I can’t express in words my love for iFixit. Somehow the guys there manage to get a hold of every device manufacture and create excellent tear down guides allowing people such as myself to perform self-repairs on many electronic gadgets. It seems that working with Wired the guys over at iFixit were able to obtain one of those Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) tracking devices and went to work tearing it apart.
The thing I was most curious about was the power source. It seems these tracking devices are powered by lithium-thionyl chloride batteries which I’ve never heard of until today. These batteries specialize providing long term power (think 10 to 20 years) to devices which don’t require a ton of power. That’s some pretty sweet technology if I do say so myself.
I was also surprised at the ease at which getting into the tracking device was possible. If I were the FBI and wanted to make a device that allowed me to ignore those pesky laws against illegal search and seizure I’d have epoxied the living shit out of everything inside to make a tear down practically impossible. It’s not like they need to worry about repairing these things as they have access to the government’s printing press as long as they can drop the word terrorism into their request.
The guys at iFixit it also have the following disclaimer:
Disclaimer: We love the FBI. We’ve worked with them on several occasions to fight crime and locate criminals. We’ve helped them with instructions on gaining entry into certain devices. We have nothing against them, and we hope they don’t come after us for publishing this teardown.
I also have a disclaimer… We (by which I mean I) here at christopherburg.com hate the FBI. We feel that no organization should be able to go beyond the law and the FBI has done that numerous times without consequences. The only way we’ll help the FBI is if we are subpoenaed and forced to do so. We have a lot against them including the fact that they’re run by a bunch of authoritarian assholes.