Tagged: usrp

EOD Robots now packing USRP and HackRF Software Defined Radios

Thanks to the team of Robotics company Servosila for sharing the following press release with us which describes how their new EOD robot makes use of SDR technologies for electronic warfare.

We also wrote back to them and asked for a bit more information on the SDRs used. They wrote that there are two SDR options available for the EOD robot. Option one uses the Ettus Research USRP B205mini-i, and option two uses the HackRF One. This provides a good trade off between cost and functionality.

Servosila introduces Mobile Robots equipped with Software Defined Radio (SDR) payloads

Servosila introduces a new member of the family of Servosila “Engineer” robots, a UGV called “Radio Engineer”. This new variant of the well-known backpack-transportable robot features a Software Defined Radio (SDR) payload module integrated into the robotic vehicle.

“Several of our key customers had asked us to enable an Electronic Warfare (EW) or Cognitive Radio applications in our robots”, – says a spokesman for the company, “By integrating a Software Defined Radio (SDR) module into our robotic platforms we cater to both requirements. Radio spectrum analysis, radio signal detection, jamming, and radio relay are important features for EOD robots such as ours. Servosila continues to serve the customers by pushing the boundaries of what their Servosila robots can do. Our partners in the research world and academia shall also greatly benefit from the new functionality that gives them more means of achieving their research goals.”

Coupling a programmable mobile robot with a software-defined radio creates a powerful platform for developing innovative applications that mix mobility and artificial intelligence with modern radio technologies. The new robotic radio applications include localized frequency hopping pattern analysis, OFDM waveform recognition, outdoor signal triangulation, cognitive mesh networking, automatic area search for radio emitters, passive or active mobile robotic radars, mobile base stations, mobile radio scanners, and many others.

A rotating head of the robot with mounts for external antennae acts as a pan-and-tilt device thus enabling various scanning and tracking applications. The neck of the robotic head is equipped with a pair of highly accurate Servosila-made servos with a pointing precision of 3.0 angular minutes. This means that the robot can point its antennae with an unprecedented accuracy.

Researchers and academia can benefit from the platform’s support for GnuRadio, an open source software framework for developing SDR applications. An on-board Intel i7 computer capable of executing OpenCL code, is internally connected to the SDR payload module. This makes it possible to execute most existing GnuRadio applications directly on the robot’s on-board computer. Other sensors of the robot such as a GPS sensor, an IMU or a thermal vision camera contribute into sensor fusion algorithms.

Since Servosila “Engineer” mobile robots are primarily designed for outdoor use, the SDR module is fully enclosed into a hardened body of the robot which provides protection in case of dust, rain, snow or impacts with obstacles while the robot is on the move. The robot and its SDR payload module are both powered by an on-board battery thus making the entire robotic radio platform independent of external power supplies.

Servosila plans to start shipping the SDR-equipped robots to international customers in October, 2017.

Web: https://www.servosila.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/servosila/videos

About the Company
Servosila is a robotics technology company that designs, produces and markets a range of mobile robots, robotic arms, servo drives, harmonic reduction gears, robotic control systems as well as software packages that make the robots intelligent. Servosila provides consulting, training and operations support services to various customers around the world. The company markets its products and services directly or through a network of partners who provide tailored and localized services that meet specific procurement, support or operational needs.

Servosila EOD Robot
Servosila EOD Robot

Performing a Replay Attack on a Wireless Doorbell with a USRP SDR

A replay attack consists of recording a signal, and then simply replaying it back at the same frequency at a later time. To do this a receive and transmit capable software defined radio like a USRP/HackRF/bladeRF can be used.

Over on his blog, the admin of the dxwxr group has posted a tutorial showing how he performs a replay attack on a simple wireless doorbell using a USRP, GNURadio and the audio editor Audacity. This is a very simple process and is a great tutorial for those looking to get started in reverse engineering signals. First he determines the frequency of the doorbell which turned out be be around 315 MHz. Then using GNURadio he records the signal emitted by the doorbell remote and opens up the audio file in Audacity. He then isolates a section of the signal and saves it as a raw aiff file. Finally, he uses GNURadio to transmit the isolated signal via the USRP.

Captured wireless doorbell signal.
Captured wireless doorbell signal.

Monitoring Ionosondes and Creating Ionograms with a USRP and GNU Chirp Sounder

In the HF region between about 0 – 30 MHz it is common to see and hear “chripers” – signals which quickly sweep through the HF frequency band and produce an audible chirp. These chirps are actually signals from Ionosondes which is a type of radar system used to monitor the Ionosphere. The Ionosphere exists about 50km above the surface of the earth and is the atmospheric layer responsible for a large part of long range HF communications. In a previous post by Mario Filippi we also discussed Ionosondes.

Usually it is scientists who transmit and monitor these Ionosondes, however if you have wide band radio that can cover a majority of the HF spectrum then you can also monitor these chirpers yourself. Over on his blog Fabrizio Francione has created a post showing how to use a USRP, together with a GNU Radio Program called GNU Chirp Sounder to create his own amateur Ionogram monitoring station. The USRP is a fairly expensive SDR with a bandwidth of 25 MHz, but we add that we think that next generation of low cost wide band SDRs like the up and coming LimeSDR should also be able to do the same job.

The Ionograms show at what frequencies HF propagation is currently optimal for a specific distance (or number of signal bounces from the Ionosphere). Below is an example Ionogram animation showing the reception of Ionosondes taken over time. Video from the GNU Chirp Sounder page.

Seeing through walls with WiFi signals and USRP software defined radios

Researchers at the University College of London have found a way to use WiFi signals to see through walls, using a USRP software defined radio and software written in LabView. The researchers have shown that they are able to utilize local WiFi signals to detect and monitor moving objects such as people behind a wall in a similar fashion to how radar systems work. The advantage over traditional radar is that their system is completely passive, requiring no transmitter, other than the already ubiquitous WiFi signal.

In a demonstration the researchers showed how they were able to not only detect the presence of a person behind a wall, but also detect small hand gestures that were made.

Detecting body gestures from WiFi signals in LabView.
Detecting body gestures from WiFi signals in LabView.

It appears the researchers are patenting their work and are looking to market their technology towards military and security surveillance operators as well as towards other applications such as traffic monitoring and the monitoring of children and the elderly.

We aren’t sure what type of radio accuracy is required for a system such as this, but it may be possible that SDR’s that cost less than the USRP may also work, assuming the software technology can ever be replicated/licensed.

A proposed application of the technology: Allowing police to see through walls in a hostage situation.

New Talk by Balint Seeber: Hacking the Wireless World with SDR

Balint Seeber is a researcher at Ettus, designers of the USRP line of software defined radios. Every so often he gives an interesting conference talk about his latest projects. This time he’s given a talk at Ruxmon Sydney in April of this year and it has just been uploaded to YouTube.

In the talk Balint overviews the projects that he’s working on or completed. His topics include:

  • His work with creating his own battery powered GSM base station including a live demo where members from the audience connect to and call him via the base station.
  • His work with FPV drones and creating an SDR based FPV digital video system.
  • Hacking restaurant pagers.
  • Attempting to communicate with and revive the ISEE-3 spacecraft using the large radio dish at Arecibo.
  • Gathering actual RADAR data from listening to a real airport active RADAR system and plotting the returns on a map.
  • Investigating RFID tags and attempting to unlock his car via an SDR.

Monitoring Drone FPV Frequency Usage with a USRP Software Defined Radio

Over on YouTube balint256 (Balint), a researcher at Ettus (creators of the USRP line of software defined radios) has uploaded a video showing how he is using his USRP to help with frequency management at FPV time trial racing events. FPV a.k.a First Person View is a term used to describe the act of flying a remote controlled aircraft such as a quadcopter with an onboard camera that transmits live video down to the pilot. FPV racing is a new sport where pilots race FPV controlled drones around a track.

One important technical challenge at these events is frequency management. FPV drones use many frequencies at around 2.4 GHz for control and 5.8/2.4/1.3 GHz for video. With many drones in the air it is important that frequencies are managed appropriately so as to not jam each others signals.

To try and solve this problem Balint has been using GNU Radio coupled with a USRP X310 software defined radio to get very wide band RF spectrum waterfall views of the 2.4 and 5.8 GHz bands. In the waterfalls he is able to see when control signals and video signals are transmitted and at what frequency, and is able to tell if any are overlapping and jamming each other.

In addition to this, Balint has also been working on his custom software defined radio based digital video downlink. Back in March we posted about his earlier work on this concept. In the video Balint demonstrates his drone with an on board USRP E310 which is used to send a custom 4.2 Mbps video downlink.

Using a USRP E310 for Digital Video Downlink and Scanning on a Drone

Balint, one of the researchers at Ettus Research (the company behind the USRP range of software defined radios) has recently uploaded a video to YouTube showing one of his projects where he is prototyping the use of a digital signal for transmitting digital FPV video on a drone. The drone carries a USRP E310 SDR and transmits a QPSK video down developed in GNU Radio to a receiver on the ground.

FPV strands for “first person view” and is a growing hobby where remote controlled aircraft such as quadcopter drones are flown in first person view using live video from an on board camera.

In another video balint also shows how the on board E310 can be used to transmit frequency scan FFT data via a WiFi link. This can be very useful for getting an antenna up high enough to get good reception for a scan.

Designing a Low Noise UHF Front End with Sharp Filtering for SDR

Most wideband SDR’s do not come with any front-end filtering built in. This limits their ability to receive weak signals in the presence of strong signals. Recently Sivan, a reader of RTL-SDR.com wrote in to let us know about a paper he published through the ARRL detailing how to design a concrete front-end unit for SDR use. A front-end helps to filter out signals that are outside of the desired passband, thus reducing interference from nearby strong signals significantly. Although Sivan uses a USRP with WBX daughtercard in his paper, he writes that the same front-end design principals can be applied to the RTL-SDR as well.

In the paper he designs a 431 – 435 MHz front-end using low cost SAW filters, a low noise amplifier (LNA) and a limiter to protect the radio. He writes that the design could easily be adapted for other bands as well.

A Selective and Robust UHF Front-End
A Selective and Robust UHF Front-End