Xyratex -Autodesk Secrets from the void

26 Jan

I’ve been playing with the Xyratex kit for the past few years, mainly when there is a spare hour or so…
During this time we found any number of really interesting “things” one of which is listed below…

After entering the monitor during boot-up via:

“Press and hold to invoke monitor”

you are presented with a screen showing


Entering “?” gives you a list of commands:

and from this list of commands you can do ‘really cool’ things like “upload firmware” or take a look at the temperature…

Lets be honest… it is absolute garbage.. not worth the time of day other than for very basic maintenance….

If you enter the command “set debug

now do the command “?”

And suddenly the whole world opens up for you….

Commands you should NEVER EVER do as a newbie…..
“ef”… You will erase the controller firmware…(bye…..)
“sw”… You will completely destroy your controller firmware if not pre-prepared for this action
“go”… If you randomly enter addresses you can jump into the middle of any number of “dangerous” routines….
“fi”… You can destroy critical ram tables as well as writing to the device I/O
“i2w1”. This can destroy critical settings on the i2c buss 1
“i2w2”. This can destroy critical settings on the i2c buss 2
“fwp1”. This can destroy critical settings on the PCI buss 1
“fwp2”. This can destroy critical settings on the PCI buss 2

Those and any command that does a “write” to any address the user can enter…..

Oh… and if you break it.. there is a good chance that a power cycle WILL NOT CORRECT THE ISSUE………..

Anyone who thinks this is bullshit can go try the “SW” command………
What happens.. is a bug….. the internal flash chips are erased.. then it attempts to copy an alternative firmware that is stored in ram…. but it don’t exist… becasue you did not pre-store it.. oh and you cannot load one becasue you don’t know the details of the load file header and validation….. (plus ur running an AD or maybe Xyratex boot monitor)
If it is an AD monitor you are completely fucked.. becasue it will only load “AD” firmware…
and to date I have never seen an “AD” load file…

so you are left with erased flash chips and no real way to recover……… unless you have firmware files

You would have thought they would validate the “alternative ” firmware BEFORE the chip erase… but nope….. Sorry..
There is a firm warning in the “ver” command… if you can spot it.

What is SHOULD look like before doing anything stupid.

As can be seen we have a safety “default” Alternative Operational firmware saved.

same with the “go” command… you can jump right into one of the many “erase chip” functions by accident…


Xyratex Autodesk Kit. 54XX

29 Nov

Seems there is STILL some interest in this kit & getting it working with non autodesk drives.
There is a multitude of “badge engineered” Xyratex products not just Autodesk , but it is all locked down in the software.
Other than that the underlying hardware is identical.

I’ve been asked “ Why don’t you post a firmware file to allow conversion”

An Anecdote:
Many moons ago I used to work at a very large company..
One day…
I was speaking to the owner and he asked me a question:

A: “Do you have any legal problems… personal… company?”
B: “No”
A: “Pity.. I employ a team of lawyers and they have nothing to do at the moment.. if anything comes to mind give me a call”
B: “Ok will do”
So there you go… If there’s potential for a lightning storm .. you don’t stand under a tree.

Where do I go from here
The first action is to get the SERIAL console connected on the back of the device, it is the USB type connection.
This is SERIAL to SERIAL, just someone stupidly decided it was a good idea to use a USB type connection….
you know….. so that people can shove the WRONG cable & release the magic smoke trapped inside.

Once you get your serial connection, the first thing to do it get the equipment version strings & firmware data.
If you don’t do this.. the chance of getting help is limited.

Generally (what I’ve seen so far)
1. ADnn firmware (this is Autodesk, and they have their own firmware which is based around Xyratex FW with extras.

Those extras include:
Hidden factory options
Special checksums for firmware, ensures only Autodesk firmware can be loaded.
Locked down Disk drives
Extra debugging features for their engineers… (thanks guys…)
Code to ensure you cannot get off the AD firmware track
Different software feature unlock keytable… for the controller FW & “Stone Direct”
The latest Autodesk monitor FW Is AD24

  • ‘nnnn’ firmware, this is Xyratex firmware, it has it’s own drive markers, but later versions also allow non branded drives to be used, note however there is a performance IMPACT to using non-banded drives.
    This is becasue the buffer and caching paramiters in the disk drive firmware have been optimized for the yxratex kit
  • The latest Xyratex monitor FW is 0025 (2.5.6)

    Getting all worked up
    There are some points to note before getting all worked up.

    1.On this older kit, it is HARDWARE FIXED at using drives that are 2TB or LESS
    This is NOT something you can hack or bypass and is due to the embedded silicon.
    LSISASX12A which gets you 3GB/s tops

    (nope.. you cannot drop in new chips.. later chips are not pin compatible)

    2.If you use a drive >2TB the total capacity of the drive is NOT 2TB it is a logical ‘AND’ of the addressable space bits, so if you install a 3TB drive you will only get ~1TB.
    This limits your disk drive options unless you are prepared to use the disk drives embedded command codes to limit the drives reported address space( “logical drive capacity” ), before putting them into the storage system.

    1. There is zero support for this old kit & zero updates.
    2. If you use it in a production environment… then you are very very stupid and deserve EVERYTHING you get…. (see point above)
    3. Ensure there is NOTHING on the drives before you start working, each manufacturers product has different software options and the SOFTWARE KEYS ARE DIFFERENT!!!!!, if you do a conversion your licence keys are no longer valid and the options that worked before will stop working. So if you have advanced snapshot enabled, after a conversion you will loose that function & plus any data you had associated with it.

    Hahaha no way people write code this way….
    Both sets of Firmware (Xyratex/Autodesk) are full of bugs, this may be due to the fact that the Software is clearly Xyratex with patches on top.
    Layer upon layer upon layer of patches & fixes…. and more FLAGS than an American Ticker-tape parade…….

    Lot’s and lots of hard coded shit….
    Yep… why code things like dates ,firmware revisions & code check-sums in a separate Data section… just inline it all into the code…

    Since it was easier to flash the chips I never got round to decoding the checksum routine for the roms….
    so no I don’t have a direct up-loadable firmware file to take an AutoDesk->Xyratex.. I could make one. but it’s all about motivation.

    There is a way to modify a Xyratex FW file so that it can be loaded over an AD firmware, bu if anything goes wrong you end up with dead kit and need to flash the onboard chips, it is non software recoverable…….

    How to get an upgrade?
    1. Own a chip programmer
    2. get the info from the monitor
    3. get a picture INSIDE the controller (yep.. there are different versions)
    4. Read out the Binary image on the chip
    5. zip it up
    6. send it to me to take a look


    Xyratex Autodesk branded RS-1200 5412E hard drives (Using most drives)

    07 Feb

    Well we picked up a “few” Xyratex RS-1220-F4-5412E Autodesk systems a few years ago, you know the ones with the AD22 firmware that is locked.
    Total cost was $40usd for 4 including a shed load of spare controllers & drive sleds
    The controllers are generally marked:
    RS-LRC-F4-5412E-1024-ADSK 08 Mar-31 (happy decade!!)
    RS-LRC-F4-5402E-1024-ADSK 06 21 (almost a teenager)

    Unfortunately no drives were included.

    Had a quick look on the internet to see if we could find anything on “non Autodesk” drives, mostly just people saying that the devices were locked to drives with a special FW AD02 or AD03
    Others were saying there was a magic firmware AD20 or something…….

    I had a few hours to throw at it the other day, since I was waiting for some new PCB’s to assist in a hack of the new Seagate F3 drives with locked down firmware.
    We burnt some drives with a drive sig of XR36 & XR38 inserted them into the array but nothing was showing up , other than the drives were “unsupported”

    I cannae change the laws of physics Captain
    But it’s in here some place

    Read the rest of this entry »


    HP Servers with Non HP Disk Drives, Where is Temperature Sensor #29 on DL380?

    05 Nov

    I have a home built system consisting of several HP Proliant DL380 Gen7 & Gen8 servers.
    Now normally when sitting idle these are solid servers with fairly low power consumption and in many cases Whisper quiet when under no load.

    That was until a recent upgrade of a failed disk drive.
    Actually the server went from one seagate drive to almost exactly the SAME model of Seagate drive with a slight difference in the part number.

    From a ST2000LM007 to ST2000LM015, both are: 2.5″ SATA 6Gb/s 5400RPM, 128Mb ram.
    This simple change has left the internal fans running at 90% of full speed and continual warnings of the drives over heating.

    Temperature Sensor #29
    It is believed that this is a “pseudo sensor”, take a bunch of system temperatures pass them though a formula or table matrix and arrive at some sort of “system Health” number.
    Why think this?, because it is possible to “fool” this sensor in reporting different temperatures that are not related to anything temperature like in particular

    There has also been a very interesting support note released by HP recently covering most of the HP production and EOL systems.
    Notice/ ProLiant Gen7 Gen8 and Gen9 Servers – Fan Speed May Be Higher Than Expected If No Hard Drive Is Present In the System

    I think what we are looking at is not actually a system problem ,but rather a iLO X problem, or more likely a design “feature” to lock down the hardware.
    Why would anyone run a server without disk drives?, simple…. cloud implementation… throw in a few optical connectors to an optical switch and a fiber based NAS
    and you have very cheap computing systems that can be easily configured from a central location ,no local disk drives needed.

    Problem is, that this increase in fan speed “by design” as HP likes to put it , is potentially breaking the law of some countries related to Environmental impact of electronic equipment.
    Those extra ramped up fans are adding 90-100W to the power consumption , which equates to over 2KWh a day. which adds up to several hundred KWh per year of power that is being “deliberately wasted” for no reason what so ever(parts NOT fitted in the server, as an option to SAVE power resources.).


    coreos-cloudinit not found. Could not validate config.

    02 Jul

    When Installing coreos, this is a common problem depending on the ‘live CD’ used:

    ./ -d /dev/sdb -C stable -c ~/cloud-config.yaml
    ./ coreos-cloudinit not found. Could not validate config. Continuing...\

    All manner of ‘solutions’ appear on the internet, actually it is simply stating that ‘coreos-cloudinit’
    is missing.

    The reason being that the so called install scripts are actually not fully integrated.

    Simply following the instructions at :

    will ONLY work IF you use a liveCD that contains ‘coreos-cloudinit’

    Get in the prerequisites first:

    1. Build your cloud-config.yaml BUT validate it first at:

    Then ensure that you perform the following BEFORE attempting the installation

    your working directory:
    cd coreos-cloudinit-master/
    cd bin
    #ensure you put the binary on a path where it can be found
    cp coreos-cloudinit /usr/bin/coreos-cloudinit

    Then cd back to your original working directory where you have: (or whatever you called it)

    ./ -d /dev/sdb -C stable -c ~/cloud-config.yaml
    Checking availability of "local-file"
    Fetching user-data from datasource of type "local-file"
    Downloading the signature for
    2015-07-02 20:12:43 URL: [543/543] -> "/tmp/coreos-install.GLOoJSUz0c/coreos_production_image.bin.bz2.sig" [1]
    Downloading, writing and verifying coreos_production_image.bin.bz2...
    2015-07-02 20:14:03 URL: [196978663/196978663] -> "-" [1]
    gpg: Signature made Thu Jun 18 17:08:09 2015 HKT using RSA key ID xxxxxxxxx
    gpg: key xxxxxxxxx marked as ultimately trusted
    gpg: checking the trustdb
    gpg: 3 marginal(s) needed, 1 complete(s) needed, PGP trust model
    gpg: depth: 0 valid: 1 signed: 0 trust: 0-, 0q, 0n, 0m, 0f, 1u
    gpg: Good signature from "CoreOS Buildbot (Offical Builds) "
    Installing cloud-config...
    Success! CoreOS stable current is installed on /dev/sdb

    And that gets you to the next stage.


    Allwinner (SUNXI) A20 getting two CPU up

    30 Dec

    In my real work, I need a pre-boxed computer at a throwaway price, something I can walk into a server-room covertly stick inside a server cabinet, power-up and then use as a secured ‘base’ from where I can find out ‘what the hell is going on’ (all with the approval of ‘upper management’)

    I have been playing about with the various versions of the TV box ‘construct’, what I need is a cheap secure (relatively speaking)
    throwaway computer that contains in-bulit WIFI/Ethernet/Bluetooth USB and in a nice sealed case I can fill with epoxy……

    Currently I use two units
    840A (A20 – dualcore) & 809 III (3188-quadcore)

    Enter the 840A TV box

    Looking about on the internet you will see the A20 being hacked all over the place ( even at wrt), however when you look a little bit closer you will see that in many of the Kernel startup logs that ONLY ONE CPU is actually enabled and active.

    Indeed if you use the ‘released’ SUN-XI code… guess what…. yep only one CPU comes up or you have to start using their ‘closed binary blobs’ for the functionality.(Having worked with some Chinese software developers… I would NEVER allow any Chinese built closed source on my network).

    What happened

    The Result
    Whilst this is still a work in progress we have gotten this far.

    [ 0.000000] Booting Linux on physical CPU 0x0
    [ 0.000000] Linux version 3.19.0-rc1-00011-g53262d1-dirty (bob@my-virtual-machine) (gcc version 4.6.3 (Ubuntu/Linaro 4.6.3-1ubuntu5) ) #14 SMP Sat Dec 27 13:53:26 HKT 2014
    [ 0.000000] CPU: ARMv7 Processor [410fc074] revision 4 (ARMv7), cr=10c5387d
    [ 0.000000] CPU: PIPT / VIPT nonaliasing data cache, VIPT aliasing instruction cache
    [ 0.000000] Machine model: I12 / Q5 / QT840A A20 tvbox
    [ 0.001489] CPU: Testing write buffer coherency: ok
    [ 0.001836] CPU0: update cpu_capacity 1024
    [ 0.001853] CPU0: thread -1, cpu 0, socket 0, mpidr 80000000
    [ 0.001928] Setting up static identity map for 0x403d4b80 - 0x403d4bd8
    [ 0.003335] CPU1: update cpu_capacity 1024
    [ 0.003341] CPU1: thread -1, cpu 1, socket 0, mpidr 80000001
    [ 0.003428] Brought up 2 CPUs
    [ 0.003449] CPU: All CPU(s) started in HYP mode.
    [ 0.003455] CPU: Virtualization extensions available.


    Turning USB peripherals BadUSB (A confession……)

    08 Aug

    There is currently a ‘stink’ about this article:

    Turning USB peripherals into BadUSB

    These guys appear to have put a quite an amount of research into this subject and attack vector.
    However I’m disappointed about how little research and citations of prior work they seem to have included, even if it is not based around USB devices it is still relevant.
    Then there is the ‘case’ of the 3rd party publicly available code to reprogram the SAME USB device released BEFORE their presentation.

    For Example:
    On Hacking MicroSD Cards

    Read the rest of this entry »


    USB Storage devices – embedded Trojan analysis/implementation (USB Nand-Flash)

    04 Aug

    How we can build powerful analysis tools from Ebay crap….

    There is lots of cool scrap available on Ebay, specifically items from video processing companies/telecom companies that sold their scrap to clowns who were supposed to ‘destroy it’ ( you know the ones, who advertise ‘secure destruction’ of equipment).
    All you need is a JTAG pod, frequency generator (NE555), multi-tester and a little bit of time.

    Back In Jan I threw together a library for reading Nand-flash chips on the Arduino, part of the reason for this was to try to throw together a simple and highly cost-effective way to read Nand-flash chips.

    Unfortunately it was a failure due to the read speeds…. BUT….
    Read the rest of this entry »


    USB miners and the Dipo Electronic 19 port 20A USB Hub

    20 Nov

    This is a 19 port hub with an integral power supply that is capable of reliably supplying MORE than 700mA per port without overheating or becoming a fire hazard.

    Dipo  hub , with engineering modifications for reliability

    Dipo hub , with engineering modifications for reliability

    Some of the Basic specifications:

    – Fully 480mb/s at each port
    – 16 Front facing Standard A USB ports
    – 3 Side facing Standard A
    – 1 Master hub connection Standard B for connection to Computing Equipment or other hubs
    – Fully fused internally via multiple poly-fuse resettable fuses both on each individual port and on the main power feed to the Ports.
    – UK/European standard 3 pin power plug
    – Hub runs COOL

    Unlike cheaper USB ports that only implement links at USB 1.0 standard (12mb/s speeds but state they are ‘compatible’ with USB 2.0) this is a professional FULL 480 Mb/s port that complies and implements the full 2.0 USB standard. It may also be used to connect to generic USB 1.0 equipment.

    The good thing about these hubs is that you can load them up with 19 Bi-Fury miners (around 76 gh/s) and the miners would STILL run as intended.

    The supplier is a Chinese company we have been working with, each hub we sell is inspected both at the electrical and electronic levels to ensure the correct functionality of the product.

    It can be purchased here:

    Comments Off on USB miners and the Dipo Electronic 19 port 20A USB Hub

    Posted in Android, Arduino, BITCOIN, forensics, FPGA, Linux, PCB Design, Reverse Engineering


    Bit coin miner from Ebay scrap The Solar debateVIII)

    13 Jul

    It was not until the start of this year (2013) that there has been such a long run of exponential increases in the bitcoin difficulty.
    Current difficulty is 26162876 with a PPS share rate of 0.00000092 BTC (actually it is lower once you consider fees etc)

    After mining for a few years using various systems- CPU, GPU, FPGA.. The time has now come to reconsider the situation….
    B.F.L have continually failed to deliver what they promised they were experts in…. Power consumption does not match,shipping does not match, quality does not match.
    Back in January, they were saying delivery would be in Two months, they are still claiming that all back orders would be cleared before end of September 2013, personally I find this unlikely since they STILL have not shipped any of my orders, and for them to clear the backlog, they should at least have my orders in ‘production'(I’m in the top quarter of their estimated order book).
    Plus the number of people who have had new ASIC kit only for it to fail abysmally is rapidly increasing..
    I have decided to give them until the middle of August and then I’m pulling the plug on the orders.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Bit coin miner from Ebay scrap D’oh!!!!(VII)

    09 Jul

    Its Always good to take a look at past work…

    Inparticular the VHDL…. hay it looks ok so it MUST be ok…

    When I say look at it, I mean from a totally different perspective…
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Bit coin miner from Ebay scrap (VI)

    30 Jun

    One major issue with generating bitcoins is getting rid of the heat from the crypto hashing engines. This is partially due to poor design of many of the crypto engines, or the incessant need of miners to over-clock the rigs until the errors are in double figures….
    However many Bitcoin miners do not take into account the ambient temperature when designing their cooling solutions( and some cooling solutions are just CRAP… blue flashing lights anyone?, radioactive coolant?…. but ..but. is green and it glows in the dark…yep… chicks just dig flashy lights and green coolant.)
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Bit coin miner from Ebay scrap (V)

    25 Jun

    Nope … we have not ‘given up’
    In fact we have made some excellent progress
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Bit coin miner From Ebay scrap (IV)

    18 Jun

    Overall the results from using the Ebay scrap were positive

    The boards are a little long making programming via JTAG difficult, not to mention the 14 Pin IDC connector is not really suitable for a standard 14 pin IDC plug (a fact I discovered AFTER I returned from China with a bag full of parts).


    As we can see it is a little cramped by the JTAG connector (directly inline with a fan), yep I can say officially that even a 12 Volt fan is capable of doing serious damage to finger tips and finger nails.


    There were a number of issues with the FORA(For-a) video processing boards.

  • After digging about we find that the FPGA core voltage has been fixed at 0.97v
    This is a little low for proper mining
  • We had to strip out an additional component that supported the PCI bus as the part was running from the 3V3 supply.
    Failure to remove it would be driving the chip at 170% of its rating thereby forcing it to dump several hundred mA as heat…
  • Yep We had an Idea that there was something shitty about the power-supply setup…
    The Bellinix modules used are ‘programmable’ via an external sense resistor, problem was that when we replaced the sense resistor NOTHING happened to the supply voltage, in fact completely removing the sense resistor also had no effect.
    * UPDATE 29Th June 2013, we finally tracked this down to a defective Bellinix module…
    We can now adjust the core voltage for the FPGA via a system that reprograms the DC/DC PSU module.


    Further delay on the Ebay bitcoin miner (1 Hour……)

    13 Jun

    After finally getting the power supply of the existing miner back on line, we found that the FOR-A
    experimental cards had gone dead.
    In fact Two FOR-A cards had gone dead.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Bit of a delay on the Ebay bitcoin miner

    12 Jun

    There we are going full swing building another new mining rig, only to getup this morning to find one of the old bitcoin rigs has gone tits up……

    Thanks again to “XILENCE” and their shitty ATX PSU’s.
    Last time I had problems I decided to split out the rigs and dual supply the FPGA’s to avoid any problems.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Bitcoin Miner from Ebay Scrap (Part III)

    09 Jun

    A couple of days ago I posted a screen shot of the Ebay Scrap miner pushing 120MH/s

    Today I have a screen shot at 150MH/s
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Building a Bitcoin miner from Ebay Scrap (Part II)

    07 Jun

    The time has finally come to Build our bitcoin miner.


    • Ebay Scrap FPGA
    • Cost <$100USD
    • Speed >150MH/s
    • UART Interface
    • Standard ATX computer Power supply

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Xilence PSU really are quite poor quality.

    16 Apr

    So today I went out and purchased a couple of Xilence PSU (XP500), specifically because they were rated at 30.0A at 3V3.

    We needed a fairly strong 3V3 supply rail to feed a couple of maxim buck converters down to 0.98v for an FPGA project.

    You would think that 3V3@30A would be able to handle such a simple situation.

    Well you would be dead wrong..
    After loading the PSU upto 6A the supply rail dropped to 3v1 we then added another 6A load and the rail hit 2V98 Also the 12V rail began to sag down to 11v8 volts and the 5V rail hit 4V8, even with no loading applied to anything other than the 3V3 rail.

    Considering these supplies are rated at 3V3@30A, we should not see such poor power degradation with what is basically a 12A loading on the 3V3 rail.

    By the time we were at 18A@3v3 the 3v3 rail was below 2v9 and the 12V rail was also in decline.

    Furthermore the power supply started to make a sound as if there was a screw loose in the cooling fan, removal of the load caused the sound to disappear.
    I’m of the mind that something was breaking down inside the PSU whenever the 3V3 supply was loaded.

    OK fine let us contact their support…
    After finally getting their support system to accept the email request and supplying the PSU serial number
    I STILL have NOT had a reply after 7 Days….

    Is the quality of the Xilence PSU bad or is the application unsuitable?
    Well, to put this in perspective, I also purchased a really shitty Chinese made ATX-320T PSU that claims it can supply 3v3@14A, this thing cost less than $11USD(I kid you not)
    After 4 months at an overload of 18A@3v3 the supply rail on the Chinese PSU has dipped down to 3V2 the 12V rail is at 12V2 and the thing is still as quiet as a whisper, plus no magic blue smoke daemon has appeared.

    Do not EVER buy Xilence PSU’s, it may even be better to purchase that shittly little Chinese brand after all.

    Xilence PSU’s appear to suck ass so badly that you would NOT want one inside your computer.
    By the way their internal build quality on the PSU is basically ‘Fucking abysmal’, parts of the inline filter are ‘flapping about’ in the air as if it was an afterthought needed to pass the EMI standards.
    Whilst there may be many Xilence the market, such poor power regulation can only lead to seriously stressed computer parts and early failure of equipment.

    Time to return this Xilence crap to the shop and save some serious money.


    Bitcoin: A revamp of our XUPV5-LX110T FPGA mining rig (now faster)

    02 Apr

    Since the ASIC order went tits up at Tom’s ASIC fuckfest and BFL STILL have not delivered product, we spent the time working on our existing FPGA miner.

    Improved in every way
    Xilinx development boards are actually very good and it is a testament to the design of the Power-supplies that we managed to push the Bitcoin mining design to 200MH/s ,But why was the board consuming 47W when hashing hit 200MH/s?

    The secondary issue was why the logic would not go faster than 200MH/s, even with improved FIFO & UART communication routines, try as we might I would not work, I had pushed the same FPGA to 250MHZ for another project, so it was unlikely to be clock related.

    A new Beginning
    It now seems that all these issues have now been solved after designing a completely new Power supply with improved layout (we also added two MASSIVE power planes which also act as a heat sink).

    The FPGA design is now consuming 10W-15W per board and we have pushed the core to 370MH/s… yep a single core doing 370Mh/s….

    So where is the power going?
    0v95 Supply is sitting at about 6-7 Amps!!!
    3v3 Supply is consuming about 1 amp, but that can be reduced since we have about 16 diagnostic LED’s strung off the IOAUX power line.
    We may need to try and parallel up a couple of the 0v95 supplies in an attempt to cool the switching FETS down, we could just change the Capacitor/Inductor fet configuration, but that can be a real pain to get working efficiently, far easier to just parallel up a couple of supplies.

    What is the point with ASICS being released soon?

  • We just picked up a load of FPGA’s very cheap on Ebay
  • The cost of a single Bitcoin is over $100USD
  • We only need to mine 1.5 coins and the FPGA’s are basically ‘free’
  • Once the FPGA’s can no longer be used to mine Bitcoins, there is Litecoin.
  • Litecoin?
    Yep in good old hacker style, we may have discovered a weakness in the Litecoin system that would allow us to mine without consuming massive amounts of ram.
    We say ‘might’ because we have only looked at the system very superficially, but if we are correct then with a minor performance hit we could limit down the ram size.


    02 Feb

    We have recently re-gained control of this site, back from an admin-user.
    This person was given the ability to post as the admin of the site.
    A number of forums related to bit-coin ( have been linked here, these links will remain as will the research.

    Unfortunately, the person involved is still causing mischief on some sites, mainly by reusing certain monikers and requiring payment for the release of them.
    We attempted to re-route the ownership of the accounts via email, but failed.
    The person in question has also been issued a cease and desist letter from our solicitors.

    To make matters more complex these monikers have been in use for several years on other non bit-coin sites and since the SEO connected to these monikers has some value they have also been appearing in Eastern-Europe.

    For the record, most of the technical analysis posted on various bit-coin forums ( is not under the ownership of the person using the moniker, but rather from a secondary source and then re-worded.
    The plan was to build SEO links of ‘intelligent and useful material’ related to various aspects of bit-coin.

    As regards the email address:
    har***, this is now under control of a different admin.

    Site owner.


    Bitcoin Samsung 2440 Host controller

    08 Jan

    As is the way, we were sidetracked into taking a look at getting WiFi working on the Samsung 2440 embedded control board, the idea being that we could have a backup system for when:
    1.HongKong telecom manage to cut the telephone lines.
    2.The shitty little HKT ADSL modem or its PSU burst into flames again, yep it only takes them 3 DAYS to get a replacement to you.
    3.Dock with my mobile phone, since that has unlimited data rate, which means I can cut one ADSL & one router from the mix I am currently using.

    Sadly getting WIFI working on an embedded board is not that easy, EVEN with linux

    Tried downloading ‘compat-wireless-2012-12-17’, but unfortunately the integral bash scripts wont run under busy box on the embedded system.

    Tried downloading Bash for the embedded system, but it won’t compile, instead giving a segmentation error.

    Tried cross compiling the needed wireless libraries… fail……

    It’s not that I cannot figure it out, but rather how much is my time worth to get WIFO working on what is basically a dead out of date underpowered board.


    For $89USD+$30USD shipping we can get an up-to-date Quad core samsung4412 at-least 4 times faster than a Pi and with enough memory to run a miner controller for a good many ASIC miner units and it comes with a functioning wireless installation of linux.


    Bitcoin FIFO

    31 Dec

    In a previous posting we outlined the use of a FIFO between the Bitcoin engine (SHA256(SHA256(x))) and the communication circuit.
    There have been a number of discussions about the futility of this implementation, along with the posting of various quantities of ‘dubious’ facts used by a number of people to backup the claim of why a FIFO is an exercise in futility.(a little thought into the actual statements, shows a massive & glaring mistake, that shows the same level of ineptitude as the greek governments ability to understand their current situation)

    One key fact in my usage of a FIFO was to separate the Clock circuits of the communication & generation logic, failure to perform this, results in the need to continually adjust the counters used in the UART to match the master clock, this in-turn prevents the UART being “black-boxed”, because the UART needs to be continually re-routed in the logic, each time the clock frequency is changed, this in turn causes continual problems with the routing resources producing “random” results.

    To date the 220MH/s core with the integral FIFO has been performing admirably, so what we are now going to do , is replace the handwritten FIFO VHDL with an integral core that is hardware specific to the virtex5.
    It turns out that those clever people over at Xilinx added extra circuitry to the RAMB32 infrastructure to handle FIFO implementation in the RAM logic, even more interestingly, the FIFO is capable of operating at up to 550Mhz.
    Since we are not actually using all the integral ram inside the Virtex 5, it is about time we replaced our generic VHDL FIFO with this infrastructure. At the very least it is additional logic that will no longer need to be routed to the same extent as it currently is, the only down side is that the minimum sized FIFO we can implement is 512 levels deep….., rather than our current 16 levels in the generic FIFO.

    Let’s dooooo it!!
    We can simulate this modification to death, but that is really not going to give us any insight into the actual results once it is implemented in the logic.

    The first task will be to implement a single clock FIFO to replace the generic implementation.

    After that, we will implement a dual clocked version with dual port ram, this will allow us to separate the clocks for the nonce communication & generation circuits, and if that works then we might start looking at inserting a FIFO BETWEEN the SHA256 generators, again it might be possible to use this to ‘break up’ the logic and increase the speed at which the SHA256 calculations can be operated.


    Bitcoin controller using YL2440 (Cont.)

    24 Dec

    In our last article, we were of the mind that the YL2440 sucked so badly as a bit-coin miner control board, that it could easily outperform a Dyson Cleaner.

    As is the way, things come to light that change our interpretation of the data.

    It now turns out that the “boot-loader” developed by the Chinese company to pre-load the kernel, was not actually passing the available ram size(64Mb) to the Linux Kernel on boot up.
    For whatever reason, the user configurable settings were not being passed in, as a result the kernel was launching with only 16Mb of ram….. The fact that Linux could even run a system including Python in less that 16Mb of ram ,really is a testament to the design of Linux.

    Python sucks at the best of times, and limiting its available memory only makes it worse.

    New Improved YL2440
    After making some modifications to the Linux kernel and forcing a new command line on boot up,
    we now have the full glorious 64Mb of ram, and boy what a difference it makes.
    No longer do we need to wait 3 minutes for an SSh login, and even the web-front end of the python miner is more responsive.
    Total ram consumed… is now sitting at 20Mb, most of which is being used as buffers.

    Our next task is to try and get the Stratum Mining proxy working, since this will cutdown on the data bandwidth needed by the miner, plus there is a 2% fee reduction with Stratum Mining.

    Once that is done, we will be re-visiting the issue of the RS232 ports and why they are unable to function at 230400 baud.


    Bitcoin development rig using a YL2440 as a control system to an FPGA miner

    18 Dec

    The Good News….
    Well, we finally got a fully functional YL2440 up and running a python miner client.
    The good news is that it has not crashed in the last 48 hours, AND we fixed that bloody stupid clock bug…

    The bad news…..
    Unfortunately the bad news is that it sucks ass.

    1. Even though the YL2440 has THREE hardware UARTS , none appear to function with the miner at 230400 Baud
    This is despite the bloody thing running fine IF I plug in a FTDI USB UART connector into the only available USB connection and use that for the python (even worse the data-sheet for the CPU states that “it is capable of running at upto 921kb), but looking into the linux kernel UART code, there is a comment from the programmer about the UART speed multiplication bits being wrong.(9 instead of the 44 shown in the data-sheet)

    2. For some reason there is only 16Mb of ram available to the system, even though the system has 64Mb of ram onboard.(well that is if the shitty ’64mb’ ram chips are not China fakes, that have been re-branded)
    or possibly it’s an error when I ported the linux kernel.
    3. Being an embedded Board, it uses Nand-Flash as storage, unfortunately this does not bode well for the massive log files continually written by the Python miner, specifically it hammers the wear leveling of the Nand-Flash card.

    So the likely-hood of this board ever working for more than one ASIC miner is starting to look rocky.

    I’m going to take a look at the ram issue, because I know linux always performs better with more ram, and just maybe we can rescue this situation.

    If we do indeed rescue this complete dogs bollock of a project, then for the networking I have a nice 12db Antenna + 1 watt amp for a wireless connection.
    Why pay to run a router/ADSL connection when you can leach off all the open ‘noobie’ routers in your area?

    *Handy tips:
    1. Always download your porn using the local ‘open’ Church router.
    2. Always use “WEP” as your router protocol.
    3. If you are a dumb-ass Chinese company making copying other companies development boards, FFS DON’T Use a Hearing aid battery to support the RTC. use an INDUSTRY-STANDARD mother board battery.


    Bitcoin Mining/publicly available VHDL source code and the Xilinx XUPV5

    10 Dec

    Since I have been playing about with bitcoin mining for the last few weeks, it has given me the opportunity to look at some of the publicly available source code.

    We decided to take a gander at the communication channels used to communicate the results back from the FPGA’s to the master computers.
    On the whole the code is mostly abysmal…., seemingly written by people that have absolutely NO comprehension about how real hardware actually works… or in some cases even basic binary maths.

    Take for example the Serial communication:

    Lots of fixed constants that cause the code to fall apart as soon as you try to increase the clock rate of the design.
    Why? Because the counters and values in the design are dictated by the clock rate and as you increase the clock rate you need to increase the length of the counter chains in this code.

    Hahar… you say..
    I can vary the clock rate for the main design but then keep the clock rate for the UART at a fixed rate.


    Because of this low quality code in miner.vhd

    hit <= '1' when outerhash(255 downto 224) = x"00000000" and step = "000000" else '0';

    As the SHA256(SHA256(x)) code does its magic, a new hash result is calculated off the base nonce at the edge of EVERY clock cycle of the master clock.
    Therefore any valid result has to be recovered in a SINGLE clock cycle of the master clock before the result is lost.
    Now if the UART is running on another clock, it may very well miss the value that has been transferred to the TX logic, at the very least you would need to syncronise the clock edges.

    So Unless we want to totally re-write the VHDL we are stuck with the UART code running on the master clock

    The next problem
    The actual UART code is written so badly that even if it were the ONLY core in the FPGA, it would max out if the master clock value was increased past 140Mhz

    However with a SINGLE change, its maximum operating frequency can be taken up to about 294.898Mhz.
    yep... that is correct, a SINGLE change to the VHDL code can more than DOUBLE the frequency that the UART can operate at. That is before we even start to take a serious look at the code construction.

    To buffer or not to buffer that is the question
    We now come to the issue of buffering(FIFO) the results of hash searches and nonce hits.
    Since the generation of hashes is a continual process there is no guarantee about the quantity of collision hashes you get when checking the full range nonce from 0x00000000 to 0xffffffff.
    Furthermore, there is no guarantee that two valid nonces will not appear within a few clock cycles of each other( Other than mounds of research that say changing a single bit radically changes the whole has value, but they don't take into account the fact that bit-coin is looking for a hash whose top-end is populated with zeros).
    So, a question arises:
    How can a UART core operating at a baud rate of 115,200 possibly service a nonce generator running at 120Mhz?

    Well, only under the pretense of multiple nonces NOT turning up within the 'send' window used for notifying a successful nonce back to the master controller.

    From this we can ascertain that there is probably a need for a FIFO to be inserted between the SHA256(SHA256(x)) engine and the UART (yes...yes.. I know some people think it is very rare for nonces to be close, but I'm afraid I have seen them regularly within 1ms of each other, plus that value only gets smaller as the SHA256(SHA256(x)) system speed increases)

    So we implemented a FIFO
    We had to provide our own FIFO code, because the shitty Xilinx core generation tool only allow a FIFO to have a minimum size of 512 places. (yep like 512 places * 64 bits is going to help with the routing issues we already have!!)
    The results were actually quite interesting: There was a noticeable INCREASE in stability of the whole system, as well as an increase of successful nonces discovered.

    diff 0x723b07 (7486215D)

    Above we can see two nonces detected and reported correctly within 32ms of each other, yep we can say that this is STILL well within the capability of the UART to report these without a FIFO, but the difference is that a NONCE can be detected at any time, even when the UART is currently sending data.

    This code is difficult to test, almost impossible to simulate, because you need to be able to generate viable hashes that are very close together, and for that you need to know the base hash (x) PRIOR to the SHA256(SHA256(x)) that is going to produce the final results.
    (if we knew that we could "mine" bit-coins without actually doing any work and we would be very rich).

    Nevertheless even with these difficulties, we managed to capture the following:

    Here we see two nonces within 1ms of each other namely:
    Diff 0x1fa76b(2074475d)
    A quick subtraction of these two nonces, tell us that they are:
    0x1fa76b apart (2074475) or 2074475 clock cycles....
    Hang on a minute
    2074475*5ns(at 2002MH/s) =10372375ns , which is 10.3ms but the timing above says they are 1ms apart.
    and from this we can see our fifo Is actually saving data, because something 10.3ms apart is being compressed into 1ms apart(the FPGA was sending a nonce to the controlling system, but during the send a second nonce was discovered, preserved in the FIFO and then TAGGED onto the end of the send straight AFTER the first nonce).

    If indeed the two nonces were generated closer together and not a potential interruption of the UART, then the subtracted result above would be SMALLER.
    But the nonces would still be received by the controlling system within 1ms of each other(according to the python reporting, but that's what you get for using a gash interpreted programming language to code a front end to a hardware design).

    And finally a "zero time nonce":

    Diff 0x19fa93 (1702547D)

    The Future
    Now that we have a working FIFO we can FINALLY, split out the shitty UART code from the master CLK.
    Why? Well now we can start to look at running the SHA256(SHA256(x)) at a higher CLK rate without having to worry about resources that will not route correctly due to them failing to meet the timing requirements.
    This means the design has the chance to compile at a far higher operating frequency, looking at the design, over 70% of the timings are due to routing delays.

    Cut the bullshit, anyone can say code is bad
    OK, So how far have we improved the miner?:
    The current STABLE speed (200MH/s) is almost double when compared to the Public domain code.

    And this is without even trying to work on the routing or adding constraints to the xilinx files.

    The Future
    Interestingly a research project for NIST has already accomplished a working ASIC for SHA3.
    If you read the paper very carefully it states "It contains all the SHA-3 five finalists".. SO WHAT!!
    Then it goes on to state: "and a reference SHA256"
    Catch the link here:
    SHA256 in ASIC
    and something far more interesting related to die sizes and processes
    ASIC Die sizes


    ZFS on OSX…. goes tits up!!!

    25 Sep

    ZFS was supposed to be a super cool file system with basically unlimited storage and the potential to correct ANY sort of corruption within the ZFS file system. (seriously when you have >50TB of storage capability from most modern disk systems, HFS+ just does not cut it. )
    Read the rest of this entry »

    No Comments

    Posted in OS X


    Busting Bit Torrent Pirates (users) in less than 3 hours

    06 Sep

    There is an interesting paper from the 2012 P2PSecComm get together.
    A system to track and identify a bit torrent user in less than 3 hours:

    The paper is called “The Unbearable Lightness of Monitoring: Direct Monitoring in BitTorrent”

    It can be found here:

    Click to access P2PSecComm2012.pdf


    Good suppliers for Hobbyist PCB manufacture

    05 Sep

    If you need to manufacture some PCB’s, check out the following link first:


    youritronics have prepared an analysis of two main Hobbyist PCB vendors:
    ITead & Seeed.

    Also read through the comments attached to the post, since there is an interesting “insight”
    ” iteadstudio was started by an engineer who used to work at Seeed and left to start his own competing business, taking the contacts and business model”

    This sort of behavior is fairly common in the Chinese business community, and is one of the main reasons why , they tend to not keep detailed and organized records. (Since it allows anyone with access to a photo copier/flash drive to steal the whole business.)

    Anyway go check out youritronics


    GOOD PCB design packages for OSX

    04 Sep

    Recently looking about for PCB Design Packages for OSX
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Cmos VC0706 /VC0707 Camera company to avoid

    03 Sep

    There is currently a company operating on Alibaba selling what they advertise as a VC0706 Camera module
    Unfortunately it is a complete pack of lies and the company actually provides substandard product.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Absolutely cool Arduino upgrade (Smart move by Microchip / Digilent)

    16 Aug

    Microchip the makers of the PIC range, have released a new development board that is going to ABSOLUTELY BLOW AWAY the Arduino AVR range.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    CentOS 6 installing the Graphical interface (GUI)

    06 Aug

    When doing work for customers I work mainly on VM installations. This allows me to try things out and then rollback the OS should anything not work out.(Just HOW cool is it to be able to take snapshots & rollbacks of a complete os!!)
    Normally this is fine for 99.99% of all the work I do, It also allows me the ability to offer the customer complete security, because once the VM is securely erased, absolutely all the customer job information is removed from the machine.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Cmos VC0706 /VC0707 Camera@Alibaba *BEFORE buying

    02 Aug

    It is rather ironic that a sourcing site should be associated with a character from “Tales of the Arabian Nights” in which a band of thieves rob a cave.

    Indeed there are many thieves associated with Alibaba far more than the usual 40.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    It was HOT in Hong Kong on Monday

    03 Jul

    Despite the temperature being just over 31 Degrees Centigrade indoors…..
    One of my cats flatly refused to be moved from ‘her’ favorite UPS.

    Well you know how it is with cats:
    They can be stubborn, even when their eyes are streaming and they have to pant to keep cool.

    No Comments

    Posted in cats


    Email Scraping the Insane way

    29 Jun

    Insane as far as an individual goes:
    I have had to shut it down because it was a bit too scaleable.
    Any computer it was loaded on, contacted the distributed data-storage mechanism and off it went…..
    (Over 20 million HTTP addresses in less than 24 hours) with each and every HTTP address recorded.

    There is still an issue related to the HTTP storage mechanism, in that if they get corrupted they cannot be recovered and have to be started from scratch, possibly something related to partitioning would be good to solve this problem.

    The Story
    After looking around at various “email scraping” programs and having a bit of spare time on my hands, I decided to build an email web scraper out of Java.

    Yep…. I know Java is supposed to be slow and not as fast as “insert current lame language here
    But the crawler is cross platform and that is enough for now.

    Key requirements:
    1. Don’t duplicate email addresses (actually checking for this is a waste of processing power, since a simple sort and merge will remove duplicates)
    2. Don’t crawl the same web addresses unless specifically required to.
    (Experienced programmers will already see a problem with #1 & #2, even with 16GB of real ram)
    3. Make it fast.
    4. Make the physical HTML parser a plugin.
    5. Make it ‘seriously’ scaleable.
    6. Completely restartable after a crash/shutdown of the Control server.
    7. Fluid enough to deal with crawling nodes popping up/shutting down randomly
    8. Crawls in the direction of most profitable harvesting.

    #1 & #2 actually require that you either store:
    A. All the web addresses (HTTP:xxx)
    B. All the hashes of the Addresses
    Looking at the length of some web addresses (>150 characters) and we can see some design criteria regarding memory starting to creep in.

    We actually started testing by implementing a Hashmap in internal memory , that maxed out at about 500,000 entries, but did it in a BAD way: the JVM physically crashed and exited (thanks OSX).
    This resulted in the complete loss of the whole crawl session.

    You will also be surprised at the number of websites attempting to do IFRAME injections of viri linked into the “mailto:” tags.
    This also resulted in JVM crashes, but this was more to do with the antivirus program on the computer.
    Basically the antivirus was looking at the stream of data from the web port and then “Clamping” the port by ending the communication session in an abrupt way.
    It might have been better if the Antivirus program just inserted “dummy” 0x00 bytes.

    To be continued


    Arduino IDE 1.0.1

    08 Jun

    Checked out the new 1.0.1 IDE and ensured that the “TinyWebServer” for Arduino still functions.
    The “TinyWebServer” can be downloaded from:

    1. download Arduino IDE, tinywebserver from github, extract both
    2. rename folder “hardcore-fs-Tinywebserver????” to “Tinywebserver”
    3. place folder “Tinywebserver” in Arduino-1.0.1\libraries
    4. download flash library
    5. place flash library in Arduino-1.0.1\libraries
    6. open Arduino 1.0.1 application
    7 goto file->examples->Tinywebserver->simplewebserver
    8. Select verify/compile.
    9 And it works!!


    Thought of the day

    01 Jun

    If “Facebook” do indeed launch a mobile phone, and the terms & conditions allow them to ‘track’ & record the users information.

    Does that automatically give Facebook the right to record 3rd party SMS & telephone numbers of non-Facebook users?

    for example if one of my friends is stupid enough to own a “Facebook” phone and calls or sends me SMS messages, can Facebook also store any of my details (phone number,name, number of calls , country location) without MY express permission?

    Watch this space…….


    “In the blink of an eye: There goes your AES key”

    30 May

    “In the blink of an eye: There goes your AES key” is the new research paper by Sergei Skorobogatov, the researcher over at Cambridge University.
    Read the rest of this entry »

  Home for many of the worlds professional scammers

    19 May

    Yep, use your ability to make money , but then there are the scammers.

    How to spot the scammers:
    Read the rest of this entry »


    She works hard for the money…. OpenERP CentOS 6.2 Python 2.7.3

    21 Apr

    Well almost…
    Todays time wasting job was OpenERP, not least of which was due to the piss-poor installer, dodgy language (Python… if you want to see libraries done properly see Pearl) and the poor instruction and installation guides provided by OpenERP. (I don’t think I have seen such worthless documentation since the Jasper reports-‘Ultimate’ guide series)
    Seriously if you’re going to charge 50 bucks for an ‘ultimate’ guide, then I expect to see such tips as having a two column report broken down into ‘Day’ & ‘Night’, where ‘Night’ always prints on the right even when the’Day’ column is missing. Not some trash about how to position sub-reports on a report page.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    CentOS 6.X yum does not work

    16 Apr

    I was recently working on a job that called for centOS.
    not knowing what type of hardware the customer had, I opted to build a VM using i386.
    Everything went fine until…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    No Comments

    Posted in Linux


    Arvixe still not there yet?

    04 Apr

    I am beginning to get the idea that some members of Arvixe are giving false information in an attempt to make it appear to the customer/ or their supervisors that we are the one in the wrong and that they are ‘doing their best’ to sort out the problems, possibly in attempt to coverup their mess.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I just cannot see why it takes 3 weeks to setup a server with a domain name pointing to the same address, NOT install tomcat and give the customer the CORRECT details to connect to their hosted account.

    Yesterday I received an emails clearly stating:

    The ------ server is now the --- server so its(sic) not on the wrong server.

    However after checking and executing a ‘ping’ to the customers REGISTERED domain name and a ping to the ‘—‘ server I find that they are NOT the same servers

    The server that they claimed was “NOT the wrong server”

    PING (---.---.---.52): 56 data bytes
    64 bytes from ---.---.---.52: icmp_seq=0 ttl=49 time=260.736 ms
    64 bytes from ---.---.---.52: icmp_seq=1 ttl=49 time=261.221 ms
    64 bytes from ---.---.---.52: icmp_seq=2 ttl=49 time=259.718 ms

    The customers DNS server:

    PING (---.---.---.2): 56 data bytes
    64 bytes from ---.---.---.2: icmp_seq=0 ttl=53 time=259.538 ms
    64 bytes from ---.---.---.2: icmp_seq=1 ttl=53 time=260.570 ms

    Clearly the pings resolve to different IP addresses, and after checking the content of the servers that are supposed to be ‘right and the same’, it was clear that they are NOT the same.

    Anyone wanting a GOOD hosting company can click on this link:

    Get a week’s FREE trial and a support team that, I have to say is absolutely the best and fun to send emails to. Plus it only takes them 15 minutes to get you running.


    Arvixe hits an Iceberg, and the band played on………

    01 Apr

    Yep, this continues to be a pain, only  two three weeks in and STILL not resolved.

    Basically they sent me details that the server I was hosted on was: shall we say “xxx”, unfortunatly the DNS was pointed to “YYY”, so for safety I have been accessing “XXX” via an IP. Address.

    Part of my message to them:

    DO NOT INSTALL TOMCAT OR START TOMCAT..................., there is NO NEED to reset the account.

    JBilling has its OWN tomcat.....
    I had the system working last week, the only thing that was wrong was the domain name, it was pointing to the WRONG server.

    See my post to the customer....


    Fairly specific right?
    DO NOT INSTALL OR START TOMCAT, I put it in BIG letters so they would understand, -some call this shouting-, but after two weeks I think I am entitled to shout a little, especially as this is the sixth time I have made this point.

    And they very thoughtful replied……


    The 'xxx' server is now the 'ppp' server so its not on the wrong server. So at this stage I suggest that we get the tomcat reinstalled for you in order to quickly resolve this issue.

    You can also find the correct tomcat manager here:
    May I go ahead and attempt the reinstall of tomcat for you?

    Well, thanks guys.
    You actually changed the server WITHOUT informing me, so all the work I have been doing on “xxx’ has been completely wasted, because apparently it is NOT my server, so let’s not worry about it.

    But please tell me, exactly WHAT do you not understand with the statement:
    DO NOT INSTALL TOMCAT OR START TOMCAT……………….“, do I have to start employing the use of a club to beat this information into your engineers?

    I think we can say that if you are serious about business you should NEVER , I repeat NEVER use these people as a hosting company, yep maybe that have their stellar moments, but when it does go tits-up they do it with style.


    Incompetent hosting companies (Arvixe?)

    26 Mar

    Yes: we will be having a post about hosting companies, complete with sales emails and ‘support’ logs.
    We will show how some of these companies just waste your time and in particular request you to upgrade to packages that JUST DO NOT WORK

    First up will be: arvixe
    You can find avoid them at :

    So….. here we go.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Micro 3D printing, fastest in the world

    14 Mar

    There is an interesting article on 3D printing and micro resolution.
    The guys over at ‘The Vienna University of Technology’ have been doing some stellar work.
    Actually managing to build a replica of the ‘Tower bridge’ in London.
    However, their model is only a few hundred µm, in fact the distance between the two towers is only 90 µm.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Well done Google ‘hot Tw*t’ == Hot, Thailand

    08 Mar

    Finally a Google tracking function that is functional as well as amusing.
    Sick of google automatically setting my location and thinking that I am somehow interested in local news.
    I decided to reset the Google location on the Google “news” page.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Tips for using GitHub

    25 Feb

    GitHub is great for finding code and then forking it, however one issue is that there are a significant number of idiots forking projects and then making insignificant formatting changes, maybe they want to see their name up on the web or even claim that they are part of the project (great for job interviews)

    So when forking a project you need to ensure you have the actual base project and not some numpties re-fork of a re-fork.

    Here is a classic example taken of a FULL Git patch:

    @@ -6,7 +6,7 @@
    6# Datatypes (KEYWORD1)
    9-DHT22 KEYWORD1
    9+DHT22 KEYWORD1
    11 #######################################
    12 # Methods and Functions (KEYWORD2)

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Arduino Mega: TinyWebServer final

    29 Jan

    All major bug fixes have now been implemented in the main library.
    This includes:
    Memory leaks/memory corruption in low memory conditions
    Corruption of uploaded files, when host was high speed
    Incorrect file upload timeout watchdog.


    Arduino Mega: TinyWebServer update

    11 Jan

    We spent a couple of days cleaning up the TinyWebServer library by ovidiucp.
    It now functions correctly under the Arduino 1.0 IDE
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Arduino Mega: Direct R/W of a Nand Flash memory chip

    02 Jan

    Since I had little to do over New years day, I threw together some Arduino code that would allow reading of Nand-Flash chips. This includes the memory contents and both the ID and ‘secret’ ID where supported.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Setup functionality of WPA/WPA2 WiFi has potential to let in hackers

    30 Dec

    Yep…. despite all the posts on the net stating that WPA/WPA2 has been cracked (it has not), the research is still a massive shortcut to having to run ‘normal’ brute force attacks
    Read the rest of this entry »

    No Comments

    Posted in WiFi


    Web Store opening soon

    02 Dec

    Well, we have been busy looking at the Arduino, and since we have a few years industry experience in both Electronics and Quality assurance, we decided to open an electronics Shop.
    We will be providing the Arduino range of products including a selection of the shields.

    These will be pretested and with a guarantee ( not for user abuse, but we will be looking at a repair service for users that damaged their Arduino’s)
    Initially we will be providing free registered shipping, payment via PAYPAL.


    Cry me a river

    09 Nov

    Seems the Yanks are all worked up:

    Looking to blame China for the fact that American companies have been dumping E-waste in China and the Chinese had found a use for it……
    By re-branding it and selling it back to American companies looking to buy components on the cheap.

    Now the question is :
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Sweet deal over at Texas instruments

    18 Aug

    Texas instruments is running a discount on the following products:
    eZ430-Chronos-433 – eZ430-Chronos Wireless Watch Development Tool
    eZ430-Chronos-868 – eZ430-Chronos Wireless Watch Development Tool
    eZ430-Chronos-915 – eZ430-Chronos Wireless Watch Development Tool
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Xilinx Bitstream encryption broken.

    27 Jul

    There is rather an interesting set of research papers available on Xilinx encryption.

    So what is Bitstream encryption and why does it matter?
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Google at it again, please just STOP!!

    20 Jul

    Yes, our friends over at google are at it again
    Read the rest of this entry »


    LulzSec does a job on the Sun News (news international)

    19 Jul

    This morning the sun news paper front page was being re-directed to a twitter account for ‘LulzSec’.
    All funny stuff, especially for a group that is supposed to be disbanded.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    HSBC the world’s local bank most Incompetent bank

    18 Jul

    So why do I think HSBC is incompetent (or certainly the people in it)?

    Today I received some sales promotion information from HSBC (as we know they have been having rather a lack luster year)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    No Comments

    Posted in News


    RFID examination kit

    10 Jul

    There are a number of ongoing projects related to investigation of RFID cards.
    One of the more interesting projects is the bootable RFID Hacking system.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Securing Hardware

    09 Jul

    An interesting article from the White house website.
    Detailing attacks against hardware.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Dumbest attitude on the net

    29 Jun

    This weeks winner goes to:
    DahSing bank in Hong Kong:Dumbest bank
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Your Country needs YOU (highly unlikely)

    29 Jun

    Yep Good o’l Unkle(sic) Sam needs your help.
    we need YOU!

    Seems those wicked hackers in other countries may be ‘salting’ the chips supplied to the US.
    So Sam is asking for all you chip hackers out there to pony up your fingerprints and contact details (Because the meeting is being held in the good ol U.S of A {freedom center of the universe}), so that you may discuss various methodology and ideas on the hacking and validation of physical chips.

    Sounds like a marriage made in heaven.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Ever taken pictures that are out of focus?

    22 Jun

    Then you need to check out ‘Lytro’ and Dr. Ren Ng’s material:

    Rather than the camera just taking a picture of a scene that has been focused onto the back of a sensor, the camera equipment captures the details of the light in the area.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    No Comments

    Posted in News


    Some people cannot take a joke

    22 Jun

    Seems my pet spammer is getting a bit upset.

    After my latest post he upped the number of members trying to join for 5 to 50 a day.
    Seriously even if it was 5,000 or 10,000 it still takes me less than 10 seconds to spam-trap and bin the members, plus he gets the added advantage of being completely and instantly black listed for every other user of the spam trap software.

    Knock yourself out tiger……..


    How to make friends

    20 Jun

    Just over a week ago I posted a blog about anti-spam measures.
    I received a message from a nice guy over in the ‘RU’ domain name, a day after my post.
    Basically the email just said:
    “OK Bitch”
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Finally, someone gets a set of testicles

    15 Jun

    It has been announced that the UK government will be investigating Facebook.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    DIY Magnetic Putty

    14 Jun

    So here is something interesting:
    Then this got me thinking
    Read the rest of this entry »

    No Comments

    Posted in News


    How to have a high traffic, massive member Forum (A forum with lots of people)

    14 Jun

    Often you will see Forums for sale with tens of thousands of members plus a high through-put rating(something that says the forum have active postings).

    How to some of these forums accomplish such high readership?

    Simple: By not running anti-spammer software or plugins.
    Currently this forum is under attack from such people, as can be seen below from my anti-spammer plugin.

    Now interestingly to get this far, they have to enter a valid name & email address, plus they need to defeat a CAPTCHA and finally need to reply back to the email that is sent to them.
    So either they have some fairly sophisticated software/scripting to perform this process or they are doing it manually in which case it is costing them money.
    After all that hard-work, they ultimately end-up being caught in a massive honeypot sting.

    So the moral of the story is, do not believe everything you read or see on the web and if something seems too good to be true, then usually it is.


    Roll up… The great Facebook privacy abuse scandal

    08 Jun

    Just in today:
    Facebook now scans the photos you upload to the FB service using facial recognition software, and just to ensure that profits are maintained the FB scanning system is enabled by default.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Do NOT Buy Apple’s Lion OS X

    07 Jun

    So you may think this is a new pro windows rant.
    It is not.

    Jobs/Apple recently announced that:
    “Lion will only be available to download online through the app store”
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Meta-Data Hacking and location tracking with email.

    27 May

    So I was thinking about Email today, and how to track down those damned spammers.

    They consider they are protected, because they sit behind an ‘hidden’ email account, usually one at Google or MSN.

    At first it seems like it would not be possible to find out the TCP/IP address of someone you send an email to, especially as the email is a package that is delivered to a mail account and the mail account is read at random.

    But consider If we set up a web server, that served uniquely encoded images.

    We then send the ‘spammer’ a reply that contains HTML marked up text, and in the HTML we embed an image request, something like:

    Now when their email client renders the email on THEIR computer, their computer will make a TCP/IP connection to our image server, once that is done their TCP/IP address will be logged and we can then start to build up a Geo-location map of where they are.
    Potentially if we construct our server correctly, as soon as the image is requested we can then launch an exploit against the requesting computer.
    This would seem to make rather an interesting ‘plug-in’ for metasploit.


    How to avoid or remove Mac Defender malware

    25 May

    Has finally woken up to the problems being caused by this malware, as a result Apple has released a technical support document, the document goes some way to explaining that you should not enter your credit card information!!, but it does also detail how a user may remove the malware, you can find the document here: removing Mac Defender

    Look, Everybody with a mac
    Do yourself a favour go over to the sophus website, and download their free antivirus program: Free OS X Antivirus.
    Whilst it may not be the best AV on the market, it is going to be better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick


    New forensic opportunities for cars

    24 May

    There was a recent announcement in the states that the government may be on the verge of requiring all cars to have black boxes fitted.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Facebook Wembley Stadium Identification scam

    22 May

    There are rumours that Facebook is working on technology to identify individuals from their photographs.
    Recently a photograph was taken at Wembley stadium, this photograph was so detailed and taken at such a high resolution that potentially it allows each and every person in the 80,000 crowd to be identified.

    Identification scam
    Please identify yourself

    Apart from this already being a massive invasion of privacy, and in some cases against existing laws related to photographs of children(be clear that pedophiles will also have access to the picture), it has been kindly requested that if you can identify yourself, you should add a Facebook tag with your details or indeed the details of any other individuals you can identify.

    Do you REALLY want Facebook to have a photograph of 80,000 people including yourself each with a clearly identifiable ‘tag’, just be clear that once you have done this you will be identifiable to Facebook, its agents, rival fans, criminals and any law enforcement agencies.
    You are also going to be identifiable to the end of time, also you may well be giving up your right ‘NOT’ to be identified in any other images available on the internet.

    Reject this invasion of privacy, unite and enter as many false details as you can to ensure the database is contaminated, so that it will be of little use to people trying to identify individuals, or as stated here:
    You can “Tag yourself in the crowd and be part of history.” (In ways you could not hope to comprehend)


    Heads Up……… Macdefender

    20 May

    There is a new Trojan doing the round for OS X, currently going under the name of “MacDefender”, however that name is likely to change once people become more aware that the application is a trojan.

    Just a tip, try to steer clear of ANY AV program for OS X that has not been on the market for at-least a year and for which you cannot find decent balanced reviews.
    Yes it is true that most of the AV programs for mac suck stronger than a Dyson vacuum cleaner, but that is not an excuse to go mad and download a program just because it is ‘new’, let some other moron download and test it first.


    Why Apple’s OS X really annoys me

    17 May

    One of the most annoying things about OS X, is its continual insistence of leaving ‘rat droppings’ all over my drives.(Apple they are MINE not yours)
    Yes, I’m talking about the ‘.DS_store’, ‘.Spotlight-V100’, ‘.Trashes’,’._.Trashes’, ‘.fseventsd’ and christ knows what other crap Apple insists in writing to my drives.

    I am well aware the role such files play, but they also play havoc with development for embedded devices.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    10.1″ Utopia, USB & flexible cable issue

    15 May

    Well, It has taken some time to get the issues related to the USB port fixed, it seems it was a dual issue of broken USB socket AND a flakey inter board connector, if you remember back to the A8, this was also an issue.

    See here for more details:

    Forum Link


    OSX Zero Day Exploit

    08 May

    Pure Hacking blogged recently about a potential Zero day exploit , where an attacker could target OSX Skype users.
    The exploit is sent in the form of an attachment and if successful allows the attacker to gain shell access on the Machine.

    More details available here Pure Hacking


    OpenRISC Asic

    07 May

    If you are interested in supporting a good cause for a public domain CPU design, then pop over to OpenCores and make a small donation (Say a Dollar)

    It is for a good cause.


    10.1″ Utopian wet Dream

    06 May

    Ok so we have the  brand new Utopia G10 from Hiapad
    We had actually started to take a look at the device, but we seem to have a couple of issues related to the USB & HDMI connections.

    We also have photos of partial disassembly, that was until we dropped the digital camera.
    Luckily, we have been able to recover a couple of the photos, unfortunately it is going to require a new photo session to get a clear breakdown of the full device.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    A really small and cheap computer

    06 May

    A registered charity over in the UK is looking to get into the computing industry in a small way:

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Sony does it again….. this time it is 25,000,000

    03 May

    Seriously Sony it is time to get your corporate act together.
    If you cannot secure your networks, then employ people that can, failing this please arrange for the No1 person in Sony to give us all a bow and also the finger, because that is all the bowing by the No 2’s were worth.


    A really Small Atomic Clock

    03 May

    Symmetricom have released a development board for their new Atomic clock

    I’d Like to do a review of the product and possibly write some cross platform software for the device, but unfortunately the price break is currently putting this baby at $1500 USD for a single piece.
    Details of the device, as well as a couple of in-depth data sheets can be found at the following link: Symmetricom Atomic Clock


    70 million victims as the Sony band played on……

    27 Apr

    So what went wrong?
    Computer networks get hacked every day, recently my own details were spread on the spam lists by the morons over at Marriott hotels.
    One day after the hack at Marriott my email account started to fill with spam. Marriott claim my credit card details ,address and other personal information are safe, sorry Marriott I do not believe you.


    I have one question to  Marriott,Sony and the other fuck whits who think other peoples personal information is just data:

    Why do you employ such complete morons to be in charge of your data networks?

    Sure networks get hacked, but WTF (WHY ******), do you not keep the data on your networks encrypted?

    Oracle has had encryption functionality built into its database for at least the last 5 years. Exactly what allowed these hackers to gain access to the data of  70,000,000 users, why was this information kept as unencrypted data?

    People reading this news, may all think this has no bearing on them, but it does:  since every Credit Card loss is a loss of each and every Credit Card holder, not to mention an increase in insurance and bank charges.

    Sony  should be royally shafted by both the people whose data was compromised  and by the credit card companies.

    But you know how this is going to turn out:

    A few mid level Sony representatives will do a bit of bowing and shed a few crocodile tears, then they will go back to their happy lives.







    Here we go!!!!!!!
    Sony No.2 Bows deeply



    Google/Android and the mystery of how they know where you are

    24 Apr

    This is something I have discussed previously on a number of BBS systems, seems some in the press are actually surprised about what is going on.
    Daily mail discovers the truth ?!!!

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Utopia 10.1″ iMX515 pad

    17 Apr

    We have access to the new Utopia iMX515 pad computer currently called A10


    Key features:

    • No more screen wobble or jumping, (as per the revision one 8″ tablet)
    • HDMI output (Built in)
    • Screen side Camera (Built in)
    • Fully Working Android Market.

    We will of course be stripping this baby down and taking a look at any additional expansion possibilities.


    APAD iMX515 Internal Bluetooth

    28 Feb

    It is bad enough being laughed at because you cannot afford an “Apple iPad”, but to have to walk about with 8″ of adaptor cable attached to your pad with a Bluetooth dongle hanging out the end of it is just unacceptable.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Initial fix for APAD iMX51 sound channel noise

    11 Feb

    There have been reports of sound distortion/pollution on the APAD sound channels.

    Here is a visual representation of the noise:

    Sound distortion with no cap added


    Read the rest of this entry »


    Dental floss: The ultimate in S&M for cables….
    (Cats no longer needed)

    06 Feb

    I’m always looking for new and interesting solutions to old problems, particularly when the problem has been solved previously and yet may require the innovative usage of materials (I have an issue with people stealing my post in China, so anything that is ordered usually gets ‘borrowed’, yep whoever you are can you return my degree paperwork it is no good to you.*)

    Anyway checkout the following link for the task at hand: Dental floss


    Solution to APAD iMX51 Touch screen wobble/ jumping ?

    26 Jan

    We have seen many owners of the Freescale A8 pad computer systems with touch screens that ‘jump’ when users apply a finger/stylus to the touchscreen interface.
    Currently we are seeing several thousand users with this problem, each with varying degrees of wobble, at the very worst the device is unusable.

    Read the rest of this entry »