In today’s installment of Betteridge’s law enforcement, here’s an evil USB-C dock proof-of-concept by [Lachlan Davidson] from [Aura Division]. We’ve seen malicious USB devices aplenty, from cables and chargers to flash drives and even suspicious USB fans. But a dock, however, is new. The gist is simple — you take a stock dock, find a Pi Zero W and wire it up to a USB 2.0 port tapped somewhere inside the dock. Finding a Pi Zero is unquestionably the hardest part in this endeavor — on the software side, everything is ready for you, just flash an SD card with a pre-cooked malicious image and go!
On the surface level, this might seem like a cookie-cutter malicious USB attack. However, there’s a non-technical element to it; USB-C docks are becoming more and more popular, and with the unique level of convenience they provide, the “plug it in” temptation is much higher than with other devices. For instance, in shared workspaces, having a USB-C cable with charging and sometimes even a second monitor is becoming a norm. If you use USB-C day-to-day, the convenience of just plugging a USB-C cable into your laptop becomes too good to pass up on.
This hack doesn’t exactly use any USB-C specific technical features, like Power Delivery (PD) – it’s more about exploiting the convenience factor of USB-C that incentivizes you to plug a USB-C cable in, amplifying an old attack. Now, BadUSB with its keystroke injection is no longer the limit — with a Thunderbolt-capable USB-C dock, you can connect a PCIe device to it internally and even get access to a laptop’s RAM contents. Of course, fearing USB-C cables is not a viable approach, so perhaps it’s time for us to start protecting from BadUSB attacks on the software side.
Despite the seat of honor it enjoys in literally millions of households, the official Nintendo Switch Dock is certainly far from perfect. For one, it’s not milled out of a hefty block of aluminum. A less apparent but no less important issue is that the ports are positioned kind of awkward – [Kevin] from Modified believes that the USB ports should be facing the front side, while the HDMI, Ethernet, and charging inputs should be on the backside — a reasonable position. He set out to fix both of these problems at the same time, and tells us the CNC-heavy rebuild story in a short but captivating video.
The original dock consists of two PCBs, and these two boards are the only thing [Kevin] didn’t redesign from scratch. As they’re connected with a flexible cable, he could freely rotate and thus completely reposition the ports-equipped board without soldering. He added some standoffs to secure this board to the case, and after 3D printing a few iterations for test-fitting, the milling went on for all of us to marvel at.
The resulting dock is pretty, functional, and even has some extra features — for instance, the “i” in the embossed Nintendo logo lights up when the dock is in use. In no small part due to the Nintendo logo, we don’t expect this one to grace store shelves, but we hope that it provides inspiration to other makers to do their builds. If you like this rebuild and crave more, whether you’re looking for inspiration, CNC work insights, or pretty milling videos, [Kevin]’s milled Xbox case project is an excellent “Watch next” choice.
Continue reading “Nintendo Switch Stock Dock Imperfect? Mill Your Own!”
There are some projects which once might have been entirely appropriate, but which now seem sacrilegious. [Dave Luna]’s PC docking station in a Commodore Pet 64 case might at first sight seem to be one of them, but there’s a little more to it than gutting a cherished retrocomputer.
A much younger [Dave] had a dead Pet 64, and because over two decades ago such a thing was considered junk, set about converting it to a PC case. In the way of all ambitious projects it stalled, so here in 2022 he was starting with the metal case and keyboard of a Pet 64 rather than the full computer.
Into the case went a small color TFT monitor, a USB3 hub, a DisplayLink adapter, and and an Arduino Micro doing the job of USB-ifying the Commodore keyboard. The result is a pretty cool docking station, but one which he admits isn’t as nice to use as he’d like. Viewed through rose tinted glasses any PET was an amazing machine in its day, but a slightly lackluster keyboard and a tiny screen don’t quite have the same allure in a world of 4K monitors. Still, we’d have one on our desk.
The Pet appears in quite a few projects that have made it to these pages, for example showing YouTube videos.
Continue reading “Pet Docking Station Was Two Decades In The Making”
If you’ve ever owned a laptop with a docking station you can certainly attest to how something so simple can make your life easier. Just pop in the laptop and your external monitor(s), mouse, keyboard, and whatever are all ready to go. When it’s time to leave, just pop the laptop out and be on your way. [Chris] uses a Macbook for work and has to plug and unplug 4 connectors several times a day. This is just plain annoying and even more annoying when he accidentally plugs his two external monitors into the wrong ports. Commercially available docking stations are very expensive so [Chris] scratched his head and came up with a neat DIY docking station alternative.
All of the cords that regularly need connecting and disconnecting are conveniently located next to each other. He took some moldable plastic and surrounded all of his cord connectors while they were plugged into his laptop. Once the plastic hardened, all 4 cables can be plugged/unplugged at once. The plastic holds the connectors at the right orientation and spacing so [Chris’s] monitors will never again be plugged into the wrong ports. This is a great idea and we’d love to see a 3D printed version made for the docking-station-less computer users.