Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Hardware Hacking Transportation Open Source

Open Source Car-Hacking Tool Successfully Crowdfunded ( 54

An anonymous reader writes: Two geeks are crowdfunding an open source car hacking tool that will allow builders to experiment with diagnostics, telematics, security, and prototyping. "Cars have become complicated and expensive to work with," they explain on a Kickstarter page. "Macchina wants to use open source hardware to help break down these barriers and get people tinkering with their cars again." After years developing a beta prototype, they announced a tiny plug-and-play device/development platform (that can also be hardwired under the hood) on an Arduino Due board with a 32-bit ARM microcontroller. They almost immediately reached their $25,000 funding goal, and with 24 days left to go they've already raised $41,672, and they're now also selling t-shirts to benefit the EFF's "Right to Repair" activism.

Challenging "the closed, unpublished nature of modern-day car computers," their M2 device ships with protocols and libraries "to work with any car that isn't older than Google." With catchy slogans like "root your ride" and "the future is open," they're hoping to build a car-hacking developer community, and they're already touting the involvement of Craig Smith, the author of the Car Hacker's Handbook from No Starch Press.

"The one thing that all car hobbyists can agree on is that playing with cars isn't cheap," argues the campaign page. "Open source hardware is the answer!"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Open Source Car-Hacking Tool Successfully Crowdfunded

Comments Filter:
  • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Sunday February 26, 2017 @03:51PM (#53934503) Journal
    I've got a $5 bet that says automobile manufacturers file for an injuction against them and/or sue them and/or file for a DMCA takedown because they're violating copyright. Regardless of what they're doing being right and good.
    • It wouldn't surprise me, it will probably be over the included canbus libraries so you know what code means what, I bet they want licensing fees.

    • by hsmith ( 818216 )
      More cut and dry than that. Touch the ECU and they'll void the entire warranty.
      • Touch the ECU and they'll void the entire warranty.

        Sure, they could do that. And then you could take them to court to cover the cost of repairs. And you'd do it in small claims court, unless you were into the big big money because you bought a big expensive automobile, in which case you can afford to go to real court.

    • I'll take that bet. OBDII tools have been around for decades. The only thing this does is have better software support. I expect you to fork over that sweet sweet cash too, bro. ;)

    • I've got a $5 bet that says automobile manufacturers file for an injuction against them and/or sue them and/or file for a DMCA takedown because they're violating copyright.

      How long do we have to wait to collect our five dollars from you? They're not getting sued. There's already a ton of devices which do this.

  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Sunday February 26, 2017 @03:52PM (#53934519)
    I can't wait for a five autonomous car coordinated attack on some crowded public area.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That requires too much effort; it's easier to talk idiots into doing it manually by promising them 72 virgins.

  • Pretty neat (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ArylAkamov ( 4036877 ) on Sunday February 26, 2017 @03:54PM (#53934527)

    I've been working on some canbus boards in eagle to make something similar to this, but this seems to have everything I want. There have been similar products for a long time but nothing as DIY friendly as this as far as I've seen. This being completely open, complete with libraries, wireless, breakout board, etc. all ready to go is exactly what I've wanted for years.

    Now we just need a better aftermarket-but-hackable ECU that isn't megasquirt. I've been looking into rusefi, which seems promising. I just wish one of them would support resistor spark plugs so you can detect knock via ion sensing (I'm unaware of any). Using the older Saab ECUs for this is nice (Trionic 5.2 and 5.5, tuned with T5suite) but I would much rather have something built from the ground up that doesn't rely on parts that are quickly going out of existence.

    It's [THE CURRENT YEAR] and we still rely on stupid piezo microphones for knock detection for aftermarket ECUs.

    • ViewTool Ginkgo USB to CAN [] isn't bad. They have drivers and libraries for OS X, Windows and Linux. It has 2 CAN lines and taking it apart they actually separated the CAN side from the USB side on the PCB. (Something not even Vector's CAN boxes do).

      It's cheaper than any of the commercial tools.

      • It has 2 CAN lines and taking it apart they actually separated the CAN side from the USB side on the PCB.

        What, they included a $5 USB isolator IC, saving the user from buying a $20 USB isolator module? That's great, I wish Ross-Tech would do that on their VW interfaces.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    OpenXC is a Ford sponsored open source hardware and software project that allows you to read and inject messages using the CAN. I have been using it for about 3 years on my Focus and then my F-150. There are several libraries available, including python. There is also a test client for Android.

    For an example of what can be done with the device, check out

  • Here is an already commercialized project if you'd like to avoid the Kickstarter scam which has the same form factor as this project []

    Or you know, the hundreds of people that thought about this before and documented it. []
    -or- []

    I should start a Kickstarter myself to develop some knock-offs.

    • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Sunday February 26, 2017 @10:19PM (#53936057) Homepage Journal

      And a cheaper one, you might add. These Macchina guys are anticipating $55 just for the interface board. But then they claim they made it as small as possible, which is bullshit because it's multiprotocol. They say they made it small so that you could fit it under the dash or hood, but then they went and put an OBD-II connector on it which just takes up a lot of space. If I'm permanently installing it, I can splice into the wires I need. I also don't need protocols I'm not going to use. Then they added an xbee module slot. xbee modules are primarily used for long-range communications. Up close, you use bluetooth or wifi. You can get an esp8266 module which goes into an xbee slot, but the module they specifically talk about is the new cellular xbee module. There's no reason to give the device a cellular uplink unless your plan is to use it remotely.

      Which brings us full circle: this device was designed first and foremost to be used as a weapon. It's designed to be installed into a target's vehicle, and to be used to attack the vehicle remotely. We know this because of their choice of wireless interface module standard, which is oriented towards long-range communications, and because the broad multiprotocol support is otherwise at odds with the desire to make the device as small as possible. So is the addition of a soldered OBD-II connector, which is not desirable in many installation types. It is useful, however, if your goal is to connect as rapidly as possible.

  • I'm guessing these people have never talked to an Australian.

  • After all, it's a Kickstarter. Chances of it shipping on time or actually working outweigh any damage that could be done.

Pascal is not a high-level language. -- Steven Feiner