Silicon hacking


Wired recently posted an article and video detailing our friend [Chris Tarnovsky]‘s process for hacking smart cards. In the video, [Chris] shows how he strips away physical components of the chips inside the smartcards using various gadgets and chemicals.

The first step is to remove the chip from its plastic frame. After soaking it in acid for about 10 minutes, the epoxy is removed and the chip is exposed. After that the outer layer is loosened by soaking the chip in two solutions of acetone, the second being the “clean” one. Then the chip is placed on a hotplate where a drop of fuming nitric acid is applied with a dropper; the chip is washed again in an ultrasonic cleaner, removing any residue left.

[Chris] then returns the chip to the card. He will apply nail polish to act as a masking material. He scratches a hole through the polish with a needle held by a micro positioner in the area of interest. The hole is treated with hydrofluoric acid and then etched in short intervals until the desired layer of silicon is exposed. At this point, the card is fully prepped.

Now by powering the chip with the needle resting on the bus, [Chris] can read the code on the chip by sending it various commands and watching how it reacts. To see more of [Chris]‘s reverse engineering work, check out Flylogic Engineering’s Analytical Blog. It’s a enjoyable read even if you’re new to silicon hacking.

Robotic cats


It’s caturday, so let’s post some freaking cats. With a little research we found commercial, hobbyist, research, and cyborg cats.

First up is NeCoRo. Released in 2001, this is probably the most recognized commercial robot cat; renowned for its creepiness.

[Read more...]

Nanobot nanosoccer


Medgadget recently published a post about a soccer competition for nanobots at RoboCup. The nanobots compete on a field that measures 1500 by 2500 micrometers with goals on the long sides jutting 500 micrometers out. Like normal soccer athletes, the nanobot teams attempt to push the ball – in this case, a silicon dioxide disc with a 50 micrometer diameter – into the goal. The nanobot competitors are monitored by an optical microscope and are remotely controlled by magnetic signals sent across the arena.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and RoboCup have already held two nanobot competitions in the last year. Nanobots made by different teams from various universities compete to test various abilities that will be critical for their practical applications in medicine, manufacturing, and other industries.

Though it is referred to as nanosoccer, the competition is actually a triathlon. The bots must sprint to the goal with the ball in one event, then maneuver the ball around stationary “defenders” and into the goal in the next event, and finally score as many goals as possible within 3 minutes. NIST and RoboCup hope to show the practical potential of nanobots with this competition and have a little fun in the process.

[via Medgadget]

Digidash: digital dashboard for megasquirt


The Digidash project is an open source digital dashboard designed just for the megasquirt EFI system we mentioned in our diy EFI motorcycle post. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t link the hardware design. From the description, I’m assuming that it’s essentially a graphic LCD driven by an Atmel microcontroller that talks to the Megasquirt to get the display info.

Alternative 3D controllers


There are several very nice 3D mice out there for navigating services like Google Earth or Second Life. 3Dconnexion for example makes a whole line of devices for 3D navigation. Their compact units offer 6-8 degrees of freedom with several customizable options. The company has an SDK available and many of their devices are natively compatible with Linux (or available for access through an XInput driver). So while that is all well and great, lets look at some alternative ways people are navigating 3D spaces.

[Read more...]

Upcoming convention roundup


Lots of con news is coming in these days so lets do a quick roundup of upcoming events:

REcon
June 13-15, 2008
Montreal, Canada

REcon has started posting information about their training sessions such as the Advanced Reverse Engineering session with Nicolas Brulez.

The Last HOPE
July 18-20, 2008
New York City

The Last HOPE just announced its speaker list. It includes the infamous Kevin Mitnick, Mythbusters co-host Adam Savage, and author Steven Levy to name a few.

DEFCON 16
August 8-10, 2008
Las Vegas

The DEFCON team also released the first batch of speakers for this year’s convention. Qualification starts tonight at 10PM EST for the capture the flag (CTF) contest so be sure to get registered. Check the txt for more information. We recently talked about the beverage cooling contraption contest, but you can find many other contests on the forums.

OiNK Arrests


British authorities have reportedly begun arresting users of OiNK. Last week at least one person was arrested for seeding a single album on the now-defunct torrent index. The user was questioned by police and then released on bail.

Though it is not new for record companies to engage in civil action against users of filesharing networks, legal experts who have commented on the case are puzzled by what – if any – criminal charges can be filed against filesharing defendants. It is unknown if any further arrests have been made.

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