Forums: Skydiving: Gear and Rigging:
Neptune programming API

 

First page Previous page 1 2 3 4 Next page Last page  View All

kelk1  (A 48287)

Oct 3, 2005, 7:49 PM
Post #1 of 92 (1408 views)
Shortcut
Neptune programming API Can't Post

Hi,
Just bought a Neptune altimeter and it seems that the only way to download the log book is to use a commercial software. Is there any publication (official or not) of the protocol used to talk to the altimeter?
I am not a great fan of java and find it a bit unfair that I have to buy some additional software to backup my log book. I am used to serial port programming and could probably manage with the protocol. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
--
kk1


(This post was edited by kelk1 on Oct 3, 2005, 7:50 PM)


AggieDave  (D License)

Oct 3, 2005, 7:53 PM
Post #2 of 92 (1402 views)
Shortcut
Re: [kelk1] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

If you figure that out, feel free to program Tetris for the Neptune. I've been bugging them about that for a while...how cool would that be? Play tetris on the ride to altitude. The Neptune has 3 buttons, that's all you really need to play.Laugh


kelk1  (A 48287)

Oct 3, 2005, 7:56 PM
Post #3 of 92 (1396 views)
Shortcut
Re: [AggieDave] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

Serious answer: Tetris would be cool, but that would require a compiler for whatever is running the unit.
I am only asking for a way to talk to it. not changing it ;)


IanHarrop  (C 1152)

Oct 3, 2005, 7:57 PM
Post #4 of 92 (1395 views)
Shortcut
Re: [kelk1] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

From their manual:
----
Can I have access to Neptune's communication protocol to make my own software?

No. Here's why not:

>>>>>>
Neptune Communication Protocol - why is it proprietary?

Neptune not only has the capability of downloading jump data, it is also an upgradeable device. In other words, it is possible to write new data to Neptune. On one hand this is a great feature which allows users to always have the latest version of code. On the other hand, Neptune code and/or user settings can be corrupted if misused, potentially creating a dangerous situation. For this reason the communication protocol is proprietary.

Since the communication protocol is proprietary, we needed software that would allow users to download their jump data without altering the functions of the device. The cost of developing such a package from a clean sheet of paper is significant and the resulting cost of software developed in-house would be high. We reviewed existing packages on the market and found Paralog to be a mature product with a price much lower than what we would have to charge for Alti-2 specific software. It soon became an obvious alternative to developing our own package.

We have since reached an agreement with the author of Paralog and the package has been adapted to communicate with Neptune. Paralog also has the facility to access the raw log data.

The combination of Neptune and Paralog gives Neptune owners a complete package which allows communication with Neptune in a safe, reliable and economic way.
----


kelk1  (A 48287)

Oct 3, 2005, 8:01 PM
Post #5 of 92 (1388 views)
Shortcut
Re: [IanHarrop] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks,
I would feel much safer if I could review the program code or write it myself.


IanHarrop  (C 1152)

Oct 3, 2005, 8:11 PM
Post #6 of 92 (1377 views)
Shortcut
Re: [kelk1] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

I understand the sentiment but such is life when it comes to intellectual property. That code and how they make the thing do what it does is how they pay the bills.


AndyMan  (D 25698)

Oct 3, 2005, 8:17 PM
Post #7 of 92 (1372 views)
Shortcut
Re: [kelk1] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I would feel much safer if I could review the program code or write it myself.

So would I.

Of course, you could always figure it out for yourself. I would be willing to help, but reverse engineering is not my forte.

Especially the communications protocol. I really don't like some aspects of Paralog and would love to write my own. Quite frankly, the explanation they give is dumb.

_Am


AndyMan  (D 25698)

Oct 3, 2005, 8:21 PM
Post #8 of 92 (1367 views)
Shortcut
Re: [IanHarrop] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I understand the sentiment but such is life when it comes to intellectual property. That code and how they make the thing do what it does is how they pay the bills.

They don't pay the bills off the code. The code is relatively straightforward and similar code has been written countless times for endless applications.

What makes the Neptune (and any other gadget) special is the hardware.

I can easily write an algorithm to approximate freefall speeds. What I can't do is manufacture the device.

It might've been rocket science 40 years ago, but it certainly isn't anymore.

_Am


kelk1  (A 48287)

Oct 3, 2005, 8:25 PM
Post #9 of 92 (1362 views)
Shortcut
Re: [IanHarrop] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, Alti-2 says it is not affiliated with the writer of the downloading software. I do not need this guy's intellectual property, nor his soft.
To change the subject, does anybody knows how many jumps can be logged and if it is saved when I change the battery.
It seems that I can only review the details for the last 10 jumps, is that true? I think I remember reading that the demo version of the download sw can only take 20 jumps/book. What happens if there are 100 jumps in the unit? Are they lost?


kelk1  (A 48287)

Oct 3, 2005, 8:32 PM
Post #10 of 92 (1356 views)
Shortcut
Re: [AndyMan] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Of course, you could always figure it out for yourself.

This is exactly what I did not want to do. I will try to ask nicely to Alti-2 before attempting anything like that.


IanHarrop  (C 1152)

Oct 3, 2005, 8:33 PM
Post #11 of 92 (1356 views)
Shortcut
Re: [kelk1] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

I've never lost any data and I've changed the battery/updated software numerous times when testing beta sofwtare etc.

It will hold 200 jumps.


Premier GravityGirl  (D 18897)

Oct 3, 2005, 8:44 PM
Post #12 of 92 (1346 views)
Shortcut
Re: [kelk1] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

This post sort of turns my stomach.

Sure. You're really smart. Possibly have a great job programming something important for someone important.

Keep in mind that the manufacturers in this industry have traded high paying jobs to pursue their passion for skydiving and to fullfill a desire to keep the sport progressive.

Your trying to save a buck doesn't really do much for perpetuating the sport, nor the advancement of the sport.

If you have something valid to offer, contact the manufacturer. Perhaps you can work something out with them. Or maybe start your own company in a very small industry an make your own toys.

Please take a moment to look at the big picture and review your basic economics.


kelk1  (A 48287)

Oct 3, 2005, 9:06 PM
Post #13 of 92 (1339 views)
Shortcut
Re: [GravityGirl] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
This post sort of turns my stomach.
Sorry, it probably takes a lot from someone on this site. This was not my intention. It is just that the manufacturer says it is not affiliated with the software author, so why not open the protocol if they do not write anything on their own?
I understand that they worry about safety. Just create some sort of official stamp that unreviewed projects will not have.


Premier GravityGirl  (D 18897)

Oct 3, 2005, 9:15 PM
Post #14 of 92 (1331 views)
Shortcut
Re: [kelk1] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

Liability?

Another neat feature of this industry. It's sorta high risk.

You're sorta local. You can come up to Byron and check out the software. Smile


IanHarrop  (C 1152)

Oct 3, 2005, 9:19 PM
Post #15 of 92 (1325 views)
Shortcut
Re: [kelk1] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

Granted they do not write the software that runs on your PC that lets you display the data that the Neptune has captured.

I think the concern is just what they state regarding the software that runs on the Neptune. They do in fact write this software and it is this code that actually performs functions on the Neptune.

I accept at face value their comment:

"Neptune not only has the capability of downloading jump data, it is also an upgradeable device. In other words, it is possible to write new data to Neptune. On one hand this is a great feature which allows users to always have the latest version of code. On the other hand, Neptune code and/or user settings can be corrupted if misused, potentially creating a dangerous situation. For this reason the communication protocol is proprietary."


kelk1  (A 48287)

Oct 3, 2005, 9:26 PM
Post #16 of 92 (1320 views)
Shortcut
Re: [GravityGirl] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
You're sorta local. You can come up to Byron and check out the software. Smile
I thought Paralog was based in Hamburg, Germany?
Haven't jumped at Byron yet, but that will happen as soon as I can hit the landing target a few times and get a license.
It sucks to suck.


Premier GravityGirl  (D 18897)

Oct 3, 2005, 9:46 PM
Post #17 of 92 (1311 views)
Shortcut
Re: [kelk1] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

Smile

I just meant you could check out our copy of the software.

Of course, we could always plan a road/sky trip.


kelk1  (A 48287)

Oct 3, 2005, 10:01 PM
Post #18 of 92 (1303 views)
Shortcut
Re: [IanHarrop] Neptune programming API [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I think the concern is just what they state regarding the software that runs on the Neptune. They do in fact write this software and it is this code that actually performs functions on the Neptune.
Yes. Quite nice interface where I could navigate quite easily before reading the manual.
Quote:
"Neptune not only has the capability of downloading jump data, it is also an upgradeable device. In other words, it is possible to write new data to Neptune. On one hand this is a great feature which allows users to always have the latest version of code. On the other hand, Neptune code and/or user settings can be corrupted if misused, potentially creating a dangerous situation. For this reason the communication protocol is proprietary."
I would bet quite a lot that uploading and downloading commands are different, and that they could publish a subset of these. I understand their concern but, as (not) far as I saw, everybody denies any liability anyway. Wouldn't it be fair to let me estimate my own risk?
Again, I apologize in advance for the partisan undertones. As _Am wrote, I could just be quiet and figure it out by myself. This question has apparently not been asked before and I am only trying to understand the pros and cons.


AlexCrowley  (A License)

Oct 3, 2005, 10:43 PM
Post #19 of 92 (1290 views)
Shortcut
Why Alti-2 miss the point..how to cause chaos at the DZ [In reply to] Can't Post

I really feel I have to say something here, because I looked into this myself, and Im bored and want to rant a little.

"Since the communication protocol is proprietary, we needed software that would allow users to download their jump data without altering the functions of the device. The cost of developing such a package from a clean sheet of paper is significant and the resulting cost of software developed in-house would be high. We reviewed existing packages on the market and found Paralog to be a mature product with a price much lower than what we would have to charge for Alti-2 specific software. It soon became an obvious alternative to developing our own package."

I'm going to talk in generalities and then vent my geekish spleen.

1. If I buy a car and I'm a mechanic I expect to be able to tinker with the engine of that car to make it perform better.
2. If I buy a rig and I'm a rigger I expect to be able to modify it to my own specs.

As a geek I buy hardware and I'm told by the vendor that I'm not allowed to play with it? BULLSHIT! And please, there's no safety arguement there. I can remove the brakes from my car and my rig if I want to without the manufacturer or their retailers telling me how evil I am for doing so (I think the word used would be, justifiably, "stupid")

One you remove the 'oh but it's dangerous', you're left with pure business reasons, which judging from the statement means 'we don't have much of a clue how to design software/firmware securely'.

For client softare I dont like Paralog. Sorry, I just dont. Maybe because it's Java (BTW java decompilers are very good), maybe because I think the UI sucks, maybe because I'm a command line geek who doesnt want to have to launch a gui.

Asking for an API is the polite way to do things, once you get the short sighted refusal you go away and reverse engineer the thing if you care to and you're motivated enough.

Now, here's the far more disturbing situation, : alti-2 have said "Hey, this system is WIDE OPEN to ABUSE!".

Seems pretty trivial to me to reverse the protocol then write a small script that say, sets ground level 500' below the ground. Walking around the DZ with a laptop (edit: laptop? silly me, I have my IR PDA, much easier to do without notice) isnt exactly unusual, sit there and zap a couple of Neptunes while people aren't paying attention? easy. Why? because if I can do it you can be damn sure that I'm not the only one, and at least I know why I'm doing it.

Guess I'll be buying an additional Neptune. If anyone has a cracked one available I'm interested. As long as it's working I dont care about the case.

So, there's really a few ways that alti-2 could respond:
1. Admit that there's a fundamental flaw in the current firmware that leaves every Neptune unit in the wild vulnerable to exploitation - no matter how small that risk is.

2. program the system to use secure signatures on each firmware upgrade so the unit can validate the authenticity of the software before flashing it to ROM - making tampering a non-trivial task.

Security through obscurity never works and nearly always leads to Very Bad Things. By securing the Neptune Alti-2 could open up the comms API and interesting software could be developed for it.

Any one else out there think of fun and exciting ways to hack their neptunes?

Anyone interested in reverse engineering the neptune? I used to work for Palm and did a little work on their IR stuff.

Here's a nice little tool portmon.

Since Alti-2 have admitted that the system's totally open there's no danger of violating DMCA laws since the protocol isnt considered encrypted or a secured, and since we're reverse engineering for the sake of interoperability it's legal and protected under fair-use laws.

PM me if your'e interested in pursuing this.


My apologies for any redundancy Smile


(This post was edited by AlexCrowley on Oct 3, 2005, 10:46 PM)


Premier GravityGirl  (D 18897)

Oct 3, 2005, 11:02 PM
Post #20 of 92 (1283 views)
Shortcut
Re: [AlexCrowley] Why Alti-2 miss the point..how to cause chaos at the DZ [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sorry. I thought this was Gear and Rigging; not Speakers Corner.

I'm also sorry that you are paranoid.

If someone wanted to mess with a skydiver, I don't really think hacking a Neptune would be very productive.

I'm actually surprized that your mind even went there. And a bit frightened to ever meet you at a drop zone.

WTF? Over.


kelk1  (A 48287)

Oct 3, 2005, 11:03 PM
Post #21 of 92 (1282 views)
Shortcut
Re: [AlexCrowley] Why Alti-2 miss the point..how to cause chaos at the DZ [In reply to] Can't Post

Someone has to say this ;) If you remove the brakes on your car, it ceases to be street legal. I don't know if there is anything like dive legal, but you probably have some moral responsibility towards the other jumpers.


(This post was edited by kelk1 on Oct 3, 2005, 11:06 PM)


Premier GravityGirl  (D 18897)

Oct 3, 2005, 11:06 PM
Post #22 of 92 (1280 views)
Shortcut
Re: [kelk1] Why Alti-2 miss the point..how to cause chaos at the DZ [In reply to] Can't Post

Yup. A senior rigger cannot modify their container any way they see fit.

We have the FAA and TSOs.
Smile


kelk1  (A 48287)

Oct 3, 2005, 11:20 PM
Post #23 of 92 (1269 views)
Shortcut
Re: [AlexCrowley] Why Alti-2 miss the point..how to cause chaos at the DZ [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
...and since we're reverse engineering for the sake of interoperability it's legal and protected under fair-use laws
Is that so?


AlexCrowley  (A License)

Oct 3, 2005, 11:30 PM
Post #24 of 92 (1263 views)
Shortcut
Re: [GravityGirl] Why Alti-2 miss the point..how to cause chaos at the DZ [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sorry, I thought discussing technology was allowed in a gear forum. That it's mixed with opinion, philosophy and legal issues is more indicative of the technology field in the 21st century than any burning desire I have to wax philosophical (outside of SC, anyway).

I've spent the last 12 years being hired by technology companies to 'go there', it's habit. I personally feel that if a company is going to move into the technology space then they should understand what they're doing, even if the majority of their target audience doesn't.

I realize that very few people give a damn about the issues I mentioned, and thats fine with me. I'll even take it into SC if discussing details beyond the absolute basics is too much for this forum, but my original post was in reaction to reading others reactions to what I felt was a necessary and totally run of the mill technical question.


AlexCrowley  (A License)

Oct 3, 2005, 11:37 PM
Post #25 of 92 (1258 views)
Shortcut
Re: [kelk1] Why Alti-2 miss the point..how to cause chaos at the DZ [In reply to] Can't Post

yes.

See the Samba project under linux, GAIM, and a multitude of open source projects that interoperate with commercial software packages and closed operating systems.

Just dont do it by yourself if you're in the US. Use the clean-room method


First page Previous page 1 2 3 4 Next page Last page  View All

Forums : Skydiving : Gear and Rigging

 


Search for (options)