HSA Firmware for Mini-HotSpot and Node Adapter
It did take time to make it work (roughly two months), and then
about the same time to have it tested by a team of operators who ran
it on their active hot-spots and repeater systems, but here it is,
at long last:
New firmware that you can run on
your own board!
We do not really care where you got your board from (after all,
several sources for these exist), or even if you made one yourself but
as long as it is compatible with the current designs of our Mini-HotSpot
or Node Adapter products, you can use it !
And there it is.. a PIC18F2550 chip, loaded with Version
0.01.00F of the firmware, and all ready to go. Well, actually,
that is not quite true... it was already running, we just
pulled it out of a live system to take a picture :)
This software was written from scratch, based on the API implemented
in our other software package, the NAtools. The assumption was that
since we already knew how to talk to the (original) firmware, it should
not be that hard to also write the sofware that we're
supposed to talk to- and this has proven to be a valid assumption.
- Fully compatible with the relevant parts of releases 4 and 5 of the original
firmware, as written by Mr. Satoshi Yasuda, who obviously holds the
rights on the original implementation of the firmware. Our software
behaves almost the same as far as the controlling PC is concerned.
The DVAR HotSpot application has no problems with our
- Seems to have NO R2D2 GARBLING on PCs that are known to
expose this problem with the original firmware. Sometimes, clean
programming does help!
- Written in C (original is in PIC Assembler), so cleaner
implementation, and transportable to other processors and
architectures such as the Atmel AVR and NXP ARM7.
- Operates using a boot loader; which means that you can
update the firmware through the NAWinCFG application (part of
the NAtools collection), without the need for a PIC programmer !
- Implements various new ideas, such as the SoftCOS mode,
where neither the COS signal from the radio is used, nor the
signal-quality meaurement from the CMX589 chip. SoftCOS only looks
at the raw data. This is the fastest, and most reliable method of
determining when a valid signal is present at the receiver!
- Does not use any form of "locking" to a registered callsign.
You are free to sell your license to someone else if you want to. (see
- A lot of space is still available in the PIC, so we will
probably use this to implement a stand-alone mode of operation, and
maybe some Slow-Data applications. Yes, the serial port (as found on
our Node Adapter) is supported.
The first release (V0.1.00F) of the firmware will run on all
fully compatible boards, meaning, all boards up to and including V2.06
made and sold by Satoshi Yasuda, all newer (V1.06 and up) boards made
and sold by Mark Phillips, and home-brew variants of those, as long as
they are compatible with the above. And, oh, wait: it runs on our own
Mini-Hotspot and Node Adapter boards, too!
The second release (V0.02.00), which is now in "release
candidate" status, obviously runs on the boards mentioned above, and in
addition to that, it also runs on the V7 board from Satoshi Yasuda,
the DV Adapter (V1.01 to V1.04) from Satoshi Yasuda, all boards
from Mark Phillips, as well as on our new HSA
platform. If you need it now, you can request a copy of the
Release Candidate firmware through a
comment, or by email.
Supported Application Software
- DVAR Hotspot on Windows systems supports all releases of the
firmware, on all platforms (boards.)
- Scott Lawson's R2G2 programs can be used with version
0.01.05 or newer; request the Release Candidate firmware if you
need it now !
- David Lake's NI-STAR ("ULF G2") can be used with version
0.1.19 or newer; request the Release Candidate firmware if you
need it now !
- Jonathan Naylor's GMSK Client software is currently being
updated to run with our firmware; watch his Yahoo! Group for more info
A single license (yes, a license... unless it turns out we have to,
we will not be sending programmed PIC chips back and forth..) allows you
full use of the firmware. Because we don't claim that the software is
perfect, we include one year of free, downloadable updates with
that license: you can just go to the website, log in with your account,
download the firmware and program it using the NAWinCFG application.
We do want to protect our property, however, so we add parts of
the information in your license to the firmware you download (in plain
English: we watermark your firmware image file) so if we have to,
we can always track down the `right original owner' of such a
file, if found wandering around on the Internet.
As stated above.. the firmware itself does not do anything with this
block of data, it just sits there. We probably will add a feature to the
NAWinCFG application to retrieve that information, and show you what is
in it (how does a menu item Tools > "Who Owns This Firmware?" sound ?)
just so you can see who owns the firmware in the chip you're using.
An often-asked question so far has been: "but what if I sell my
board, and/or my license?"
The simple answer to that is: "by all means, do so". Your
board (or the firmware) will continue to run as before. Remember- even
though your license information is still present in that firmware (because
you were the owner when you downloaded it), nothing is
actually done with it, so if the new owner doesn't do anything, it will
Fortunately, you can transfer the license to the new owner on
our website. The new owner must also have a (or create a new) account on
the site, and you can transfer that license to them by going to the My
Account menu, select Licenses, and then use the procedure there to
transfer that license to the new owner's account. Easy! Both parties get
a confirmation through e-mail, of course. When the transfer is completed
(this an automated process), the new owner can download firmware images
as well, and the license information in those files will then be based
on the license you just transferred.
And the next question of course is: "great, but that sounds
like I could still use it if I wanted to?"
Indeed, you can. Although methods exist to prevent people from
copying the software, most of those methods severely limit the users in
what they can and cannot do (as said, we won't be sending any
pre-programmed chips back and forth unless we have to..) and pretty much
all of those methods can be broken if one really wants to.
So.. we are not going to rigidly enforce an active anti-copying
policy, but instead will try to work with you, assuming that each owner
has enough common sense to know when a copy can be made, and when not to
do that !
Licenses can be ordered from the shop.
You will receive the usual confirmation with invoice, and, once
payment has been received, and the order has been booked, a PDF file
containing your license key. This key can then be entered into your
account on the Licenses page in the My Account
Once you have activated at least one such license, you can download
additional files from the Software menu as well, including the "HSA
Firmware Base Files" distribution. This is a
ZIP file containing:
- a copy of the boot loader,
- a copy of the license
- release notes and installation instructions
This file will be updated with each release of the firmware, of