Open Hacker Conference Badge Project Needs Your Help!

[Aestetix] writes in to tell us that the OpenAMD (Attendee Meta-Data) project is working on a new revision of their hardware, to be debuted at CCC Camp this fall.

For the uninitiated, OpenAMD combines an Active RFID tracking system with social networking, and is completely open-source. You walk into the conference, put on the OpenAMD badge, and suddenly you can see yourself as a dot moving around on a map. Or you can log into the social networking site, create a profile, and watch as your personal information is pulled into the mesh, which then tells you talks you might like, people you might like, where those people are, and more. There’s even an open API where you can create your own ‘killer’ apps, which may include games or other interesting aggregates of the attendee information.

This year’s “erlenmeyer flask” badge is the latest incarnation of the project you may have seen at 2600’s Hackers on Planet Earth conference in 2008 and 2010, or at Chaos Computer Congress (CCC) in 2006 or 2007. This time, the team is looking to deploy at this summer’s CCC Camp, and at numerous conferences in the future to be determined.

The badge itself is an Atmega AVR microcontroller connected to a Nordic nRF24L01+ and a pair of 74HC595 shift registers. The AVR is running USBaspLoader with custom OpenAMD firmware on top, which in concert with the Nordic chip implements the OpenBeacon air protocol. The shift registers drive 14 LEDs which are capable of being used as a persistence of vision display. Because of the USBaspLoader, you don’t even need an Atmega in-circuit programmer to reflash the chip: You can even use the Arduino IDE to implement your own functionality.

The badges, the ‘readers’, all the hardware and software required to create your own instance is completely open source, and you can download the specs today and tinker with them.

So what’s the catch? They need your help. They’re running a kickstarter to raise the minimum amount needed to fabricate these badges and bring them to CCC Camp, and any support you can offer will go a long way to help. Even if you’re not going to CCC Camp, they’re planning at deploying at many more conferences state-side in the future, and the badges themselves are more than enough fun to tinker with. The Nordic chip can be particularly fun.

Here’s a short video explaining the whole thing from last year’s installation at TNH:

Full disclosure? I’m designing the badge hardware this time around.

Comments

  1. jeditalian says:

    nice how it plugs into usb. the invisible components are soldered on nicely.

  2. jeditalian says:

    I’M WORKING YOUR MOM.

  3. Spork says:

    Curious if they used the dorkbotPDX service, same colors, same tabs.

    The idea is cool, but I think I prefer the surprise tactics of DEFCON badges better.

    @jeditalian
    Yes smartass, invisible components are great.

  4. Taylor Alexander says:

    AMD is such a terrible acronym (initialism to you pedants) to use. All I can think of is the processor company and its associated architectures. OpenAMD makes me think it is some open version of the AMD64 architecture.

  5. Jeff Katz says:

    @Spork
    I did indeed go with the dorkbotPDX service for prototyping

    @jeditalian
    More pics and videos of the fully assembled prototype available on my flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/kraln/sets/72157626234989957/

  6. Hackius says:

    If this was already used in Berlin in 2007 what’s the new part?

  7. chango says:

    Why shift registers and not a higher pincount micro? Or Charlieplexing or something? Maybe the BOM with those two extra parts is more cost effective?

    Nice Model M, too.

  8. Taylor Alexander says:

    Looks like the shift registers are ~$0.30 each. So, cheap.

  9. Jeff Katz says:

    @Hackius
    The very hacker-friendly badge design, mostly.

  10. Jeff Katz says:

    @Taylor Alexander
    Maybe $0.14ea or less in quantity. Cheaper than a larger size AVR, for sure. Plus you can do all sorts of stuff with the outputs…

  11. FDP says:

    Love the badge and concept, hate the video.

  12. aeroslin says:

    Would like to see this rfid mixed with some augmented reality apps. Hold your camera up and it shows you tags around people.

  13. wooglez says:

    @aeroslin
    Since the API is open and queryable during the conference there’s no reason you could hack up a phone based app to do just that.

  14. @FDP I agree… great concept! It was hard to watch the video and doesn’t help to promote the idea and funding. Could be that I already had a splitting headache though…

    I really love the idea and will check out the Kickstarter page.

  15. Matseng says:

    Just pledged $20 on Kickstarter for this even if I don’t think I’ll go from Malaysia to CCC Germany this year.

    But hey! More hardware to play with is always nice… :)

  16. JediTalian says:

    however you toggled the visibility of the invisible components, i can now see that the soldering job is verynice.

  17. JediTalian says:

    i really like the blinkenlights, and counting to 255 somethings.

  18. Severian says:

    Howdy,
    Are the boards you would get from signing up at kickstarter fully assembled or just the bare boards? The kickstarter page does not say. If they are all assembled, this seems pretty cheap and you are probably missing contributions from people who cannot tell.
    Good luck

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