Saturday, 21 December 2013

Hacking a ScoutGuard camera - part 2

Just a quick look at some of the hardware used by the ScoutGuard 550 wildlife camera.


There are several test pads on the front side of the board and these will be explored in a later post. Hopefully the double row of pins above the serial port are JTAG but their actual purpose is currently unknown.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Hacking a ScoutGuard camera - part 1

A while ago I picked up a ScoutGuard 550 wildlife camera with the grand plan of capturing interesting wildlife in local woods.

Fast forward a couple of years and with nothing but pigeon shots to show I decided to have a go at tackling one of the features always bugged me. Each photo has a logo in the bottom left corner. In reality this isn't a big deal but it did strike me as slightly annoying since I'd paid for the camera and I shouldn't have to advertise on their behalf.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

(Ab)using CurrentCost dev boards part 3

In the previous parts, I looked at how things were connected and how the RF transmitter was configured. This time around, I want to see if I can actually transmit something! The PIC16F689 is the microcontroller in use, and Microchip have made the IDE (MPLabX) and a compiler freely available for those running Windows, Mac or Linux.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


  1. The branch of physics and technology concerned with the hacking of circuits using 
sub-optimal equipment. Typically carried out in a shed, spare room or somewhere else equally unsuitable for the task at hand.

Quite often when messing with electronics you get to the point where doing something is either too expensive to do properly or too hard to cheaply. For example, you could precision laser decap a chip you want to reverse engineer or you could throw some acid on it and hope for the best. You could buy a multi channel logic analyser or you could try and build one using your spare arduino. You could invest in a rework station for removing chips from a circuit board or you could just try your luck with your soldering iron.

The cheap and probably-going-to-fail-but-fun-trying approach is what I call ghettotronics and I seem to spend a significant amount time involved with it. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

(Ab)using CurrentCost dev boards part 2.5

In parts 1 and 2, I flew over the board, how the things were connected and the data that was sent over the SPI bus. I didn't really cover how I got that data out of the device, and Billy picked me up on that. So I thought I should write something to rectify this situation.

If you remember previously, I'd posted a picture that had the pins marked on it. This is really handy reference, as it makes connections plain. From reading the datasheet, there's three pins that are "interesting" at this point. What's really handy is that they're next to each other!

Monday, 4 November 2013

(Ab)using CurrentCost dev boards part 2

In part 1 of this series, I went over what the CurrentCost digital dev board was, and what was on it. In this part, I'm looking a bit more in depth at the components, and trying to figure out how it works.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Sunluxy DVR backdoor

A couple of news items that recently caught my attention discussed backdoors found in network routers [1] [2]. I'll throw in something similar in case anyone is keeping track.

I picked up a Sunluxy CCTV DVR from ebay at the start of the year to record bluetits nesting in one of my bird boxes. Unfortunately both parents apparently succumbed to predation and the chicks perished but that is beside the point. The product itself was pretty good and unsurprisingly it has quite a few positive reviews on Amazon. Nothing unusual so far.

One thing that did annoy me slightly though was the way videos had to be exported. You had to manually export videos (to USB) on a day by day basis, which isn't really what I was after. I'd rather pull recordings for the last week or so over the network in one go but this didn't seem like an existing feature. Oh well, time to have a poke around!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

PICKit2 and Fubarino SD

If you've been playing with a Fubarino SD, then you probably already know it's designed to be Arduino code compatible (as long as direct hardware access is avoided). However, I wanted to do something else with it, using MPLABX (The Microchip IDE). This is where things get a bit more interesting, and I haven't figured out all the answers yet. Basically, I wanted to update the firmware on a Roland Juno-D keyboard, and wanted some way of sending the data over.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

(Ab)using CurrentCost dev boards part 1

Once upon a time, I purchase a CurrentCost power monitoring device and base station. The monitoring device watches the output of my electricity meter, and the base station displays the information and sends an XML stream over a serial port. It works. However CurrentCost also produce some digital development boards and I picked up three, as it seemed a good idea at the time. Sadly, what I didn't realise (although, it was documented...) is that the boards send a signal indicating 500W consumption when you short the input channel, and a signal indicating 0W consumption when you leave the input channel open. Now, for some people, that's great, but I wasn't happy with it what seemed to be pretty basic operation. I thought to myself, "I'm sure we can get this thing to do a lot more!", so I set about trying to do just that.

If you haven't come across the Currentcost digital development boards before, they look like this: