can check to see if your Digitrax equipment is up-to-date and if not, how to change it.
Digitrax equipment is very reliable and robust, but most of their equipment has had a small improvement made at some point. Just like a computer or mobile phone, electrical equipment has a program that runs on the circuit boards. This program is called firmware, unlike software that runs on a computer, firmware is the program that tells the components what to do.
Below is an example of some common Digitrax equipment. From left to right we have a DT602D radio throttle, a DT500 throttle, a DCS 240 command station, a DCS 51 command station and a PR3 USB to PC interface. All of this equipment has firmware and all of it has an update available.
Some of the equipment, such as the newer DT602, tells you what version the firmware is when it starts up. Below you can see this throttle has SW Version 0000.1 and is dated July 15, 2021.
Other equipment such as the command stations and older equipment don’t have a such a clear display. But there are ways to find out what the firmware version is. To do this Digitrax have a piece of software called DigiIPL and this can be downloaded from their website www.digitrax.com. This software can be installed on a PC, laptop or Windows-based tablet, but don’t start it up yet.
To connect the Digitrax equipment to the DigiIPL program you will need a USB cable, which should have been supplied with the command station. If not, the same type of cable often used with printers will work. The cable needs a USB Type A fitting on one end and a USB Type B fitting on the other as shown below
The newer command stations, such as the DCS 240 have a USB port on the front of the unit but the older models such as the DCS 51 do not. I’ll show you how to connect those later.
With the USB cable plugged into your computer and the DCS (DCS stands for Digital Command Station) connected to its own power supply, the PC will assign a COM port to it. This is the address of the connection, depending on what else you have plugged in this will be different for each user, we will find out what it is in a minute.
With the DCS connected you can now start the DigiIPL program and it will look like this.
You’ll notice at the top left a Loconet Port has not been selected, this is where the COM port is entered. Luckily you can only select from Com ports that are active, mine had been assigned to Com 4. If there’s more than one, try the first and if that doesn’t work try the next. It’s also important to note the ‘Bit Rate’ should be set to 16457 although by default it always is.
At this stage I should point out that if you have lots of Digitrax equipment, particularly lots of the same item, it is a good idea not to have it all plugged in to the command station at the same time when doing this. Theoretically it should work but it’s recommended to do this individually.
Once you’re ready you can push the ‘Find Devices’ button and it will open another window listing the equipment, and below you can see the DCS 240 listed and is at SW version 0.3.
If I plug in the DT602D from earlier and push the ‘Find Devices’ button again you can see it listed showing the SW Version 0.1 as we saw before.
So now we know the current SW (Firmware) version but how do we know if it’s the latest? Heading back to the Digitrax website on their downloads page they have all the available updates listed. Below you can see the DCS 240 is at version 0.4 and the DT602 is at version 0.1 so only the DCS 240 needs to be updated. (I did the DT602 the other week).
To update the DCS 240, or any Digitrax equipment, download the relevant firmware to your computer. Then using the ‘Select File’ button, select the downloaded firmware file.
Pressing the ‘Start’ button will now update the equipment.
Once done you can check to see if the update was successful by pressing the ‘Find Devices’ button again to check the version.
When it comes to the older equipment, such as the DCS 51 that don’t have a USB port, an interface is needed. This is where the PR3 shown in the first photo comes in. Below you can see the USB cable connected to the PR3 and the PR3 connected to the DCS 51 via a Loconet cable.
With the new equipment connected the DigiIPL has to be restarted. This time it has connected on Com 5. Using the ‘Find Devices’ I can see the PR3 and DCS 51, but only the DCS 51 needs an update.
And thats it, all up to date. It’s always a good idea to update any firmware, Digitrax or otherwise. The chances are you will not see a difference in how your device works but there’s a good chance it will fix a problem you didn’t even know was there.