Hands probing inside a case with tools

Hardware Hacking 101 Needs Matching Toolkit

One doesn’t always have the luxury of sipping tea comfortably while hacking a piece of hardware at a fully-equipped workbench, where every tool is within reach. To address this, [Zokol] shares an early look at a hardware hacking toolkit-in-progress, whose purpose is to make hacking sessions as productive as possible while keeping size and weight within reasonable limits. There isn’t a part list yet, but there are some good tips on creating your own.

A view of a wide variety of toolsTo put together an effective hardware hacking toolkit, one must carefully consider what kinds of tasks need to be performed, and in what order. Once a basic workflow is identified, one can put together a set of complementary hardware tools and resources to meet the expected needs. The goal is to have the tools to go as far as one can in a single session, and identify any specialized equipment that will be needed later. That way, follow-up sessions can be as effective as possible.

Since hardware hacking is all about inspecting (and possibly modifying the behavior of) electronic devices, [Zokol] observes that step one is always to begin with external interfaces. That means common cables and adapters should all be part of a hardware hacking toolkit, otherwise the session might end awfully early. The next step is to open the device, so common tools and ways to deal with things like adhesives are needed. After that, diagnostic tools like multimeters come into play, with tools becoming more specialized as investigation proceeds. It’s a very sensible way to approach the problem of what to bring (and not bring) in a hardware hacking toolkit, and we can’t wait to see what the final version looks like.

Hardware hacking sometimes involves hardware that can’t be opened without damaging it. The Google Stadia controller is one such piece of hardware, and [Zokol] addressed the problem of how to permanently disable the microphone by figuring out exactly where to drill a hole.

TinkerKit, Physical Computing Toolkit


TinkerKit is a collection of 20 different sensors and 10 actuators. It’s meant to make prototyping of physical computing devices much quicker/easier. The devices plug into a Sensor Hub Arduino shield. There is also a similar hub board that can emulate a keyboard; it translates sensor input directly to key strokes. It looks like a very ambitious project and it’s still in development. We love the idea though and think the wide variety of components will foster better final designs. The TinkerKit site covers the current component lineup and there’s a demo video embedded below.

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