With tiny Linux boards popping up like dandelions, it was only a matter of time before someone came out with a really tiny Linux board. This is it. It’s a tiny board less than an inch on each side with an 802.11n System on Chip running OpenWrt on Linux. The best part? You can pick one up for $20 USD.
The VoCore isn’t so much as a cut down ARM dev board as it is a cut down router capable of running OpenWrt. It’s not a power house by any means with 8MB of Flash, 32MB of SDRAM, and a 360MHz CPU, but if you ever need something that’s less than an inch square, you probably don’t need that much power.
The VoCore features interfaces for 100M Ethernet, USB host and device, UART, SPI, I2C, I2S, and 20 GPIOs for blinking LEDs and listening to sensors. There’s also a dock that breaks out the Ethernet and USB ports, available as a kit or already assembled.
It’s a pretty cool device, and with low current draw (about 200mA) and being able to accept +5V power, we can easily see this tiny board popping up in a few projects.
You’re likely aware of the protests and demonstrations happening throughout Venezuela over the past few months, and as it has with similar public outcries in recent memory, technology can provide unique affordances to those out on the streets. [Alfredo] sent us this tip to let us know about riotNAS: a portable storage device for photos and videos taken by protesters (translated).
The premise is straightforward: social media is an ally for protesters on the ground in these situations, but phones and cameras are easily recognized and confiscated. riotNAS serves up portable backup storage via a router running OpenWRT and Samba. [Alfredo] then connected some USB memory for external storage and a battery that gives around 4 hours of operating time.
For now he’s put the equipment inside a soft, makeup-looking bag, which keeps it inconspicuous and doesn’t affect the signal. Check out his website for future design plans—including stashing the device inside a hollowed out book—and some sample photos stored on the riotNAS system. If you’re curious what’s going on in Venezuela, hit up the Wikipedia page or visit some of the resources at the bottom of [Alfredo's] site.
We’ve seen this small, cheap, and powerful WiFi router before. But this time it’s up to no good. [Andy] used a TP-Link WR703N to build an upgraded WiFi Pineapple hacking tool.
A WiFi Pineapple is a device spawned years ago by the Hak5 team (here’s a clip showing off the device). It uses a WiFi router that will answer to any SSID request. Basically if your computer or smart phone has an AP SSID saved and broadcasts a request to connect the pineapple will pretend to be that device and start the handshake. This provides the chance to sniff all the data passing through in a classic man-in-the-middle attack.
[Andy] is recreating the device but at a rock bottom price. He picked up this router for about $20 and added an $8 USB drive to it. The only other thing you would need is a power source and a way to hide the hardware. The code used in the Hak5 version is available for download and that’s what he worked on after flashing OpenWrt to the device.
[Necromant] recently acquired a router that was nearly free. Looking his gift horse in the mouth, he hooked up a serial port to see if it could run some updated firmware such as OpenWRT. The initial findings were promising; it used the same CPU as the very popular WR703N, but this free router only had 2 MiB of Flash and 8 MiB of RAM – barely enough to do anything. His solution to this problem is in the true hacker tradition: just solder some more chips onto the router.
Upgrading the RAM was comparatively easy; [Necromant] found an old stick of RAM, desoldered one of the chips, and replaced the measly 8 MiB chip with a new 64 Megabyte chip.
The Flash, though, proved more difficult. Without the right code in the Flash for the radio test, the router wouldn’t be useful at all. The solution was to read the original 2 MiB chip, read the Flash from a WR703, and combined the two with a simple dd command. This was written to a new SPI flash chip with a buspirate and a home etched board.
[David] is serving up files on his home network thanks to this Frankenstein’s monster of a Network Attached Storage device. It looks like he raided all the good bits from his parts bin to bring it all together.
The case is a tin box which may have been for a card/board game or some holiday treats. The hardware started with an NS-K330 server which he picked up from Deal Extreme. It has a NIC and a couple of USB ports but it tends to run really hot so he added a heat sinks to the board’s main chips. The hard drives are both 2.5″ form factor from old laptops. He uses some 2.5″ to 3.5″ mounting adapters to attach them to the tin box. A pair of USB to IDE adapters shed their cases and were solder directly to the wires which make a connection with the server’s USB ports.
There is a Linux distro specifically for this hardware but [David] wasn’t impressed with it. He ended up compiling OpenWRT for it and is satisfied with the functionality that provides.
This 3d printed case houses the already small [TP-Link TL-WR703N] but also makes room for a custom expansion board. The expansion board is designed to make the device more hacker friendly, and who doesn’t need a nice case to hold it?
Since the router board already has a USB port (intended for use with USB 3G modems) the add-on acts as a USB hub. The stock USB connector is replaced by a pin header which mates with a DIL socket on the underside of the expansion board. Through the use of an FTDI chip the expander offers three USB ports and a 2×10 pin header to break out the GPIO pins from the router’s processor. Only two USB ports are visible in the image above. That’s because the third is recessed, and an opening has not been added to the enclosure. This struck us as odd until we read that the port is meant to be used with a low-profile thumb drive, essentially adding internal storage for the device.
Like many hackers of late, [Rick] has been experimenting with connecting Arduinos to the Internet with a disused WiFi router and an installation of OpenWRT. Unlike his fellow makers, [Rick] thought it would be wasteful to dedicate a single router to one Arduino project, so he used a small, low power wireless module to connect up to 30 Arduinos to the Internet.
Just as in a few recent builds (1, 2), [Rick] found an old Fonera router sitting in a box at his local hackerspace. After installing OpenWRT, [Rick] connected a very small wireless module to the router’s GPIO pins and patched the firmware to put an SPI bus on the router.
Now, whenever [Rick] wants to connect an Arduino project to the Internet, all he needs is a $4 radio module. This radio module connects to the router, and the router handles the networking requirements of up to 30 DIY projects.
If you’re looking to build an Internet-enable sensor network, we honestly can’t think of a better or cheaper way of going about it. Nice job, [Rick].