Bike Lock Secures Car

[Buttim] loses his car a lot, which might sound a little bit like the plot from an early-00s movie, but he assures us that it’s a common enough thing. In a big city, and after several days of not driving one’s car, it can be possible to at least forget where you parked. There are a lot of ways of solving this problem, but the solution almost fell right into his lap: repurposing a lock from a bike share bicycle. (The build is in three parts: Part 2 and Part 3.)

These locks are loaded with features, like GPS, a cellular modem, accelerometers, and in this case, an ARM processor. It took a huge amount of work for [Buttim] to get anything to work on the device, but after using a vulnerability to dump the firmware and load his own code on the device, spending an enormous amount of time trying to figure out where all the circuit traces went through layers of insulation intended to harden the lock from humidity, and building his own Python-based programmer for it, he has basically free reign over the device.

To that end, once he figured out how it all worked, he put it to use in his car. The device functions as a GPS tracker and reports its location over the cellular network so it can’t become lost again. As a bonus, he was able to use the accelerometers to alert him if his car was moving without him knowing, so it turned into a theft deterrent as well. Besides that, though, his ability to get into the device’s firmware reminded us of a recent attempt to get access to an ARM platform.

13 thoughts on “Bike Lock Secures Car

  1. Not sure about Android phones, but iphones have a pretty cool feature in the Maps application. It will automatically list “parked car” in your recent locations, along with how long ago it was parked. I assume it knows when and where you parked from the phone disconnecting from car bluetooth audio. I’m not mentioning this to negate the worthiness of this project, just figured a lot of people might not know about this feature, especially if they use google maps instead of Apple’s Map app. No additional cellular data plan needed.

    But YES, losing your car IS easy to do in a big city. It might not happen often, but when it does… man is that confusing. I still remember the looks my ex gf gave me while we spent an hour of our San Francisco weekend trip looking for my car – her in high heels trudging up and down steep blocks, me losing my mind forgetting which blocks we already checked, pressing the alarm button on my key fob at every corner. Her ability to hold a piercing “you f***ing idiot” glare for an hour was actually somewhat impressive.

      1. On my Moto G5 it does this automatically and it has done this as long as I can remember.. No button pushes, No BT connection needed, no fuss, no paying $1000 for a phone.

        1. Curious how the phone knows you have parked and exited your car if it is not using a BT connection to the car or any manual signaling from the human?

          If it knows this from GOOGLE constantly tracking your location and speed, and GOOGLE notices that your movements changed from those characteristic of driving to those characteristic of walking… then I think you pretty much solidified Kaasbaas’ comment regarding giving away your privacy. I much prefer a simpler option of the phone simply making note of when and where it disconnected from my car’s BT than utilize a datacenter constantly tracking my every move 24/7 and running analytics to determine what my current activity state is.

          PS my original comment was not to promote iphones or apple products. It was simply sharing a feature I noticed on a device I have. No need to turn this into an apple vs. android thing.

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