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OpenVizsla is an open source, high-speed USB sniffer that will help decode, debug and hack proprietary USB hardware devices.
OpenVizsla is an open source, high-speed USB sniffer that will help decode, debug and hack proprietary USB hardware devices.
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584 backers pledged $81,025 to help bring this project to life.

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On Kits, Creativity and the Kickstarter process.


As I sat here this past weekend trying to assemble 25 parts kits to go out the the $100 backers, it occurred to me that I (and a lot of other people) have lost sight of the fact that Kickstarter is supposed to be about enabling the creative process, not getting rich. (Hey, if that had happened, that would have been nice, too!)

Like all creative processes, results vary. I set out to do this Kickstarter project three and a half years ago -- to see what (at the time), a friend and I could produce on our own, and how close we could come to a commercial product. (At this point, it’s mostly been myself with a little help from some old and new friends, more on that in another update.) Working with a partner made forced me to compromise many of my original values; restarting the project allowed me to come closer to what I though we were supposed to be doing. What resulted was my best attempt at creating a product that I would have liked to be able to buy.

That included a DIY surface mount parts kit; these are not very commonly sold, and I learned why the hard way. They are a pain to build; they are too time-consuming to make to be worthwhile from a business standpoint and the parts are too small and easy to lose for it to make sense from a practical standpoint. I only made these kits because it sounded like a fun idea, and many of you backers insisted that you really wanted the experience of building the kit.

So, with that in mind, here’s what I came up with:

OV parts kit
OV parts kit

I tried to make sure that it would be hard to lose the little parts, and easy to make sure that they were all accounted for. I’m not happy with the results of the capacitor pack — arguably the most important, because the parts are unmarked, but the least important, because the parts are so cheap. So, if I messed up on your kit and it’s missing parts, my apologies; please just go buy them from Digikey or Mouser, improvise with parts you have on hand, or scavenge them from other projects. It’s been a learning experience for all of us.

Enjoy! I am trying to wrap up the Kickstarter phase of this project; I will have a bunch of extra (assembled and blank) boards to sell and some software to try to help write. I will still post at least one more update with the technical lessons learned from this project, and maybe some of the personal lessons learned; these are difficult for me to put into words, I hope you understand.


(Almost) everything's shipped out


For the $10 backers -- sorry, I don't have any badges to send you :( pytey was doing those...

For the $100 backers -- I still have 15 kits to make and send out; I'm waiting on the left-over parts from the production run so I can put them together and send them out.

For everyone else -- If I have heard from you (by survey response), I have shipped out your reward and sent you a tracking number by private Kickstarter message ($150+ only).  If you haven't gotten a personal message from me, double-check that you sent in a survey response, and if you still want your reward, send me an address and I'll send the reward right away.

If you are in the United States and have not received your reward, let me know and I will investigate.  If you are outside the United States, your reward is probably still on its way, check the tracking number I sent you.

Thanks for being patient over the past few years.


PS If you didn't get a chance to order an OV, I will be setting up a web shop soon, once I get everything else sorted out.

Chugging along with the $250 tier


No photos for this update, my living room is a mess of circuit boards and packing materials.  I've sent out at least 100 OpenVizslas. The $1000 and $500 tiers should all be taken care of by now; I'm now in the middle of the $250 backer shipments (which involve testing each unit, putting it in a case, testing it, and sending it out).  They should start trickling onto your doorsteps any day now -- a lucky few have already received theirs.

I'll start on the $150 tier backers as soon as I finish up the $250 tier, but I'll be out of town all next week for BlackHat/DefCon (maybe I'll see some of you there?) so those might have to wait another week.

A few of us have started congregating on in #openvizsla; feel free to drop by and join us to get the latest updates, and the few of you who already have boards can start getting them up and running.  (Please, though, try to keep the questions about "when will my board ship?" to a minimum -- I'm the only one who can answer that, and the answer will be "as soon as I can".)

They're here!


Okay, no more delays, no more excuses -- the boards are here.

100 ov3 boards (one of 3 boxes)
100 ov3 boards (one of 3 boxes)

Now we're just limited by the speed at which my wife and I can test and assemble each board into a case, and ship them out.  It takes a few minutes per board ...

Boards for the $500 backers have already mostly gone out to the people who I've managed to confirm addresses with in 2014.  Next, I'll send out boards to the $250 backers; you will have received an email asking you to confirm your address.  Once I've finished with those, I'll post another update when I'm ready to start on the $150 backers.

Thanks to George Ioakimedes of for making these boards for me!

OV3 assembly photo gallery

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George was nice enough to take some great still photos and video of OV3 boards being assembled.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

OV3 PCB, components placed, pre-reflow
OV3 PCB, components placed, pre-reflow

 Here, you can see a large number of OV3s that are mostly assembled. (The 3 USB connectors and the button still need to be added in a separate step.)

many boards mostly assembled
many boards mostly assembled


Lastly, here's a great video of the pick-n-place robot assembling a board:

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Here's the full gallery on DropBox.

 More news soon!