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/_//_/\_,_/\__/_/\_\  \_,_/ /____/\_,_/\_, / 
retro edition                         /___/ 
Now optimized for embedded devices!
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IP-based engine remote enable switch

posted Apr 17th 2011 12:08pm by
filed under: security hacks, transportation hacks


[Mariano] owns a late 90’s Jeep Wrangler, and had no idea just how easy it was to steal. Unfortunately for him, the guy who made off with his Jeep was well aware of the car’s vulnerabilities. The problem lies in the ignition – it can be broken out with a screwdriver, after which, the car can be started with a single finger. How’s that for security?

[Mariano] decided that he would take matters into his own hands and add a remote-controlled switch to his car in order to encourage the next would-be thief to move on to an easier target. He describes his creation as a “remote kill” switch, though it’s more of a “remote enable” switch, enabling the engine when he wants to start the car rather than killing it on command.

The switch system is made up of two pieces – a server inside the car’s engine bay, and a remote key fob. The server and the fob speak to one another using IPv6 over 802.15.4 (the same standard used by ZigBee modules). Once the server receives a GET request from the key fob, it authenticates the user with a 128-bit AES challenge/response session, allowing the car to be started.

It is not the simplest way of adding a remote-kill switch to a car, but we like it. Unless the next potential car thief digs under the hood for a while, we’re pretty sure [Mariano’s] car will be safe for quite some time.

A look at Sony’s ongoing war against hackers

posted Feb 25th 2011 9:01am by
filed under: news


[Phillip Torrone] recently wrote an article over at Make regarding Sony and their “War on Makers, Hackers, and Innovators“. In the article, he traces Sony’s history as a well-liked hardware company that once produced innovative products, to its current state as an enemy to all who would dare wield a screwdriver and soldering iron. He took quite a bit of time scouring the Internet to dig up very specific examples of Sony’s perceived assault on the hacking community. That’s not to say he simply lambasts the company and leaves it at that. Rather, he reflects on their past as a staple in nearly every American home, how they have changed since venturing into the content business, as well as what we might be able to do as hackers to change the way Sony treats its customers.

One specific example he mentions is the lawsuits that plagued the Sony Aibo modding scene, a case very near and dear to his heart. This scenario is one where the voice of the people was eventually heard, though too late to make a difference. He laments the loss of interest in the platform by the modding community as a clear cut example of the disastrous nature of Sony’s litigious nature.

You should definitely take a moment to read the article if you have the time. [Phillip] brings up some very good points, giving you plenty to consider the next time you make an electronics purchase, large or small.

We’d love to hear your take on the matter as well.

Controlling an AC drill using one PWM connection

posted Aug 31st 2010 6:15am by
filed under: tool hacks, toy hacks

This peculiar setup allows [Ben Krasnow] to control an alternating current device using one pin on a microcontroller. He’s experimenting with a power drill and has relocated the trigger circuitry that makes it spin. On that board he found a variable resistor combined with a capacitor which control a triac, actuating the speed of a drill. [Ben's] solution works great and isolates the drill from the control circuitry. He replace the variable resistor with a cadmium sulfide photoresistor (basically a variable resistor whose resistance depends on the intensity of light). Pulse-width modulation is used to adjust the brightness of an LED shining on that photoresistor and thereby affect the speed of the drill. This is such as simple alteration to the drill we’d call it MacGyver-esque.

See a demonstration after the break.

Passive RFID tag cloning

posted Sep 30th 2011 3:02pm by
filed under: Microcontrollers, security hacks

Here’s an open source RFID cloner design that is about the same size as a standard RFID key card. It doesn’t need a battery to capture key codes, just the magnetic field generated by an RFID reader. You can see the functionality demonstrated in the video after the break. By holding the bottom button as the cloner is moved in range of the RFID reader, the microcontroller goes into learning mode. Now just hold up the card you wish to clone and the LED just above the buttons will light up when it has captured the code. Now the device will act just as the original RFID tag did.

This was developed by [Ramiro], the same person who built the barebones RFID emulator we saw a few days ago. When researching that story we complete skipped over this gem. He’s posted a ton of information on the tag itself. It doesn’t look like he has any PCBs or kits left, but the schematic and code are available for download. You should check in on the design considerations section because it discusses the read/write function that isn’t built into the current version. That’s why you see some add-on components on the hardware used in the demo video.

It seems like this is a lot more user-friendly than the last RFID spoofer we looked at.

Parts: microSD memory card holders

posted Oct 6th 2008 12:24pm by
filed under: news, parts

SD cards add cheap persistent memory to your project, but the holder takes a lot of board space. A smaller option is the microSD flash format. MicroSD cards are compatible with regular SD cards, and most come with a free adapter. We looked at four holders for our mini web server. Which should you choose? Read about our experience below.

Here’s a breakdown of the microSD card holders illustrated above:

Alps SCHA1B0100 $1.27 – Can you see pins through the holes in the first holder? They ‘re hard to see, and almost inaccessible. We didn’t find this holder very useful for prototyping.

JAE ST6S008V4AR1500 $1.46 – This is another model with pins located at the front, but these are further forward for easier access. It’s still going to be a pain to solder, avoid if possible.

SparkFun PRT-00127 $3.95 – Finally, a holder with pins at the back. This is a fairly easy-to-solder part, but it’s not ideal. The soldering tabs are very small and slightly recessed under the shield. It’s also the most expensive microSD holder we’ve seen. SparkFun has a Cadsoft Eagle footprint for this part in their library. We think Molex 538-502702-0891 ($3.58) is probably very similar. We used this holder with the mini web server.

Alps SCHA2B0300 – $1.27 – The long pins along both sides of this holder are easy to solder. The holder is reversed, meaning the card inserts upside-down. Reversed holders seem weird on an all surface mount board, but they fit nicely in through-hole designs. There’s no Eagle footprint yet, but we’ll send an SCHA2B0300 to the first person who makes one; here’s the datasheet (pdf).

Check out our previous parts posts: 0.1uF decoupling capacitors, the LM317 adjustable regulator, and tactile switches.

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