Cloning A Garage Key with RTL-SDR, Universal Radio Hacker and an Arduino

Over on YouTube Adam Łoboda has uploaded a video showing the full steps that he's taken to reverse engineer and clone a wireless garage door key using an RTL-SDR and Arduino.

He starts by using the Universal Radio Hacker software to record a copy of the wireless signal generated by the garage key. Using the software he can then analyze the signal, and determine the preamble data, payload data and pulse width which he can then input into some Arduino code. The Arduino can then generate an identical signal, and transmit it via a cheap FS1000A 433 MHz RF module. Finally, at the end of the video Adam shows the cloned Arduino based garage key working as expected. 

hacking & clonning my garage key with URH ( Universal radio Hacker ) and ARDUINO DIGISPARK + FS1000A

Migou: A Low-Power Hybrid Radio Platform

Thank you to Ramiro Utrilla Gutiérrez a PhD Candidate researcher at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid for writing in and sharing his research groups work on a low power SDR radio platform called "Migou". The basic idea is to combine software defined radio which is flexible but power hungry, with less flexible but power efficient hardware radios. The design files and BOM are creative commons licensed, and free to download. The radio is capable of operating in the 433 MHz, 868 MHz and 2.4 GHz bands at sample rates of up to 4 MSPS in SDR mode. Ramiro writes:

I'm the main developer of the MIGOU platform. This platform uses the Microchip AT86RF215 transceiver (like TinySDR and iotSDR) and a Microchip SmartFusion2 flash-based FPGA SoC.
The particularity of our work is what we have called the hybrid radio approach, which proposes to provide low-resource devices with the ability to operate both as a current mote, using a hardware transceiver, and as an SDR system. This is possible using only the AT86RF215 transceiver. With these capabilities, hybrid radio end-devices can exploit the SDR hardware flexibility for those sporadic tasks that strictly require it, and still benefit from the energy efficiency of hardware transceivers for all other tasks.
Our platform is not a commercial product, it is an open-source research tool. If you are interested, you can read more about our work in this article in Sensors journal, where we present the hybrid radio approach and the MIGOU platform, and in this article in IEEE Access journal, where we approach a Cognitive Radio problem from the perspective of our hybrid radio platform. Both articles are also open access.

The B105 Electronic Systems Lab also appear to have a website for the design which provides a summary:

MIGOU is a low-power wireless experimental platform designed to simultaneously address the energy-efficiency requirements of resource-constrained end-devices and the hardware flexibility demanded by the current Cognitive Radio (CR) and edge computing paradigms. This platform relies on the SmartFusion2 SoC that integrates an ARM Cortex-M3 processor and a flash-based FPGA, where high-speed processing tasks can be offloaded and computed more efficiently via hardware acceleration. In addition, at the radio level, the platform can operate both as a traditional node, which demands lower energy resources and development time, and as a Software-Defined Radio (SDR) system, which allows for the implementation of custom CR features. Moreover, the ability to dynamically switch between these two modes of operation opens the possibility for developing new hybrid strategies, taking advantage of both the flexibility offered by the SDR and the efficiency of the transceiver’s highly optimized baseband cores.

The power consumption of our platform was measured in transmit, receive, and sleep modes. These measurements were compared with the corresponding ones of other representative tools and systems: YetiMote, a traditional IoT end-device; MarmotE SDR, a low-power SDR system; and B200mini and B210 USRPs, two widely used high-performance SDR platforms. Moreover, all these devices were compared in terms of their hardware features. The results obtained confirmed that a state-of-the-art tradeoff between hardware flexibility and energy efficiency was achieved. These features will allow researchers to develop appropriate solutions to current end-devices’ challenges, and to test and evaluate them in real scenarios.

Migou: Low-Power Hybrid Radio Platform

CENOS Launches Affordable And Easy-to-use Simulation Software For Antenna Design

Over the past few months we have posted a few times about the beta of CENOS, a new antenna modelling and simulation design package. Recently CENOS has exited it's beta testing phase, and they have put out a press release about the first release.

Of most importance is that the software is affordable for hobbyist's, with a 10-day free trial and subscription price of €20 (US$25) per month for hobbyist use (no live engineering support).

Electromagnetics simulation software company CENOS (Riga, Latvia) continues on its mission to democratize simulation software by releasing its newest application designed for radio frequency and antenna design engineers. CENOS released its first electromagnetics simulation software focused on the induction heating applications in 2017 and it proved to be a success - mainly because of the simple and straightforward user experience and the specialization and focus on a single industry. After a year of development and testing in close cooperation with its avid beta-tester community, the Antenna Design simulation software was finally released for public use at the end of April, 2021.

CENOS Antenna Design is an intuitive FEM-based software that helps engineers to speed up RF antenna design, it solves Maxwell’s equations directly with no simplifications or limitations. Therefore, the results provided by CENOS are accurate for wide ranges of geometries and antennas, including very complex geometries. For instance, the software is good for high Q, multi-port simulations with arbitrary 3D structures. It is specialized for the simulation of microstrip- and wire-type antennas that include various geometries (fractal, helix, horn, loop, slot, patch, spiral, and others), as well as dipole and monopole antennas.

CENOS co-founder Dr. phys. Mihails Scepanskis: “Two years ago we launched a specialized induction heating simulation software to cover the growing demand in the SME sector - smaller equipment manufacturers, tooling shops, and production plants. Following the success in the low-frequency applications, we decided to move to the microwaves with the same mission - to democratize the simulation software, make it accessible for every engineer. I believe, it is an awkward situation in the market - engineers have to choose either to pay tons of money for enterprise-type generic simulation packages to utilize just a fraction of their functionality or to use over-simplified 1D approximations with the hobbyist-level software. With CENOS we have leveraged the power of open-source algorithms to break the status quo - to deliver a full-functionality FEM software for price-sensitive business users and individuals.”

CENOS Antenna Design is free to try for 10 days, after which the users can choose from the two subscription plans - for an individual or business use, starting from 20 euros per month ($25). The business version includes the features that help to automate and speed up simulation processes and has more integrations with the existing software and, most importantly, it has a live customer support through the chat and video calls. More features are planned to be added in 2021 and thus the prices may be increased over time, so now it is a good moment to subscribe and get all the future updates for a lower price.

The company name CENOS stands for “Connecting ENgineering Open Source” highlighting the new software approach they invented. It is a platform that connects the best of community-driven open-source algorithms into one seamless user experience and since it is a desktop software - the data do not leave the owner’s computer. CENOS was founded in 2017 by 3 PhDs in physics and mathematics who committed themselves to the democratization of the simulation software by making it easy, affordable, and secure for every engineer. CENOS is a startup, funded by the leading San Francisco early-stage investor ‘500 Startups’, the leading B2B European accelerator Startup Wise Guys, and the cohort of the Baltic business angels.

CENOS offers a 10-day trial, follow the link to sign up:

CENOS Screenshots

Raspberry-NOAA V2: Raspberry Pi Automated NOAA and Meteor Weather Satellite Capture

Raspberry-NOAA is open source code and a set of scripts that allows you to set up a Raspberry Pi as an automated NOAA and Meteor weather satellite station with an SDR like an RTL-SDR. The software makes use of the Raspberry Pi version of WXtoIMG and meteor_decoder for decoding the satellites, a program called predict for predicting satellite passes, and various automatically generated cron scripts to schedule recording and processing.

Recently V2 has been released by Justin Karimi who builds on the work of the original creators. It seems that the webpanel has been upgraded and made mobile friendly, as well as many more enhancements that can be seen on the Release page notes.

Raspberry-NOAA V2 Web Panel

Receiving Unintentionally Radiated Signals from the Computer System Bus with an RTL-SDR

Back in 2018 we first posted about "System Bus Radio" which is code and a web based app that allows you to transmit RF directly from your computer without any transmitting hardware. It works on the principle of manipulating the unintentional RF radiation produced by a computers system bus by sending instructions that can produce different AM tones. The idea is to demonstrate how unintentional radiation from computers could be a security risk. 

Recently the creator of System Bus Radio has uploaded a guide on receiving the generated signals with an RTL-SDR. He recommends using an RTL-SDR with upconverter, balun and an AM loop antenna. He then shows how he was able to receive the signals from his  MacBook Pro M1, noting that he was able to receive audible signals from several inches away at frequencies between 63 kHz to 5.5 MHz.

System Bus Radio received with an RTL-SDR and upconverter.

Decoding NRSC5 HD Radio with GNU Radio and a HackRF

Thank you to "LikWidChz" for submitting his tutorial on receiving and decoding multiple NRSC5 (HD Radio) channels with the help of GNU Radio, a HackRF and the NRSC5 decoder. He writes:

I wanted a way to utilize GnuRadio for working with HD radio. There are no decoder blocks from within GnuRadio to perform this decoding without an external application. This write up is how I was able to split up some signal and supply NRSC5 what it requires to perform the decode.

My goal was to capture some slice of spectrum and "channelize it" so I can perform multiple HD radio decodes at once.

In this linked zip file we have uploaded his GRC file, and his tutorial PDF, which fully explains each GNU Radio block used, and how to use the NRCS5 decoder along with the flowgraph. He also notes that if anyone wants to get in touch with him he is idling on IRC in #gnuradio and ##rtlsdr on freenode under the nickname "LikWidChz".

Channelizing NRSC5 in GNU Radio

MagicSDR: A new Android and iOS RTL_TCP Client

Unlike Android devices, Apple iOS devices can't run RTL-SDRs directly through their USB ports. However, they can still connect to another networked device such as a PC or Raspberry Pi running an rtl_tcp server. In the past we've seen two rtl_tcp clients for iOS released [1 , 2].

Now a third client called "MagicSDR" has just been released, and this one is cross platform for Android and iOS. The app is free on the Android store (with in-app purchases), and costs US$14.99 on the Apple App Store. The developer writes: 

MagicSDR makes it possible to interactively explore RF spectrum using panadapter and waterfall visualization, demodulate and play AM, SSB, CW, NFM, WFM signals, collect frequencies. Built on the principle of plug-in architecture, MagicSDR - powerful and flexible next-generation SDR (software-defined radio) application. Typical applications are dx-ing, ham radio, radio astronomy, and spectrum analysis. Explore the spectrum everywhere!

MagicSDR processes signals that are streamed over the local network from the rtl_tcp server, which is running on the host computer. The smartphone itself, on which MagicSDR is running, can act as a host computer.

To start playing with MagicSDR, you need to set up a server on a host computer to which SDR peripherals (rtl-sdr dongle) will be connected or connect SDR peripherals directly to a smartphone via a USB OTG cable. To try application without SDR peripherals, MagicSDR can emulate a virtual radio device.

MagicSDR rtl_tcp client on iOS

Frugal Radio: Decoding ACARS on VHF with your SDR Radio

Rob from Frugal Radio has recently uploaded episode five in his YouTube series on Aviation monitoring. This episode covers VHF ACARS decoding with an RTL-SDR. ACARS is an acronym for Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System and is a short text based wireless communications system used by aircraft when communicating with ground stations.

In the video Rob overviews the frequencies that ACARS is transmitted on in various regions of the world and what equipment you need to decode ACARS. He goes on to explain in depth what some typical data messages that you might receive are including D-ATIS/WX Reports, Pre Departure Clearance, Loadsheets, OOOI, Aircraft performance telemetry, ATC/Oceanic Clearances and arrival airport and parking gate information. Finally he shows various ACARS software decoders that can be used including ACARSDEC, Black Cat ACARS and ACARSDECO2.

Decoding ACARS on VHF with your SDR Radio - Monitoring Aviation Communications Ep 5