We’ve been following the open, royalty-free RISC-V ISA for a while. At first we read the specs, and then we saw RISC-V cores in microcontrollers, but now there’s a new board that offers enough processing power at a low enough price point to really be interesting in a single board computer. The VisionFive 2 ran a successful Kickstarter back in September 2022, and I’ve finally received a unit with 8 GB of ram. And it works! The JH7110 won’t outperform a modern desktop, or even a Raspberry Pi 4, but it’s good enough to run a desktop environment, browse the web, and test software.
And that’s sort of a big deal, because the RISC-V architecture is starting to show up in lots of places. The challenge has been getting real hardware that’s powerful enough to run Linux and compile software on, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. If ARM is an alternative architecture, then RISC-V is still an experimental one, and that is an issue when trying to use the VF2. That’s a theme we’ll repeat a few times, but the thing to remember here is that getting more devices in the wild is the first step to fixing things. Continue reading “The Future Of RISC-V And The VisionFive 2 Single Board Computer”
At this point, a Pi Pico is equivalent to a bag full of programmers and debugging accessories. For instance, when you want to program an SPI flash chip, do you use one of those wonky CH341 dongles, or perhaps, even a full-on Raspberry Pi with a Linux OS? If so, it might be time to set those two aside – any RP2040 board can do this now. This is thanks to work of [stacksmashing] who implemented
serprog protocol for the RP2040, letting us use a Pi Pico with stock
flashrom for all our SPI flash chip needs.
After flashing the code to your RP2040 board, all you need to do is to wire your flash chip to the right pins, and then use the
serprog programmer type in your
flashrom commandline – instructions are available on GitHub along with the code, as you’d expect. Don’t feel like installing
flashrom, or perhaps you happen to run Windows and need a flasher in a pinch? [stacksmashing] has a WebSerial-based SPI flasher tool for you, too, and shows it off with a fancy all-the-pinouts board of his own making.
This kind of tool is indispensable – you don’t need to mod one of these CH341 programmers to fix the bonkers 5 V default IO, or keep an entire Linux computer handy when you likely already have one at your fingertips. All in all, yay for one more RP2040 trick up our sleeve – this SPI flashing helper joins an assortment of applets for SWD, JTAG, UART, I2C and CAN, and in a pinch, your Pi Pico will also work as a digital and analog logic analyzer or an FPGA playground.
If you’re in the market for something to obfuscate your nefarious nocturnal activities, rejoice — this adversarial infrared hoodie may be just what you’re looking for.
Not that we condone illegal activities, of course, and neither does artist [Mac Pierce], who created “The Camera-Shy Hoodie.” His purpose seems to be exploring the nature of the surveillance state, or rather to perplex it in the name of anonymity. The idea is simple — equip a standard hoodie with a ring of super-bright IR LEDs, and control them with an RP2040.
We’ve seen blinding hoodies before, but here the LEDs strobe on and off in one of three different patterns, all of which are timed to confound the autoexposure mechanism in just about any surveillance camera by not giving it time to adjust to the rapidly and drastically changing light level. The result is near-total obfuscation of the wearer’s facial features, at least when the camera is in night-vision mode. Check out the results in the video below.
There are some nice touches to [Mac]’s approach, like aluminum PCBs for the LEDs and the use of soldered-on fabric snaps to attach them to the inside of the hoodie, making them easy to remove for laundering. With the LEDs peeking through holes in the fabric, the hoodie looks pretty run-of-the-mill — until, of course, night falls and the USB battery bank in the hoodie’s pocket powers up the light show.
Granted, this won’t exactly help you avoid detection — the big ball of light around your head will be instantly seen by even the most casual observer. But at least it makes it easier to keep your face to yourself. And it won’t help much in daylight — for that, you might want something a little more like this passive adversarial ugly sweater.
Continue reading “Adversarial IR Hoodie Lets You Own The Night In Anonymity”