There’s one thing thrilling about decoding an unknown communications protocol. You begin with just a few clues, poke on the drawback with some easy instruments, and finally work your method as much as that first breakthrough that permits you to crack the code. It may be irritating, however if you finally win, it may be very rewarding.
Plainly [Jason] realized this whereas decoding the wi-fi dialog between his mass-market quad and its controller. The quad in query, a Yuneec Q500, is a kind of mid-range, ready-to-fly drones that’s focused at these trying to get within the air simply and take some cool photos. Not sure how the drone and controller have been speaking, [Jason] popped the covers and located a Zigbee chipset inside. With the assistance of a $14 Zigbee USB dongle and a few packet sniffing software program from TI, [Jason] was in a position to see packets flowing, however decoding them was laborious. Fortunately, the sniffer app might be set as much as stream packets to a different system, so [Jason] wrote a program to obtain and show packets. He used that to utterly characterize every controller enter and the info getting back from the drone. It’s an extended and unusual toolchain, however the upshot is that he’s now in a position to create KML in actual time and observe the drone on Google Earth because it flies. The video beneath reveals the construct and some yard check flights.
Congratulations to [Jason] for breaking the protocol and opening up drones like this for different hackers. For those who’re interested by studying extra about Zigbee sniffing, you may really hack just a few smarthome devices into helpful sniffers.