Zombie Badges Take Over Security Con

We can’t get enough of hacker-con badges. BSides Cape Town, held Last December, featured an IR-equipped badge that immersed attendees in a game while they chatted.

A group led by [Andrew MacPherson] and [Mike Davis] designed the badge around an ESP8266 and 128×64 OLED display, with eight buttons, an IR receiver and transmitter, five “level” LEDs, an RGB LED, and a 600 mAh LiPo that charged over USB.

The hardware was designed specifically to play an organic game so that the organizers could watch the interaction between the badges in real time. Each badge was randomly sorted into a faction, either red, blue, or green—identifiable by an RGB LED glowing on the badge. There was also a series of five LEDs signifying your level in the game. When two or more badges got close to each other, enough for the IR to link, the badge with the lowest level was converted to the faction of the winner.

Of course, the badge displayed attendees’ handles and contained a list of convention programming. It also presented attendees with a series of challenges, which could be unlocked to play Pong or Rock/Paper/Scissors/Lizard/Spock, scan for wireless networks, and run animations.

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It’s Back! Hackaday Meetup at Bay Area Maker Faire

If you’re in the Bay Area this weekend, the only place to be on Saturday night is O’Neill’s Irish Pub in San Mateo. Hackaday is once again hosting a meetup after Maker Faire closes for the evening, and you don’t want to miss it. Please RSVP now.

This is the fourth year of our BAMF meetup and we’re continually amazed at the turnout — we pack ’em in and it’s not just because the first round of drinks is on us. This is the mixer for everyone who is passionate about hardware. You’ll find your Internet heroes on hand (think YouTube and electronics podcasts), those going through the grinder of startups exhibiting at the faire, engineers for the giant silicon valley firms, plus all of the hackers who spend their time in basements, garages, and taking over the kitchen table to break something open and make it their own. And of course the Hackaday crew will be on hand, you’ll find [Mike], [Jasmine], [Shulie], [Rich], [Jordan], and [Gerrit] losing our voices as the conversation carries on late into the evening.

The photo at the top of the page is from the 2016 Meetup. This photo is from the 2015 Meetup. Now’s your chance to be the face of the party in next year’s announcement!

Our profoundly awesome sister site, Tindie, is also putting out the call to all hardware artisans (they call themselves Tindarians) to turn out for the meetup. If you’ve never heard of Tindie you’re missing out. And if you’ve never sold your creations there, this meetup is a perfect chance to meet some of the people who do. They’re not just purveyors of bleeding edge hardware, they’re the ones who dream it up and make it happen. You should join their ranks!

We love hackers from all walks of life. But unfortunately, because of the venue for this event, we must limit this to those who are 21 years of age and older. If you can’t get into this event, come find us at the Hackaday/Tindie booth at the Faire.

Other than that, we love to see smiling faces, blinking or moving hardware, and the coolest T-shirt you have in your dresser. Come hang out with Hackaday. You’ll have a most excellent evening if you do. See you Saturday!

Hacking the Thotcon 0x8 Badge

[Kenjo] attended Chicago’s Thotcon this past week and has started hacking the convention badge and detailing what he learned. Thotcon’s badge, designed by [Jedha] and programmed by [John Wallis] of Workshop 88, is packed with the requisite electronic hardware and cryptic clues. There are four NeoPixel LEDs, three pots, and a micro USB, all run by an ATmega32u4.

The stock firmware is a game called tesserHack, a maze game using the three pots for navigation. You can also connect via USB to play through the serial console, and this version includes a map view and help menu.

[Kenjo] who previously hacked the Thotcon 0x6 badge, accidentally deleted the stock firmware on this year’s badge, so he used a Bus Pirate as an ISP to burn the Arduino boot loader back on, and has started mapping out the pots and LEDs. If you’re interested in helping out, check out the project on Hackaday.io. [Thanks, gigawatts]

The SHA2017 Badge Revealed

It’s that excellent time of year in which one slowly comes to the realisation that the summer’s eagerly anticipated events are now no longer at some impossibly distant point in the future, but in fact only a matter of a few months or even weeks away. For our European readers, this means that August’s SHA2017 hacker camp is appearing on the horizon, four days of outdoor technological indulgence for our community in a scout camp on the Dutch polders.

As it is a tradition of such events to have an electronic badge incorporating ever more impressive levels of computing power, it follows that the pre-production announcement of an event badge has become an important milestone in the countdown to the day. SHA2017 is no exception, and thus today we see the announcement of their take on the essentials for a hacker camp badge in 2017.

The most immediately obvious thing about the badge is its 296×128 pixel e-ink display, which should provide an immediate benefit in terms of battery life. There are the usual plethora of interfaces, GPIOs, USB, and Neopixels, and the user input is via a set of capacitive buttons. Powering the device is an ESP32, and a key design goal was to have a network for the badges that does not put pressure on the 2.4GHz infrastructure. We’re guessing they’re doing this using raw WiFi packets in the same way as the MAGfest swadge. On the software front it will provide a straightforward development route via MicroPython, and there will be an app library for those without the inclination to code their own. You can get an early look at the schematic from the project repo (PDF).

Their target is to have the badge ready and with stable software on day 1 of the event, a laudable aim if they can manage it.

Members of the Hackaday team will be making the trip to the Netherlands for SHA2017, we look forward to seeing you if you attend too, and please show us anything interesting you do with your badges! Keep your eyes peeled for the Jolly Wrench, and come say hello. You’ll find me with the OxHack contingent and giving a talk on the kit biz which I have also published in the Project to Kit series of articles.

We’ve covered so many badges here at Hackaday that we could almost serve of a retrospective exhibition of the art form. Of particular interest to us though is our own [Voja Antonic]’s badge for last year’s Hackaday SuperConference.

Thanks [Sebastius] for the tip.

Make Munich was Awesome

It was a good weekend to be geeky in Bavaria. In addition to our own Hackaday Prize Bring-a-Hack party, there was the reason that we scheduled it in the first place, Munich’s independent DIY expo, Make Munich.

If you’re a loyal Hackaday reader, many of the projects would seem uncannily familiar. I walked in and was greeted by some beautiful word clocks in both German and English, for instance. Still, seeing the Open Theremin being sold with an “as seen on Hackaday” sticker made us smile. And then we had a great conversation about [Urs Gaudenz]’s other project: DIY biological apparatus, also seen on Hackaday.

There were robots galore. Someone (from Gmünd?) was driving around a graffiti-bot and spraying the floor with water instead of paint or chalk to very nice effect. The full evolution of the Zoobotics robot family was on display. Even the Calliope (a German version of the micro:bit) booth had this cute Bluetooth vibrobot. Join me after the break as I dive into all of the great stuff on display over the weekend.

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Hackaday Prize Bring-a-Hack Munich was Great

Thanks to everyone who came to the Hackaday Prize Make Munich Meetup and Bring-a-Hack last night! We had a great time, and there were a bunch of cool projects on display, some of which we even got pictures of. Frankly, we were enjoying chatting too much to be peering through a camera lens.

Around 30 people made it over to the Munich CCC, including some familiar faces from the last time we had a party in Munich. Although it was a mostly local crowd, we also had visitors from Switzerland, Austria, and even the US of A: TV-B-Gone inventor, HaD Prize judge, and mad hacker [Mitch Altmann] was in the house.

After we got a little food and drink, we opened up the floor for the projects, lightning-talk style. The largest projects were probably a tie between an own-design CoreXY 3D printer and a boombox with some serious sound output. One guest’s automated bacterial culture apparatus probably wouldn’t have fit on the table, so it’s OK that it got left in the lab. The smallest hack? Probably [Alex]‘s super-mini USB LED clock gizmo, complete with hand-soldered 0402 LEDs, and “even smaller stuff on the backside”.

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The Cubic Cyphercon Badge

Last week in Milwaukee was Cyphercon, Wisconsin’s premier hacker conference. You can’t do a hacker con without either an electronic conference badge or a 45 hanging off a lanyard, and the Cyphercon 2017 badge doesn’t disappoint. It’s an electronic cube, lovingly designed by the folks at tymkrs. It’s also a puzzle box with security holes and wireless communications. It’s a mesh network of badges, and one of the best conference badges we’ve ever seen.

The most obvious feature of the Cyphercon 2.0 badge is the extra dimension. From the outset, the design of this badge was a 3-dimensional cube, constructed out of beautifully crafted PCBs and soldered together at the edges. The techniques to bring PCBs into the third dimension are really nothing new — we’ve seen 3D PCBs before — but never at this kind of volume. There were over four hundred badges constructed for Cyphercon, and every single joint was hand-soldered. This is something your assembly house just won’t do, and I would hate to think about the poor solder monkeys that would be forced to assemble 3D badges for a larger con.

3D isn’t the only trick up the Cyphercon badge. There are cutouts in each side of the cube exposing LEDs, microprocessors, busses, and a single USB port. This USB port allows the wearer to recharge the battery, yes, but if you install a terminal emulator on your laptop and plug in the badge, you’re dropped into a world of mystery, intrigue, and suffocation. This badge is a text adventure game, with the goal of a game to reassemble a relay-based computer from parts scrounged from around a missile silo. Once the relay computer is complete, the badge turns into an emulator for a vintage time-sharing operating system. In this OS, you’re able to write code and deploy it to other badges. This is seriously impressive stuff.

Between the cubic Cyphercon badge, the Hunter S. Rodriguez badge heading to Vegas this summer, and badges that are Nintendo emulators, this is looking like a great year for electronic conference badges. The artistry and skill here is amazing, and we can’t wait to see what else the community will come up with.

Below, you can check out a few videos on the Cypbercon badge. [Wire]’s explanation of how the badge was created over the last nine months is in there, as is the Cyphercon badge panel talk.

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