Great Scott Gadgets

open source tools for innovative people

Goodbye, Dominic

Just over ten years ago I sent my first email to Dominic Spill:

“We haven’t met, Dominic, but I hope you don’t mind being included on this message. I thought you two might be interested in some work I finally got around to writing up. . .”

I had been exploring the use of software-defined radio for Bluetooth monitoring and had found Dominic’s paper on the subject. He and I quickly began collaborating on the development of tools and techniques that improved upon the methods in his paper. Just three months later, we presented Building an All-Channel Bluetooth Monitor at ShmooCon 2009.

We met in person for the first time the day before our talk at ShmooCon, and we have been friends and research partners ever since.

Over the next two years I learned electronics and designed Ubertooth One, a low cost test tool that implemented some of the techniques Dominic and I had developed. Ultimately this me led to create Great Scott Gadgets as a way to put such tools into the hands of innovative people around the world.

When Great Scott Gadgets began to become too much work for me alone, Dominic was the first person I turned to for help. He took over development and support for the Ubertooth project as a remote contractor while I turned my attention to developing new tools and growing the company.

Eventually Dominic moved to the United States and joined the GSG team in Colorado as a full-time employee. He played a key role in research and development, provided technical support for our resellers and end users, led our software development efforts, mentored interns, kept our internal IT systems up and running, and even cleaned the refrigerator. His humor, creativity, and patience have been felt by every member of the team.

For ten years Dominic and I have continued collaborating on research and developing new tools. I’ve lost count of the number of conference presentations we’ve given together and of how many times one of us has turned to the other and said, “Here’s a crazy idea. . .”

Yesterday was Dominic’s last day at Great Scott Gadgets. Having decided that he needed a change, he will pursue new adventures.

We will miss Dominic greatly. He will always be a part of the GSG family.

Free Stuff, October 2018

The Free Stuff recipient for October is the Wave Farm. Wave Farm is a non-profit arts organization driven by experimentation with broadcast media and the airwaves. Wave Farm programs provide access to transmission technologies and support artists and organizations that engage with media as an art form. The Wave Farm Artist Residency Program is located on 29 bucolic acres in New York’s Upper Hudson Valley and supports new transmission art work by visiting artists from around the globe. Wave Farm’s WGXC 90.7-FM is a full-power non-commercial FM radio station committed to radio as a platform for community engagement and artistic experimentation. They do some really interesting stuff - their pond has its own station! Check them out!

Free Stuff, September 2018

Bridgewire Makerspace in Sparks, Nevada asked for a HackRF One to use in the Hamshack/wireless research station they are putting together in their electronics shop. Their space is open around the clock for members to create, learn and share. They are a member-funded and -run 501c3 organization that provides a space for working on projects and sharing ideas and knowledge. Check out their website here:

If you’d like to submit your project idea for consideration to receive free hardware from Great Scott Gadgets, please visit the Free Stuff page and send us a message!

Free Stuff, August 2018

Matthias Carneiro is a PhD student in Montpellier, France. He asked for a HackRF One to use in his research on SDR implementation in nanosatellite constellations. When he completes his PhD, he is going to donate the HackRF One to the university for the use of other students.

Crème Brûlée Camp

We decided to go big at Toorcamp this year and make a jar of crème brûlée for every single person that attended. Delicious? Yes. Too ambitious? Maybe. Open source? You got it.

Image via Patch Eudor

Harnessing the power of GreatFET, we were able to connect a temperature sensor, LCD screen, and some bucket heaters, and cook up a very large amount of crème brûlée inside an average sized cooler while at camp, and it worked… but there were some rough spots. The problem wasn’t necessarily in the cooking process, but in the preparation stage: the cooler was able to fit 120 4oz jars in it for a batch, so someone needs to be cracking 120 eggs and separating the yolks, someone needs to be washing/drying 120 jars and lids from the factory, someone needs to mix the egg yolks, cream, vanilla, and sugar into a huge jug, someone needs to pour the right amount of mix into 120 jars, and someone needs to tighten 120 jar lids to the correct tightness, all while 10 gallons of water heats up in a cooler. Once all this is done, the batch can be placed into the cooking cooler for about seventy-five minutes. Finally, jars can be pulled from the cooking cooler to be sugared and brûlée’d by a person with a blow torch one at a time. Repeat.

As you can imagine, this takes a considerable amount of time and effort for just one batch of 120 jars. Not only that, but there unsurprisingly was not a 100% success rate, as some lids were not tight enough before being cooked and jars were cracked during the blowtorch brûlée phase. Doing this back to back for a few days was a ton of work. We were able to make 695 crème brûlées in one weekend, and everyone that wanted one got at least one! But for anyone thinking about trying this, be prepared to get your hands dirty.

If you want to learn about the R&D process you can check out the talk we gave at Toorcamp or if you’re interested in the source code and set-up, check it out on GitHub.

Comments on the Recent USTR Tariff Action

In September I made the following public comment on the Office of United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Proposed Modification of Action Pursuant to Section 301: China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation.

Thank you for requesting comments on the proposed supplemental action in response to China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation (USTR-2018-0026).

As the founder and owner of Great Scott Gadgets, a Colorado small business that puts open source tools into the hands of innovative people, I urge you to refrain entirely from imposing any new duty increases. Additionally I urge you to eliminate all recent increases made as a part of this action.

Due to the inclusion of multiple tariff subheadings in the proposal, I anticipate that Great Scott Gadgets will suffer a significant increase in the cost of products we sell. Ultimately the technological innovators who are the end users of our products will bear this increase. Instead of punishing China, the increased duties will harm American innovators who rely on tools such as ours. Innovators in China and elsewhere around the world will gain an advantage over Americans as a result of the action.

Great Scott Gadgets designs and manufactures open source hardware (OSHW). The OSHW community includes a rapidly growing group of companies committed to the ideals that end users have a right to fully control their own equipment and that anyone should be able to study, make, use, modify, and sell devices based on our published designs. OSHW makers recognize that, just as open source software has resulted in great advances in the software industry, open source hardware will enable future generations of hardware innovation.

The growth of Great Scott Gadgets and other open source hardware and software companies demonstrates that protection of intellectual property is unnecessary for commercial success in technological markets. This undermines the USTR’s argument that “China’s acts, policies, and practices that effectuate technology transfer burden and restrict U.S. commerce.”

I maintain that open source technology greatly enhances innovation and that the best way to foster rapid development of new technology is to encourage both the free exchange of ideas and free trade of tools, materials, and all goods.

In my opinion, the proposed supplemental action will have little effect on China’s acts, policies, or practices but will disproportionately harm Great Scott Gadgets, our employees, our American resellers, and the American innovators who depend on our tools.

Free Stuff, June and July 2018

junio 2018

El destinario de Cosas Gratis para junio es Gabriel Martín Miguel de Salamanca, España. Él quiere hacer una plataforma de radio asequible a los nuevos radioaficionados para acercarles las nuevas formas de hacer radio. Él tiene un grupo de Facebook sobre SDR para usuarios, programadores y radioficionados en español, tanto en España como en latinoamerica, aqui:

July 2018

CTRL-H Hackerspace of Portland, Oregon asked us for a HackRF One. They plan to use it for SDR workshops and their Electronics Lab Radio Closet, where they'll be capturing and hosting as much data as possible through SDR. It looks like they have made some fabulous spaces for creating, learning and hanging — check them out here:

If you'd like to submit your project idea for consideration to receive free hardware from Great Scott Gadgets, please visit the Free Stuff page and send us a message!

Free Stuff, May 2018

We sent Oleksandr Tytko a HackRF One. He is studying at Lyceum No 1, Chernivtsi, Ukraine. He and his classmates plan to use the HackRF One to learn about SDR and to write and test their own code. He is also very enthusiastic about starting an open source project studying the influence of radio frequencies on plants and people. He sent us a picture of the greenhouse in his local Botanic Garden where he plans to do the research:

Dan Groeneveld is an instructor at Northland Pioneer College in Show Low, Arizona. He is going to be teaching net security and pentesting courses this autumn, so we sent him some Throwing Star LAN Tap Kits. He is looking forward to teaching his students LAN Tap principles and soldering basics. We can't wait to see pictures of them in their lab.

If you'd like to submit your project idea for consideration to receive free hardware from Great Scott Gadgets, please visit the Free Stuff page and send us a message!

Free Stuff, April 2018

April's Free Stuff recipient is EFF (The Electronic Frontier Foundation). EFF is a nonprofit organization that defends civil liberties in the digital world. From their website: Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.

Andrés Arrieta, Technology Projects Manager, has asked for a HackRF One because: At EFF we are looking how technologies impact our rights in our daily lives. Research has already shown many vulnerabilities in the standards in implementation of mobile communications and we want to continue research in this space. Understanding how 2G-4G have really been implemented not only by Telcos but also in Baseband and how users' privacy is impacted by this. Beyond that we'd like to explore the possibilities of offering more secure communications to users and the different ways this could happen.

If you'd like to submit your project idea for consideration to receive free hardware from Great Scott Gadgets, please visit the Free Stuff page and send us a message!

Free Stuff, March 2018

The Free Stuff recipient for March is Jan van Katwijk, a hobby programmer from the Netherlands. He plans to use his new HackRF One to finish his work on DAB software by providing a library for HackRF, then for experimenting with wideband receiving issues. His current developments include software support for ACARS and ADS-B decoding.sdfsdfdsf A full overview of his work is available here and here.

If you'd like to submit your project idea for consideration to receive free hardware from Great Scott Gadgets, please visit the Free Stuff page and send us a message!

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