How does one become a "hardware hacker"?

keine

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A "hardware hacker" A Hector Martin.
For example, a hardware hacker can reverse a Kinect and then make it do what they want it to. One Hector Martin.

Martin said he was going to use the "prize money on more tools and devices for additional hardware-hacking."
What does that entail?
What knowledge is needed to reverse engineer hardware in such a manner.
Resources? Books? Tools?
I'm sure a hardware hacker like Martin could apply his knowledge to the DSTwo, if he wanted to.

Where does hardware hacking hit the cryptology wall? Where does it fade into programming?

I was thinking about posting this to the GBATemp question/answer. Do you think that appropriate?
 

Anne Noise

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Just learning "hacking" is kind of broad. What exactly do you want to do? Cryptology is fascinating, but difficult and time-consuming to learn and play. (For me, at least.) I've only dabbled, so I can't help with learning or resources or anything - not my forte or passion - but I know some background and coding stuff. I can helps with whats I gots.

Is Kinect / console hacking an example in general, or an example of what you want to learn?
 

Sterling

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I am not going to pretend to be even remotely knowledgable on the subject, but here goes what I do know. Hacking is a very broad subject. One end of it is reverse engineering. The very first step in hacking any sort of device is this. You have to find out what makes it tick. Back in the beginning of the PC reveloution, the proprietary IBM Bios chip had to be reverse engineered. When you figure out what makes it tick, you can then proceed to make it do what you want. Look no further than the Wii for an example.

After a few hacks, instead of it becoming a skill, it becomes an instinct. After you hack a few things, you automatically know where to check for exploits first. It is kind of like doing an unfamiliar trick... like a back flip. Once you do it a few times, the body picks up on how you made it work, and strives to replicate the same movement every time.

The other end of hacking is pushing the limits of a device until something abnormal happens. Most peole don't consider bug testing hacking, because they all limit their definition of "Hacking" to some sort of hardware.

I don't have any experience in hacking, I only know what I read, and see on the internet or T.V.
 

Anne Noise

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keine said:
I'm sorry about the broad question.

Don't be sorry, haha, just wanted to make sure you, I, and anyone else knew how to help you, instead of veering in a random, unrelated direction.

Like I said, I'm not a hacker, I just enjoy the results and follow some people online, so I can hopefully point you to some resources. For gaming hacking, obviously this place is pretty cool, but not so much geared towards consoles as handhelds.

Racketboy's forums are knowledgeable and decent - Racketboy's hacks/mods forums

Ben Heck also does some amazing stuff. He has tutorials and information that can be super useful, I'm sure - Ben Heck's blog

I would recommend learning some basic electronics and computer stuff, too. The biggest way to familiarize yourself with the scene is to just do some stuff. Find tutorials you're interested in - or that can translate into a bigger / similar project you have in mind - and do it, do it, do it. You'll master the techniques, which'll make work easier and faster, and your brain will start to make larger connections towards your goal.

Also, I know it's obvious, but just Google around for specific projects you like. Making your own hacks and such might be awesome, but if someone's already done it, you can gain their knowledge and experience without the trials and tribulations - and money spent on hardware!

Also also, some kind of craftsmanship can be good if you're going to end up need to modify a case, or make your own. Mastering the tools - off the top of my head, soldering iron, dremel, jigsaw, proper sanding - is essential. (My only experiences resulted in ugly, janky shit, like an XBox controller turned into a USB controller, but I'm lazy so the cord is just ductaped; or my PSP mod that sticks out a little weird, haha.)

Hope any of that is helpful, and remember, I'm an amateur in the field, experience-wise, I just love video games, creativity and customization, so I'm spreading what I've seen in my life.

QUOTE(Sterl500 @ Nov 13 2010, 09:49 AM) After a few hacks, instead of it becoming a skill, it becomes an instinct. After you hack a few things, you automatically know where to check for exploits first. It is kind of like doing an unfamiliar trick... like a back flip. Once you do it a few times, the body picks up on how you made it work, and strives to replicate the same movement every time.

Very true. Practice leads to understanding leads to increased problem solving and creative thinking. Anyone can follow a tutorial, but if you want to just... explore and gain knowledge, you also have to gain the mindset and logic skills.
 

exangel

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didnt even scan responses much though usually read a thread fully before i respond.
in the example you made keine i imagine he had a deep understanding of USB protocol and its application with Human Interface Devices which probably has fuck all to do with what a DSTwo does
 

SifJar

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Fantastic link: http://ladyada.net/learn/diykinect/

Read that, should be pretty informative for learning about hacking USB devices at least.

EDIT: Another good link: http://lostscrews.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=50 - more about hacking devices (in the example, its a portable media player), rather than USB stuff or whatever.

This is also a very informative post : http://gbatemp.net/t204149-psp-hacking?vie...t&p=2541305, including many links which I think should be pretty helpful to a wannabe hacker. (One or two links may be dead, but the majority seem to work and look pretty decent)
 

Goveynetcom

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There is no all-in-one solution to hacking hardware in any situation.
It all has to do with your ability to analyze said hardware (possibly disassemble it down to the chips) and begin work there.
Having knowledge of how certain interfaces is definitely very useful (such as USB), but it depends on what exactly you are tackling.
Another useful thing is being able to break software down to the assembly level, most of the work you would do interacting or coding with devices has to be done at that level, and possibly a higher level language to make it easier to manipulate.

The point is, you have to be able to carefully analyze what you are dealing with and tackle it one step at a time. It's not that clear cut, but then again, hacking usually never is.
 

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