Hacking the Internet of Things: Decoding LoRa

Getting software-defined radio (SDR) tools into the hands of the community has been great for the development and decoding of previously-cryptic, if not encrypted, radio signals the world over. As soon as there’s a new protocol or modulation method, it’s in everyone’s sights. A lot of people have been working on LoRa, and [bertrik] at RevSpace in The Hague has done some work of his own, and put together an amazing summary of the state of the art.

LoRa is a new(ish) modulation scheme for low-power radios. It’s patented, so there’s some information about it available. But it’s also proprietary, meaning that you need a license to produce a radio that uses the encoding. In keeping with today’s buzzwords, LoRa is marketed as a wide area network for the internet of things. HopeRF makes a LoRa module that’s fairly affordable, and naturally [bertrik] has already written an Arduino library for using it.

So with a LoRa radio in hand, and a $15 RTL-SDR dongle connected to a laptop, [bertrik] got some captures, converted the FM-modulated chirps down to audio, and did a bunch of hand analysis. He confirmed that an existing plugins for sdrangelove did (mostly) what they should, and he wrote it all up, complete with a fantastic set of links.

There’s more work to be done, so if you’re interested in hacking on LoRa, or just having a look under the hood of this new modulation scheme, you’ve now got a great starting place.

Filed under: radio hacks

The Infinite Monkey Cage and General Relativity

If you are British, you probably already know where this is going. For the rest of you, it might help to know that The Infinite Monkey Cage is an odd little show on BBC  Radio 4 (and they’ve been on tour, too). It is the show that asks a question you probably never asked: “What would happen if a physicist and a comedian had a radio show?”

The answer, it turns out, is some science information that is anything but dry. If you are prone to listening to radio programs or podcasts, you might find some interesting tidbits in the Cage. A two-part episode on general relativity was especially interesting although it isn’t exactly like their regular program.

The physicist in question is [Brian Cox] who is an Advanced Fellow of particle physics at the University of Manchester. The comic, [Robin Ince] is not only a comedian, but also a writer, an impressionist, and has an honorary doctorate from Royal Holloway, University of London.

If you poke around the BBC’s site, you can find plenty of episodes to stream or download. General relativity is just one of the topics. You might also enjoy episodes on artificial intelligence or the science of sound.

If you need more comedy connections, consider that [Eric Idle] is responsible for the theme song. Of course, we cover relativity (and other topics) in a hopefully amusing style. Americans typically get British humor, or they don’t.  There’s no in between. The good part about these is that if you don’t get the humor, there’s still the science content. Contrast this to the very funny (if you get it) Look Around You series that is probably not the best place to get scientific information (see the video below).

Filed under: podcasts

How a Hacker Jump Starts a Car

Here’s the Scenario: you need to get to get somewhere in a hurry. The problem is that your car has a dead battery and won’t turn over. The Obvious solution would be to call a friend for a jump. But is the friendless hacker out of luck in such a situation? Not if you can whip up a quick parts bin jump starter.

Clearly, [Kedar Nimbalkar]’s solution would be practical only under somewhat bizarre circumstances, so we’ll concentrate on what we can learn from it. A spare PC power supply provides the electrons – [Kedar]’s 250W supply pushes 15A at 12 volts, which is a pretty respectable amount of current. The voltage is a little anemic, though, so he pops it up to 14.2 volts with a 150W boost converter cooled with a PC fan. A dual panel meter reads out the voltage and current, but a VOM could substitute in a pinch. About the only thing you might not have on hand is a pair of  honking 10A diodes to keep current from creeping back into the boost converter. [Kedar] claims he got enough of a charge back in the battery in five minutes to start his car.

As jump-starting goes, this hack is a bit of a stretch. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a MacGyver’d jump starter, though, and you never know when the principles and hardware behind these hacks will come in handy.

Filed under: car hacks, misc hacks

Pacman Proves Due is More than Uno

If you’re wondering what the difference is between the good ol’ Arduino Uno and one of the new-school Arduinos like the Arduino Due, here’s a very graphic example: [DrNCX] has written a stunning Pacman clone for the Due that seems to play just like the arcade. (Video embedded below the break.)

001The comparison between the Uno and Due isn’t quite fair. The Due runs on an 84 MHz, 32 bit ARM Cortex-M3 processor. It’s in a different league from the Uno. Still, we view this as an example of the extended possibilities from stepping up into a significantly faster micro. For instance, the video is output to both an ILI9341 TFT screen and external 8-bit VGA at once.

Besides using some very nice (standard) libraries for the parts, it doesn’t look like [DrNCX] had to resort to any particular trickery — just a lot of gamer-logic coding. All the code is up on GitHub for you to check out.

Can the old Arduinos do this? For comparison, the best Pacman we’ve seen on an AVR platform is the ATmega328-based RetroWiz, although it is clocked twice as fast as a stock Uno. And then there’s Hackaday Editor [Mike Szczys]’s 1-Pixel Pacman, but that’s cheating because it uses a Teensy 3.1, which is another fast ARM chip. People always ask where the boundary between an 8-bit and 32-bit project lies. Is a decent Pacman the litmus test?

Filed under: Arduino Hacks

Pacman Proves Due is More than Uno

If you’re wondering what the difference is between the good ol’ Arduino Uno and one of the new-school Arduinos like the Arduino Due, here’s a very graphic example: [DrNCX] has written a stunning Pacman clone for the Due that seems to play just like the arcade. (Video embedded below the break.)

001The comparison between the Uno and Due isn’t quite fair. The Due runs on an 84 MHz, 32 bit ARM Cortex-M3 processor. It’s in a different league from the Uno. Still, we view this as an example of the extended possibilities from stepping up into a significantly faster micro. For instance, the video is output to both an ILI9341 TFT screen and external 8-bit VGA at once.

Besides using some very nice (standard) libraries for the parts, it doesn’t look like [DrNCX] had to resort to any particular trickery — just a lot of gamer-logic coding. All the code is up on GitHub for you to check out.

Can the old Arduinos do this? For comparison, the best Pacman we’ve seen on an AVR platform is the ATmega328-based RetroWiz, although it is clocked twice as fast as a stock Uno. And then there’s Hackaday Editor [Mike Szczys]’s 1-Pixel Pacman, but that’s cheating because it uses a Teensy 3.1, which is another fast ARM chip. People always ask where the boundary between an 8-bit and 32-bit project lies. Is a decent Pacman the litmus test?

Filed under: Arduino Hacks

Hacklet 93 – Robotics Toolkit and ESP8266 Packet Inject

You never know where a hack will take you. Sometimes a simple project will take on a life of its own and become a huge software framework. Other times, a reading blog can turn into a weekend project. Hackaday.io is the place to upload every project, big, small, or somewhere in between. This week on the Hacklet, we’re taking a look at two projects – one big, one small.

wifi1[Rand Druid] recently spent a Weekend on the Dark Side, creating an ESP8266 packet injector. The project started when [Rand] read about [Kripthor’s] deauth packet injection attacks right here on Hackaday. He initially created the WiFi denial of service throwie mentioned in the article. The basic Bill of Materials (BOM) for this device is an ESP8266 module, a DC/DC converter, a 9V battery, connectors, and a few resistors. This worked well, but some devices (most notably [Rand’s] son’s Android Phone) would disconnect and reconnect so quickly the attack had no
practical impact.

 

double-wifi[Rand] fixed the problem by adding a second ESP8266 module. The first is the listener. It listens for WiFi access points. Once an AP is found, it sends this information to the second jammer” module via a unidirectional single line serial link. The jammer module pumps out deauth packets at full speed. He even managed to create a single executable which performs as both listener and jammer. At boot, the software sends out a series 0xFF bytes through the serial port. The listener has its serial transmit pin directly connected to the jammer’s serial receive line. When the jammer receives the 0xFF bytes, it jumps into the correct function. This was more than enough to kick that pesky Android phone off the network. As with the original article, we have to stress that you should only use
modules like these for testing on your own equipment. Be careful out there folks!

 

bowler[Kevin Harrington] loves robots, but hates reinventing the wheel every time he creates a new machine. He’s built BowlerStudio: A robotics development platform to combat this problem. BowlerStudio was a semifinalist in the 2015 Hackaday Prize. BowlerStudio is a soup-to-nuts platform for creating all sorts of robots. [Kevin] has integrated Computer Aided Design (CAD), 3D modeling, kinematics, machine vision, and a simulation engine complete with physics modeling into one whopper of a software package. To prove how versatile the system is, he designed
a hexapod robot in the CAD portion of the program. The robot then taught itself to walk in the simulation. Once the design was 3D printed, the real robot walked right off the bread board. [Kevin] linked the hardware and software with DyIO, another of his projects.

BowlerStudio is a huge boon for just about any robotics hacker, as well as educators. An entire curriculum could be created around the system. Thanks to its Java roots, BowlerStudio is also a multi-platform. [Kevin] has binaries ready to go for Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu.

The newest feature in BowlerStudio is JBullet. JBullet is a Java port of the Bullet physics library. Physics means that important real world effects like gravity and surface friction can now be added to simulations. In [Kevin’s] own words “This project is starting to feel more and more like a game engine targeted towards designing robotics and engineering tools.”

 That’s it for this week’s Hacklet. As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of Hackaday.io!

Filed under: Hackaday Columns

Hacklet 93 – Robotics Toolkit and ESP8266 Packet Inject

You never know where a hack will take you. Sometimes a simple project will take on a life of its own and become a huge software framework. Other times, a reading blog can turn into a weekend project. Hackaday.io is the place to upload every project, big, small, or somewhere in between. This week on the Hacklet, we’re taking a look at two projects – one big, one small.

wifi1[Rand Druid] recently spent a Weekend on the Dark Side, creating an ESP8266 packet injector. The project started when [Rand] read about [Kripthor’s] deauth packet injection attacks right here on Hackaday. He initially created the WiFi denial of service throwie mentioned in the article. The basic Bill of Materials (BOM) for this device is an ESP8266 module, a DC/DC converter, a 9V battery, connectors, and a few resistors. This worked well, but some devices (most notably [Rand’s] son’s Android Phone) would disconnect and reconnect so quickly the attack had no
practical impact.

 

double-wifi[Rand] fixed the problem by adding a second ESP8266 module. The first is the listener. It listens for WiFi access points. Once an AP is found, it sends this information to the second jammer” module via a unidirectional single line serial link. The jammer module pumps out deauth packets at full speed. He even managed to create a single executable which performs as both listener and jammer. At boot, the software sends out a series 0xFF bytes through the serial port. The listener has its serial transmit pin directly connected to the jammer’s serial receive line. When the jammer receives the 0xFF bytes, it jumps into the correct function. This was more than enough to kick that pesky Android phone off the network. As with the original article, we have to stress that you should only use
modules like these for testing on your own equipment. Be careful out there folks!

 

bowler[Kevin Harrington] loves robots, but hates reinventing the wheel every time he creates a new machine. He’s built BowlerStudio: A robotics development platform to combat this problem. BowlerStudio was a semifinalist in the 2015 Hackaday Prize. BowlerStudio is a soup-to-nuts platform for creating all sorts of robots. [Kevin] has integrated Computer Aided Design (CAD), 3D modeling, kinematics, machine vision, and a simulation engine complete with physics modeling into one whopper of a software package. To prove how versatile the system is, he designed
a hexapod robot in the CAD portion of the program. The robot then taught itself to walk in the simulation. Once the design was 3D printed, the real robot walked right off the bread board. [Kevin] linked the hardware and software with DyIO, another of his projects.

BowlerStudio is a huge boon for just about any robotics hacker, as well as educators. An entire curriculum could be created around the system. Thanks to its Java roots, BowlerStudio is also a multi-platform. [Kevin] has binaries ready to go for Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu.

The newest feature in BowlerStudio is JBullet. JBullet is a Java port of the Bullet physics library. Physics means that important real world effects like gravity and surface friction can now be added to simulations. In [Kevin’s] own words “This project is starting to feel more and more like a game engine targeted towards designing robotics and engineering tools.”

 That’s it for this week’s Hacklet. As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of Hackaday.io!

Filed under: Hackaday Columns

Google’s U.K. tax deal sparks criticism

Google sign Vince Smith Flickr


(Reuters) – Britain’s opposition Labour party demanded on Sunday that the finance ministry explain how it arrived at a back tax payment by Internet giant Google that has put the government on the back foot.

The settlement of 130 million pounds ($185 million) for the period since 2005, announced just over a week ago, was hailed by the government as a major success but criticized by other parties, and could be examined by European Union antitrust regulators.

In a letter to Conservative finance minister George Osborne, Labour’s parliamentary spokespeople for finance and justice asked him to provide more information on the deal to restore public trust in tax authorities.

“We would urge you to address the widespread
concerns that have been expressed about the lack of transparency surrounding the deal,” Seema Malhotra and Charles Falconer wrote in the letter.

They asked for additional information on whether Diverted Profits Tax had been levied on Google, and further details on the basis that authorities had used to arrive at the figure of 130 million pounds.

Google says it is paying all the tax that is due.

Tax avoidance has become a hot political issue in Britain, where people question whether the burden of strengthening public finances has been shared fairly.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has already challenged Prime Minister David Cameron to defend the deal, and the party has called for an investigation by the National Audit Office, while the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has said it will investigate the arrangement.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Google’s U.K. tax deal sparks criticism

Google sign Vince Smith Flickr


(Reuters) – Britain’s opposition Labour party demanded on Sunday that the finance ministry explain how it arrived at a back tax payment by Internet giant Google that has put the government on the back foot.

The settlement of 130 million pounds ($185 million) for the period since 2005, announced just over a week ago, was hailed by the government as a major success but criticized by other parties, and could be examined by European Union antitrust regulators.

In a letter to Conservative finance minister George Osborne, Labour’s parliamentary spokespeople for finance and justice asked him to provide more information on the deal to restore public trust in tax authorities.

“We would urge you to address the widespread
concerns that have been expressed about the lack of transparency surrounding the deal,” Seema Malhotra and Charles Falconer wrote in the letter.

They asked for additional information on whether Diverted Profits Tax had been levied on Google, and further details on the basis that authorities had used to arrive at the figure of 130 million pounds.

Google says it is paying all the tax that is due.

Tax avoidance has become a hot political issue in Britain, where people question whether the burden of strengthening public finances has been shared fairly.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has already challenged Prime Minister David Cameron to defend the deal, and the party has called for an investigation by the National Audit Office, while the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has said it will investigate the arrangement.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Halo character teased for Killer Instinct

Halo in my Killer Instinct!


Microsoft and developer Iron Galaxy are keeping the teases coming for the new season of downloadable content for Killer Instinct.

It looks like the Halo character Arbiter is coming to Microsoft’s free-to-play fighting game. Developer Iron Galaxy teased the power-sword wielding character during the Killer Instinct World Cup tournament that is happening right now in San Antonio as part of the Penny Arcade Expo South event. In the video that teases the fighter, you can clearly see the Arbiter firing up his weapon before the clip cuts to the Killer Instinct logo. Obviously, Microsoft is planning for crossover characters like these to keep current Killer Instinct players engaged and spending money. The company is also likely
incorporating Halo to bring in new fans and to bring back lapsed players to the fighting game.

Killer Instinct is a notable game for this generation of consoles because it is one of the first and biggest free-to-play fighting games. Prior to the launch of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, free-to-play games were rare. But studios began experimenting with the business model early after the release of those systems. This has led to a market where a developer can constantly support a fighting game with three years of content without having to charge an upfront price for the game.

Check out the Arbiter tease below:

This tease comes after we’ve already seen two characters confirmed for Killer Instinct Season 3.

In August, at the Gamescom fan convention in Germany, Iron Galaxy announced it is bringing the Battletoads character Rash into the mix. He has already debuted during a testing period where players were able to give feedback
about what they liked about the character and what they would like to see changed.

And Iron Galaxy previously teased Kim Wu for the third season as well. She is now confirmed, and players are getting a chance to try her out at PAX South. On top of that, the studio released the following trailer for the new fighter:

More information:

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