October 29, 2010 AT 4:24 pm

What is that “electronic thing” from Yemen?

From the forums – Experts were asking what is that “electronic thing” from Yemen that arrived in the UK that is causing all the shipping problems today on the news – They say it was “attached to a toner cartridge” – our guess is printer cartridges are going to get more expensive no matter what this turns out to be. The gov is putting the photos out there… looks like something pretty bad may have been avoided, the international intelligence folks may have caught something dangerous – good work.

Here’s our quick take on it…

(add your notes to the flickr image here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ladyada/5126516011/ )

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21 Comments

  1. No. They ALSO found a toner cartrige, which appears to have a couple of wires poking out and some “white powder” (which usually means nothing.)

  2. Wow, that thing is disappointing. I’d think if it were a bomb the maker would have taken a little more pride in their work. That thing is so blatantly screaming “LOOK AT ME!!!” I doubt it was anything dangerous. Probably a probe to test the reaction threshold before the real thing was sent.
    On a side note, the board looks like something from either a kids toy or a slider phone with qwerty.

  3. There could be some concern here, this is a cellphone and the two wires that you say are connected to the motor are probably connected to the contacts on the PCB for the motor. Possibly set to trigger something inside the toner cartridge when the phone “vibrates”.

  4. At first pass, I’m going to guess Sony Ericsson W880i

  5. I’m going with a cell phone, maybe a blackberry? I looked up the diameter of a cell phone motor and its roughly 6mm, so putting this picture in photoshop (granted it hasn’t been skewed) looks like this circuit board is about 144mm long aka 5.669 inches in length and 57 mm (2.244 in) wide…

  6. Clearly a gutted cell phone. Place call, spin the motor, boom(?). Bunnie should post it as one of his “Name that ware” contests. His readers can probably have the make, model, date of manufacture, etc. tracked down in a few hours.

    Aside: Today I dropped off backpack we’d sold on eBay at the UPS store, and was told it would be “opened for inspection”. WTF? Expect shipments to slow as UPS opens and re-seals every box.

  7. not a sony W880i, buttons are in the wrong place.

  8. Well if that is in fact a front facing camera, that limits what kind of cell phone it could be… and most phones that have front facing cameras are touch screen, so one of the connectors could be for the OLED or LCD, and the other for the touch screen… I’ve been looking and can’t find a phone that has a forward facing camera that also has a usb port on the bottom…

  9. Kinda makes you wonder when they’ll think to ask a geek about this. I’m guessing the average police officer won’t recognize a cell phone board. I’m a bit disappointed with the CNN people, they probably could have paid their IT guy to come on as a consultant and asked what he thought it was.

  10. I think it’s the new arduino.

  11. It might be an Arduino, though it clearly does not comply with the open-source hardware notion of sharing design data.

    Supposing it is an Arduino, It’s nice to see they solved the offset header problem (by removing the headers).

  12. No this is a cellphone physic.dude is correct.

  13. Introducing the new Arduino….

    …it’s the bomb.

  14. Nokia 6125 i think. Almost positive its nokia , right around that model.
    It was probably a test of the detonator method , finding out when and where the call came threw that expelled the white stuff will probably explain more of the intentions of the test. They probably expected pictures of it to be posted every where allowing them to verify the expected results. The white stuff is probably some mildly reactant chemical baking soda for instance so they could easily verify it “worked”

  15. Yeah, I agree – looks like a test run… or one hell of a practical joke.

  16. Seems like it’s a Nokia 6120 classic, via Bunnie’s Blog:
    http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=1351
    And those dots on the pcb are test pads I think, for QA during manufacture but also userful for hackery. Though… the hackery seems to be the problem here… gotta wonder if this is bad for the maker community.

  17. I’d think it was a ghetto eavesdrop device… (or is cell phone usage on planes so reliable now, that you would build a bomb using them? after all they still use suicide bombers because they don’t trust alarm clocks…)

  18. Standard IED trigger using a cell phone. Wires run from this down to the printer cartridge which has the detonator and a lump of explosive.

    The printer was shipped whole in a box with other household goods to disguise it as a shipment by someone moving.

  19. This looks like a Nokia N97 or a similar model. Nokia has a range of phones with front-facing cameras that use that general layout. The wires lead off from the vibration motor because that gives a good level of current for the detonator – better than the piezo sounder. But — a cargo container is an effective Farady shield so it could not be used to bring down an aircraft (although we must not assume that Al Quaeda types are all that clever). On the other hand the bombs used in the Madrid railway attack used cellphones as timers. The white powder is now reported as PETN.

  20. Look like an exact match?

    http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/00002057.html

    @signalsnatcher

    White powder all over, indicative of a not fully successful anarchist’s handbook cookup creation. Which would make it easily detectable by anything that sniffs for nitrate type explosives.

  21. @yeah

    You’re overthinking it. PETN is a white powder. When mixed with TNT it’s Pentolite. And with RDX it’s Semtex.

    As was commented before, the workmanship is pretty shoddy. Thus the ugly mounting and powder everywhere.

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