The Flash Loader is designed to accept firmware in the "Intel Hex16" format. If you obtain new firmware from a trusted source, it should already be in the correct format. The Flash Loader will detect incorrect formatting and alert you to the problem. If you are concerned about file format, for example if you have lost track of whether a file really contains Mini-Scanner firmware, see Expert Use of the Flash Loader.
The usual way to obtain a Mini-Scanner firmware file is to download it from the Mini-Scanner Web site. Your Web browser will have a way to save a file to disk rather than trying to open and display it. For example, in Microsoft Internet Explorer, right-click the file's hyperlink and select "Save File As ..." from the pop-up menu. Choose somewhere to save the file so that you can find it again later.
Sometimes you might receive the firmware file as an attachment to an e-mail message. This should be by prior arrangement, for example when you are performing an experiment requiring custom Mini-Scanner firmware. Exercise the usual caution with e-mail attachments and be doubly sure that it comes from a trusted source.
When the Mini-Scanner "Software Development Kit" is released, some Mini-Scanner owners may publish firmware that they have created. They should take care of file format issues and publish any special instructions for obtaining and using their firmware. Third-party firmware is not supported by ECROS Technology and any damage to the Mini-Scanner caused by the use of such firmware is not covered under warranty.
Firmware is uploaded from a file into the Mini-Scanner by sending it over a serial link. At the Mini-Scanner end, the built-in Flash Loader accepts the firmware and programs it into memory. The new firmware will run when you quit the Flash Loader and in future whenever you turn on or reset the Mini-Scanner. At the other end of the serial link, you need a computer running a program that can take the data from the file and send it out through a properly configured serial port. Most computer operating systems come with a terminal emulator application that can do this, or you can obtain and install one. There will be a command or series of menu picks that cause the application to find a file on your computer and send it via the serial port in plain text format. You must not send the file using a file transfer protocol. Watch out for terminal emulators that give you a "Send File..." command and then ask you choose a protocol. Quit this operation and look for a "Send Text File..." command.
To speed up the downloading of files over the Internet, they are frequently "compressed". Compressing a file makes it smaller but retains all the data in the file so that the exact original contents can be restored when the file is uncompressed. The most popular program used on the Windows platform to do this is WinZip. You can tell that a file has been compressed with WinZip because the file extension will be "zip". Before using the file in the Firmware Upload process, you must uncompress (or "un-zip") the file.
If you want to generate your own firmware files, they must be in Intel Hex16 format. Extra spaces are not permitted. For more information, see Building User Programs for the Flash Loader.