Adafruit Holiday Gift Guide 2012 — Reverse Engineering

Editor’s note: our reverse engineering gift guide was written by Fabienne Serrière, also known as fbz, an amazing reverse engineer and hardware hacker. Please give her a warm welcome and read on for a great list of reverse engineering goodies!

Reverse engineering brings out the best in all gadgets. Giving life to new machines is not a new art, drawing from centuries of reuse and unlocking of obfuscated mysteries. When learned, reverse engineering brings a useful skill set and bag of tricks for use in a post zombpocalypse world. Some of us like to use our power for the LULZ and the w00t of it all, others enjoy using their purchased or acquired hardware to its full potential.

With some cabling, some tools, much reading of protocols and manuals, some practice, and an eye for the finer details, you can make hardware and firmware do your bidding. Make the seasoned or budding reverse engineer in your life very happy this holiday season with this round-up of essentials and hot new hacking hardware.

photo by Travis Goodspeed

GoodFET – An open source JTAG adapter

Ubertooth One – This open-source wireless dev platform is for Bluetooth projects.

Bus Pirate – An open-source, multi-tool, universal bus interface

rtl-sdr DVB-T – A reverse-engineered DVB-T dongle that has a software defined radio

github – A fantastic community and place to host your stuff – brownie points because public repositories are free.

hacking the xbox – A book by hacker Andrew “bunnie” Huang.  Though it’s Xbox specific it’s crammed with universal truths for reverse engineering

(large and small) Oscilloscope – lovingly called an “aws-c” by reverse engineers, a crazy useful tool

A good user guide, with slightly outdated but still useful info can be found here:

logic analyzer – For reverse engineering digital signals, it’s great for logging multi-channel events

avr programmer – An open source USB AVR programmer that’s easy to use with avrdude.  You can program almost any in-circuit serial programmable chip.

ftdi friend – This ftdi chip adapter simplifies the headache of interfacing with serial data.

notetaking device – AKA paper and a writing implement…remember that?

linux laptop – We like the lenovo x series thinkpad.  It’s lightweight, robust and linux friendly.

breadboards – Wire up something new…This one is “full-sized” with 830 tie points. It works well with small and medium projects.

arduino – A classic…get your prototype running in no time at all

arduino proto shield – Great for soldering stuff quickly to get your project going…and it’s on sale!

solid core wire – A must…use it to patch up your reverse engineer projects.

leatherman juice cs4 – My favorite multitool, in my favorite blue of course. It’s gotten me out of a jam and into a device many times


Here are your 2012 shipping deadlines for ordering from Adafruit. Please review our shipping section if you have specific questions on how and where we ship worldwide for this holiday season.

UPS ground (USA orders): Place orders by Friday 11am ET – December 14, 2012 – Arrive by 12/24/2012 or sooner.

UPS 3-day (USA orders): Place orders by Wednesday 11am ET – December 19, 2012 – Arrive on 12/24/2012.

UPS 2-day (USA orders): Place orders by Thursday 11am ET – December 20, 2012 – Arrive on 12/24/2012.

UPS overnight (USA orders): Place orders by Friday 11am ET – December 21, 2012 – Arrive on 12/24/2012.

UPS International: Place orders by Monday 11am ET – December 17, 2012. Can take up extra time due to worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/24/2012 or sooner.

Please note: We do not offer Saturday service for UPS.
Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012, Christmas, no UPS pickup or delivery service.
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, New Year’s Day, no UPS pickup or delivery service.

United States Postal Service, First Class and Priority (USA orders): Place orders by Friday – December 14, 2012 – Arrive by 12/24/2012 or sooner.

USPS First class mail international (International orders): Place orders by Friday – November 23, 2012. Can take up to 30 days ore more with worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/24/2012 or sooner, but not a trackable service cannot be guaranteed to arrive by 12/24/12.

USPS Express mail international(International orders): Place orders by Friday – December 14, 2012. Can take up to 15 days or more with worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/24/2012 or sooner.

Gift Certificates are always available at any time.

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  1. Nifty list. Could you please expand some on the Thinkpad recommendation? The page you link to has 3 different main models of laptop (all are in the X-subrange). Is there one in particular you found to have good battery life and also good compatibility with Linux?

    Thanks, and happy holidays!


  2. @Mike All of the X-series are great, the battery life vary on those models, and the screen size is a choice of personal preference. I tend to like tiny laptops and huge external monitors on my lab desks, but it’s really up to you. Happy hacking!

  3. @Fabienne

    Thanks very much for the reply, happy holidays! I’m going to go send your list to my family members. 😉

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