Open House: New Space

Hello hackers. Look at your office. Now look at the hackerspace. Now back at your office. Now back to the space. Sadly, your office doesn’t look like the hacker space. Do you know what the new hackerspace looks like? No? Well now’s your opportunity. I’m on a horse.

Tomorrow, Friday 3/16, at 7pm we are throwing an open house at the space. Of course it’s free, we just want to show off our new digs. It’s probably a perfect time for you to visit if you’ve never been. Or if you’ve only seen the old tiny space, see what we have to offer now.

Just so we can figure out how many people are coming, click on this link to get a ticket:

http://interlockopenhouse.eventbrite.com/

Here’s what to expect:

Food!

Hacking makes you hungry. As a reward for stopping by on a Friday night, we’ll be feeding you. Members are bringing in food in a pot-luck style. Mostly things to nibble at so bring an appetite. Eating and hacking; does it get better? Well… yeah but it’s still pretty cool right?

Mini-Presentations

The most common question that we get. “What are you working on?” To try and answer that, we’ve created mini presentations about what people do at the space. Here’s what we have so far:

  • Amateur radio workshop run by JustBill and Walter
  • Introduction to lockpicking run by Antitree
  • 3D printer presentation and possible demo by Berticus
  • Basics of electronics run by RoboAlex
  • Bicycle repair run by BinaryMan

Hackerspace Tour

 Here are some things to check out while you’re at the space:
  • Rooms: Meeting room, hang out room, table hackers room, workshop area, Ham shack
  • Network infrastructure
  • Pen plotters
  • 3D printers
  • Metal lathe and wood working tools
  • Ham radio shack
  • Electronics workbench

See you there

from on March 15th, 2012Comments0 Comments

Near Field Communication Primer

I thought I’d do a primer about NFC since Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus is getting a lot of press about it. You may have heard of Google Wallet or how NFC is going to be built into smart phones in the future. Maybe you haven’t thought about how it works or how to hack it. As a side[side(side)] project I’ve been working on NFC research with (as always for me) a specific focus on the security perspectives. This is an overview of NFC to maybe peak your interest.

Define:NFC

Near Field Communication is a way to transmit information between intelligent devices. I know you’re already thinking Bluetooth but wait. NFC has a limitation that says in its spec that it can’t be more than .2m away from its partner during communication. It may be a bit more depending on the implementation but the thing to remember here is that the protocol itself is what limits the distance, not just the hardware. (Quit pointing that gigantic antenna at my pocket right now!) It transmits on the HF band 13.56MHz, a frequency already used by some RFID chips and fun devices like the Proxmark 3.

Modes

Here’s what’s different about NFC: There are three different modes.

  • Reader/Writer: Commonly used in smart posters or smart stickers. Think QR code but subtle.
  • Peer to Peer: Data is exchanged back and forth between devices; securely exchange credit cards, give your friend your home WIFI settings, or exchange business cards.
  • Card Emulation: A device acts like a contactless smart card. What if you could use your phone as a bus pass instead of keeping that flimsy magstripe pass in your pocket?

NFC != RFID

Lets take care of that up front. NFC sounds a lot like RFID (they share the whole RF thing) and it seems to get stored in people’s heads that way because NFC has the card emulation mode where it emulates at “tag” or an RFID chip.  RFID isn’t usually much more than a tag blindly broadcasting data hoping a receiver picks it up. Passive tags (or little antennas without a power source) sit and wait for an RFID reader to come by to energize them. They get all excited and tell the reader everything they know. Imagine a dog just waiting at the door for it’s owner to come home. The active RFID tags have a battery in them that constantly broadcasts itself to anyone that will listen. Kind of like that annoying friend you have that tells you everything about their life even though you never asked. NFC on the other hand is like an intelligent college student. She can have an intimate conversation with you, she can make a presentation in front of a class, but she can still get drunk and act stupid if that’s what everyone else is doing at the party.

NFC is not a new technology

We’ve seen them in European phones since 2003 or 4 and they’ve been hacked on for just as long. The folks at the Chaos Computer Club have been hacking on NFC since it’s original inception; when manufacturers like Nokia started installing it into their feature phones, AKA dumb phones. It never made it across the water – some may say due to some FCC regulations on the 13.56 frequency but I’ll leave that topic to the Ham guys.

Security

If you haven’t already, you should put on your tin foil hat now. NFC is a way for corporations to take over our bodies, man! Well…most likely not. But you’re already thinking about the security problems as soon as I wrote “credit card.” I’m going to save this whole discussion for another day but the tl;dr version is that NFC has been designed with security in mind but a lot is left up to the developer to implement securely. We all know how well that works especially for mobile app developers so I’m sure everything is going to be fine, right? Maybe next time I’ll tell you about the butt sniffing attack. No seriously.

Android and The Galaxy Nexus

How is Android implementing NFC in the Galaxy Nexus? Here’s an example of a peer to peer mode connection: When you put a Galaxy Nexus next to another Galaxy Nexus, the phone will make an NFC connection as long as both phones are unlocked. If the app that you  have open supports NFC (i.e. Google Maps) it will allow you to communicate data from your app to the other device. Some examples of this are sharing contact information, location data, websites, etc but apparently it’s going to be used for games or whatever developers can think of.

The Reader/Writer mode will allow you to take an NFC tag and shove it next to the phone. Depending on the data stored on the card, it will open an appropriate app to view the content. In the case of an NFC tag that is contains a URL, it will automatically go to that page. Ask me about some of the NFC tags I’ve made at a 2600 meeting sometime. :)

More info:

If you want to see a much better post that’s chock full of info check this out: http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/10/engadget-primed-what-is-nfc-and-why-do-we-care/

Here’ s a random YouTube video of two guys with Galaxy Nexuses so I don’t have to make one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQSc4uiakv4

from on December 21st, 2011Comments0 Comments

Chatting With Spain

Last Thursday’s Do night, JustBill brought in his HF rig to try out on our club antennas.  Bill is an expert user on several digital communications modes including PSK31.  PSK31 or “Phase Shift Keying, 31 Baud” is a digital radio modulation mode, used primarily in the amateur radio field to conduct real-time keyboard-to-keyboard informal text chat between amateur radio operators.  After we got his rig set up and interfaced to Ham Radio Deluxe running on the club computer, we started a session on 40 meters and keyboard chatted with a guy in Spain.  We also chatted with a Ham in Wisconsin and another in Alabama.  We heard a Russian station but not quite enough signal to get to him with 50 watts.  Here’s a link to a wiki on PSK31:

JustBill at the controls….with aliens supervising

We also got an old Radio Shack HTX-202 operating APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) with UI-View32 (an ancient client software for radio packet hosting) and the ProComm TNC to communicate to the radio.  K2HAX is on the map!  APRS is an important tool for position reporting, remote telemetry, text messaging anyone anyplace, and local coordination of emergency training events. For a cool view of current APRS activity around K2HAX, go here.

 

’73 – N2ZVP – rochbert

from on December 13th, 2011Comments0 Comments