Radio Decoding Swiss Army Knife in a NES Controller

If you wanted to name a few things that hackers love, you couldn’t go wrong by listing off vintage console controllers, the ESP system-on-chip platform, and pocket tools for signal capture and analysis. Combine all of these, and you get the ESP32Thang.

At its heart, the ESP32Thang is based around a simple concept – take an ESP32, wire up a bunch of interesting sensors and modules, add an LCD, and cram it all in a NES controller which helpfully provides some buttons for input. [Mighty Breadboard] shows off the device’s basic functionality by using an RFM69HW module to allow the recording and replay of simple OOK signals on the 433 MHz band. This is a band typically used by all sorts of unlicenced radio gear – think home IoT devices, wireless doorbells and the like. If you want to debug these systems when you’re out and about, this is the tool for you.

This is a fairly straightforward build at the lower end of complexity, but it gets the job done with style. The next natural step up is a Raspberry Pi with a full software defined radio attached, built into a Nintendo DS. If you build one, be sure to let us know. This project might serve as some inspiration.

With the wide availability of SPI and I2C modules these days, combined with the ease of programming provided by the Arduino environment, this is a project that just about any hacker could tackle after passing the blinking LED stage. The fact that integrating such hardware is so simple these days is truly a testament to the fact that we are standing on the shoulders of giants.

13 thoughts on “Radio Decoding Swiss Army Knife in a NES Controller

  1. > The next natural step up is a Raspberry Pi with a full software defined radio attached, built into a Nintendo DS.
    No need to cram everything into the DS, you can use its built-in WiFi to connect to the Pi (WEP only, but you can implement higher-level encryption). As a bonus you can still play Mariokart.

  2. Please don’t worry it’s a NES $4 fake! It’s about having all the nice things inside: LCD, WiFi with Websockets, I2C Sensors, Wideband RF. Lower end of complexity? Dude? I love my Raspi, but there is no need for that now. :P

      1. Thanks for posting it here :)

        Next steps are:

        – FSK, Encryption and other Frequencies (in Europe mostly 433MHz)
        – Broader support for devices (better automatic package/amplitude size detection, hack my BMW :)
        – Fully remote RF analysis/exploits with Websockets over Wifi or SIM800l and Webinterface
        – TFT horz scrolling (not yet enabled in beta lib)
        – Better menu structure with n submenus

        Besides that:

        – Support for Nordic Semicundutor nRF24L01 (2,4 GHz, MouseJack)
        – Maybe support for Texas Instruments CC1101 (433MHz/ 868MHz/ 915MHz)
        – IR ;)
        – WiFi Monitor Mode / Deauth

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