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DEFCON 24 BioHacking Village: Reverse Engineering Biomedical Equipment for Fun and Open Science

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In this presentation we share the results of our reverse engineering of an electronic pipette and a -80ºC freezer, both are staples in biomedical laboratories. We share our methodology and try to incite others to create more open software for biomedicine.

Charles Fracchia & Joel Dapello are from BioBright, a Boston-based company working to make biomedical research more reproducible through data.
https://biobright.com

Published in: Health & Medicine
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DEFCON 24 BioHacking Village: Reverse Engineering Biomedical Equipment for Fun and Open Science

  1. 1. Reverse engineering biomedical equipment for fun and open science Charles Fracchia & Joel Dapello DEFCON BioHacking Village - Aug 6 2016
  2. 2. What to expect from this talk 1. What is a biolab & its equipment 2. How we reverse engineered two pieces of equipment 3. Call to arms: how YOU can help
  3. 3. The Bio Lab
  4. 4. The Bio Lab
  5. 5. “This is my [pipette]. There are many like it, but this one is mine.” - Rifleman’s Creed, adapted by Prof. John Castorino
  6. 6. What should have happened ≠ What actually happened
  7. 7. But Wait!
  8. 8. Reverse engineering a pipette
  9. 9. What is a pipette? The equivalent of the computer mouse for biological research Single-channel Multi-channel
  10. 10. How does a pipette work?
  11. 11. Electronic pipettes
  12. 12. Motivation
  13. 13. Toys Logic analyzerOscilloscope
  14. 14. Step 1: choose target carefully Criteria: ● Easy to obtain ● Made by a leading brand (aka trusted) ● Elegant hack: ○ One that could be used by anyone ○ No irreversible modifications
  15. 15. Step 1: choose target carefully Mettler Toledo / Rainin EDP3 Plus ✔ Purchasable on eBay - around $50 ? Remote control - mentioned on product sheet, but no details
  16. 16. Step 2: hunt for more documentation
  17. 17. Step 2: hunt for more documentation
  18. 18. Step 2: REMOTE CONTROL !!!
  19. 19. But... Heu, can I haz remote control softwarez plz? No. Discontinued product...
  20. 20. Heu, can I haz remote control softwarez plz? “I think I have one in a secret stash in the factory” Step 3: find an engineer
  21. 21. Step 4: find remote control port Oh hi there :)
  22. 22. Step 4: figure out pinout
  23. 23. Step 4: figure out pinout Try pressing a button while sniffing but nothing...
  24. 24. Step 4: figure out pinout How about using the software? Success! Here’s the FW version: 1.5
  25. 25. Step 4: figure out pinout We have a pinout
  26. 26. Step 5: make it easy for others to use This hack enables actual remote control Use the simple board to relay messages via XBee You can even use encryption on the XBee link
  27. 27. Step 6: document the comms
  28. 28. Other machines?
  29. 29. Reverse engineering a -80ºC freezer
  30. 30. Step 1: find documentation
  31. 31. Step 1: find documentation
  32. 32. But... Hmm, more details please?
  33. 33. Step 2: collect samples from the RS-232 port Sending random characters through the port yields interesting behavior “N” → Dumps NVRAM “T” → Temperature packet
  34. 34. Step 3: reverse temperature encoding Increase the temperature by known amounts and collect the temperature bytes Still a bit cryptic, until...
  35. 35. Step 3: reverse temperature encoding This is very likely to be linear ! Calculate the slope: m = ( 20221 - 20608 ) / ( -87 + 84 ) = 129 Get the Y-intercept: 31444 → 243.75ºC Hmm, strange: 0 Kelvin → -243.15 not 243.75ºC Temp ºC ≈ n/129 - 243.75
  36. 36. Step 4: make it easy to use for biologists Complete with alerts & maintenance/downtime prediction algorithms !
  37. 37. Transform the way biology is done
  38. 38. These tools are essential in curing disease, finding new drugs, etc.
  39. 39. What we need help with Create a repository of open & interoperable device “drivers” Create a framework to teach these skills to biologists and doctors Recruit hackers & reverse engineers to this cause
  40. 40. We need the Arduino & Redhat for Biology
  41. 41. open @ biobright.org Contact us!
  42. 42. Questions?

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