Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ubertooth One
Check out the video on that page. It's a roughly 50 minute talk given by Michael Ossmann about his Ubertooth project. The project is a 2.4ghz transceiver that is able to monitor the entire communication between Bluetooth devices. This is useful because most, if not all, bluetooth adapters cannot be used in the same way.. they automatically strip information out before it gets to your computer. With this Ubertooth dongle he can better perform a security audit on bluetooth devices than previously possible.

What I find more interesting about this is that this wasn't all that complicated hardware wise. The protocol sounds like it was a real pain, but he's had prior experience with implementing that on the USRP. The dongle, as it stands, is mostly 3 chips. A CC2591 2.4ghz PA/LNA, CC2400 2.4ghz RF transceiver and a LPC175x series ARM chip.

What inspired him to use a chip like the CC2400? He previously played around with a kids toy called an IM-ME. It's a pink pager-like device meant for girls to send instant messages over the Internet (via a usb dongle plugged into a computer)... He was able to turn it into an inexpensive spectrum analyzer type device. How? It has a CC1110 chip. This is an RF transceiver chip with an integrated 8051 cpu. According to the linked site:
Frequency range: 300 – 348 MHz, 391 – 464 MHz and 782 – 928 MHz
Pretty neat, it's capable of operation in the 70cm and 33cm bands at up to 500kBaud. This was in a toy that was less than $20 on ebay. I'm guessing that chip was unsuitable for the bluetooth use that he wanted, therefore the choice of the CC2400 chip.

Something else I found interesting was the Kickstarter site itself. Quoting from the About link:
Kickstarter is the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. Every month, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of musicfilmarttechnologydesignfoodpublishing and other creative fields.
A new form of commerce and patronage. This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.
All or nothing funding. On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.
It's a neat idea. I don't know how well it has worked out in the past since this is the first I've heard of it. You can pledge a few dollars to help a project out without expecting anything in return or there are bonuses to pledging more. For the Ubertooth project, $15 will get you a pcb and a stencil, $30 gets you that and an assembled serial board to help you load the firmware, $100 or more gets you a fully assembled board, etc. I'm sure that Mr Ossmann would deliver, but I'm not sure if the website has ever had problems of someone refusing to deliver after getting the funding. I still like the idea though.

Michael Ossmann has a very nice blog: Here
Travis Goodspeed has a blog about similar such things: Here
(He has a project for a conference badge that includes somewhat similar but different brand wireless components. I may ramble on about that at another time, in another post.)

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