"You've been wardriving, but have you ever gone warcarting?"
"Warcarting: because wardriving is so 2000, and warflying is so 2002."
"Warcarting: the hobo's approach to wireless communications interception."
"Warcarting: wardriving on a budget"
To understand the Warcart requires one understand a bit of history first. Wardriving, that is, driving with a laptop computer and tracking WiFi access points, first became popular around 2001. Within a short time span, people invented warwalking, and millions flocked to walk the streets with a laptop and WiFi card in hand. Then the craze really took off when someone flew a Cessna airplane with a laptop and became the first warflyer. Within no time at all, the press and every tech blog on the internet was covering the latest war-something. There was warrocketing, warballooning, warbiking, and warboating. There were talks and seminars. News stories and blog posts. Television reports and radio shows. All about the latest in WiFi tracking. It soon became apparent to the larger community that most of these methods are highly elitist. Here are car-driving, personal-plane-owning, leisure-hot-air-ballooning, yachting aficionados armed with laptop computers. What the world needed was a low-cost, yet powerful alternative.
Melodramatic Video About the Warcart
Download Warcarting the Song
Based on the House-music classic, "Can You Feel It" by Mr. Fingers, this custom remix, made just for the warcart, embodies everything that the warcart stands for. You can find the lyrics here: Warcart The Song Lyrics and you can download the song here:
The Warcart is more than a WiFi sniffer. It is a complete wireless communications interceptor built on top of an abandoned shopping cart found in the streets. The above graphic shows the key features of the Warcart. Here is a listing of its capabilities:
1) WiFi Sniffing. With two high-gain WiFi antennas, the Warcart can pick up even the faintest of signals. Software (Kismet) running on one of the laptops records these signals to an external hard drive.
2) Cordless Phone Recording. A powerful 900 MHz antenna and radio scanner can pick up cordless telephone conversations and record them to one of the laptop's hard drives. The obnoxious-mode switch can also switch the live conversation over the PA speaker, ensuring everyone in the vicinity will hear the conversation.
3) USB Flash Drive Dropper. It is old news, now, that a U3 flash drive can be used to take over someone's computer (http://wiki.hak5.org/wiki/USB_Switchblade). One hit of a button on the control panel and several such drives can be dropped. This is the perfect tool to use while taking the Warcart into the office around some cubicles. Someone finds a "lost" flash drive, and he cannot resist plugging it into his machine.
4) Police Communications Monitoring. With a device like the Warcart, it should be not surprising to have an encounter with the authorities. Indeed, it may be troubling if a device such as the Warcart were allowed in the streets without an officer questioning its safety and legality. With the onboard police scanner, however, one can be attune to any intervention before it happens.
5) Sentry-Gun-Style Smoke-Grenade Launcher. Courtesy of the kind folks at http://www.keepshooting.com/, the Warcart is equipped with a detachable launcher that emits smoke grenades. These canisters are harmless, but provide a thick smoke for hiding the Warcart's movement. The launcher is attached to a custom-built pan and title mechanism that is operated by a joystick. [note that actual use of this feature is only legal in emergency maritime operations]
6) General-Coverage Radio Snooping. The Warcart is equipped with a standard radio scanner. This can pick up most security, emergency services, private operations (handheld walkie-talkies), etc.
7) Bright Lights. The Warcart features a 2-million candle-power spotlight, a halogen "intimidator light" that illuminates the shopping cart, and a neon lamp.
8) Loud PA Speaker. For playing live or recorded radio communications, or music. A microphone allows the operator to make announcements. The system works quite well for stopping traffic and clearing pathways on busy sidewalks.
9) Extra Space. There is still enough room within the cart for groceries.
Crowds of people follow and watch the Warcart near Harvard Square (above).
The control panel (above) features two IBM Thinkpad laptops, a switchbox to control the lights, horn, and flash-drive dropper, a joystick to control the pan/tilt mechanism, an antenna selector, a radio scanner, and a key-switch to turn the Warcart on/off.
The Warcart has a detachable smoke grenade launcher. The above image shows one of the grenades creating a smoke-screen at night. It is glowing because the interior halogen "intimidator light" is on. The smoke grenade launcher is especially useful when the Warcart and its operator are in pursuit.
The two-million candle-power headlamp illuminates deep into the night.
The waterjet-machined pan/tilt assembly has a quick-release mount to allow one to alternate between a highly-directional WiFi antenna and a smoke grenade launcher.
Interior lights add to the intimidation factor of the Warcart.
The Warcart's Maiden Voyage
July, 2008 - Cambridge, MA
Crowds swarm the Warcart with looks of awe. A passerby offers some spare change.
Urban Outfitters kicks the Warcart out of their store. See above video for the confrontation.
Leaving the Urban Outfitters store.
Every head at Au Bon Pain looks upon the Warcart, which was playing a loud dialup modem sound at the time.
Night shot of the Warcart cruising down a dark alley near MIT.