Stretch Goal: an SDR Class for Everyone
People keep asking me if I'll establish any stretch goals for the Kickstarter campaign. I guess that's a thing! It has taken some thinking to come up with something good. Although I appreciate suggestions for enhancing the HackRF design, such a thing is not something I'm willing to commit to without a serious effort to validate feasibility. Instead I offer this:
If we reach $400,000 in pledges, I will adapt my two day Software Defined Radio class into a free online video series.
I've been teaching my class to small groups at information security conferences for a few years now. Most recently I taught a sold out class at Black Hat USA. My next class will be at ToorCon San Diego in October. It's great to be able to devote two whole days to learning SDR in person with hands-on exercises in a group of like-minded students. This takes time and money, however, and there are limited seats available, so not everyone who would like to can attend.
I've been asked on many occasions if I would make my course materials available online. It's certainly something I'm interested in doing, but I hardly have anything to post! Unlike many instructors, I don't use slides for my class lectures. Instead I draw on a white board. I also devote much of the class time to hands-on exercises and demonstrations. The only way to post the content online that makes sense would be to convert it into a video series.
Making a video series will take quite a bit of time and effort, which is why it is something I haven't tackled before. It also introduces a risk (though a small one, I think) that people might stop wanting to attend my two day class in person. It's been hard to justify the project in the past, but getting extra funding on Kickstarter is an easy way for me to justify the effort.
So here's what I'll do: If we reach $400,000 at any point during this campaign, I will start working on the video series immediately. I'll start publishing videos as soon as possible, posting several before the HackRF units ship in January. It will take time to create the whole series, but I will commit to completing the series with content equivalent to my two day class within one year. (With any luck, I'll get it done quite a bit faster than that, but I don't want to overcommit.) All of the videos will be published under an open source license.
My two day class is intense, covering a tremendous amount of information in a short time. One of the nice things about doing it as a video series is that I'll be able to stretch out the content. You'll be able to go through the series at your own pace and repeat any part that you like. There are some exercises in my two day class involving a particular target device that I would prefer not to reveal outside of the class; I don't want to ruin the surprise! In the video series I will replace those exercises with activities using alternative devices and radio signals. Overall, you'll gain the same knowledge from either the class or the videos, but they'll be different enough that you might enjoy doing both.
The class takes what I call a "software radio for hackers" approach. You don't have to consider yourself a hacker to get something out of the class, but it is specifically tailored to people who have no RF or DSP knowledge but who have a little experience programming computers and preferably an interest in security. If you're someone who is generally good at getting computers to do what you want, my class might be right for you.
I think there is a very good chance that we can hit $400,000, but I could use your help to get there. If you want to see this goal reached, there are a few things you could do:
- Tell a friend about HackRF on Kickstarter.
- Submit HackRF on Kickstarter to relevant blogs that you read regularly.
- Recommend me as a guest on your favorite technical podcast or news program.
- If you have a Jawbreaker, blog about something cool you've done with it.
I truly appreciate your help!
One more thing: If you're worried about HackRF being overfunded, fear not. I planned for various contingencies including being grossly overfunded or underfunded, and I have experience manufacturing and shipping thousands of units. Growing this Kickstarter campaign is the best thing we can do to ensure that I am able to meet demand for HackRF and to bring an open source hardware platform to everyone in the world with an interest in SDR. Rest assured that my primary goal is to fulfill the original rewards as promised.
Thank you for your support!