Dissecting the Blackdog


My Blackdog device arrived several weeks ago. The first one had a busted biometric scanner - but it was rapidly replaced (thank you Realm Systems). I will write more about my experiences with it at another time, but for now, lets take a peek under the hood... First off, I purchased the 512MB Model. When it arrived, it was nicely packaged in a bag that looked like a bag of dog food! Including the caption NOW with sample bytes of juicy CODE.

Specifications:

  • Debian-based Linux with 2.6.10 Kernel
  • Dimensions: H: .50” W: 1.75” L: 3.5”
  • Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • 400Mhz PowerPC Processor
  • 64MB RAM
  • 256MB or 512MB Flash Memory
  • USB 2.0
  • Biometric Scanner
  • MMC Expansion Slot

In the bag was the device (securely packed in it's own box, with a small metal studded collar!), a USB Cable, a small USB adapter (so you don't need the cable) and a DVD with the SDK.

The device itself is 3.5 inches long, by 2.75 wide, by just a bit over .5 inches tall:

The device exposes two ports, one for a MMC card (not SD Card!!) and the USB port:

Opening the device is easy, the top of the case lifts off, exposing the biometric scanner and the main board:

Here I popped the MMC card out....

and removed the scanner daughter board...

exposing the main board ...

and the battery.

If you look close at the main board, you will notice 4 solder pads in the lower right corner, just below the MMC card slot. These pads do two things. They provide an RS-232 port (TTL signal levels so you will need a converter) and a way, by jumpering the two rightmost pads when plugging the device into the USB cable, of forcing the bootloader on the device to become active. This allows you to flash the device.

There is another method to start the reflash sequence - but it takes a LOT of patience - I tried to make it work no less than 32 times without success.

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