Discovery Dish Lets You Pick Up The Final Frontier

These days, affordable software defined radios (SDRs) have made huge swaths of the spectrum available to hobbyists. Whether you’re looking to sniff the data from that 433 MHz thermometer you’ve got in the backyard or pick up transmissions from satellites, the same little USB-connected box can make it happen.

But even the best SDR is constrained by the antenna it’s connected to, and that’s where it can still get a little tricky for new players. Luckily, there’s a new option for those who want to pick up signals from space without breaking the bank: the Discovery Dish by KrakenRF. After reaching 105% of its funding goal on December 20th, the handy little 65-cm aluminum reflector looks like it’s on track to ship out this summer.

The Discovery Dish was designed from the ground up to enable hobbyists to receive real-time weather data from satellites transmitting in the L band (GOES, NOAA, Meteor, etc.) and experiment with hydrogen line radio astronomy. Neither of which are anything new, of course. But having a pre-built dish and feed takes a lot of the hassle out of picking up these distant signals.

Although the current prototype has a one-piece reflector, the final Discovery Dish will break down into three “petals” to make storage and transport easier. If you don’t want to take it all the way apart, you can simply remove the feed to make it a bit more compact. Speaking of which, KrakenRF is also offering three different feeds depending on what signals you’re after: L band, Inmarsat, or hydrogen line.

You still have options if you’ve got to keep your radio hacking on a tighter budget. As we saw recently, you can actually pull an ET and pick up weather satellites using a foil-lined umbrella. Or spend a little at the big box hardware store and grab some aluminum flashing.

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5Ghoul: The 14 Shambling 5G Flaws Used For Disruptive Attacks On Smartphones

A team of researchers from the ASSET Research Group in Singapore have published the details of a collection of vulnerabilities in the fifth generation mobile communication system (5G) used with smartphones and many other devices. These fourteen vulnerabilities are detailed in this paper and a PoC detailing an attack using a software defined radio (SDR) is provided on GitHub. The core of the PoC attack involves creating a malicious 5G base station (gNB), which nearby 5G modems will seek to communicate with, only for these vulnerabilities to be exploited, to the point where a hard reset (e.g. removal of SIM card) of the affected device may be required.

Hardware Setup for 5Ghoul PoC testing and fuzzer evaluation. (Credit: Matheus E. Garbelini et al., 2023)
Hardware Setup for 5Ghoul PoC testing and fuzzer evaluation. (Credit: Matheus E. Garbelini et al., 2023)

Another attack mode seeks to downgrade the target device’s wireless connection, effectively denying the connection to a 5G network and forcing them to connect to an alternative network (2G, 3G, 4G, etc.). Based on the affected 5G modems, the researchers estimate that about 714 smartphone models are at risk of these attacks. Naturally, not just smartphones use these 5G modem chipsets, but also various wireless routers, IoT devices, IP cameras and so on, all of which require the software these modems to be patched.

Most of the vulnerabilities concern the radio resource control (RCC) procedure, caused by flaws in the modem firmware. Android smartphones (where supported) should receive patches for 5Ghoul later this month, but when iPhone devices get patched is still unknown.

VR Spectrum Analyzer

At one point or another, we’ve probably all wished we had a VR headset that would allow us to fly around our designs. While not quite the same, thing, [manahiyo831] has something that might even be better: a VR spectrum analyzer. You can get an idea of what it looks like in the video below, although that is actually from an earlier version.

The video shows a remote PC using an RTL dongle to pick up signals. The newer version runs on the Quest 2 headset, so you can simply attach the dongle to the headset. Sure, you’d look like a space cadet with this on, but — honestly — if you are willing to be seen in the headset, it isn’t that much more hardware.

What we’d really like to see, though, is a directional antenna so you could see the signals in the direction you were looking. Now that would be something. As it is, this is undeniably cool, but we aren’t sure what its real utility is.

What other VR test gear would you like to see? A Tron-like logic analyzer? A function generator that lets you draw waveforms in the air? A headset oscilloscope? Or maybe just a giant workbench in VR?

A spectrum analyzer is a natural project for an SDR. Or things that have SDRs in them.

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