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Vocera B1000A teardown

vocera_teardown

[Gray] over at Geek Chique had a bit of an eBay mishap and was suddenly the proud owner of 16 Vocera B1000A badges. If you are not familiar, these badges are small, lightweight communications devices similar to the famous Star Trek communicator, which allow users to talk to other individuals via VOIP. He was working on getting the remaining badges up and running by reimplementing the server software, and figured that since one of the badges he purchased was not working, he might as well take it apart.

It took him awhile to get the well-made badges apart, requiring a rotary tool and some elbow grease to get the job done. Inside, he found that the device was split into two circuit boards, one being the “WiFi” board, and the other the “CPU” board. The WiFi board uses a Prism WiFi chipset, which was incredibly common at the time of construction. The CPU board sports small SRAM and flash chips as you would expect, with a Texas Instruments 5490A DSP running the show.

While it remains to be seen if tearing the device down helps [Gray] to get things up and running again, it never hurts to take a closer look to see what you are working with.

Comments

  1. 1000100 1000001 1010110 1000101 says:

    The hospital I work at uses these…If you are not scavenging these for parts, they make fairly good paperweights.

  2. Sorry, so whats the point of this article? He bought some badges and took them apart.

    Not trolling or anything. Just wondering if I’m missing something.

  3. M4CGYV3R says:

    So…are these like WiFi FRS radios? I guess I don’t understand why you wouldn’t just use radios or a cell phone instead.

  4. Gray Simpson says:

    You’re not missing much, to be fair. My basic aim is to reproduce the software to be able to use these without the £20,000 server application. Buying the 16 extra badges wasn’t really intentional, but since I had them I decided to tear the broken one apart. Ideally, I’d love to dump the contents of the flash chip and have a look at what it’s made of, but this is made harder by the fact that everything’s BGA. It was still interesting as a curiosity exercise that the device is not much more complicated than an arduino with a wifly shield.. The big problem with the project is that to easily reverse a network protocol, you need to be able to listen to communication between both ends – and I’ve only got one.

  5. Gray Simpson says:

    @M4CGYV3R The point of Vocera badges is that they’re nominally hands-free. You press one button, and the server uses speech recognition to understand what you’re trying to do, e.g. “Call Doctor Samuels.”

  6. Zee says:

    So hospitals have them but they don’t use them?

  7. rasz says:

    so basically they are WiFi VOIP phones .. with no keypad?
    do you have sniffed captures?

  8. Gray Simpson says:

    @Zee No, hospitals do use them – they’re nicknamed ‘nurse crack’. @rasz I have captures of the initial requests from the badge to the server, but I haven’t been able to source a copy of the software, and the only place near me that uses it is Plymouth hospital – I figure if I started sniffing there I’d be in trouble. My local Apple store just has walkie talkies.

  9. m1ndtr1p says:

    @Gray Simpson

    Not sure if this is what you’re looking for, but this may be an alternative to the Vocera server software… It seems as if Lync (what the video is about) is able to communicated with the Vocera badges possibly on it’s own, without the Vocera server software.

    Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB5C6gwDNSY

  10. Gray Simpson says:

    We’re back up, sorry about the downtime – dyndns went funky on me. @m1ndtr1p – Thanks for the lync (sic) but I’m afraid on closer inspection they’re still using the agent interface of the Vocera System Software. (And it’s still not open source!) It’s still a pretty interesting video, and I want a white badge now!

  11. Chris says:
  12. Gray Simpson says:

    There’s also this one! http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Vocera-System-C2000-Chargers-x-2-B1000A-Badges-x-16-/320697421826?pt=UK_Computing_Networking_SM&hash=item4aab0e5002#ht_500wt_951 – In the UK, mostly working and with everything you need (Except for the Vocera Server Software)

  13. ben gould says:

    hey you hacks, interesting conversation I have stumbled upon albiet old….we use a lot of these, but can’t find anyone to repair them….lets do some business….

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