The Hardware Hacker: Adventures in Making and Breaking Hardware

The Hardware Hacker: Adventures in Making and Breaking Hardware

by Andrew Bunnie Huang


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For over a decade, Andrew "bunnie" Huang, one of the world's most esteemed hackers, has shaped the fields of hacking and hardware, from his cult-classic book Hacking the Xbox to the open-source laptop Novena and his mentorship of various hardware startups and developers. In The Hardware Hacker, Huang shares his experiences in manufacturing and open hardware, creating an illuminating and compelling career retrospective.

Huang’s journey starts with his first visit to the staggering electronics markets in Shenzhen, with booths overflowing with capacitors, memory chips, voltmeters, and possibility. He shares how he navigated the overwhelming world of Chinese factories to bring chumby, Novena, and Chibitronics to life, covering everything from creating a Bill of Materials to choosing the factory to best fit his needs.

Through this collection of personal essays and interviews on topics ranging from the legality of reverse engineering to a comparison of intellectual property practices between China and the United States, bunnie weaves engineering, law, and society into the tapestry of open hardware.

With highly detailed passages on the ins and outs of manufacturing and a comprehensive take on the issues associated with open source hardware, The Hardware Hacker is an invaluable resource for aspiring hackers and makers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593279783
Publisher: No Starch Press
Publication date: 08/27/2019
Pages: 424
Sales rank: 740,894
Product dimensions: 8.80(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Andrew "bunnie" Huang is a hacker, maker, and open hardware activist. He holds a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from MIT, is the author of Hacking the Xbox (No Starch Press) and The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen, and has served as a technical advisor for various hardware startups and MAKE Magazine.

Table of Contents

Preface xvii

Part 1 Adventures in manufacturing 1

1 Made in china 7

The Ultimate Electronic Component Flea Market 8

The Next Technological Revolution 14

Touring Factories with Chumby 16

Scale in Shenzhen 17

Feeding the Factory 18

Dedication to Quality 20

Building Technology Without Using It 23

Skilled Workers 24

The Need for Craftspeople 26

Automation for Electronics Assembly 29

Precision, Injection Molding, and Patience 31

The Challenge of Quality 34

Closing Thoughts 42

2 Inside three very different factories 43

Where Arduinos Are Born 44

Starting with a Sheet of Copper 46

Applying the PCB Pattern to the Copper 49

Etching the PCBs 51

Applying Soldermask and Silkscreen 53

Testing and Finishing the Boards 54

Where USB Memory Sticks Are Bora 57

The Beginning of a USB Stick 57

Hand-Placing Chips on a PCB 59

Bonding the Chips to the PCB 61

A Close Look at the USB Stick Boards 61

A Tale of Two Zippers 64

A Fully Automated Process 67

A Semiautomated Process 68

The Irony of Scarcity and Demand 70

3 The factory floor 73

How to Make a Bill of Materials 74

A Simple BOM for a Bicycle Safety Light 74

Approved Manufacturers 76

Tolerance, Composition, and Voltage Specification 76

Electronic Component Form Factor 77

Extended Part Numbers 78

The Bicycle Safety Light BOM Revisited 79

Planning for and Coping with Change 82

Process Optimization: Design for Manufacturing 84

Why DFM? 85

Tolerances to Consider 86

Following DFM Helps Your Bottom Line 88

The Product Behind Your Product 91

Testing vs. Validation 97

Finding Balance in Industrial Design 100

The chumby One's Trim and Finish 101

The Arduino Uno's Silkscreen Art 104

My Design Process 105

Picking (and Maintaining) a Partner 107

Tips for Forming a Relationship with a Factory 107

Tips on Quotations 108

Miscellaneous Advice 111

Closing Thoughts 113

Part 2 Thinking differently: intellectual property in china 115

4 Gongkai innovation 119

I Broke My Phone's Screen, and It Was Awesome 120

Shanzhai as Entrepreneurs 121

Who Are the Shanzhai? 122

More Than Copycats 123

Community-Enforced IP Rules 124

The $12 Phone 126

Inside the $12 Phone 128

Introducing Gongkai 131

From Gongkai to Open Source 134

Engineers Have Rights, Too 135

Closing Thoughts 141

5 Fake goods 143

Well-Executed Counterfeit Chips 143

Counterfeit Chips in US Military Hardware 149

Types of Counterfeit Parts 150

Fakes and US Military Designs 153

Anticounterfeit Measures 154

Fake MicroSD Cards 156

Visible Differences 157

Investigating the Cards 158

Were the MicroSD Cards Authentic? 159

Further Forensic Investigation 160

Gathering Data 162

Summarizing My Findings 166

Fake FPGAs 168

The White Screen Issue 168

Incorrect ID Codes 170

The Solution 172

Closing Thoughts 174

Part 3 What open hardware means to me 175

6 The story of chumby 181

A Hacker-Friendly Platform 182

Evolving chumby 184

A More Hackable Device 186

Hardware with No Secrets 187

The End of Chumby, New Adventures 189

Why the Best Days of Open Hardware Are Yet to Come 205

Where We Came From: Open to Closed 206

Where We Are: "Sit and Wait" vs. "Innovate" 208

Where We're Going: Heirloom Laptops 210

An Opportunity for Open Hardware 211

Closing Thoughts 214

7 Novena: building my own laptop 215

Not a Laptop for the Faint of Heart 217

Designing the Early Novena 219

Under the Hood 219

The Enclosure 224

The Heirloom Laptop's Custom Wood Composite 227

Growing Novenas 228

The Mechanical Engineering Details 229

Changes to the Finished Product 232

Case Construction and Injection-Molding Problems 233

Changes to the Front Bezel 237

DIY Speakers 238

The PVT2 Mainboard 238

A Breakout Board for Beginners 241

The Desktop Novena's Power Pass-Through Board 242

Custom Battery Pack Problems 243

Choosing a Hard Drive 244

Finalizing Firmware 246

Building a Community 247

Closing Thoughts 249

8 Chibitronics: creating circuit stickers 251

Crafting with Circuits 257

Developing a New Process 259

Visiting the Factory 260

Performing a Process Capability Test 261

Delivering on a Promise 264

Why On-Time Delivery Is Important 266

Lessons Learned 266

Not All Simple Requests Are Simple for Everyone 267

Never Skip a Check Plot 268

If a Component Can Be Placed Incorrectly, It Will Be 268

Some Concepts Don't Translate into Chinese Well 270

Eliminate Single Points of Failure 271

Some Last-Minute Changes Are Worth It 271

Chinese New Year Impacts the Supply Chain 272

Shipping Is Expensive and Difficult 273

You're Not Out of the Woods Until You Ship 274

Closing Thoughts 274

Part 4 A hacker's perspective 275

9 Hardware hacking 279

Hacking the PIC18F1320 281

Decapping the IC 282

Taking a Closer Look 283

Erasing the Flash Memory 284

Erasing the Security Bits 285

Protecting the Other Data 287

Hacking SD Cards 289

How SD Cards Work 290

Reverse Engineering the Card's Microcontroller 293

Potential Security Issues 298

A Resource for Hobbyists 298

Hacking HDCP-Secured Links to Allow Custom Overlays 298

Background and Context 300

How NeTV Worked 302

Hacking a Shanzhai Phone 306

The System Architecture 306

Reverse Engineering the Boot Structure 311

Building a Beachhead 315

Attaching a Debugger 317

Booting an OS 321

Building a New Toolchain 321

Fernvale Results 323

Closing Thoughts 324

10 Biology and Bioinformatics 325

Comparing H1N1 to a Computer Virus 327

DNA and RNA as Bits 328

Organisms Have Unique Access Ports 330

Hacking Swine Flu 331

Adaptable Influenza 333

A Silver Lining 335

Reverse Engineering Superbugs 335

The 0104:H4 DNA Sequence 336

Reversing Tools for Biology 338

Answering Biological Questions with UNIX Shell Scripts 340

More Questions Than Answers 342

Mythbusting Personalized Genomics 344

Myth: Having Your Genome Read Is Like Hex-Dumping the ROM of Your Computer 344

Myth: We Know Which Mutations Predict Disease 345

Myth: The Reference Genome Is an Accurate Reference 345

Patching a Genome 346

CRISPRs in Bacteria 347

Determining Where to Cut a Gene 350

Implications for Engineering Humans 351

Hacking Evolution with Gene Drive 352

Closing Thoughts 354

11 Selected interviews 357

Andrew "bunnie" Huang: Hardware Hacker (CSDN) 357

About Open Hardware and the Maker Movement 358

About Hardware Hackers 367

The Blueprint Talks to Andrew Huang 372

Epilogue 383

Index 384

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