Enable RFID/NFC reader on Dell laptops

Some Dell Laptops have a Broadcom 5880 chip set which controls all the smart card and fingerprint readers installed. On Windows there are some tools you can use to work with the RFID-card reader. On linux you can use libchipcard, opensc and openct.

By default the NFC communication is disabled. To enable it first you have to turn in the Bios menu. Enable PM Security under the Security section.

After doing this you use the RFID-card reader only for Dell special authentication issues. Read this article for more information.

For using the contactless reader in your own applications you have to disable the “CV Only Radio Mode”. To do this for your Linux box you have to do the following.

1. Create a DOS bootable USB-Stick

Follow the instructions on this website

2. Get the required software

Download the file Broadcom_Unified-Security-Hu_A07_R210234.exe from this location http://ftp.us.dell.com/Security/

Rename Broadcom_Unified-Security-Hu_A07_R210234.exe to Broadcom_Unified-Security-Hu_A07_R210234.zip

mv Broadcom_Unified-Security-Hu_A07_R210234.exe Broadcom_Unified-Security-Hu_A07_R210234.zip

unzip it to a directory

unzip Broadcom_Unified-Security-Hu_A07_R210234.zip

copy the DOS folder to the usb stick

cp -R DOS /path/to/usbstick

3. Disable CV-mode

Boot your laptop from the prepared usb stick without any driver (4th menu point)

Enter into the DOS folder

cd DOS

Check chip status

ushdiag -u -stat

you should see something like this

... 
RFID Radio: Present; Enabled 
RFID: Not Locked CV Only Radio: Enabled

We have to disable “CV Only Radio”

ushdiag -u -dd 4

Now ushdiag -u -stat should show

...
RFID Radio: Present; Enabled
RFID: Not Locked
CV Only Radio: Disabled

If something goes wrong call

ushdiag -h

this shows all the options available

4. Test NFC-reader on Linux

Before you can run a test you have to install the following packages:

    • pcscd
    • pcsc-tools
    • opensc
    • openct

When everything went fine, on Linux you should do the following:

Start pcscd daemon, this depends on your Linux distribution. On opensuse type

rcpcscd start

When you call

opensc-tool -l

you should see something like this

# Detected readers (pcsc) Nr.  Card  Features  Name 
0    No              Broadcom Corp 5880 [Contacted SmartCard] (0123456789ABCD) 00 00 
1    No              Broadcom Corp 5880 [Contactless SmartCard] (0123456789ABCD) 01 00

When you put a an NFC-Card over the reader and your output is like this

# Detected readers (pcsc)
Nr.  Card  Features  Name
0    No              Broadcom Corp 5880 [Contacted SmartCard] (0123456789ABCD) 00 00
1    Yes             Broadcom Corp 5880 [Contactless SmartCard] (0123456789ABCD) 01 00

everything works fine 🙂

This work is based on this articles:

  • http://ridrix.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/how-to-enable-pcsc-support-for-dell-contactless-reader/
  • http://natisbad.org/E4300/index.html