DEF CON BadgeLife: Blinky Bling

This is the biggest year yet for unofficial electronic conference badges. We’re calling it the year of Badgelife, and for the next few weeks, we’re going to be taking a look at the unofficial conference badges being deployed at this year’s DEF CON.

[Mr Blinky Bling] a.k.a. [Benn Hibben] has created his own badge for this year’s con. On board is a bunch of LEDs, WiFi, and capacitive buttons. It’s a WiFi badge for all your AP scanning and deauth needs. The electronics for this badge are a bit more complicated than simply throwing an ESP8266 on a board and calling the design done. The capacitive touch functionality is being handled by an ATTiny88, the OLED display is handled by an ATMega32U4, wireless functions are done with an ESP8266, and there are a few bits and bobs for a LiPo battery.

This WiFi Badge is the focus of an astonishingly successful Kickstarter (ending in just a few hours), and [Mr Blinky Badge] already has enough backers to move 200 badges. This is really a spectacular amount of work; it’s one thing to build a single prototype for an electronic conference badge, but it’s another matter entirely to put a badge into production, source all the parts, handle the assembly, and finally ship all these badges to Kickstarter backers and conference attendees.

If the challenge of building and deploying hundreds of electronic conference badges sounds like fun, you’re in luck. This Friday, we’ll be hosting a Hack Chat with some of the creators of this year’s unofficial DEF CON badge creators. There’s a lot you can learn from these folks, and a lot of very cool badges that will make an appearance at this year’s Def Con.

6 thoughts on “DEF CON BadgeLife: Blinky Bling

  1. Neat! Arduino, a kindergarten programming toy that has been successfully ascending into the degrading hardware hackers’ world and Defcon, a conference that has bren steadily plummeting to become a gathering of strange people who don’t know what’s inside their phone, meet half way.

    1. “Hack” implies you’re building a quick and dirty solution– something Arduino is perfect for. I used to be a snob who refused to use Arduino, but I spent most of my project time on getting large microcontroller boards soldered up and running correctly. Now I just plug in an arduino and go.

  2. Thanks for the shout out! I would like to point out that I am joined in [Mr Blinky Bling] with my cofounder [The Hat] (@tweetthehat). I pestered him and he’s finally joined the project here on Hackaday (documenting all this stuff is my job; he’s focused on the embedded C stuff on the ATTiny88 that handles the non-arduino-friendly tasks.

    I also don’t get the hate for Arduino; this is a great tool to help people transition into hardware hacking. Call it a gateway drug if you like. I’ve seen more than one person go from Arduino to more serious microcontroller development because they got their feet wet and then decided to go for a deeper dive.

    We wanted our badge to be easily customizable for folks and lets face it: Arduino makes it easier. :-)

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