Reverse Engineering Radio Controlled Bus Stop Displays

November 25, 2013 admin

Over on her blog, Oona has shown how she was able to reverse engineer a radio controlled bus stop display using a receiver like the RTL-SDR. Radio bus stop displays are used by bus services to display GPS enhanced bus timetables and expected bus arrival times.

Oona discovered that the bus displays in her area use Data Radio Channel (DARC) encoding. Once she discovered that no DARC decoders exist online, she implemented the full five layer DARC protocol stack in Perl and was left with data packets that had some human readable strings containing information such as bus terminal stations. With some extra work she was able to also get more information such as expected waiting times and bus numbers as well.

Bus Terminal Packet
Bus Terminal Packet

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