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Monday, May 9, 2011

FBI tracking device found and disassembled - Hack a Day

FBI tracking device found; disassembled

posted May 9th 2011 2:01pm by Jeff Katz
filed under: gps hacks, teardown

[ifixit] has apparently grown tired of tearing apart Apple’s latest gizmos, and their latest display of un-engineering has a decidedly more federal flair. You may have heard about Yasir Afifi’s discovery of a FBI-installed tracking device on his car back in October of last year. Apparently, the feds abandoned a similar device with activist Kathy Thomas. Wired magazine managed to get their hands on it, and gave it to ifixit to take apart. There’ve even posted a video.

The hardware itself isn’t that remarkable, it’s essentially a GPS receiver designed before the turn of the century paired with a short range wireless transceiver. The whole device is powered by a set of D-sized lithium-thionyl chloride batteries which should be enough juice to run the whole setup for another few decades–long enough to outlast any reasonable expectations of privacy, with freedom and justice for all.

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Tracking Device Teardown

Teardowns on provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

This guide has been found to be exceptionally cool by the iFixit staff.

We partnered with Wired to bring you a peek inside an FBI car-tracking device. The device is similar to the one Yasir Afifi found underneath his car. If you're curious where this one came from, Wired has posted a writeup about Karen Thomas, the woman who found this tracker under her car. They've also posted a video of Kyle doing the teardown.

The device comprises of a GPS unit for receiving the car's position, an RF transmitter for relaying your location to the interested authority (aka the FBI), and a set of sweet D-cell batteries that power the whole enchilada. But we didn't stop there, of course. Read on to find out exactly what components make this secretive device tick.

Disclaimer: We love the FBI. We've worked with them on several occasions to fight crime and locate criminals. We've helped them with instructions on gaining entry into certain devices. We have nothing against them, and we hope they don't come after us for publishing this teardown.

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