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.


Supported boards

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 on progress.

Licensing Structure

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. Easy!

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 "just run".

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 section.

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:

This file will be updated with each release of the firmware, of course.


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