Eye-Fi Teardown


[les robots] had a defective Eye-Fi card on his hands and when a replacement was sent, he was told to destroy the original. What better way to ‘destroy’ something than opening the case? The Eye-Fi is an SD card with a builtin WiFi radio so it can upload images while remaining in camera. One version uses Skyhook’s location service to geotag photos. You can see a few photos of the dismantled card on Flickr. The board is manufactured by Wintec. The wireless side is handled by Atheros’ ROCm, the same low power Radio-on-Chip module you would find in a mobile phone. The flash memory comes from Samsung and the antenna is along the back edge, where it has the best chance of getting signal.

44 thoughts on “Eye-Fi Teardown

  1. what a great idea!!!!

    so you can then get the camera into places where cameras are not allowed and if the camera is taken then you still have the pictures because they are wirelessly sent to a laptop in a car behind the building

  2. Actually, no, not to a laptop in the car because the receiver has to be plugged into a computer on a LAN. The piece that plugs into your computer pulls an IP from your router and the SD card in the camera sends the pictures to the IP of the USB plug-in receiver. Now, if you have that laptop in the car plugged into a wireless router it would probably work.

  3. And since it’s SD, it doesn’t even work in pro cameras?

    Posted at 6:04 pm on Feb 1st, 2009 by thethirdmoose

    @thethirdmoose, i guess you don’t keep up much with pro cameras, or your idea of a pro camera isn’t actually a pro camera. the 1d mark 3 uses both sd and CF slots. so it would be able to. however both nikon and canon have wireless setups already so this makes this item kinda useless for them as well. then you get into non-pro the prosumer type slr’s which many do and do not have sd slots any more. nikons have more models with sd than canon’s do but again a moot point to your opinions about pro users.

    as for this card it is a neat little item that would probably work well for lots of scenarios.

    oh and for basically being able to do what a cellphone does? yeah show me a cell phone that takes pictures and instead of storing them on their memory automatically transfers them to a pc somewhere. and takes a picture at 800 iso with any quality at all……well any phone that has any quality at all :P

  4. Yea. Show me a cell phone with an 8 MP camera and a 10x optical zoom. Or, hell, _any_ optical zoom. And manual shutter speeds. Or even a flash. Or optical image stabilization. Or _any_ of the features that are pretty standard on a moderate priced point-and-shoot.

    The only problem I see with this is I don’t think I’d be able to use CHDK with this, which would kinda suck.

  5. Although it’s a bit pedantic I would point out that to use wifi from an unattended car you’d better hide the laptop from sight well, but if it’s too hidden, like in the trunk, then the wifi would be shielded and require an external antenna.
    In a related story: in Britain the cops say thieves use bluetooth to detect which car has BT devices to loot (can’t win can you, sigh), and that makes you realise cops themselves could detect wifi from cameras, and their nearby laptop receiver, one assumes.
    Of course in general cops don’t do that much effort, but still.

  6. @eddie1261: I think i speak for all of us when I say that I hope you aren’t a computer tech of any kind. although with your level of knowledge, you would be great for the geek squad. :/

    (don’t normally talk about people, but I hate it when someone acts like an expert and is just plain wrong. normal for the internet, but not hackaday)

  7. @Drew G:
    You can use CHDK, but you can’t autoload as it doesn’t have a write-protect switch.
    The EyeFi card is a 2GB card, newest is 4GB SDHC. It stores locally like a normal card and sends over wireless as it can.

  8. @those who say you don’t get decent phone cameras.

    This is a link to some pictures taken with a Nokia N82 camera which has been out at least a year in Europe. It has a 5MP camera, genuine flash (not LEDs), wifi and HSPDA (who needs wifi when you can just upload straight to the web?).

    Fantastic shots and probably a lot better than this wifi card for your theoretical undercover photo shoot.


  9. i was thinking on the atm skimmer effect where the thieves have the device disguised as a card slot and is equipped with a cell phone with text messaging so by the time the bank and police finds out it is too late the credit cards have been copied.

    same here while it is probably illegal the theory is that by the time the police finds out it is probably too late especially if working in a ring of some sort

  10. I had one of these . they suck. It’s a great toy for people that dabble with photographs and cant be bothered with taking a card out. They take F_O_R_E_V_E_R to upload the images to the laptop or PC compared to a real reader. My camera cant shoot rapid fire for more than 20 photos until it locks up waiting for downloads to finish.

    Interesting idea, really REALLY short range, your laptop needs to be on you or within 10 feet, and because it’s not 802.11n it’s slow as molasses, after 10 feet it gets even slower. at 25 feet it’s insanely slow.

    I returned mine and bought 6 4gig 366X cards for the same price. They offload in my firewire card reader faster than the camera could write to them.

  11. @james n82 camera has a CRAPPY camera. Got one on my hip now, it sucks as a camera. Dude go buy a $99.00 canon point and shoot. even my old throwaway 2.1 megapixel canon from 1999 kicks the crap out of the photos that an N82 can do.

    20 bajillion megapixel means nothing, real optics mean everything, no camera made has any real optics, only that ceramic lens crap that is in every single phone because of space. Ceramic lenses cant get tack clear focus (plus no cellphone has a real focus only a infinite focus blob lens.)

  12. Atheros,….hmmmm

    I wonder what this card is running, I wonder if I could get the radio in monitor mode. One of these cards and a small pile of cr2032’s and a neodyninium magnet would make for some interesting wifi sniffing throwies. Especially with the built in memory. I would love to give that a try.

  13. It’s only a matter of time for this device to be completely freed from the patented status. Wireless features to any storage can not really be patented, and even if today this nice little wifi SD card can “only” send jpg files sooner or later it_will send RAW format too. Any software or hardware lock will be much likely broken. There is always a free world out there, not bound to material interests :)

  14. What I don’t understand, is why the original company told him to destroy the original EyeFI chip. Does the company really not want to have their sooper-seekrit chipdata out there in the public eye?

  15. The internal and NAND flash look big enough … wonder if you could put a small os on this for injection wireless pen-testing?

    @yup – I’ll only be concerned if it’s not listed and you can’t buy chips that don’t have this feature. Last I checked though, GPS doesn’t work well indoors … so you can fool it pretty easily: use camera outside, turn camera off, remove chip, move to new indoor location, put chip back in, take new picture – you’ve just faked a gps tag.

  16. I’m no tech genius but I’ve always wondered what the minimal box needed to harvest pictures out of a webcam. A computer always seemed a like bit of overkill.

    Can one of these be the seed for such a box?
    – snap picture
    – upload via WiFi
    – erase picture
    – [wait interval ]
    – repeat

    just wondering…

  17. Can the OS be modified ? If yes, can it be modified to mount a custom disk image over tcp/ip or do something similar and fool the cam that the disk image is the card ? That way, you could load a custom CHDK, which can probably even show you if the upload is complete or not, signal strength etc! No ?

  18. Regards download speed – I’ve looked at the rf front end and the Atheros chipset.

    Unfortunately guys – no way round it: you are stuck with the limited download speed – the db/dbm output (real low), and the antenna design (which by virtue of its size and physical layout constraints ain’t going to change)adds up to an in-efficient rf link. No way round this one guys – except to hack into the HAL (layer) and modify the Tx db/dbm level. Possible? – yes, but well beyond the average user skill level.

    None the less a cool product – which could offer real world usable genuine 100meter plus radius download distance (indoors) if manufactured with a 900Mhz rf front end – could be used with Ubiquiti networks 900MHz wireless cards. 900Mhz Ub router card with external antenna – just think of the uses!

  19. how about this.. hack the eye-fi card so that it can also sync PDFs and then install into the sony e-reader. Voila, instant DRM-free Kindle..

    Can’t be too hard, the firmware is probably updateable so should be easy to modify to change or add filetypes.

    (or just have the e-reader change JPEGs with a special character in the name to PDF via modified firmware)


  20. @Andre
    One slight issue with what’s in parenthesis… the stock Eye-Fi only uploads images saved to it to the web, it doesn’t download them from the web. A firmware hack on the eye-fi would be what is needed.

  21. Can we flash these to make a “Throwie Mesh” node for situations deserving that sort of tool?

    Or, possible wireless incarnations of the Flash Drive embedded in a wall Hack.

    A Geocache flashed version where the restricted range of this device would serve as enhancement to the challenge factors?

  22. It does not use GPS at all. It’s croud-sourced location data based on local WiFi hotspot IDs and their locations. Usually an iPhone or Android phone that happens to detect the WiFi hotspot correlates the GPS data (in the phone) with the hotspot’s ID. The Eye-Fi card does not do GPS at all. Neither does iPod Touch, by the way.

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