In order for any machine to do its job properly, the software controlling it needs to be up to date. Since your freeze dryer isn’t as simple as your home computer, updating the software is tricky for some people. So, how do you update and calibrate your freeze dryer software?
To update your freeze dryer, you need to:
- Find your current software version.
- Find the update on Harvest Right’s website.
- Make sure the update is compatible with your unit and/or existing firmware version.
- Turn off the freeze dryer.
- Upload the freeze-dryer update to a USB drive.
- Turn the dryer back on.
- Plug in the USB drive and follow the prompts provided.
It’s easy to find out what’s your current version, but installation and calibration of new software are a bit more complicated. Read on to get the in-depth guide on updating and calibrating your freeze dryer software, as well as some general info on freeze dryer software.
The current freeze dryer software version should show in the top-right corner of the home screen of a Harvest Right freeze-dryer. Sometimes, on older units, it may show on the middle right-hand side or even on the bottom right-hand side.
This is an important and often overlooked question – you need to know your current version before the update! Why? Because some older software versions aren’t compatible with new updates.
For example, the new update – version 5.X.19 – isn’t compatible with versions older than version 3.6.11! So, anyone with software version 3.6.10 won’t be able to install this update.
After checking the number of your current version on the home screen and making sure it’s compatible with the new update, you may proceed.
The only way to know if there is an available firmware update is to compare a unit’s current version to the latest version shared on Harvest Right’s site (link here). That link details installation processes, any restrictions regarding the newest software updates, and other notes.
Additionally, you may get an email from Harvest Right notifying you of software changes and providing you with instructions for installing the software. This will only happen, though, if you’re subscribed to their email list.
If you aren’t getting their updates, check your spam folder. Or, if you want me to let you know when updates are available, you can subscribe to my newsletter.
However, mistakes can happen as these emails need to be sent out by a person, so it’s possible that an update was uploaded to the Harvest Right website and you weren’t notified. Check the link above every now and then to make sure you have the newest software installed.
Here’s that link again: https://harvestright.com/software-update/.
How often do you need to update the freeze dryer software and firmware?
Updates are rarely needed. This latest 5.X.19 update is the first one I’ve heard about that fixes a bug that impacted the end product. We have an old software version that still works great, though it may not be as efficient as newer firmware.
There’s no exact rule to this – new updates can be released monthly, yearly, or every other week. Software updates are typically developed to take care of glitches and user issues, so you can expect updates whenever important issues are reported to Harvest Right.
What if I can’t update my freeze dryer software?
Not all freeze-dryer software versions need updates. Many older units will only work well with older firmware versions. These older firmware versions do not need to be updated unless a compatible update is released.
Our unit uses old firmware and it runs just fine. It’s not compatible with the new firmware update, so we’re rocking the old version. It really runs just fine.
Before updating your freeze dryer, make sure you have everything you need.
- Make sure your current version is compatible with the new version.
- Download the new version.
- Turn off your freeze dryer.
- Have a USB drive ready.
- Get ready to follow the next two steps as outlined below.
Step 1: How to Download and Prepare the Update Files
After getting everything done, grabbing your USB, and turning off your freeze dryer, you’ll have to download the file from the Harvest Right website. It’d be best if your USB thumb drive was otherwise empty and had plenty of storage space.
Personally, I like USB thumb drives that aren’t physically large, just so I can get the thumb drive into the unit’s open port without worrying about space. This will especially come in handy if your unit is stored in a tight space.
There might be a single update file or several of them (depending on the update).
- You need to transfer them all onto the root of your drive.
- Don’t put them in a folder.
- Your update file(s) should be the only documents on your USB.
Your files could have different extensions – .hff, .hfw, or .hrf – this isn’t a problem. Do not change the extensions!
The files will be named differently in each update (for example, files from the latest update: H0500021.hff, H0501021.hfw, and H0502021.hfr).
Note: you might need to enable slow or automatic updates on your freeze dryer. You’ll find that some devices have this already enabled. You can find this option under the ‘Customize’ menu. Turn off your dryer after you’ve done that.
Step 2: Installing the Updates
With your freeze dryer still turned off, put your USB drive into the port. Turn the freeze dryer on and it should automatically install the updates. Once your software is finally updated, you’ll see the new version number in the top-right corner.
If you come across any sort of trouble, which isn’t impossible, turn the dryer off, insert the USB and try again. In case this doesn’t work after a few attempts, call Harvest Right’s customer support.
Once your software is installed, you can move on to calibrating it!
Harvest Right freeze dryers don’t usually need manual calibration, although sometimes the touch screen may need recalibration. This will need to be done if your screen isn’t working properly. If nothing happens after pressing the buttons, follow these steps to recalibrate your touch screen.
Your settings won’t change after updating your freeze dryer and you won’t need to calibrate it after updating. Freeze dryers also have different settings intended for different food packaging processes, so there are no constant settings that need to be calibrated.
Step 1: Restart the Machine and Start Recalibration
You need to turn the machine off and on, after which you’ll press the center of the screen as it turns white. The machine will let out a sound and a circle will start flashing.
If the circle isn’t flashing, you’ll have to call tech support, as the problem will need more than recalibration.
Step 2: Press the Flashing Circle
The circle will move every time you press it to triangulate the positioning, after which you’ll be able to ‘write’ on the screen with your finger for 20 seconds to ensure the touchscreen is registering your touch.
After that, your start menu will load and all the buttons should be working just fine. If you tried this several times but to no avail, contact tech support.
Most of the time freeze dryer software updates are free, but updates aimed at freeze-drying very specific foods at specific temperatures can cost money. Some older units may be incompatible with newer firmware updates, and so won’t be able to update even if a user tried.
If you go to Harvest Right’s website, you’ll see that the updates are free to download most of the time. It would make no sense to charge for updates if they’re necessary for the machine to function properly.
After all, you did pay for it.
However, there was a Harvest Right update that allowed users to set the temperature at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This function wasn’t available on new devices until the update and anyone who wanted that update needed to pay for it.
Interestingly, the 40-degree function was available on older devices.
So, a function that was available in the older models was charged as a luxury in an update for newer models.
Aside from this instance, updates are usually free.
Harvest Right’s freeze dryers actually use firmware, not software. However, since people are better acquainted with the term ‘software’ and use the two terms interchangeably, we didn’t make a big deal out of it and we used the two terms interchangeably, too.
To simply explain the difference: the software doesn’t interact with the machine’s hardware in any way. For example, a smartphone game is a type of software.
Firmware controls the hardware. Your freeze dryer’s interface is actually firmware, as it controls the entire machine.
It’s a tiny, technical difference, I know. But my husband pointed out we’d best be thorough in the explanation. And he’s right.
The only way to reset the freeze dryer is to turn it off and on.
This function can resolve many glitches and issues and it’s usually the go-to advice of most experts. This works with a lot of devices (phones and computers), too.
When do I need to reset my freeze dryer?
Resetting the freeze-dryer is rare, though it can help as part of a software update, recalibrating the touchscreen, or solving any other glitches or frozen screens.
As you’ve seen from a previous section, you need to reset your dryer to recalibrate the touchscreen. You’ll also need to reset it to update the software (but you need to plug the USB in before it turns back on), while it can also solve any freezes.
You definitely shouldn’t reset your freeze dryer if it’s frozen in the middle of a drying process. If that happens, contact customer support, as turning the dryer off could damage it (plus, you’d potentially lose a lot of the food).
Updates are crucial to stay on top of the newest changes in the software, and it’s important to install them as they come. Most updates are made as an answer to a problem that was reported by users, so it’s always in your best interest to install them.
Once your updates have been installed, you should be able to use the dryer just like before. If you have any trouble booting it up or using it, it’d be best to contact customer support. However, most updates work flawlessly after installation.
It’s important to learn from your own experience, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and in our research to be more informed as homesteaders.
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