I love playing with Software Defined Radios, or SDR. Over the last few years, I owned many of them, ranging from cheap USB sticks to the pricey HackRF.
You can do a lot of exciting things with them. Well, exciting if you are a nerdy type like me.
You can listen to ADS-B from aircraft flying over your head. You can determine how many cellular base stations you have around you. You can trick your phone GPS into making him think you are on a Hawai island and a lot of other interesting stuff.
Sometimes you can use out-of-the-box software, or you may need more specialized software to do what you want.
On a marginal note, you must be careful since you can easily slip into illegal operations. If you stick with “listening” to radio waves and don’t transmit anything, you are on the safe side.
Here is a simple example of something that in some countries is illegal. If you buy a couple of high-end SDRs and you use the right software, you can build your own home 3G cellular network. Doing that is illegal; that spectrum is highly regulated, and you can’t just jump on airwaves and transmit.
When I saw the Flipper Zero Kickstarter campaign, I could not resist and decided to fund it. A few months later, my Flipper Zero device arrived home.
From a technical standpoint, the Flipper Zero is less versatile than other SDRs. I am simplifying the discussion here. The Flipper Zero is something less than an SDR and something more.
The frequency range it supports is much more limited than other SDRs. The HackRF One supports frequencies from 1 Mhz to 6 GHz, while the Flipper One is limited to sub GHz frequencies.
On the other side, the Flipper Zero natively supports RFID 125 kHz, NFC, Infrared, iButton, and Bluetooth LE. All of this with native hardware support. Other SDRs can do the same thing from a radio frequency point of view, but you need additional hardware to make it work with the external world.
Flipper Zero is self-contained in a nice case with an LCD and can operate autonomously without the need for additional hardware.
I love that.
I think they were able to simplify access to this kind of technology, even if they had to sacrifice a lot to make it happen.
You can still have a lot of fun with this device. It’s powerful, and it’s easy to operate.
You can flash custom firmware that enables some functions that may not be open in your country. As I said before, be careful. It may be illegal to operate on some frequency in your country.
Apart from that, you can also do nasty things that are illegal. There is a replay attack that forces Tesla cars to open their charge port. Fun, but not legal.