RF Hacking Hack Chat

Join us on Wednesday, October 12 at noon Pacific for the RF Hacking Hack Chat with Christopher Poore!

On the time scale of technological history, it really wasn’t all that long ago that radio was — well, boring. We’re not talking about the relative entertainment value of the Jack Benny Show or listening to a Brooklyn Dodgers game, but about the fact that for the most part, radio was a one-dimensional medium: what you heard was pretty much all there was to a signal, and radio was rarely used for anything particularly hackable.

Not so today, of course, where anything electronic seems to have at least one radio stuffed into it, and the space around us is filled with a rich soup of fascinating RF signals. For hackers, this is where radio gets interesting — listening in on those signals, exploring their nature, and figuring out how to put them to use are like red meat for most of us.

join-hack-chatHacking and reverse engineering opportunities abound in the RF realm, but can sometimes be a bit difficult. What’s needed is a framework for pulling those signals out of the ether and putting them into some kind of context. Fortunately, there are plenty of tips and tricks in this space; we talked about one of them, FISSURE, not too long ago. The acronym — “Frequency Independent SDR-Based Signal Understand and Reverse Engineering” — about sums up what this framework is all about. But to bring it into further focus, we’re lucky enough to have Chris Poore, a Senior Reverse Engineer at Assured Information Security, drop by the Hack Chat. We’ll talk about RF reverse engineering in general and FISSURE in particular. Be sure to stop by with your RF hacking and reverse engineering questions and war stories!

Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, October 12 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have you tied up, we have a handy time zone converter.

15 thoughts on “RF Hacking Hack Chat

  1. Men were men and didn’t build from modules. And what was cutting edge last week wasn’t this week, but there were new things to push.

    In the beginning, radio was a lab curiosity. Then Marconi showed it’s value. No rukes, anything could happen. And out of that, order and applications arrived.

    There was no electronics, just radio, until later.

    1. I don’t get that elitism about modules vs soldering yourself. I can do both, but I still enjoy modules since I also write my own code from scratch. Sometimes writing your own library can be more fun. I can also calculate square roots in my brain, but after doing it a few times I consider it a waste of lifetime and use a calculator.

      So let me say this: A real man doesn’t dictate his other men and women their choices about how to be a hacker. By the definition of RMS of the FSF you are a hacker if you have “playful cleverness” already.

      1. Because too many times here when radio is mentioned, it’s like “the bad old days when people had to build”. It ignores the deep and interesting history that used to happen.

        Whatever I do, I understand good receiver design, and certainly the rudiments of SDR

        1. Last time I wanted to build I found variable capacitors being sold at collector’s prices and IF transformers largely unavailable. I see why this may scare away people. There must be a way between “too hard too source” and “fast food” click-to-connect solutions.

          Sitting atop 200 russian germanium diodes with nothing to build :(

      2. “So let me say this: A real man doesn’t dictate his other men and women their choices about how to be a hacker. By the definition of RMS of the FSF you are a hacker if you have “playful cleverness” already.”

        “..a real man..” 🙄

        So essentially, it’s a sacrilege if people still exist who don’t follow the modern day mainstream? Or wholeheartedly tell you things you haven’t ask for? Like just saying “good day” to you on street, despite being strangers?

        Excuse me, but didn’t open source people used to almost aggressively bash people which created programs that were either using assembly language (“not portable code”) or created programs which were closed-source (Freeware, Shareware, Public Domain, Commercial)?

        If so, I think isn’t it quite arrogant and self-congratulatory to make such a bold statement?

        The few remaining oldtime/oldschool HAMs who still care about DIY shouldn’t be treated like this. Let’s be glad that they still tell us how to build things from scratch. They’re gone soon enough, no need to be so negative about them.

        1. It’s very good that people exist that have other ways, “old” ways, or simply different ways, despite the tendency of modern society to hate on anything different from them. Actual diversity is enrichment.

          I think real hackers enjoy that as well, new, old and anything in between. Especially old tech is fascinating.

      3. Yeah I shamelessly use modules.
        There’s only so many times you want to build the same audio amplifier and the same level shifter or even the same Si5351 synth board.
        I designed my own Si5351 and also built one synth around it by hand with an x-acto knife.
        But that gets old fast.
        Especially when I can get modules for the cost of parts. And the modules are available, unlike parts.
        Then again, I do also design my own modules to have re-usable blocks in my builds.

      4. I live in a medium size city. Up through the late 1970s, it was fairly easy to get components. We had Lafayette, Allied, Olson’s, several Tandy/Radio Shack, and several independent shops catering to TV repair. As of 2022 every one of them is gone. What is also gone is the expertise of the people running the shops. Radio Shack was hit or miss whether the proprietor was knowledgeable, but some of the other shops had people working the counter who had been selling components for over 30 years. Those gray beards could make constructive suggestions about parts needed for a project. The Internet is now know our collective knowledge source, but something undefinable is just missing from the Internet experience.

        One of the Radio Shacks was within walking distance of where I live. If I found my parts drawer empty of 3.3K resistors for a build, I could take a walk and have a handful of resistors in well under an hour, albeit a little on the expensive side. Even Amazon Prime doesn’t match that.

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