Getting started with SpringCard Companion

SpringCard Companion is the new all-in-one solution to manage, configure and update the latest generation of SpringCard "SpringCore" devices (Puck, SpringPark, etc). SpringCard Companion is an hybrid application that combines a clean, efficient and always up-to-date web front-end with a tiny local software, the Companion Service, that is the gateway between the cloud and the devices connected to your computer or local network.

As such, the Companion Service is also the base component to connect any application built for the web with the 'physical world' of PC/SC couplers and Smart Readers, using only simple WebSocket and REST API calls.

Before you start using SpringCard Companion Web application (available at companion.springcard.com) you should install the Companion Service on a Windows computer.

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PCSCCheck, the all-in-one tool to validate and tune your PC/SC installation

An analysis of the questions that are the most frequently asked to our technical support shows that many issues and concerns are due to the settings or the behaviour of Windows operating system itself.

This is particularly the case in security-enforced corporate environments, where strict administrative policies may prevent the user to install the right driver, or even prevent the applications to access local smart card readers.

The fact that Windows raises a couple of notifications ("Setting up a device", then "The smart card requires drivers that are not present on this system") every time a card is inserted in a PC/SC reader for the first time is also the source of many questions, that this article will address.

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How to be sure that the SpringCard PC/SC driver is installed on Windows?

Since all SpringCard USB PC/SC couplers comply with the USB CCID specification, they are supported by the generic CCID driver supplied by Microsoft as a part of the Windows operating system. As a consequence, when connecting a SpringCard PC/SC coupler to a computer for the first time, this coupler is associated to the generic "Microsoft Usbccid Smartcard Reader (WUDF)" driver by default.

This is a problem for many users, since this generic driver has many limitations that make it un-suitable for most of the use cases.

In this article, we'll expose its 3 most obvious limitations, and expose the 2 different methods to installing the right driver.

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SCardSniffer spies the exchanges between a PC/SC application and the card readers

SCardSniffer is a new tool used to spy the exchanges between Windows applications and the smart cards or NFC tags that are accessed through a PC/SC reader (or coupler).

SCardSniffer
SCardSniffer main window

On a Windows computer, all card-aware applications communicate with smart cards or NFC tags through the system's PC/SC library, winscard.dll.

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Limitation of 10 smart card readers with SCardListReaders

Many customers have noticed that the Windows' PC/SC subsystem is not able to handle more than 10 readers (or slots in case of multi-slot readers). Actually, the SCardListReaders function -the system call to get the list of available PC/SC readers- is limited to 10 readers max. On old versions of Windows it was possible (although complex) to overcome this limitation by grouping the readers in "reader groups" and querying one group after the other. This is not possible anymore, starting with Windows 8.

Microsoft clearly states in KB #3144446:

Starting in Windows 8, the Windows platform supports a maximum of 10 smartcard readers. If more than 10 smartcard readers are available, APIs such as SCardListReaders return a maximum of 10. All other readers are ignored.

So, sorry, but there's no way to use more than 10 PC/SC readers (or slots) on a Windows 8 or Windows 10 system. To make things clear, if you connect 2 SpringCard CSB HSP or 2 SpringCard CrazyWriter HSP with the +3 SIM/SAM expansion board, you already have reached the limit.

SpringCard PC/SC SDK VERSION 2016.03

The version 2016.03 of our PC/SC SDK is now available for download: pcsc-sdk_2016-03.zip.

You can use it with our products in the SpringCard CSB6 Family (CSB6, Prox'N'Roll PC/SC, EasyFinger and CrazyWriter), with our products in the H663 family (Prox'N'Roll HSP PC/SC, CrazyWriter HSP, TwistyWriter HSP, CSB HSP) and our NFC readers/encoders (H512, NFC'Roll).

This SDK is also available on GitHub.

This SDK contains a new version of MemoryCardTool, a new tool called "scriptorxv" and a serie of basic projects for beginners.

SpringCard NetPCSC for Windows

In 2016, SpringCard introduces a new family of network-attached NFC/RFID couplers, providing PC/SC functionnality on top of TCP/IP. The family is built from the SpringCard E663 module, the Ethernet-world counterpart of H663 (for USB world) and K663 (for serial world). The two first products of the family are the TwistyWriter-IP PC/SC, made for OEMs, and the FunkyGate-IP PC/SC, targetting access-control applications. The second one is also available as a FunkyGate-IP+POE PC/SC, where 'POE' stands for 'power-over-Ethernet', i.e. the device takes its power from the network cable.

To support all the devices based on the E663 module, SpringCard has developed from scratch a PC/SC driver for Windows.

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scpcsc_feed completes MultiConf

scpcsc_feed is a command-line utility for Windows which is a companion-tool for MultiConf in case you need to configure numerous SpringCard PC/SC couplers in batch mode, or change the settings quickly without a needing a full-featured GUI.

scpcsc_feed is available at https://files.springcard.com/pub/scpcsc_cfg.zip. Just unzip the archive in the folder you want, and open a command prompt (cmd.exe) in this folder to use the tool from the command line.

Connect a SpringCard PC/SC coupler to your computer, and invoke scpsc_feed without any parameter to see the integrated help:

C:\springcard>scpcsc_feed
SpringCard -- scpcsc_feed
-------------------------
Read/write data in the non-volatile memory of a SpringCard PC/SC Reader

Build : Apr 15 2015
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pro Active SAS, France
Go to www.springcard.com for information and updates.

Connected through PC/SC.
Connected, device : SpringCard Prox'N'Roll HSP 2.00 [1]
Firmware features : 0073232F

Usage: scpcsc_feed -d            dump configuration registers
scpcsc_feed -r XX         show value of register XX
scpcsc_feed -s XX=YYYY... write register XX with value YYYY...
scpcsc_feed -e            erase all configuration registers
scpcsc_feed -sf FILE      write register(s) from config FILE
scpcsc_feed -t XX=YYYY... set temporarily register XX with value YYYY...
scpcsc_feed -tf FILE      set temporarily register(s) from config FILE

C:\springcard>

A few interesting commands

Read-back the current configuration

scpcsc_feed -d

Restore the factory configuration (blank all registers)

scpcsc_feed -e

Apply the configuration from a MultiConf project

scpcsc_feed -sf [file.multiconf]

New firmware for all SpringCard PC/SC couplers based on the H663 core

SpringCard has just released a new firmware version, tagged 2.00, for its H663 core.

The H663 core is a versatile contactless+contact module, which supports virtually all proximity/RFID HF chip cards (ISO 14443 & ISO 15693 standards, including Mifare, Calypso, etc), NFC-enabled mobile phones or other objects (ISO 18092, peer-to-peer in initiator mode, passive communication scheme), and could also accept up to 5 contact smartcards (ISO 7816, one ID-1 card and up to 4 SIM/SAM ID-000 cards).

SpringCard H663 is the foundation of the largest family of RFID/NFC USB PC/SC readers on the market:

  • The H663S and H663A "bare" modules (designed respectively for either a Symetrical - balanced or an Asymetrical - unbalanced antenna)
  • The H663-USB OEM PC/SC ready-to-use contactless coupler (H663 core + antenna)
  • The CrazyWriter HSP, a complete multi-slot contactless+5 contact PC/SC coupler made for OEMs
  • The TwistyWriter HSP, a contactless+ID-000 PC/SC coupler made for OEMs
  • The CSB HSP, a desktop PC/SC coupler featuring contactless, 1 smartcard slot and 3 ID-000 slots
  • The Prox'N'Roll HSP, a brand new version of SpringCard's best selling desktop contactless coupler.

This new firmware version provides only a few new features, but introduces a new software architecture based on FreeRTOS which dramatically increases the device's performance for a better transaction time - particulary when accessing numerous slots in the same transaction.

freertos

How to upgrade

To upgrade your H663-based product with this new version, please refer to our H663/H512 Firmware Upgrade Procedure.

The 2.00 firmware file is here: uc3b0256_rc663_h663_2-00.hex

(note for future readers: please always use the latest firmware version using this permanent link).

From 30/04/2015, all H663-based products will ship with this version (instead of earlier 1.81).

Some new feature

Adding the reader's serial number to the slot names under Windows

Starting with version 2.00, the H663 family is able to insert the reader's serial number in the name of the PC/SC readers as exposed by Windows' SCardListReaders API call. On machines with numerous readers attached, this makes it possible to know which physical reader is actually bound to a logical slot without querying the reader through a SCardControl call.

To enable this feature, download the latest version of MultifConf; create a new project for the H663-product you own (CrazyWriter HSP typically), and in this project scroll down to "Misc. tricks". Then find the "Insert the serial number in the name of the slots" entry and turn it ON. apply the configuration to the reader(s) (Project -> Write Configuration into Reader), restart the reader, and enjoy!

multiconf-h663-tricks

 

 

PC/SC Troubleshooting on Windows

Following our PC/SC installation guide on Windows, you've installed the appropriate driver, and made sure the "Smart Card" service is running on your Windows computer.
But still, your PC/SC reader doens't appear on PC/SC Diagnostic.

Please first check in your device manager that your SpringCard PC/SC reader is properly installed (it should appear under Smart Card Reader).

Now, if the drivers are properly installed, the "Smart Card" service is running, but the reader doesn't show up on the diagnostic tool, the reason must be one of the following :

  1. A third party security-related software or single-login solution takes full control over the PC/SC subsystem
  2. The computer is either running in a virtual machine or in a remote session on a terminal server
  3. Access to PC/SC readers has been disabled by the corporate administrators through a group policy
  4. A driver from one of our competitors has corrupted the registry

For reasons 1 and 2, SpringCard cannot offer any help.

For reason 3 : you should try to run a copy of our PC/SC Diagnostic tool, located on the C: drive, being logged in as Administrator. If this works, your reader is properly installed.

For reason 4, the problem is in the registry permission for LOCAL_SERVICE :
Open the registry editor ("regedit") :

  1. Right-click on the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Cryptography/Calais and select Permissions...
  2. Click Add.
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. Click Locations.
  5. Click on the computer name and click OK.
  6. In the window 'Select user or groups', click on Find now.
  7. Select LOCAL SERVICE.
  8. Click OK.
  9. In the window 'Select user or groups', click OK.
  10. In the window 'Permissions for Calais', click on LOCAL SERVICE and make sure 'Full control' , 'Read' and 'special permissions' are allowed.
  11. In the window "Advance Security Settings for Calais", deactivate the options "Inherit from parent the permission entries that apply to child objects..."
  12. When the window "Security" appears, click Copy.
  13. In the window "Advance Security Settings for Calais", activate the option "Replace permission entries on all child objects with entries shown here that apply to child objects" and click OK.
  14. In the window "Security" click Yes
  15. In the window "Permissions for Calais", click OK.

Restart the computer.