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05-17-2015, 03:48 PM   #1
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Flucard hacking / reverse engineering

I wish I had the time (and patience!) to join shodan, bootcoder and others with their reverse engineering efforts of Pentax firmware.

Instead, I spent this nice sunday hacking around with the Pentax FluCard. I figured out that it runs a Linux system (and soon found that most of these cards do) and got a list of all its commands a web browser can send to it. I didn't get very far but at least I can now open a telnet connection to the card, allowing me to try out other things, such as having it connect to my home Wifi network instead of it creating its own.

Overall, it's not much, yet. All I've done is some basic Linux user-level fiddling. No actual code analysis. It's rather just a start, in the hopes that maybe others get interested and like to add their own detecting to it.

Here's my article on it, which I keep updating whenever I find out more: RICOH / PENTAX FluCard Reverse Engineering

If others like to join this effort, I suggest we use a wiki, maybe wikia.org, to add our findings?


Last edited by tempelorg; 05-17-2015 at 03:52 PM. Reason: adds link to other thread
05-17-2015, 05:16 PM   #2
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Very interesting to be sure, but I would probably focus my efforts on reverse-engineering the K-S2's native wi-fi. That might be an easier (and more beneficial) starting point since there's currently no desktop support. Plus, the native wi-fi range is far greater than that of the flucard, which opens up more practical uses.

I wouldn't be surprised if the two were very similar in their implementation.

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05-18-2015, 01:43 AM   #3
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Adam, the problem with RE on the camera firmware is that it's much much larger and therefore very difficult to find a start and understand what's going on. It starts with the problem to not even know which part of the code would handle Wifi. OTOH, this Linux system is fairly well partitioned - each command has a name and it's comparatively easy to follow from the name to the code that handles it.

Additionally, what also makes hacking the card easier is that you can test "live", i.e. thanks to the Wifi connection, you can try things out and immediately see where it goes. The camera hardware, OTOH, is more a black box and much harder to give new software to run. That's why I wrote that I don't have the patience to help with the camera firmware. That could change if there would be some way to actually trace the code live, such as a JTAG connection, allowing to inspect and modify memory and code directly. But so far, it's just looking at tea leaves and trying to interpret what they mean I mean, there doesn't even seem to be a hardware manual of the CPU available that could tell us what its capabilities and I/O ports are.

Also, I do not believe that the code is similar. The Flucard solution is a compromise due to the limitations of the card and its I/O ports. Duplicating that process in a system that doesn't require this card and a Linux system wouldn't be smart, and probably not making things easier for their developers, either.
05-18-2015, 05:10 AM   #4
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You shoud have a look inside Flucard firmware update - it is plain Linux installation disk.


Last edited by bootcoder; 05-18-2015 at 04:10 PM.
05-18-2015, 06:17 AM   #5
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@bootcoder - that's exactly what I did. Look at my article.
05-18-2015, 04:56 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by tempelorg Quote
Adam, the problem with RE on the camera firmware is that it's much much larger and therefore very difficult to find a start
Don't agree on this: you just follow errors/assertions in WiFi code. Of course understanding of logic is difficult, but similar problem with flucard.
QuoteQuote:
The camera hardware, OTOH, is more a black box and much harder to give new software to run.
You will have to update firmware of flucard also. Debug Menus could already have a possibility to send a command to flucard from camera.

Adam makes very right suggestion: what is the target and is it usefull for wide range of users ? Is it worth possibly loosing warranty for camera, once applied ?
05-18-2015, 05:11 PM   #7
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Fascinating ...
05-18-2015, 05:38 PM   #8
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If I wasn't sick as a dog, I'd look up my old files on this. I made a few html pages that would send commands to the flucard, which were pretty basic stuff, but I did manage to get the logic for automatic bracketing and some very basic timelapse in there... and it worked. Alas, I can barely keep my head up to type this... maybe later!

05-18-2015, 05:48 PM - 1 Like   #9
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Here's one idea I have:

I like to be able to offer a better (native) UI for remote controlling the camera, especially for "studio" like photography. I will be doing some repro work soon and anything that can help automate that will be beneficial for me, and maybe others, too.

Another idea I had is to write a tool that works like the Sigma USB Port, for adjusting the focus parameters of practically any modern PK lens, by generating the LENSEEP files. And with the Flucard I would then even try to help doing focus testing: A program running on Mac or PC would remote control the camera (which is on a tripod, pointing to a test sheet) to have it take pictures with both Phase-detection and contrast AF, then have the software analyse the images to tell if the focusing is well aligned. That way, focus testing could be much less of a pain than it currently is, I imagine. For this to work, I'd first need to be able to control the AF and LV mode, and tell the camera to shoot. I haven't gotten that far yet, though.
05-19-2015, 02:09 AM   #10
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Dear tempelorg


Great news. BTW, here are some links that might be helpful.
Trekstores Flucard seems to be similar to Pentax Flucard if not the same.
Transcend's WiFi card may work in a different way.

Zach's Blog by zgiles
https://forum.openwrt.org/viewtopic.php?id=45820
Hacking Transcend Wifi SD Cards | Hackaday
05-19-2015, 03:30 AM   #11
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It never ceases to amaze me how far technology has advanced in such a short space of time. When I started out with programming, CP/M was the most popular operating system of its day... A well-spec'd computer had a 64k RAM, an 8-bit Z80 processor clocked at 2 or 4Mhz, a serial and parallel interface and perhaps a 5.25" floppy drive fo 360k of storage. Now we have camera accessories running infinitely more complex operating systems, and with more computing power than a dozen of those old machines!

Well done on your reverse engineering project! I wouldn't know where to start these days!!
05-19-2015, 08:36 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by marabella Quote
Trekstores Flucard seems to be similar to Pentax Flucard if not the same.
Yes, I say so in my article

Thanks for the links, BTW. There was some valuable stuff in there, especially the forum thread on openwrt.org.

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam:
When I started out with programming, CP/M was the most popular operating system of its day.
Haha - That was one of my early hacks - I actually wrote a replacement file system for the CP/M cartridge for the C-64. Ah, those were the times when computers were still easy to understand...
05-19-2015, 06:48 PM   #13
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I think direct link should be mentioned :::: Flucard pro ::::
Also interesting that is mentioned flucard being compatible to any SD slot device. So it could have limited functionality even in K-5 ?
From FAQ:
QuoteQuote:
...
Question:How do I activate FLUCARDŽ PRO functions?
Answer:FLUCARDŽ PRO functions can be activated by i) using DELETE button of the camera, ii) DPOF or iii) MOTION SHAKE (2 shakes for sender mode, 3 shakes for server upload).

Last edited by bootcoder; 05-19-2015 at 07:21 PM.
05-19-2015, 09:42 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by bootcoder Quote
I think direct link should be mentioned :::: Flucard pro ::::
That web site is dead, though. None of the links work. I point out a working link into archive.org on my article, though.
I guess the "Flucard Pro" mode, if it's still implemented in the Pentax version (some commands are disabled), is then turning the card into a Eye-Fi-like card, but a worse working one
05-20-2015, 07:10 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by tempelorg Quote
I guess the "Flucard Pro" mode, if it's still implemented in the Pentax version (some commands are disabled), is then turning the card into a Eye-Fi-like card
It should work, because they still have "flucard" logo on the card. So just shake it baby or others.

Last edited by bootcoder; 05-20-2015 at 11:01 AM.
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