If you are into radio protocols and frequencies, then you’ve probably come across tools like Flipper Zero and HackRF.
Flipper Zero is a portable multi-tool that geeks and nerds love using to hack different digital systems. That includes control systems, hardware, and radio protocols, among many more. Flipper Zero is fully open-source and highly customizable.
HackRF, on the other hand, is a device used to receive and transmit different radio protocols. This is achieved by configuring its software so it can transmit and receive fringe radio waves in the 1Mhz to 6GHz range.
With both of these dealing with radio protocols, which one is better suited for the job?
Well, this is the question we will be answering today.
We will analyze the software and hardware components of each and look at use cases and applications.
Stay tuned to learn more.
Also Read: Best HackRF One Alternatives
While Flipper Zero and HackRF perform similar roles, they have different features. The way they execute their defined roles is also different from one another.
Let’s break down things further.
As we mentioned, Flipper Zero is a highly capable security and hacking tool that is small, adaptable, and capable.
It has a portable design, perfect for anyone wishing to investigate and safeguard digital systems. You can even fit into your pocket, a convenience that most geeks appreciate.
Flipper Zero comes with many features and functionalities that include the following.
Numerous radio modules, including 2.4GHz, 868/915MHz, and 433MHz, are within Flipper Zero’s range. It gives it the ability to sniff and block wireless signals. That’s why it’s a priceless tool for evaluating the security of Internet of Things devices.
Flipper Zero can imitate RFID and NFC cards. Users can use that ability to copy, modify, and test access systems used in security setups. The capability is essential for comprehending and safeguarding access systems that rely on cards.
Being an open-source framework makes Flipper Zero expandable since users can make their own customizations without any expenses. The community-driven approach ensures that the toll never stagnates as it receives updates throughout.
With its keyboard emulation function, Flipper Zero can send commands from a keyboard to a computer. This can be a very useful tool for remote chores and system security testing. It also makes usability much easier since many people know how to use keyboards.
Flipper Zero can analyze, decode, and even transmit certain signals, all thanks to its embedded Software-Defined Radio. The adaptability is necessary for examining wireless protocols and deciphering radio-controlled automobile signals.
Also Read: Flipper Zero vs Flipper One
Like Flipper Zero, HackRF is designed to deal with wireless communications. It was designed by Michael Ossmann as an open-source platform for hobbyists and cybersecurity experts.
It is portable and has been used in wireless research and communications development. Notable features and functionalities include the following.
Like Flipper Zero, HackRF makes use of the important SDR. That’s what lets users manipulate and define the behavior of radio transmitters and receivers.
Additionally, the SDR reduces over-dependence on fixed hardware components. The flexibility makes it ideal for examining a wide range of frequencies.
Because HackRF is open-source, users can alter and adapt its software and firmware to meet their own requirements.
If you wish to fully utilize its capabilities, there is an abundance of resources thanks to the vibrant user community. You can also access all documentation at any given time.
Check Out: Is Flipper Zero Legal?
HackRF has an amazing bandwidth of up to 20 MHz. It is essential for real-time monitoring and data collecting in security-related jobs. It allows for the simultaneous analysis of several signals, and that also saves users time and resources.
Both HackRF and Flipper Zero have covered their bases as far as the most important features are concerned. They both have SDR, are open source, and can handle both hardware and software.
However, Flipper Zero has a slight upper hand as it packs more helpful features like an in-built keyboard.
Both devices are hardware-based, and they have specific capabilities that assist them in their roles.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what Flipper Zero and HackRF bring to the table.
Besides the features we have already analyzed, here are the top Flipper Zero hardware capabilities.
When dealing with so many devices, it pays to have the most important ones portable and compact. That’s what Flipper Zero is all about.
The average size of the device ranges between 110 by 60 mm, so it can fit in your hand or pocket. It also weighs about 150 grams, so you’ll barely feel it in your pocket.
The latest versions of Flipper Zero come with a 1.3-inch, 240×240 pixel IPS display for some devices. So you get clear, sharp images.
The high-resolution display helps users handle all kinds of system security checks. You can navigate the menu, access real-time data, and interact with all features on Flipper Zero.
Remember when we said Flipper Zero has an in-built keyboard? That’s not the only thing it offers. It comes with wide support for many hardware interfaces.
With these, Flipper Zero makes it easy to hack radio waves and protocols, ethically of course.
Also Read: DIY Flipper Zero Ideas
Flipper Zero has interfaces for both USB-C and USB-A. The USB-C port can also be used for programming and configuring the device interface.
You can also communicate with other USB devices through the USB-A port. Flipper Zero’s usability is way higher, and there are multiple peripherals and accessories that are compatible with it.
HackRF’s success at what it does is also attributed to its extraordinary hardware capabilities. Here are some of the hardware capabilities worth knowing about.
As we mentioned earlier, HackRF has a remarkable frequency range, and it’s not just limited to WiFi. It works with a substantial portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, including Bluetooth. Therefore, it offers better flexibility for exploring a wide range of frequencies.
Due to its USB interface, HackRF can be easily accessed by a variety of computing devices. They include laptops and embedded systems.
The USB connection guarantees compatibility with many operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, and macOS. This streamlines the setup procedure.
With a transmit power of up to 10 mW, HackRF can deliver signals across a respectable range. That level of power makes it ideal for testing out transmissions and creating unique communication protocols.
Flipper Zero and HackRF have a lot of similar hardware capabilities. Some may be named differently on each, but they execute their roles perfectly.
The most notable one is that they both support USB connectivity and are portable.
Check Out: Best Flipper Zero Alternatives
So, what are Flipper Zero and HackRF used for? Let’s find out.
Flipper Zero has a multitude of uses and applications. Here are the most notable ones.
You can turn Flipper Zero into a universal remote-control hacker, and I found that to be very exciting. You can literally operate devices without the need to be in close proximity.
Flipper Zero achieves that by imitating a broad spectrum of radio frequency and infrared signals. Common everyday applications include unlocking car doors and operating smart home appliances, among many others.
Another major use of Flipper Zero is to assess the physical security systems. It has the capacity to determine how vulnerable certain locking mechanisms are.
That’s why Flipper Zero is an essential tool for security consultants, automated locksmiths, and enthusiasts.
Flipper Zero is also an essential tool for penetration testers and ethical hackers. It achieves that by simulating important signals, recording them, and then analyzing the data to find flaws. That’s how experts test the security of different electronic systems.
HackRF is also widely used in a wide variety of tasks in different fields. Below are the most notable ones.
Like Flipper Zero, HackRF is widely used by security professionals and ethical hackers to find weaknesses in wireless communication networks.
HackRF’s capability to send and receive messages at many frequencies is what makes it a thorough security analysis tool.
HackRF assists governments and organizations in detecting signal interference by closely monitoring spectrums. It guarantees regulatory compliance and maximizes spectrum use. Network integrity is vital, considering the increasing threats that exist these days.
Explore: Best Flipper Zero Firmware
IoT is the business right now, and HackRF is actively playing a huge role in boosting research and development.
Researchers use it to analyze and decode all communication protocols used by the many IoT devices active today. By understanding these protocols, security and improvements can be assured.
Flipper Zero and HackRF are extensively used in a lot of day-to-day activities. They are very prominent in the security industry and are popular with ethical hackers and cybersecurity professionals.
While they are hardware, Flipper Zero and HackRF combine software in order to execute their roles. It’s the same software that lets them integrate with operating systems like Windows, Linux, or macOS. But how compatible are they?
Let’s find out.
Flipper Zero’s programming environment revolves around two main things.
- Flipper Zero Firmware: The Flipper Zero firmware is written in C/C++. The source code is also available on GitHub. But most importantly, since the firmware is open-source, the code is freely available to anyone wishing to make modifications.
As for community and documentation, Flipper Zero has a very vibrant and active one. You can find social media groups, forums, and discussion communities where information is freely shared. So whenever you run into trouble, you can rest easy knowing there will be someone ready to help you.
Flipper Zero also features detailed documentation. It has guides and examples that can help you get the most out of the device. You’ll find updated information on SDK, hardware interfaces, and firmware.
HackRF has a far superior software support and programming environment than Flipper Zero. It works with a wide range of software packages and you can get it on GitHub too. Some of the most prominent include the following.
- GNU Radio: Another free, open-source software creation toolkit that provides signal processing blocks for SDR applications.
- Gqrx: A software-defined radio receiver that provides user-friendly interfaces for examining radio frequencies. Gqrx is also open-source.
HackRF also boasts a huge community of users made up of both developers and enthusiasts. It features an extensive repository of tutorials, resources, and forums that are active day and night. The documentation is also pretty well-detailed.
The closest thing to a HackRF app that I found was HackRF Test that’s only available for Android.
From the hardware capability section, we talked about how hardware and software combined to create a complete device. However, there are huge differences in the user interfaces of these two devices.
Flipper Zero is a multipurpose, adaptable gadget. It was made with hacking and security testing in mind. For this purpose, it even comes with a 1.3-inch OLED touchscreen that acts as the main interface for controlling the gadget.
Therefore, even beginners can navigate around it easily. You can even see vital information, like the available settings, battery status, and current mode. Furthermore, the touchscreen is highly responsive. You can just swipe up and down and tap the screen to access and use unique settings and features.
In addition to this, the interface is highly customizable. You can set up your own custom plugins and apps tailored to your exact needs. In short, Flipper Zero has a gentle learning curve, even for first-time users.
In contrast, HackRF is intended for distinct applications like signal modification and radio frequency analysis. Because of its particular functionality, it has a very different user interface and navigation from Flipper Zero.
HackRF doesn’t have an integrated touchscreen. In its place, it has an external software application and a command-line interface. In a nutshell, users need to be familiar with using command-line and terminal executions. It can be a little sophisticated for new users.
However, if you’re a command-line expert, you get more control than you would on Flipper Zero.
Explore: Pwnagotchi vs Flipper Zero
HackRF and Flipper Zero are not free. But the prices vary from one region to another.
The HackRF device cost ranges between $300 to $400 on Amazon. Most are sold as bundles, so they come with extra accessories like connectors and antennae.
For example, the Nooelec HackRF One, costs $349.95.
Flipper Zero is cheaper than HackRF, and the price is about $169. It also comes with extra accessories like cases, devboards, and prototyping boards, among other things.
In my book, Flipper Zero has a slight edge over HackRF.
While both devices are good for checking security systems, Flipper Zero is much easier to use.
The user-friendly interface and the touchscreen mean more people can use it. Additionally, it’s cheaper than HackRF.
HackRF is best suited for more experienced professionals. It will get you what you want with better accuracy if you know what you’re doing.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.