Autohackers @ CrikeyCon

This year at CrikeyCon we’re starting with some basics – understanding the automotive CAN bus, with a capture from a vehicle and an instrument cluster from the same, to ‘replay’ the drive. See, learn and modify CAN traffic.

Raspberry Pi4 with PICAN3 hat, back of car instrument cluster with wires attached, keyboard and a coffee cup
Key ingredients in my first car hacking... Raspberry Pi 4 + PICAN3 hat, an instrument cluster from the wreckers, my computer (keyboard) and coffee... oh, so much coffee...

Cars. Drones/UAVs. Submarines. Planes. Sharks with lasers. The interest levels in hacking things that move is rising. Autohackers.com has been formed to meet this challenge.

This year at CrikeyCon we’re starting with some basicsunderstanding the automotive CAN bus, with a capture from a vehicle and an instrument cluster from the same, to ‘replay’ the drive. See and learn the CAN interactions using can-utils on a RPi+PICAN3 and see if you can make the instrument cluster dance to your tune…


We're going to be joining Droppy at CrikeyCon (yay!) for our inaugural appearance for car hacking... and we are very excited to start with such a bang! Though hopefully not too literal a bang... <checks voltage setting on the PSU>

I've been looking at ways to start "car hacking" for a while, with the underlying reason that I want to be able to fix, modify and upgrade (aka 'hack' in the old school definition of the word) older cars that we own that aren't ready for the scrap heap. As long as they're roadworthy and as safe as they can be for their vintage, why shouldn't we use the carbon debt we've already incurred in the manufacture of that vehicle by keeping it running? But I digress... food for another post.

Anyway, I managed to find similar instrument cluster for the early CAN bus enabled model of car that I already own. I wondered, could I 'record' the the CAN bus of the traffic on my car and 'play it back' on my replacement instrument cluster that I bought from the wreckers?

And if so... can I tweak the replay of traffic to show what I want instead?

This is all good and fine as a side-project. But I opened my mouth around the CrikeyCon crew about adding a "car hacking village" sometime soon... and the level of support I got for this idea was amazing. It had to be done!

...more on the setup of the CTF challenges as we draw closer to the Con (on the 3rd September 2022).