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Hidden function: Chirps with Xpiria smartphones


Heimdall5008
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I do not know if this is widely known, but I just recently discovered that my Xperia (Z1 compact) smartphone has an ANT+ receiver integrated, just no software to handle it.

 

So with the right apps you can do chirps (they are using the ANT+ standard) without a Garmin device. The three apps you need are all free and without commercials:

 

- ANT Radio Service

- ANT+ Plugins Service

- ANT+ Plugin Sampler

 

The last app is the one you will interface with. It has an option "Geocaching Utility" with which you can search for chirps.

 

I hope this will come in handy for someone :)

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It has an option "Geocaching Utility" with which you can search for chirps.

If it's this app, it seems experimental, or like a demo:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dsi.ant.antplus.pluginsampler&hl=en

 

It would be cool to know what exactly the App does, what the reception range is. And what happens to the data once received, since an ordinary GPSr will make a waypoint out of the received Chirp coordinates.

 

Here's a page that lists Android phones that have ANT+ capability, therefore may run the App:

http://android.stackexchange.com/questions/4644/what-android-phones-are-ant-hardware-enabled

 

Here's a "USB Ant Stick", that might run on phones and Tablets, especially like my old Acer A500 tablet that has a full-size USB port:

http://www.iforpowell.com/cms/index.php?page=usb-ant-stick

 

It's all highly experimental, off-scale-high on the geekiness scale. Cool!

Edited by kunarion
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Also worth noting that you can rewrite EVERY chirp with your smartphone. There does not seem to be any protection preventing you from changing someone else's CHIRP other than a warning.

You're required to enter a 5-digit PIN, part of the programming device ID, if not using the GPSr (or whatever device) that originally programmed the Chirp. This security feature is inside the Chirp's own program.

 

http://www.gps-info.nl/gps/chirp-cache/chirp-cache-faq/

Edited by kunarion
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Also worth noting that you can rewrite EVERY chirp with your smartphone. There does not seem to be any protection preventing you from changing someone else's CHIRP other than a warning.

You're required to enter a 5-digit PIN, part of the programming device ID, if not using the GPSr (or whatever device) that originally programmed the Chirp. This security feature is inside the Chirp's own program.

 

http://www.gps-info.nl/gps/chirp-cache/chirp-cache-faq/

 

I did not have to inter any digits to reprogram my own Chirp. It was originally programmed with a Garmin GPS.

I believe the security is in the garmin software of the GPS device and not in the Chirp itself.

It's probably even possible to read the original unit ID that programmed it. I will test this when I get back home.

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I did not have to inter any digits to reprogram my own Chirp. It was originally programmed with a Garmin GPS.

I believe the security is in the garmin software of the GPS device and not in the Chirp itself.

It's probably even possible to read the original unit ID that programmed it. I will test this when I get back home.

This is all entirely different info from the Chirp manual's info (and info from anywhere else) about device security. Would you mind providing some information about what's going on?

 

What make and model phone are you using?

What App are you using?

What "device ID" is shown, if any, and is it the original Garmin GPSr's ID?

Once reprogrammed by your phone, can the Garmin GPSr read the new data?

And after reprogrammed by the App, can you still reprogram it with the Garmin GPSr?

 

Is it possible that you have a defective Chirp? These things seem to have some bugs, especially during programming. If I can find a phone and App combination that works, I'll give it a shot. But it's possible that I need the exact kind of things you're using, to duplicate the issue.

Edited by kunarion
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I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 with the ANT+ Plugin Sampler software

The PIN of the programming GPS is shown and there is a serial number field as well.

 

Garmin GPS'es can read the data just fine, as people are still finding our cache.

I have not tried reprogramming it again with the original GPS. We own a GPSMap60CSx and had to borrow one originally to program it.

 

I attached some screenshots of the app. I blurred some stuff as it is mystery related.

 

chirp1.pngchirp2.png

 

I haven't tried other chirps as I don't know if you can reprogram it with a garmin after hijacking it.

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I haven't tried other chirps as I don't know if you can reprogram it with a garmin after hijacking it.

Assuming the App doesn't send data that the Garmin GPSr can't read, I'd expect the Garmin can reprogram it using the phone's PIN, if known.

 

OK, that screen shows the "Device ID" which it then tells us is not the "geocache's PIN". At the top of the screen, the "Device Details, ID" is 4828, which seems to be unrelated to the Chirp's PIN. The it has a button to "Program Device". Yet it refers to BOTH the phone and the "geocache" as the "DEVICE". Which is "The Device" and which is the phone?. That App needs some work, standardizing its terms.

 

And the "Incorrect PIN" screen on this "Official Ant+ Sample Code App" smacks of contemptuous hacker drivel. It's what you'd expect in a registration code crack utility. Pretty wild.

 

Anyway, if I do lock out my Chirp (or if a friend does), it looks like it can be fixed without sending it back to Garmin. So that's a plus. I was able to download all three suggested Apps to my Google Nexus 7, although Google Play would typically block Apps the tablet can't run. Now I'm off to find the accessories to get it functioning. :anicute:

Edited by kunarion
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I got my Ant+ USB adapter today, and I was able to edit the info on two of my Chirps, using either my Acer A500 or Google Nexus 7 tablets. This required four Apps (three are “services”), and of course extra hardware, since ANT+ is not built-in to Android tablets.

 

The “Geocache” section of the sampler App only lists the contents of the Chirp, it doesn't save that info, so a Geocacher using it to find a cache would have to write everything down. If this feature were to be made useful on smartphones, it would have to be more like how a Garmin GPSr does it; make a waypoint with the included data. Also it would have to connect to a Geocaching App somehow. Maybe it could be added to the Official Geocaching App, or certainly to Garmin's “Opencaching” App. In that case, the ability to edit other people's Chirps could be restricted as the GPSrs are.

 

My cache's Chirps are very aggressively hidden, not intended to be found. I'd advise people to not place a Chirp where it may likely be found and taken. Part of the planning for a Chirp cache will be how to hide a Chirp from cachers who tend to regularly find nanos, while making the Chirp easily retrieved by the Cache Owner for maintenance.

 

Note that most any Multicache has stages that are vulnerable to being vandalized or removed. So although it's unfortunate that the Chirp isn't as secure as we once thought, it is in no way the only thing subject to tampering. But it takes a whole lot more work to do so, than a typical Multi might, and may be easier to fix.

Edited by kunarion
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I got my Ant+ USB adapter today, and I was able to edit the info on two of my Chirps, using either my Acer A500 or Google Nexus 7 tablets. This required four Apps (three are “services”), and of course extra hardware, since ANT+ is not built-in to Android tablets.

 

The “Geocache” section of the sampler App only lists the contents of the Chirp, it doesn't save that info, so a Geocacher using it to find a cache would have to write everything down. If this feature were to be made useful on smartphones, it would have to be more like how a Garmin GPSr does it; make a waypoint with the included data. Also it would have to connect to a Geocaching App somehow. Maybe it could be added to the Official Geocaching App, or certainly to Garmin's “Opencaching” App. In that case, the ability to edit other people's Chirps could be restricted as the GPSrs are.

 

My cache's Chirps are very aggressively hidden, not intended to be found. I'd advise people to not place a Chirp where it may likely be found and taken. Part of the planning for a Chirp cache will be how to hide a Chirp from cachers who tend to regularly find nanos, while making the Chirp easily retrieved by the Cache Owner for maintenance.

 

Note that most any Multicache has stages that are vulnerable to being vandalized or removed. So although it's unfortunate that the Chirp isn't as secure as we once thought, it is in no way the only thing subject to tampering. But it takes a whole lot more work to do so, than a typical Multi might, and may be easier to fix.

 

one question still not clear to me. Can the chirp be reprogrammed from the sampler app by an outside nefarious user?

Edited by cheech gang
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one question still remains. Can the chirp be reprogrammed from the sampler app by an outside nefarious user?

Yes, with the smartphone Apps. You can change all data, or erase it. Then the CO can put it all back correctly. It's not unlike any typical way caches get muggled. I may run this App when I make any routine check on my cache, since shows so much info.

 

OK, here's the deal. Chirp caches aren't hunted all that often. So let's say Doctor Evil finds and reprograms mine, then peels out, laughing all the way back to his lair. I go for my daily walk, and reprogram it correctly. In the meantime, nocacher even knew the Chirp was tampered with. I'd guess I'll have more problems with the Chirp itself than with Doctor Evil. Just a guess. :anicute:

 

The available App is a proof of concept. It's probably not good for Geocaching, not recommended, since it just shows a list of Chirp data, and then offers ways to change it. A Chirp could be found by the most honest Geocacher in the world, and still get some settings messed up. That App needs work. Or more to the point, we need a better one. It's unfriendly, with odd data titles, and just plain looks like a hacker's tool rather than a Geocaching App. But it's pretty cool as is for the Cache Owner. I can change my old "PIN" to match my new GPSr so I don't have to enter a PIN anymore. Plus it's easier to program the Chirp with the App than with the GPSr (except maybe for the coords, since they aren't in Geocaching.com format).

 

The range is terrible, maybe related to the hardware, or the fact that I have 3 Chirps in the house (one cool thing, the App can see more than one at once). I have no idea about the phone's battery drain while using the App.

 

There are a couple of issues related to using this getup for actual Geocaching. The coordinates are displayed (and programmed) in decimal degrees, so you'll have to write them down and convert them, and then type them into your Geocaching App. If you were using a Garmin GPSr, it would do the conversion for you, and it would make a new waypoint for you. You need the App running in the foreground at all times, or at least at the times you expect to detect a Chirp.

 

You get a lot more info using the App than with a GPSr. You can change the first seven lines of data:

 

f9aee980-c288-4f76-abae-5e0a43919eb0.jpg

Edited by kunarion
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Here's a link to an ANT+ developer's kit: http://www.thisisant.com/developer/ant/ant-in-android/

 

Geocachers could use an App that reads Cache Name, Lat/Lon, and the HintString text, and makes a waypoint out of it. Maybe show the point on the phone's map App, or allow opening it in a Geocaching App. For finding Chirp data, there's no need for an editing capability :ph34r:. But for CO's, I'd go along with a PIN feature to allow editing, similar to the way Garmin does it.

 

Here's a discussion of an early Beta App (now non-existent), but it has info about the phones and plugins:

http://fun2code-blog.blogspot.com/2012/08/cache-beacon-beta-introduction.html

It also says that CacheSense could be the first Geocaching App to have a built-in Chirp feature. But I don't see any recent info on implementation. There's currently just a suggestion that it would be nice.

 

Some phones seem to have a very limited reception range. One person says their phone's range is "2 meters", which is not so hot, the way I hid my Chirps for my cache. You probably need more like "10 meters" (30 feet), for real-world Geocaching navigation.

Edited by kunarion
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Well I'll be darned, my geo-app of choice (Locus Pro) already does that.

http://help.locusmap...hirp_geocaching

 

Haven't checked it out yet, but it sounds like the support is there.

Post an update if you verify that it works. And what it takes to get it working (Buy "Locus Pro", install X, info and tips on using the feature).

 

I may get it generally working in my wifi-only tablet, but could envision some problems using it for Geocaching. But phones on a data plan may be pretty sweet. The Chirp info must be integrated into cache navigation somehow, and having it built into a Geocaching App would be the way to do it.

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A quick PQ of my local area shows zero beacon caches, though that might change. A local store is clearing out Chirps at a ridiculously low price. (C$5, =US$4)

That's awesome! A good plan would be to have two Chirps on hand per stage. One to be in place outdoors, one to be clean and dry to swap out, when the first one's battery begins to go dead. Extras can't hurt, if you want a cache that lasts, since these things are kind of flakey to start with. :anicute:

Edited by kunarion
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I bought my first chirp recently and downloaded the necessary apps to program it on my Xperia Z3. Since I'm a newbie at this stuff, I'm not clear on what all these settings mean in the Plugin Sampler. I see PIN, which I assume is the password to get into the Chirp, Latitude and Longitude (I have to enter these? It doesn't do it automatically?), and Hintstring (What kind of hints can I give here?). Can someone explain how exactly I would go about using this thing? How would someone be able to find it once I've hidden it? Do I have to enter information about it somewhere? I bought it because I thought it could be fun to hide and have someone find it, but now I realize I've gotten myself into something that's a bit over my head. Please help.

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I recently programmed a chirp utilizing my Samsung Galaxy tablet and the ANT+ Plugin app, and have since utilized it for a multi-cache. The issue that has been noted by two potential finders is that they were not able to pick up the chirp with their GPSr, but they could pick up the signal with their ANT+ enabled device. Any ideas as to what may be causing the issue that GPSr users cannot pick up the signal from the chirp? Any assistance would be appreciated.

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I recently programmed a chirp utilizing my Samsung Galaxy tablet and the ANT+ Plugin app, and have since utilized it for a multi-cache. The issue that has been noted by two potential finders is that they were not able to pick up the chirp with their GPSr, but they could pick up the signal with their ANT+ enabled device. Any ideas as to what may be causing the issue that GPSr users cannot pick up the signal from the chirp? Any assistance would be appreciated.

All Chirps are not created equal, and neither are Chirp detectors. I tested it just now, and my Oregon 650 detected my car's Chirp at 30 feet from inside the house, and the Samsung tablet (running Locus Pro) didn't respond until I was 15 feet away, outside. I was running both at once, since the tablet (also applies to smartphones) has the ANT Radio Service running all the time, and I wanted to see if this could confuse the Garmin. Looks OK, at least with just one tablet.

 

Here's a goofy fact about how Garmin Oregon's use Chirp. You get few beeps, and the Chirp loads and offers to display data. Then if you don't take any action, after a time, the info is saved as a Waypoint named like the "Device ID" (the name of the Chirp), and the screen returns to the usual GPSr display. What this means is, if you aren't paying attention, you may not even know the Chirp thing happened!

 

And, it's perfectly normal to not receive the Chirp signal, partly due to hardware, partly operator error. In fact, there are a whole lot of reasons it might not work. For my Chirp cache, I tried to condense them to the most important points:

 

- Before attempting this cache, install the newest firmware.

- Install fresh batteries.

- Turn Chirp Detection on.

- Load the Geocache info, and have the GPSr operating and directing you to SCHNIP1 (the above coords).

- Walk toward the Chirp Coords, and continue until you're as close as possible. You'll receive Chirp data while approaching, maybe over 50 feet from its waypoint, but don't stop then. Get to Ground Zero for a strong signal.

- Once you get new coordinates, write them down, or at least be sure your GPSr saved a new waypoint. Be careful about how your GPSr sorts waypoints. The new waypoint may be way down the list.

Edited by kunarion
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Well I'll be darned, my geo-app of choice (Locus Pro) already does that.

http://help.locusmap...hirp_geocaching

 

Haven't checked it out yet, but it sounds like the support is there.

While testing things tonight, I tried it with Locus Pro. That App presents the Chirp info nicely, even showing the coords in the selected format. I've selected the Geocaching format that Garmins use (DD MM.MMM). Also, Locus Pro doesn't offer the option to mess with the Chirp. But it does show the serial number (which provides the "secret" password for reprogramming).

 

Locus Pro then offers to show the map location. With that info, you can continue to the next stage. Pretty cool!

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I recently programmed a chirp utilizing my Samsung Galaxy tablet and the ANT+ Plugin app, and have since utilized it for a multi-cache. The issue that has been noted by two potential finders is that they were not able to pick up the chirp with their GPSr, but they could pick up the signal with their ANT+ enabled device. Any ideas as to what may be causing the issue that GPSr users cannot pick up the signal from the chirp? Any assistance would be appreciated.

 

My GPSMAP 64s is Chirp compatible and I also downloaded the 'Chirp' app on my Samsung Galaxy S6. With both of them running simultaneously, I have found that the Samsung often picks up the Chirp signal a few feet sooner than the Garmin does. Perhaps by 10-15 feet or so. I have never had a situation where the phone picked it up and the GPS did not, however. I think the Chirp app is faster at recognizing the signal. I usually stop moving when either device notifies me that it is getting a Chirp signal. It can take a minute for it to get all of the Chirp message. After a minute, the Garmin will also report that it has detected a signal. If they are walking around too fast, I suppose they could get out of range again before the signal transmission is complete.

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