Cynthion board enables USB Hacking through Lattice ECP5 FPGA (Crowdfunding)

Update 16/02/2023: The LUNA board has been renamed to Cynthion, but the gateware framework continues to be called LUNA.

Several USB hacking/debugging boards were launched in 2020 either based on microcontrollers or FPGA with the likes of Tigard (FTDI FT2232HQ), Ollie (STM32F042), Glasgow Interface explorer (Lattice Semiconductor iCE40), or Protocol Droid (STM32).

All those were launched on Crowd Supply, and there’s now another one with LUNA “multi-tool for building, analyzing, and hacking USB devices” based on a  Lattice Semiconductor LFE5U-12F ECP5 FPGA that raised over $100,000 in a few days.

LUNA USB Hacking board

Cynthion hardware specifications:

  • FPGA- Lattice Semiconductor LFE5U-12F ECP5 FPGA with 12K LUTs
  • System Memory – 64 Mbit (8 MiB) RAM for buffering USB traffic or for user applications
  • Storage – 32 Mbit (4 MiB) SPI  flash for PC-less FPGA configuration
  • USB – 3x High-Speed USB interfaces, each connected to a USB3343 PHY capable of operating at up to 480 Mbps.
    • 2x USB Type-C ports for device-mode communication (leff-side)
    • 1x USB Type-C port for host-mode communication, device-mode communication, or USB analysis (right-side)
    • 1x USB Type-A port for host-mode communication or USB analysis (right-side, shared with Type-C connector)
  • MCU – Microchip SAMD11 debug controller for user configuration of the FPGA and diagnostic interfaces: JTAG controller capable of configuring the FPGA and communicating via JTAG with user designs
  • Built-in USB-to-serial communications bridge for FPGA debug I/O
  • Expansion
    • 2x unpopulated User I/O SMA connector footprints intended for Trigger In / Trigger Out use or for multi-device clock/data synchronization
    • 2x unpopulated Pmod I/O connectors presenting 16x high-speed FPGA user IOs that support user FPGA applications and allow logic-level data to be captured during USB analysis
  • Misc
    • 3x USB power switches to control power to and from the right-side USB connectors
    • 6x FPGA-connected user LEDs and 5x microcontroller-managed status LEDs
ViewSB Luna
ViewSB software

The Cynthion board is open-source source hardware with KiCAD schematics and PCB layout available on Github together LUNA’s open “gateware”, and can be programmed/used with open-source software tools such as yosys+nextpnr open-source FPGA flow, and the company’s ViewSB software that translates captured USB traffic into a human-readable format, and runs on Linux, MacOS, Windows, and FreeBSD. There’s also a Wiki with developer’s documentation.

Cynthion works as a  high-speed USB protocol analyzer out of the box, but can also be used as a USB-hacking multi-tool, USB development platform, or USB reverse-engineering tool since it’s entirely programmable and more powerful than MCU-based solutions.

One of the reasons Cynthion was so successful is that it was designed by the Great Scott Gadgets of HackRF fame, so people know what they are getting into.

The Cynthion USB hacking board is offered either as a bare board for $99 or with a CNC-milled, anodized aluminum enclosure for $149. In either case, you’ll need to be patient as shipping is only expected in May 2022.

3D render LUNA enclosure
3D render of the Cynthion enclosure
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