About the talk

In this session from Christopher Gerlinsky, he demonstrated how to the “dash etch” process to stain charged silicon to allow the researcher to read the ROM with an optical device and find out what the machine will do before any code starts. This technique can be useful for several scenarios: academic research, competitive analysis, archiving old video games, or even pirating pay TV. To do this analysis, the researcher needs an optical microscope, acid to clean the chips, and then acid or mechanical polishing before review to get the binary data in the ROM.

The talk focused on the process, including advice such as the need to keep the work area clean and the importance of keeping the chip level while taking images of it to avoid introducing distortion. Once Gerlinsky had the photos, he was ready to review them in tools he created to organize the images into a matrix, then convert those to ASCII until the results are readable. (Talk summery by @VirtualChrista)

Chris Gerlinsky
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Chris Gerlinsky


Chris Gerlinsky is a hacker on Vancouver Island, Canada, whose interest in reverse engineering began with learning from pay TV security systems and pirate devices twenty years ago. From using microscopes to extract data from chips, power analysis and glitching to bypass security checks, and disassembling firmware, Chris has enjoyed opportunities to have hands-on experience with reverse engineering devices and cracking security systems.