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Inside Sputnik & OpenBeacon - Smart Dust for the Masses

Milosch Meriac
Chaos Communication Camp 2007
Indexed on
Mar 27, 2013
File name
File size
75.4 MB

We want to empower users to use their Sputnik badges after the camp for all kinds of uses - as wireless keyboard sniffers, remote controls, door security systems, for art performances, intelligence applications and Smart Dust meshing systems. This talk provides a deep insight into OpenBeacon and Sputnik hardware, firmware and protocols of used. It will show how to create custom low cost 2.4GHz nodes based on this technology. The OpenBeacon platform is a project that is dedicated to provide very low cost communication hardware for 2.4GHz ISM band enabled devices for all kinds of uses. The Sputnik device - the first incarnation of OpenBeacon - is a small active 2.4GHz real-time tracking device, whose signal is picked up by the 30+ OpenBeacon base stations installed in the event venue. We just finished a new memory-stick-sized meshing node hardware design around the 32 bit ARM7 AT91SAM7S128 Microcontroller and the nRF24L01 2.4GHz frontend with GPL'ed firmware to enable users to create low cost wireless nodes based on their own firmware. No special hardware or compilers are needed to reprogram the device - the free gcc ARM crosscompiler toolchain is supported. The device can be reprogrammed and powered over USB. It also supports stand alone applications by using a battery pack. To allow a high range it provides a RP-SMA connector and a full size rubber antenna. The OpenBeacon tag - as used for tracking 900 people on the 23rd Chaos Comminucation Congress in Berlin - is a free design for an active RFID device which operates in the 2.4GHz ISM band. OpenBeacon is designed as a transceiver device and therefore both transmits and receives radio waves. The intention of this device is to offer a wide range of use cases such as visitor or item tracking and wireless remote controls with a free self-contained and low-cost RFID design. The OpenBeacon tag hardware is based on a PCB antenna connected to a Nordic Semiconductors 2.4GHz RF Chip (NRF24L01) and is controlled via a dedicated microcontroller (MicroChip PIC16F684). The 8-Bit RISC CPU with special low-power features provides the opportunity to implement a very sleek and power saving transmit design at minimal costs. The device is powered with one CR2032 coin cell and is expected to run for up to several months without changing battery. The OpenBeacon design offers an additional watch quartz for better time and delay reliability to support anticollosion and meshing protocols. A LED output and a touch sensor input is provided for interaction purposes. The transmitting range of the OpenBeacon tag depends on local conditions and is tested indoor within 10 meters through two dry walls or up to 30 meters under optimal line-of-sight conditions. To track OpenBeacon on this venue, the device signals are received by Ethernet based RFID reader base stations. The current base station design provides three switched 10/100 Ethernet ports (switched) and is powered over Ethernet (fully IEEE 802.3af compliant).

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