Video Game Module for Flipper Zero review

By Ben Everard. Posted

The recently released Video Game Module sits on top of the Flipper Zero; so, before we can look at what the former does, we need to understand the latter.

At a basic level, it’s a microcontroller with a range of short-range wireless connectivity strapped on. That includes sub-GHz radio (which can read and send at the popular 866 and 433MHz frequencies), RFID, NFC, infrared, and iButton (which is a sort of circular electronic key). You can use this to read, understand, replay, or transmit data.

Much attention has been paid to the Flipper Zero’s use as a device for attacking hardware, and you’ll see videos online of it being used to bypass security, particularly on cars. There are, undoubtedly, some older models of car that are vulnerable to things that the Flipper Zero is able to do. However, they only work under very specific circumstances and, frankly, if you’re looking to steal cars, there are far better devices out there than the Flipper Zero (and no, we won’t recommend any). Despite this, the government of Canada has decided to ban the Flipper Zero from sale there.

While the Flipper Zero might not be the key to instant criminal success, it is a great tool for learning about how the wireless communications that whiz through the air all around us actually work. For example, while the Flipper Zero almost certainly won’t unlock your car, it can be used to read the signals that go between your car and the key fob, and so you can learn about why such a simple device can’t unlock a car (hint: it’s rolling codes).

You may have some remotely controllable devices sending data back and forth – such as a weather station or other sensor. These commonly operate in the sub-GHz frequency range, and using Flipper you can see what data is being sent. You could do this because you’re interested in the security implications of sending the data, because you’re interested in intercepting the data for other purposes (such as getting the sensor data into a computer), or simply because you’re interested in understanding a bit more about wireless data transfer.

There is also, for reasons we don’t fully understand, a dolphin as a digital pet.

The Video Game Module plugs into the GPIO on the Flipper Zero

The Video Game Module can be used to play video games. There’s an app called Air Arkanoid that lets you play the classic block-breaking game on a TV or monitor, and a game engine that you can use in your own games.

While there is a long history of computer hardware that’s ostensibly for serious work really being used to play games, this, we believe, might be the first bit of hardware that is ostensibly for playing games that will be used mostly for work. The two key things that enable it to play video games – graphical output that will work with most modern TVs and monitors, and motion sensitivity that allows input from tilting the device – are also useful for a range of other things.

Not just Video games The above is achieved using the official firmware for the module. However, you can program it just as you would any other RP2040-based device. In fact, you can store a range of pre-compiled firmware on your Flipper Zero and load them on the go without needing a computer.

Writing additional firmware enables you to access the full range of features of the module and the RP2040 chip on it. The eleven additional GPIOs can be used with the RP2040’s Programmable IO system which makes it possible to implement a wide range of low-level protocols. This combines well with the Flipper Zero’s existing capabilities to create a device that can analyse both wired and wireless traffic. However, at present, achieving this would require writing the interfacing code for the RP2040 yourself as it doesn’t currently exist. Obviously, this could be done without the Flipper Zero, and a standalone RP2040 board, but if you’re using a Flipper Zero for other analysis, this brings more into the same tool. This setup would also let you interface almost any hardware with Flipper Zero’s wireless capabilities.

You don’t actually have to have a Flipper Zero to use the Video Game Module – it’s a standalone device. For example, there’s Scopy firmware available that turns the module into an oscilloscope (when paired with a phone that acts as the front end). This is probably best viewed as a ‘nice to have’ rather than a fundamental feature. We can’t imagine many people wanting the module for this alone, but if you need the module for something else, then it’s a handy addition to have an RP2040 board available.

The primary use of the Video Game Module, we suspect, will be to provide video output – whether that’s for demonstrating the hardware, or just because a particular person prefers to use a big screen. However, the combination of flexible I/O on the RP2040, and flexible radio on the Flipper Zero, could lead to some great applications.



Add video output and very capable GPIO to your dolphin-based RF analyser.

From HackSpace magazine store


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