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008. CUPS Protocol Implementation - Firmware Upgrade

Feature: #1189

Authors: Daniele Antonio Maggio, Maggie Salak

Status: Accepted

This ADR is an extension of 006. CUPS Protocol Implementation - Credential management and focuses of firmware upgrades. For details about the general CUPS protocol implementation please refer to the other document.


Firmware upgrades for LoRa Basics™ Station need to be supported in the CUPS protocol implementation. More information on the protocol and parameters exchanged between the Station and the CUPS server which are relevant to firmware upgrades can be found in The CUPS protocol - documentation.


This document focuses on:

  • Defining a flow for executing firmware upgrades of the Basics Station
  • Defining the changes needed in device twins for the concentrator station stored in IoT Hub for handling firmware upgrades
  • Defining the changes required in the storage solution used for the CUPS protocol implementation
  • Defining the changes needed in the Azure Function for supporting firmware upgrades
  • Defining the changes needed in LoRaWan Network Server (LNS) for handling firmware upgrades
  • Defining the changes needed in LoRa Device Provisioning CLI for allowing firmware upgrades


  • Generating of the signature key, CRC32 checksum of the signature and digest in the LoRa Device Provisioning CLI is considered a stretch and will not be added to the tool as a functionality for the time being. This document provides sample commands which can be used to generate required values in the appendix.



The CUPS request described in The CUPS protocol - documentation contains the package field which indicates the current firmware version of the Basics Station. The value will need to be updated whenever a firmware upgrade of the Basics Station is performed by the user.

Firmware upgrade flow

  1. When provisioning a device that will need firmware upgrades, the end user should generate a sig-0.key and store it on the device and in a centralized repository of their own choice (example on how to generate it can be found in the appendix).

  2. When a firmware upgrade needs to be provided to the device, the user should generate a digest of the executable file of the upgrade (as in examples mentioned above) and retrieve the CRC32 Checksum of the sig-0.key. Then 4 inputs (file, digest, checksum and new version) should be provided to the LoRa Device Provisioning CLI tool to properly upload the file to a blob storage and store the needed information in the concentrator twin (blob URL in storage, digest, checksum and the new version number).

  3. The Basics Station sends the CUPS request containing the currently used version (in the package field).

  4. The LNS compares the values from the device twin and the CUPS request, and determines if an upgrade is required. If that's the case, the LNS will download the upgrade file from storage and send a properly populated response to the Basics Station.

  5. The Basics Station will then execute the actual firmware upgrade.

  6. After the upgrade is complete, next time when the Network Server receives a CUPS request, the new version of the Station will be saved in reported properties of the device twin.

sequenceDiagram autonumber User->>LoRa Device Provisioning CLI: Request Station upgrade LoRa Device Provisioning CLI->>Storage account: Upload firmware file LoRa Device Provisioning CLI->>IoT Hub: Update 'Concentrator' twin Concentrator->>Network Server: POST /update-info Network Server->>IoT Hub: Retrieve 'Concentrator' twin Network Server->>Network Server: Check if versions of the Station are different alt versions are the same Network Server->>Concentrator: CUPS response without firmware upgrade else versions are different Network Server->>Network Server: Verify if any of the `keys` from CUPS request match the `fwKeyChecksum` alt no match Network Server->>Network Server: Throw as this indicates a misconfiguration else one of the keys matches `fwKeyChecksum` Network Server->>Facade Function: Retrieve firmware upgrade file Facade Function->>Storage account: Download firmware file Network Server->>Concentrator: CUPS response with firmware upgrade fields populated end end

The only change is related to the concentrator device twin.

In addition to the values already stored in the twin, the following need to be added:

"cups": {
  // ...
  "package": "1.0.1",
  "fwUrl": "https://...",
  "fwKeyChecksum": 123456,
  "fwSignature": "..."
  • 'package': desired package version of the Station (matching what will be extracted as version.txt file during update)
  • 'fwUrl': URL pointing to the storage location of the file required to run the upgrade
  • 'fwKeyChecksum': checksum of the key used to sign the digest of the firmware upgrade file
  • 'fwSignature': signature of the uploaded firmware upgrade file (as base64 encoded string)

We will use the same storage solution as the one selected for the general CUPS protocol support (storage account). A new container named "fwupgrades" will be used to store the firmware upgrade files. The file names will be in the format "{stationEui}-{package}" (without any extension, as anyways these are going to be downloaded as update.bin from the Basics Station executable).

A new endpoint will be added in the Facade Azure Function which will be used to fetch firmware upgrade files from the storage account. The function will be authenticating to the storage account with a connection string which is already being used for function runtime itself. The endpoint will accept the StationEui as input, then retrieve the concentrator twin from IoT Hub, retrieve the firmware file from the storage account and send it in the response (the file will be processed as a stream to avoid loading the contents into memory).

This mechanism will have a theoretical limit of 100MB for the firmware upgrade (as we cannot process more with Azure Function). This should be enough given the size of the Basics Station executable (around 1MB at the time of writing this document).

Changes in the LoRaWan Network Server

When the Network Server receives a CUPS request, it should update the current version of the Station in the reported properties of the concentrator device twin, as long as the reported value is different from the current version.

The implementation of CupsProtocolMessageProcessor should be extended for checking the package field from the concentrator device twin. In case there the value is different from the one received from the Basics Station in the CUPS request, we will first check whether any of the keys in the keys array from the CUPS request is equal to the fwKeyChecksum field that is stored in the twin.

If there is no matching checksum, it means that the concentrator is missing the key required for calculating the digest and verifying the update file. When this happens we will throw an appropriate error.

If there is a match for the fwKeyChecksum, the Network Server will trigger the download of the firmware upgrade file (using the Facade Function endpoint) and populate the CUPS response accordingly, so that the Station can then execute the upgrade.

LoRa Device Provisioning CLI changes

A new command will be added to the Device Provisioning CLI which will allow the user to trigger a firmware upgrade. The command will accept the follwing inputs:

  • Station EUI
  • new package version (e.g. 1.0.1)
  • firmware upgrade file
  • signature (digest of the file)
  • CRC32 checksum of the key used for the signature

The CLI tool will:

  1. Upload a blob with the firmware file to the storage account.
  2. Update concentrator device twin with the new blob URL, signature and CRC32 checksum of the key used to generate the signature and the new package version.


Generating signature keys

The following commands can be used to generate a signature key:

openssl ecparam -name prime256v1 -genkey | openssl ec -out sig-0.pem
openssl ec -in sig-0.pem -pubout -out
openssl ec -in -inform PEM -outform DER -pubin | tail -c 64 > sig-0.key

Calculating the CRC32 checksum of the signature key

cat sig-0.key | gzip -1 | tail -c 8 | od -t ${1:-u}4 -N 4 -An --endian=little | xargs echo > sig-0.crc

Calculating the digest of a firmware upgrade file

Digest of an upgrade file ( can be calculated using the previously generated signature key with the command:

openssl dgst -sha512 -sign sig-0.pem >

Last update: 2022-01-21
Created: 2022-01-12
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