Friday Night Hardware Hacking

Last night I fixed a Vista laptop (It wouldn’t finish booting into Windows normally because I’d installed another hard drive, and ran ClamAV which possibly changed a file it was depending on after I removed the other hard drive. I ran startup repair, and then the system restore option, and that fixed it, easily.)
Declawing CueCat
This evening I noticed an old barcode scanner that Dad got in some online deal, and it never worked. It had DRM built into it, and wouldn’t read barcodes as plain text as they should be. Instead it encrypted the text and relied upon decryption software from a spyware server to give useful output. I learned this (again) tonight, trying to find out if plugging the USB device into Ubuntu would just work, since it’s the future, 2013. I had the hardest time figuring out the proper name for the scanner, but the Cat. No. 68-1966 on the bottom finally helped. It’s a CueCat. The IBM.com/eserver branding on the side was useless.

CueCats can be bought on eBay still for about $10.

Declawing CueCat

Then I found some really great information about how easy it is to modify the pins of an IC, to eliminate the encryption[PDF] of the plain text barcode! Lots of hackers have done it.

This hacking project is about 8 years behind cutting edge, but now Dad has a working bar-code scanner for his desktop computer. And defeating DRM is a good way to pass the time.

Declawing CueCat

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2 responses to “Friday Night Hardware Hacking

  1. Nice work, fellow Friday Night Hacker!

    I like to use my CueCat to scan comic book barcodes into my library software.

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