This week, I took a bit of a break from research to attend a competition in Daytona Beach, Florida for autonomous boats, RoboBoat. The best part about the trip for me wasn't hanging out with team, travelling to a new location, or eating good food. While those aspects of the trip were pretty great, the best part was how much I, along with the team, learned. Although things were a bit rough for the week following a mishap on the first day of testing, through the debugging process I learned a lot about the boat - both technical knowledge, and things regarding team organization. As a team we also managed to show off our technical knowledge in our presentation of our boat during static judging, which awarded us second place of all the teams competing. All in all, it's been a good time so far, and I'm excited for the upcoming school year for when we start all over again and eventually compete next summer. Hopefully, things go well tomorrow, the last day of competition!
Shown abo…

Paper Writing

This week marks the end of the Startup Projects. To finish them up, we've written papers about the experiments we've done. What was cool about writing the paper is that that marked the first time I used Latex. Despite my lack of knowledge, however, I just dove right in and started writing. While it did require quite a bit of referencing documentation, ultimately I found it an easier method of formatting the paper in order to present it in a clear, consistent, and official manner. It even allowed me to easily import MATLAB plots into the paper.
In addition to a new tool with which to write with the minimal amount of mouse input possible, the paper writing itself was a wonderful way to go back and reflect on my methods of research. For example, data collection. Recreating the attack was a fairly simple to repeat, but in retrospect I could have collected data in a smarter way, by using a wider range for the variable I did vary, and by taking multiple readings for each value of th…


This week, with the rest of the lab, I got to visit MCity ( MCity is a newly built testing ground on campus, with the main goal of facilitating the development of autonomous vehicles. As someone involved with a student team that makes an autonomous boat, I found it all to be very interesting. In the tour I got to see the test roads, with mock signs, road paintings, buildings, and more. Just seeing what they've included gives valuable insight into what kinds of challenges autonomous cars need to overcome, and what kinds of things they can detect using sensors like LIDAR, GPS, and even cameras. I sat in one car with a screen that showed the camera detecting people walking in front of it in real time. One benefit of autonomous cars is their potential to be safer than humans behind the wheel, which is something to be excited about. Let's just hope the sensors won't be taken advantage of.


Last week, I read the Ghost Talk paper, and learned a lot conceptually about RF waves and modulation. This week, what I learned was mainly technical. In fact, lots of it was fiddling around with GNU Radio Companion and the USRP and troubleshooting the problems that arose. Like figuring out why the USRP wasn't detected as a device despite being connected. Or learning that there are certain limitations for the USRP and adapting the GRC flowcharts to match those constraints. Or, perhaps the most...enlightening experience: figuring out that the transmitter board connected to the USRP did not support the frequency of the antenna.

(The frequency of the board supports up to 30MHz, while the antenna and the frequency attempted to be transmitted is over 400MHz)

Still, every problem that arises is only a learning experience. Through debugging, I learned more about how the equipment works and interacts with the computer. And mistakes like the one of the wrong board is a memorable oversight tha…

Ghost Talk

This week I read the Ghost Talk Paper ( and learned about Amplitude Modulation, the concept behind transmitting AM radio waves. What's interesting is that in terms of long-distance communication, AM was preceded by Morse code; AM radio meant that audio, with varied tones, could finally be transmitted. As the first broadcasting method, AM waves are the simplest. The way that Amplitude Modulation works is by looking at two frequencies: the frequency a receiver can accept (the carrier wave) and the frequency the receiver should output to produce the wanted sound. For Ghost Talk, the carrier frequency is determined by the victim device's circuitry. The carrier frequency is the frequency of the attacker's wave sent to the device. To transmit the audio data, though, the amplitude of the wave is varied. If the carrier wave has the right frequency, and is modulated correctly, then the peaks of the carrier wave will follow…