New Photon Updates: Magenta for 5-12 Minutes, DO NOT UNPLUG

When you open and connect a new Photon, it will attempt to download a new update. This update will bring your Photon to the latest firmware version. It will take some time for this upgrade to complete, so DO NOT RESET OR UNPLUG YOUR PHOTON DURING THIS TIME.

While it is downloading updates, the Photon will not be seen as “online.” The updates are in several parts. Each part takes a few minutes.

After the update is downloaded, the Photon will reset.

If the Photon still has another update to download, it will reset, connect (breathe cyan), and immediately begin flashing magenta again as it downloads the next update.

A new Photon may download up to 4 updates.

Please be patient while your Photon’s update downloads. Do not reset or unplug your Photon during its download. If you reset or unplug your Photon, you will likely need to manually load the firmware by going to this post.


I so could have used this post a few weeks ago when I got my unit lol…
I by some grace of almighty did not hose my unit, I cycled the power so many times trying to get it to work…
Finally in my pissed off rage after like 30 mins trying to get it to work threw it across the room, and when I walked by like an hour later is was breathing blue, and I was like WHAT it’s working now?!?!?!
Sure enough it’s been fine ever since, but they REALLY need to toss in a note about that when they ship these because, I almost gave up and tossed it thinking it would never work and was just e-junk…

Again mine took like 45 mins of this, and I power cycled MANY times so no clue if that’s what made it take so long or what, but yeah once it get’s done doing it’s thing the first time they work great!! LOL
I hope this post will help others, because it could have really helped me 3 weeks ago hahah!!!


This process is ridiculous. 4 reboots for a firmware update on an embedded processor?

@Awake and @funman1 this is definitely not meant to be the permanent process! We’re working on ways to reduce this as we speak.

Why is it ridiculous? Sounds like you have some unmentioned principle in mind. Please share.

To my mind, the reboots aren’t any concern, but rather then time required to update is. We are rolling out changes that will speed up the update process by 4-5 times.


I agree with @mdma, here. After all it is not that the user needs to press a button or so. It is done automatially by the Photon. And for reference, for me it took just 5 minutes or so, if I remember correctly.

I agree with @mdma as well, this isn’t ridiculous at all. A photon is a lot more complicated than an Arduino which only is a microcontroller, the Photon also has to manage the cloud/wifi connections besides that (also, pebble uses the same microcontroller for their smartwatches, again indicating this isn’t an Arduino). The patches are for bugfixes, improvements, new features etc, just like you get an update for your phone or laptop. Even cars and airplanes get software updates.

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Just had an experience with a friend who recently ordered his, he is a HUGE beginner, I told him about the update process when he got his.
He tied his to wifi and it began the usual process, I told him to just leave it alone for a long time.
He called back 2 hours later and said it was still purple, I tried to walk him through several things over the phone to no avail.
He finally brought it over this morning, and I fought with his unit for 30 mins, and the only thing I could do was flash back and forth from Tinker and Blink an LED, it would never actually load the Blink an LED, just do the normal FW update and reboot, etc loops… It seemed to take the Tinker flash a few times as it would show up on the phone as online but would then crash with blinking red after 2-3 mins of Tinker…

So after flashing it MANY times, I got the Blink LED flash to actually take and run, and now the unit is totally normal and no more issues. But to get a unit up and running from the box to do all this for as beginner is just WAY too much right now with these issues.

I totally understand we are on the bleeding edge of this type if stuff, and explained that to him as well.
I look forward to getting these issue resolved soon so I can get to work on my devices faster when they arrive and get more people involved in making and playing with IoT devices.

I’m not on the anger bandwagon like the person above, simply because I understand they still have a LOT of bugs to work out… But perhaps a factory flash before shipping would help us Makers out till the issues get better resolved…
Love my units so far and built a few connected things now and it’s awesome, keep up the excellent work and help us out soon with the start up of these awesome little devices :smile:

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Hey @funman1 thanks for this feedback! We definitely don’t want to block beginners and it’s definitely not supposed to be a 2 hr update process. Sounds like there’s probably something up with that Photon, this process should for sure be much easier and faster. (I’ve set up Photons for people at hackathons and done beginner stuff with them in <10 minutes, 2 hours is absurd and definitely not the intended experience.) @mdma may have some thoughts about what happened here. Wanna send me a PM and we’ll see if we can fix it or get your friend a new Photon?

I think the ridiculous was referring to the photon having to install one update after another, at the moment theres 4 and that takes 20min, whats the plan when theres 10, 20, 100 ?

There will never be more than 4 updates required, and to reiterate what I wrote in my previous response, we will be releasing changes to make the updates proceed much faster and reduce the number of updates required when unboxing a photon.

It’s worth bearing in mind that if we hadn’t separated the application firmware from the system firmware, you’d have to download this amount of data EACH TIME a new application was uploaded to the device. As it is now, once the initial update is complete, you don’t have to have any further updates if the application is kept to the same version of system firmware, so this is entirely under your control.

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It is not entirely absurd, because it would depend on the minimum bandwidth available between the new Photon and the Particle Cloud. Anything in-between that cut the bandwidth to 300bps would likely cause a looong magenta light show.

This actually happened to me once when my ISP try to force me to pay more by cutting the international bandwidth to almost zero during peak hours.

I have no better solution because I understand the necessity to upgrade the firmware to the latest version or else there will be even more problems for a beginner.

One way out of this is perhaps to allow the use of the Photon immediately but add some indication somewhere (Red flashes in between the breathing Cyan? Warning on the packaging) that the Photon need update?

My $0,02

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Thank you for posting this. I had an issue with the first Photon I fired up and this is likely the explanation.

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So how can I check if the Photon is updated? Any way to do that? Or can I force-update the Photon? I’ve used it a couple of times since unpacking, and I have no idea if I waited the required time the first time.

Simple method ? Flash an easy sketch (blink an led) via the web ide, and you will be sure to have the latest (0.4.6 at present) FW version.

ok. thanks! I;ve got the latest firmware. :slight_smile:

Is there anyway to get the system firmware version number from code or preferably the cloud API ?
And is there any plans to make a API call that will trigger the updating like the web build does ?

I’ve got to share a sneak preview about FastOTA that’s being tested now, ready for release soon. It’s even faster than I thought - I tested today - an update that usually takes 3 minutes, took 20 seconds. So expect system updates to become a lot faster soon!


Search the forum about the former question.
For the latter, it’s a feature announced in the next 0.4.7 release.