The FPC adapter shown soldered between the BGA chip and the phone's mainboard, with the phone shown to have successfully booted, displaying an unlock prompt on the screen

IPhone 6S NVMe Chip Tapped Using A Flexible PCB

Psst! Hey kid! Want to reverse-engineer some iPhones? Well, did you know that modern iPhones use PCIe, and specifically, NVMe for their storage chips? And if so, have you ever wondered about sniffing those communications? Wonder no more, as this research team shows us how they tapped them with a flexible printed circuit (FPC) BGA interposer on an iPhone 6S, the first iPhone to use NVMe-based storage.

The research was done by [Mohamed Amine Khelif], [Jordane Lorandel], and [Olivier Romain], and it shows us all the nitty-gritty of getting at the NVMe chip — provided you’re comfortable with BGA soldering and perhaps got an X-ray machine handy to check for mistakes. As research progressed, they’ve successfully removed the memory chip dealing with underfill and BGA soldering nuances, and added an 1:1 interposer FR4 board for the first test, that proved to be successful. Then, they made an FPC interposer that also taps into the signal and data pins, soldered the flash chip on top of it, successfully booted the iPhone 6S, and scoped the data lines for us to see.

This is looking like the beginnings of a fun platform for iOS or iPhone hardware reverse-engineering, and we’re waiting for further results with bated breath! This team of researchers in particular is prolific, having already been poking at things like MITM attacks on I2C and PCIe, as well as IoT device and smartphone security research. We haven’t seen any Eagle CAD files for the interposers published, but thankfully, most of the know-how is about the soldering technique, and the paper describes plenty. Want to learn more about these chips? We’ve covered a different hacker taking a stab at reusing them before. Or perhaps, would you like to know NVMe in more depth? If so, we’ve got just the article for you.

We thank [FedX] for sharing this with us on the Hackaday Discord server!

Teensy Liberates The ThinkPad Keyboard

[Frank Adams] liked the keyboard on his Lenovo ThinkPad T61 so much that he decided to design an adapter so he could use it over USB with the Teensy microcontroller. He got the Trackpoint working, and along the way managed to add support for a number of other laptop boards as well. Before you know it, he had a full-blown open source project on his hands. Those projects can sneak up on you when you least expect it…

The first step of the process is getting your laptop keyboard of choice connected up to the Teensy, but as you might expect, that’s often easier said than done. They generally use a flexible printed circuit (FPC) “ribbon cable” of some type, but may also be terminated in any number of weirdo connectors. [Frank] goes over the finer points of getting these various keyboards connected to his PCB, from searching the usual suspects such as Aliexpress and Digikey for the proper connector to throwing caution to the wind and cutting off problematic nubs and tabs to make it fit.

You might be on your own for figuring out the best way to connect your liberated keyboard up, but [Frank] has done his part by designing a few PCBs which handle routing the appropriate connections to the Teensy LC or 3.2 microcontroller. He’s such a swell guy he’s even written the firmware for you. As of right now there’s currently a dozen keyboards supported by his software and hardware setup, but he also gives tips on how to get the firmware modified for your own board if you need to.

It should come as no surprise that it was a Thinkpad keyboard that got [Frank] going down this path; as we’ve documented over the years, hackers love their Thinkpads. From fitting them with more modern motherboards to going full on matryoshka and putting a second computer inside of one, it’s truly the laptop that launched a thousand hacks.

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Hackaday Prize Entry: Printem Is Polaroid For PCBs

We are going to great lengths to turn a quick idea into an electronic prototype, be it PCB milling, home etching or manufacturing services that ship PCBs around the world. Unwilling to accept the complications of PCB fabrication, computer science student [Varun Perumal Chadalavada] came up with an express solution for PCB prototyping: Printem – a Polaroid-like film for instant-PCBs.

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FPC Arduino

Seeed Studios has a new version of the Arduino that they’re calling the Seeeduino Film. Instead of the traditional fiberglass substrate they’ve used a resin material to produce a Flexible Printed Circuit (FPC). In addition to its flexibility their aim with this prototype was to keep it modular. From what we can see each of the four squares is a different component in the Arduino system. The photo above has the USB interface on the nearest node, then the power regulator, the microprocessor, and finally the remaining peripheral connections. This material can easily be cut with a pair of scissors so the programming section can be removed once the firmware is burned to the chip. It will be interesting to see final pricing and package options. We wouldn’t mind having an FPC ATmega168 breakout board around, but specifially this would fit nicely in a watch band if you were building your own wristwatch.

[Thanks Juan]