Reverse Engineering the Smart ForTwo CAN Bus

The CAN bus has become a defacto standard in modern cars. Just about everything electronic in a car these days talks over this bus, which makes it fertile ground for aspiring hackers. [Daniel Velazquez] is striking out in this area, attempting to decode the messages on the CAN bus of his Smart ForTwo.

[Daniel] has had some pitfalls – first attempts with a Beaglebone Black were somewhat successful in reading messages, but led to strange activity of the car and indicators. This is par for the course in any hack that wires into an existing system – there’s a high chance of disrupting what’s going on leading to unintended consequences.

Further work using an Arduino with the MCP_CAN library netted [Daniel] better results, but  it would be great to understand precisely why the BeagleBone was causing a disturbance to the bus. Safety is highly important when you’re hacking on a speeding one-ton metal death cart, so it pays to double and triple check everything you’re doing.

Thus far, [Daniel] is part way through documenting the messages on the bus, finding registers that cover the ignition and turn signals, among others. Share your CAN hacking tips in the comments. For those interested in more on the CAN bus, check out [Eric]’s great primer on CAN hacking – and keep those car hacking projects flowing to the tip line!

How To Put A Jag On Your School Roof

Did you ever commit any pranks in your time at high school, college, or university? Maybe you moss-painted a rude word on the wall somewhere, or put a design in a sports field with herbicide, or even worse, slow-release fertiliser. [Roman Kozak] and his friends went far further than that last summer when they replicated some of the most famous student pranks; they put a Jaguar S type car on the roof of their school. And now the dust has settled, he’s posted an account of how they did it.

jag-on-roof-guy-cuttingOf course, putting a car on the roof is a significant challenge, particularly when you only have the resources of a high-school student. Ensuring the roof was strong enough for a car, and then hiring a crane to do the deed, was beyond them. They therefore decided to take the wheels and outer body panels of a car and mount them on a wooden frame to give the appearance of a car.

They needed a statement vehicle and they didn’t have a huge budget, so it took them a while to spot a for-parts Jaguar S type which when it came into their possession they found only had a fault with its reverse gear. Some hard work removed the panels, and the rest of the car was taken for scrap.

Frenetic work as the term end approached gave them their frame, and a daring midnight raid was mounted to winch the parts to the roof with a pulley. The result was so popular with their classmates and teachers that they owned up to the prank rather than preserve their anonymity. We think these young scamps will go far.

This is definitely the first car-on-roof prank we’ve brought you on Hackaday, but it’s not the first to be done. [Roman] and his friends cited an MIT prank as their inspiration, but the daddy of car-on-roof stunts has to go to Cambridge University students in the 1950s. Their Austin might be a lot smaller than the MIT Chevy or [Roman]’s Jag, but they got it onto their roof in one piece as a full car rather than a facsimile of one.

Important note: The author would like to state for the record that she and her friends were somewhere else entirely and had solid alibis when in summer 1993 the logo of Hull University Union Technical Committee appeared in the lawn outside Hull University Union. We’re sure that commenters will be anxious to set their own records straight for posterity in a similar manner.

Simple and Effective Car Lock Jammer Detector

[Andrew Nohawk], has noticed a spike of car break-ins and thefts — even in broad daylight — in his native South Africa. The thieves have been using remote jammers. Commercial detectors are available but run into the hundreds of dollars. He decided to experiment with his own rig, whipping up a remote jamming ‘detector’ for less than the cost of a modest meal.

Operating on the principle that most remote locks work at 433MHz, [Nohawk] describes how criminals ‘jam’ the frequency by holding down the lock button on another device, hoping to distort or outright interrupt the car from receiving the signal to lock the doors. [Nohawk] picked up a cheap 433MHz receiver (bundled with a transceiver), tossed it on a breadboard with an LED connected to the data channel of the chip on a 5V circuit, and voila — whenever the chip detects activity on that frequency, the LED lights up. If you see sustained activity on the band, there’s a chance somebody nearby might be waiting for you to leave your vehicle unattended.

If you want to know more about how these jamming attacks work, check out [Samy Kamkar’s] talk from the Hackaday SuperConference.

Continue reading “Simple and Effective Car Lock Jammer Detector”

Fixing My 4×4: The Battle of the Bent Valves

If you know me at all, you know I’m a car guy. I’m pretty green as far as hardcore wrenching skills go, but I like to tackle problems with my vehicles myself – I like to learn by doing. What follows is the story of how I learned a few hard lessons when my faithful ride died slowly and painfully in my arms over the final months of 2016.

For context, my beast of a machine was a 1992 Daihatsu Feroza. It’s a 4WD with a 1.6 litre fuel injected four-cylinder engine. It had served me faithfully for over a year and was reading around 295,000 kilometers on the odometer. But I was moving house and needed to pull a trailer with all my possessions on an 800 km journey. I didn’t want to put the stress on the car but I didn’t have a whole lot of choice if I wanted to keep my bed and my prized Ricoh photocopier. I did my best to prepare the car, topping up the oil which had gotten perilously low and fitting new tyres. I’d had a hell of a time over the winter aquaplaning all over the place and wasn’t in the mood for a big ugly crash on the highway. Continue reading “Fixing My 4×4: The Battle of the Bent Valves”

Making A Shifter Knob From Old Skateboards

Do you have a car? Does that car have a manual transmission? Do you want to beautify your shifter knob, while simultaneously gaining mad street cred, yo? Well, you’re in luck, because all of that can be done for the low, low price of a couple old skateboard decks, a lathe, and a lot of glue.

This project, from [basiltab] illustrates how you can use old skateboard decks to create really cool looking custom shifter knobs. The process starts with cutting the decks up into uniform strips, which are then glued and clamped to form small planks. Sections of the decks were alternated, to create a visually interesting pattern. The planks are then sanded so that they’re smooth and flat, and then glued up in a jig to form blocks with a threaded aluminum insert in the center. Optionally, aluminum can be used for some of the layers to add a little flair (2-part epoxy was used in place of glue for the aluminum).

After the glue has dried, the blocks can then be turned on a lathe to create the desired shape of the knob. As you can see, the results are pretty darn nifty. And, they certainly have a little more artistic credibility than the giant acrylic shifter knobs you normally find at your local auto parts store. Don’t worry, if you thought this article was about shift registers, we’ve got you covered there too.

Another Kind of Cloud: The Internet of Farts

It’s taken as canon that girls mature faster than boys. In reality, what happens is that boys stop maturing at about age 12 while girls keep going. And nothing tickles the fancy of the ageless pre-teen boy trapped within all men more than a good fart joke. To wit, we present a geolocating fart tracker for your daily commute.

[Michel] is the hero this world needs, and although he seems to have somewhat of a preoccupation with hacks involving combustible gasses, his other non-methane related projects have graced our pages before, like this electrical meter snooper or an IoT lawn mower. The current effort, though, is a bit on the cheekier side.

The goal is to keep track of his emissions while driving, so with a PIC, an ESP8266, a GPS module, and a small LCD display and keyboard, he now has a way to log his rolling flatulence. When the urge overcomes him he simply presses a button, which logs his location and speed and allows him to make certain qualitative notes regarding the event. The data gets uploaded to the cloud every Friday, which apparently allows [Michel] to while away his weekends mapping his results.

It turns out that he mainly farts while heading south, and he’s worried about the implications both in terms of polar ice cap loss and how Santa is going to treat him next month. We’re thinking he’s got a lock on coal — or at least activated charcoal.

Our beef with this project is obvious – it relies on the honor system for input. We really need to see this reworked with an in-seat methane detector to keep [Michel] honest. Until then, stay young, [Michel].

The Lotus Sevens: The Real Most-Hackable Cars

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Europe was still struggling to recover from the crippling after-effects of war. In Britain it is referred to as the “austerity period”, with food still rationed and in which “make do and mend” was very much the order of the day. The consumer boom of the late 1950s and 1960s was very far in the future, and if you were a hardware hacker your source materials were limited to whatever you could find from war surplus or whatever prewar junk might come your way. This was a time in which the majority of adults had recently returned from war service, during which they had acquired practical skills through the necessities of battle that they sought an outlet for in peacetime.

One field that benefited from this unexpected flowering of creativity was that of motor racing. Before the war it had been an exclusive pursuit, with bespoke cars at famous circuits like the banked track at Brooklands, in Surrey. In a reflection of the wider social changes that followed the war the motor racers of the post-war years came from humbler backgrounds, they raced homemade specials made from tired-out prewar motors on wartime airfield perimeter tracks like the one at Silverstone which still hosts Formula One racing today.

Continue reading “The Lotus Sevens: The Real Most-Hackable Cars”