I need someone to explain this to me.

Ninja Networks Party Badge

ninjabadge

UPDATE: The director’s cut of the story

While coverage of the official Defcon badge has been pretty heavy, there was a badge that was far more exclusive and talked about way more. For the last ten years at Defcon a group of hackers known as Ninja Networks hosted an invitation-only party for selected attendees. For the 2009 event, [cstone] and [w0z] created an electronic badge which acted as the ticket to the party. The badge is based around an 8-bit Freescale microcontroller (MC9S08QE8) which drives 10 individual 16-segment HIOX-format LED displays.

The custom PCBs were manufactured by 4pcb, but all other assembly was done by hand with a huge team of volunteers in Boston, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. Assembly space for this effort was provided by Redwire and Angel Valley Media. More than 500 badges were created. To help fund the effort, the Ninjas took on internet privacy company XeroBank as an event sponsor.

The assembly process is detailed in the video below which highlights a few interesting DIY techniques including using a $30 Target hotplate as a reflow oven.

Once assembled, the default mode for the badge is to randomly cycle each display through a list of characters locking in each one to finally display “NINJA PARTY”, in the same manner seen in the film “WarGames”. The badge also has a “Simon” game mode, the ability to view the badge’s unique identifier and sponsor URL, and a fully functional debugger.

Using the debugger a user can reprogram the badge to display different messages, or change it’s functionality with no computer required. This is demoed in the video below.

While all the badges were distributed at Defcon 17, [cstone] has provided the schematics and gerbers, public domain source code, and the BOM in case you wish to create your own. We were some of the many people to help hand assemble these badges, which you can find listed on his site.

[Photo: vissago]

Comments

  1. Alex says:

    Neat, but there’s a certain zen to this. If there is a party, and no girls come, is it actually a party?

  2. Tim says:

    I’M GLAD TO SEE YOU COVERED THIS. I SAW IT ON SOME OTHER SITES, AND WANTED TO KNOW MORE, BUT COULDN’T FIND MUCH OUT. I THINK IT DESERVED THE ATTENTION, AS IT OBVIOUSLY TOOK ALOT MORE ENGINEERING THAN SOME OF THE OTHER ELECTRONIC BADGES OF PAST YEARS. OK SO I JUST LOVE 16-SEG DISPLAYS.

  3. 36chambers says:

    Reminds me of The Delorean

  4. shyft says:

    There were some girls at the party .

    It certainly was a sausage fest though…

  5. L34h says:

    It was on the same night as the IOActive Freak Show which is a pretty tough contender.

    YAY Schematics! Thanks for posting this!

  6. digidev says:

    tabarnak! I want one!

  7. charlie says:

    I repaired one of these for a chap at defcon, glad to see they’ve posted the build so i can have my own.

  8. Shyft says:

    @Charlie you fixed my badge! Small world.
    -shyft

  9. Drone says:

    Does this have the stupid Arduino headers too?

  10. Roman D says:

    Ok, I must have been living in a cave or something, what’s with everyone using Arduino? Ok, so I did live in Harrisonburg, Virginia for 13 years so might as well say I lived in a cave but seems like every other hack is Arduino based. ….. tap tap tap…. no I must resist!!!! Maybe I’ll just go ahead and port King’s Quest to SNES or something instead……. :P

  11. kingpin says:

    @tim: “IT OBVIOUSLY TOOK ALOT MORE ENGINEERING THAN SOME OF THE OTHER ELECTRONIC BADGES OF PAST YEARS.”

    Care to elaborate?

  12. DUSTIN says:

    I’m not looking to make something this fancy but if I wanted to make something like this (like something that scrolled my name) where would I start?

  13. nubie says:

    @ Roman D, when you can get micro-controllers with free C compilers for $1 or less apiece, and they are available all the way down to the Attiny23 SOIC 8, up to a 40-pin package it is pretty powerful.

    I have a couple Atmega8, one to connect 2 PSX pads and the other currently on a solderless breadboard for a Gamecube controller, they run OBDev USB firmware and appear as standard HID devices. That is pretty darn cool in my opinion.

    Check out: http://www.obdev.at/products/vusb/projects.html

    The hacks are “arduino based” because the Atmega chips are so cheap, powerful and plentiful, the arduino is just a PCB with easy prototyping features, power supply, RS-232, USB etc. I personally find “arduino” over-priced (I am quite poor, and a tightwad), but I like a rats nest of wires and my solderless breadboard, which I move to solder breadboard when the circuit is tested.

    This project doesn’t seem to use Arduino, but a neat one to check out with an Atmega chip is this two-chip and some resistors game console! http://belogic.com/uzebox/howitsmade.htm

  14. agent420 says:

    its ok, but personally i appreciate the original badge more with it’s mic etc.

    led badges are cool, but when myhiphopblingbling.com sells scrolling led belt buckles for $10 i’d think you’d want to be just a bit different than generic consumer crap.

    personally, the smt building process is the most interesting aspect of this thing – would have been 100% if they had etched their own boards.

  15. agent420 says:
  16. dcept905 says:

    @tim: “IT OBVIOUSLY TOOK ALOT MORE ENGINEERING THAN SOME OF THE OTHER ELECTRONIC BADGES OF PAST YEARS.”

    @kingpin: “Care to elaborate?”

    …I smell trouble brewin’ :P FWIW I tink your badges kick ass Joe! Next year I’m showing up prepared w/ an entry :D

  17. barry99705 says:

    Just don’t wear it into a bank…..

  18. redbeard says:

    don’t
    cheat

  19. charliex2 says:

    hey shyft, small world indeed !

    those scrolling led badges are useful for 21×7 matrix displays, i pulled one apart for part of a badge hack i was doing, they use a blob ic and a serial i2c eeprom, i started hacking away at the i2c hoping to control it remotely, instead what i’ll probably end up doing is the same as furan did and just cutting the ic off then running my own wires to control the display, there is nothing much in the eeprom, just the custom messages/speed etc.

    To get more control you need to either reprogram
    whatever that IC is, or just use it as a display.

  20. m0bi1e says:

    @redbeard

    I know that “don’t cheat” has to do with the challenge.

    I know the challenge is over, but I still want to get through all the steps. Any hints on where to go from here?

  21. vissago says:

    Glad the pics served you guys well :D

  22. redbeard says:

    it *was* supposed to be a challenge for those who had hardware in hand. i’d suggest looking at the device and just generally playing. that’s what defcon was all about. i tell you. to make any progress i had to hustle just getting the actual badge let alone figuring it out. part of getting that badge was showing that you had the chops to be a ninja. you either have the skill or are at least in the know. i even tried to get a broken board from the folks at the hack-a-day table but they were quite mum with letting even jacked up ones walk off.

    anyways, i’ll let up on the rant. there were only two instructions provided. it’s kindof like fight club. if i told you any more about it, i would be breaking the second instruction:
    play
    fair

  23. Sheridan Bojanowski says:

    good Kharma keeps the wheel turning…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s