The Configuration manager is an older utility created to allow sending commands manually to the pmc8, manipulate the WiFi mode between udp and tcp, switching the firmware back and forth from WiFi and serial communications mode, and loading new firmware.
Many of it’s features are not necessarily needed with the new 2A01 version of the firmware which made many improvements to the configurability of the firmware. It remains the best way to update the firmware.
Those following the forum know that all you have to do to load new firmware is to go to the firmware tab on the configuration manager, download by a single button all of the approved firmware versions, select the one you want and then press a button there to load it into the PMC8. Of course this requires that you have serial connectivity via the appropriate cable, which for the iexos is a usb cable with appropriate connectors. One does however have to have a usb to serial driver loaded on the PC, which is just how it is with windows.
The latest firmware has many changes from the old firmware. These changes require that non volatile memory in the pmc8 be properly initialized after loading the 2A01 firmware for the first time. This is explained in the firmware installation pdf document included in the install pack. The old CM could not do the updates required in an efficient way, though all could be done with it if one was greatly informed as to the minutia of the firmware. ES made a decision to create a Universal Firmware Configuration Tool that streamlined the process and allows the user to choose the configuration parameters using plain English descriptors and a simple user interface. The ability to load firmware was not built into the UFCT in its initial release. Understand ES evolves all of its firmware products continually, thus the UFCT of today is not the end of the line. It is easy to spot and comment on improvements and these are welcome, there is a forum group for just that. Suggestions there are rolled in as merited, and when time and effort can be spent doing so.
The new firmware also requires changes to the older ASCOM driver, thus the new driver is also found in the install pack.
I believe it is important to recognize the extent to which all of this remains backward compatible. While the new firmware features additions and capabilities not supported by the older firmware, all of the older firmware remains compatible with Explorestars and new ASCOM driver. This is a testament to the design philosophy and commitment ES has to their users. Many companies would just dump this new stuff and deprecate the old completely.
My recommendation to all users of this equipment is to keep up with the topics and discussion threads on the forum. Every issue you had has been discussed numerous times in the intervals surrounding the releases of the upgrades, and these serve to inform everyone of what is needed when they make the move to upgrade. Baring that, the forum has many members who are regularly answering questions such as yours and in fact did respond to you with the information you needed. We are helpful bunch of thugs.
I will close by simply stating that no one is satisfied with the documentation of any technical system that I know of. ES has limited resources and focuses on product development, with documentation as needed but not designed to be a step 0 to step 100 process description. They established the forum where people can ask questions and research topics when they get stuck. And in the case of the new firmware there is an Install manual that has been found to be sufficient by nearly everyone who used it.
So that’s the deal. You can write up your recommendations and change requests and post them on the forum in the feature request subgroup. You can follow the forum regularly to see the questions and answers, many of which I am sure will be apropos to your experience one day.
Wes, Southport NC
EXos2-GT PMC-8, iExos 100
ES ED 127, 10" LX200GPS+wedge, Astro-Tech 8" Newt, ETX-90, 60mm no-name guide scope ~ 260mm FL
Polemaster, Orion ST-80 and SAG, ZWO 290MM, D5300 astro modified
Nina, Bootcamped Mac Mini control computer, RDP to iMAC
110 amp hour lead acid deep discharge battery for field power
Electrical Engineer, Retired