Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons in a Flock of Birds

birds_ready

No, not real birds! [Kyle] works in operations at a web company and needed a way to send alerts to his fellow coworkers, so he modified a flock of Audubon Society plush birds to respond to a Bluetooth beacon.

Using NRF24L01+ Bluetooth Low Energy modules, [Kyle] installed one each in these battery-powered singing birds. The devices are presumably powered off of the battery that comes with the birds, but the use of the BTLE module means the batteries won’t discharge as rapidly.

[Kyle] also built an API that works over HTTP or IRC, which means that the employees in the office can activate everyone else’s birds over a simple and intuitive interface. The birds can be activated one at a time, or all together in “panic” mode as one giant flock (in case of an emergency in the office). They can also be activated one at a time on a specific hour to simulate the Audubon Society’s bird call clock.

He calls the device equail and it’s a very unique notification system with a lot of applications. All of [Kyle]‘s code and documentation of his project are available on his github site. He also used this primer on BTLE to get started, and this guide on sending data over BTLE to help get the project in the air.

Sniffing nRF24L01+ Traffic with Wireshark

Wireshark trace

We’re sure that some of our readers are familiar with the difficult task that debugging/sniffing nRF24L01+ communications can be. Well, [Ivo] developed a sniffing platform based on an Arduino Uno, a single nRF24L01+ module and a computer running the popular network protocol analyzer Wireshark (part1, part2, part3 of his write-up).

As these very cheap modules don’t include a promiscuous mode to listen to all frames being sent on a particular channel, [Ivo] uses for his application a variation of [Travis Goodspeed]‘s technique to sniff Enhance Shockburst messages. In short, it consists in setting a shorter than usual address, setting a fix payload length and deactivating the CRC feature. The Arduino Uno connected to the nRF24L01+ is therefore in charge of forwarding the sniffed frames to the computer. An application that [Ivo] wrote parses the received data and forwards it to wireshark, on which can be set various filters to only display the information you’re interested in.

Adding Bluetooth And A Lightning Connector To Beats Pro Headphones

Beats

Not wanting to wait for Apple to step up their game and complete their purchase of Beats headphones, [Carnivore] decided he wanted his own pair of Apple-compatible Beats cans with Bluetooth. He created something that will probably be for sale in the Apple store come Christmas: a pair of Beats Pro headphones with Bluetooth and a Lightning connector for charging.

[Carnivore] liked the sound of his Beats Pro headphones but hated the wires. After disassembling the headphones, he carefully rewired the speakers with smaller gauge wire, added a small Bluetooth module and battery, and sealed everything back up.

There are a few interesting bits to this build – by getting rid of all external wires, [Carnivore] was left with a few holes in the headphones. These were a perfect place to add a 3D printed mount for the power button and the Lightning adapter taken from an Apple Lightning extension connector.

Thanks [Tony] for the tip!

Hijacking Chromecast With The Rickmote Controller

rick-astelyWith a simple $35 dongle that plugs right into your TV, it’s possible to enjoy your favorite TV shows, YouTube channels, and everything else Chromecast has to offer. Being a WiFi enabled device, it’s also possible to hijack a Chromecast, forcing your neighbors to watch [Rick Astley] say he’s never going to give you up.

The rickmote, as this horrible device is called, runs on a Raspberry Pi and does a lot of WiFi shennaigans to highjack a Chromecast. First, all the wireless networks within range of the rickmote are deauthenticated. When this happens, Chromecast devices generally freak out and try to automatically reconfigure themselves and accept commands from anyone within proximity. The rickmote is more than happy to provide these commands to any Chromecast device, in the form of the hit song from 1987 and 2008.

Video demo of the rickmote below, along with a talk from ToorCon describing how the hijacking actually works.

[Read more...]

A Lesson in Blind Reverse Engineering – Signals Intelligence

spread sheet of binary data

In a fit of desperation, I turned to data mining tools and algorithms, but stepped back from the horror of that unspeakable knowledge before my mind was shattered. That way madness lies.

–[Rory O'hare]

Wise words. Wise words, indeed. Who among us hasn’t sat staring into the abyss of seemingly endless data without the slightest clue to what it means or even how to go about figuring out what it means? To literally feel the brain damage seeping in as you start to see ‘ones’ and ‘zeros’ reach out to you from every day electronic devices…like some ghost in the wires. But do not fear, wise hacker! For we have good news to report! [Rory O'hare] has dived into this very abyss, and has emerged successful.

While others were out and about playing games and doing whatever non-hackers do to entertain themselves, [Rory O'hare] decided to reach out and grab some random wireless signals for a little fun and excitement. And what he found was not just a strong, repeating signal at 433Mhz. Not just a signal that oozed with evidence of ASK. What he found was a challenge…a mystery that was begging to be solved. A way to test his skill set. Could he reverse engineer a signal by just looking at the signal alone? Read on, and find out.

 

 

 

Seeker Hats Find Each other With Directional LEDs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

[John Petersen] created a very cool piece of wearable technology for him and his son. Eager to explore the Maker Fair, but not eager to lose his son in the crowds, he’s come up with the Seeker Hat — a kind of auto-locating GPS hat which always points towards the other.

It’s a clever setup that makes use of a GPS module, a microprocessor, a xBee wireless chip, a compass, and LEDs to light the way. The GPS determines the hat’s approximate location, the xBee transmits it to the other hat, the digital compasses determine the directions of both hats, and the microprocessor figures out the azimuth, resulting in a difference in trajectory of the two — a strip of LEDs, like landing lights, direct you in the right direction.

[Read more...]

The Development Of A Lightweight Wireless Protocol

BANO[Texane] had been thinking about how to monitor the state of his garage door from a remote place. The door itself isn’t around any power outlets, and is a few floors away from where his server would be located in his apartment. This presented a few design challenges – namely, the sensor itself should have a wireless connection to the server, and being low power would be a great idea. This led to the development of a minimalist framework for wireless communication that allows a sensor to run for weeks without a battery swap.

The wireless protocol itself is based on a simple key value pair; each individual sensor, coupled with a NRF905 radio, has passes an address, a key, and a value. There are allowances for checksums and acknowledgement, but as the PDF says, this is a very minimal protocol.

With the software out of the way, [Texane] turned to the hardware. The microcontroller is a simple Arduino clone, paired with a radio and a coin cell on a small board. The micro spends most of its time in a low power state, with the sensor, in this case a reed switch, tied to an interrupt pin.

There was a problem with the power consumption of the radio, though: when the short 17-byte message was transmitting, there was a significant voltage drop. This was okay with a fully charged battery, but with a partially drained coin cell, the possibility of brownouts was high. A big cap in parallel was enough to offset this voltage drop.

It’s still a little expensive for an all-in-one home automation and monitoring system, but developing a functional wireless protocol and the hardware to go with it is no small feat. It’s actually a great piece of kit that [Texane] is sure to find a few uses for.

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