Go on the Prowl for IoT Signals with CatSniffer

Electronic Cats' board supports devices using sub-GHz and 2.4 GHz bands and protocols like 802.15.4g, BLE, and LoRa.

A new tool from Electronic Cats makes debugging, analyzing, and sniffing IoT devices on the go much more accessible. CatSniffer is a highly portable multi-protocol sniffer that supports multiple frequency bands common to IoT devices.

CatSniffer covers three core frequency ranges and at least six protocols. The three ranges are grouped as LoRa, sub-GHz, and 2.4 GHz. Protocols include Thread, ZigBee, BLE 5, IEEE 802.15.4g, 6LoWPAN, LoRa (LoRaWAN), and sub-GHz.

To cover so many protocols, CatSniffer relies on two radios. A Semtech SX1262 handles LoRa and LoRaWAN communication. There is also an onboard TI SimpleLink CC1352P for protocols like Zigbee, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 5.2, IEEE 802.15.4g, and proprietary sub-GHz.

TI's SimpleLink is a microcontroller software development kit with validated drivers, stacks, and code examples. The CC1352P is just one radio supported by that kit.

If you are not interested in writing custom firmware, the Microchip SAM D21 can act as a USB-to-Serial bridge for other tools. For example, electronic Cats says that CatSniffer should work with SmartRF Packet Sniffer, Sniffle, zigbee2mqtt, Z-Stack-firmware, or others.

Those software tools communicate with both radios via the SAM D21 Cortex-M0+ MCU. Electronic Cats based the initial examples, which you can find in the CatSniffer GitHub repo, around the Arduino IDE/library.

One note we noticed when reviewing the example code is the intriguing license terms:

This code is beerware; if you see me (or any other Electronic Cats member) at the local, and you've found our code helpful, please buy us a round!

On one end of CatSniffer, there is a USB-C connector for power and communication. An SMA connector populates the other side, giving an application-specific choice for the antenna. There are some general-purpose LEDs and pushbuttons available as well.

As of this writing, the tool is available for pre-order at $129 USD. Electronic Cats anticipates delivery to start in October 2021. For more information, check out the CatSniffer's product page.

James Lewis
Fan of making things that blink, fly, or beep. Host on element14 Presents, baldengineer.com, AddOhms, and KN6FGY.
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