ptooie - the packet sniffer

ptooie: the packet sniffler

dedi hubbard, joe versoza and the ecobots group (advtech 2004)

Technical Details

The heart of ptooie is libpcap, which captures packets on network interfaces to be parse later by other programs (in our case a python script). Normally, network interfaces only respond to packets meant for them, but when an interface is set to promiscuous mode it accepts anything that comes it way. ptooie, and potentially less cute machines, can exploit this and begin to capture other people's network traffic. ptooie is currently set to parse through the collected packets for username, email addresses and passwords sent through HTTP POST and GET requests which are typically sent when completing forms and logging into sites such as Once a password is found, ptooie passes the information gathered to a text-to-speech system that "shouts" out what has been found. While this is happening, a message is sent through serial to a PIC microcontroller which controls the display of the bad news (which may include dimming the "bloom" or shaking of the leaves).

We're still working on the physical side of things, but the there have been a few developments on the microcontroller side. Communication between the computer subsystem and the PIC is handled over serial. The "bloom" is currently handled by pulse-width modulation, where the duty cycle is set by the "health" of ptooie and the where network it's planted. As the health decreases we lower the duty cycle which dims the superbrites in the bud of the flower. We're working out the issues with ptooie's motions, but we're leaning towards puppetry using fishing line with a flower stake disguise.

Parts List

computer subsystem
epia m2-1000 mini-itx board (1ghz, built-in a/v and net, pcmcia, cf reader)
mini-atx or smaller power supply
802.11 wireless card
small speakers
gentoo linux
festival speech synthesis
12" plant pot
12" or more tubing
wire mesh or coat hangers
plant rod
flower mechanics
PIC 18F252
(flower bud)
series of white superbrite LEDs
(flower stem)
(1) DC motor
fishing line