USB hack connects Droid to printers, video cams, and more

Any device Linux can tap...

41 Reg comments Got Tips?

A reverse engineering expert has disclosed a way to make his Motorola Droid host USB-enabled devices, a hack that allows the smartphone for the first time to directly connect to printers, video cameras, TV tuners, and a wide variety of other peripherals.

The modification was devised by Mike Kershaw from Kismet and Mike Baker of OpenWRT and shared with the world by Chris Paget, a new Droid owner and chief hacker for reverse engineering firm H4RDW4RE.

Using a charging cable that plugs into a car's cigarette lighter, a micro-USB cable, and a USB extender cable, he devised an improvised micro-dongle and connector cable. Getting the Droid to work with a Linux-enabled USB device is as simple as turning the smartphone off, connecting the cable to the host and peripheral and turning the Droid on. As soon as the Motorola logo disappears, you'll need to unplug the micro-dongle.

Once your Droid is booted - voila -it should now work with the device. You can even pull up a terminal and look at dmesg to see the usual kernel notifications that appear when new USB devices are connected.

To be sure, the Droid isn't the most robust of USB hosts. To change peripherals, you'll need to reboot the smartphone. What's more, leaving the micro-dongle plugged in too long causes the port to get stuck supplying power to devices but not actually recognizing them.

Or as Paget put it in an email: "The capability is now there but it'll take a while to realise it - I haven't even managed to mount a USB key yet."

But the simple mod opens a whole new world to the Droid, since the smartphone will be able to work with hundreds of devices that up to now have been off limits. And besides, the hack is likely to get better over time.

"Hopefully the drivers are sufficiently open-source that these are easy bugs to squash, and that dynamically switching between host mode and peripheral mode won’t be too hard to add either," Paget writes. Pictures and additional details are here. ®


Keep Reading

Poor, poor mobile networks. UK's comms watchdog plans to stop 'em selling locked-down handsets

First OTT apps nick their SMS revenue, now this...

USA decides to cleanse local networks of anything Chinese under new five-point national data security plan

‘Clean Network’ initiative bans use of Chinese clouds, names Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent as compromised

Better late than never... Google Chrome to kill off 'tiny' number of mobile web ads that gobble battery, CPU power

Could have done with this years ago to stave off rise of advert blockers but fine, OK, whatever, now it's coming

Here's a starter for 10 on smartphones: Who grew in Q3? A) Everyone. B) Asian vendors. C) Apple

COOK, CUPERTINO: Well, um, things are looking up?

The seven deadly sins letting hackers hijack America's govt networks: These unpatched bugs leave systems open

'Unauthorized access to elections support systems' detected tho 'no evidence to date that integrity of elections data has been compromised'

Microsoft buys Affirmed Networks to provide cloudy services for 5G network operators

Vodafone, Orange, AT&T, and Softbank are already users, will soon have Azure option

UK smacks Huawei with banhammer: Buying firm's 5G gear illegal from year's end, mobile networks ordered to rip out all next-gen kit by 2027

Country to be hit with £2bn cost, massive tech delay after firm 'materially compromised' by latest US sanctions

What is your 'intent'? Google Assistant opens door to chatting with third-party apps

But as ever, users, you don't need to yell into the phone... it's not the 1970s

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020