Random Parcel Launches Steganographic Compulsion

A mysterious CD arrives in the mail with a weird handwritten code on it. What should you do? Put it in the computer and play the thing, of course!

Some might be screaming at their screens right now… this is how modern horror films start and before you know it the undead are lurking behind you waiting to strike. Seasonal thrills aside, this is turning into an involved community effort to solve the puzzle. [Johny] published the video and posted a thread on reddit.

We ran a similar augmented reality game to launch the 2014 Hackaday Prize solved by a dedicated group of hackers. It’s really hard to design puzzles that won’t be immediately solved but can eventually be solved with technology and a few mental leaps. When we come across one of these extremely clever puzzles, we take note.

This has all the hallmarks of a good time. The audio spectrogram shows hidden data embedded in the file — a technique known as steganography. There are some real contortions to make meaning from this. When you’re looking for a solution any little hit of a pattern feels like you’ve found something. But searching for the decrypted string yields a YouTube video with the same name; we wonder if they’ve tried to recover steganographic data from that source?

[Johny] mentions that this parcel was unsolicited and that people have suggested it’s a threat or something non-sensical in its entirety. We’re hoping it’s a publicity stunt and we’re all disappointed in the end, because solving the thing is the best part and publicity wouldn’t work if there was no solution.

The bright minds of the Hackaday community should be the ones who actually solve this. So get to work and let us know what you figure out!

Hackaday Space: The Winners!


We promise this is the last post about the ARG we ran throughout April to promote The Hackaday Prize. But we’re excited to announce the winners and all the goodies they are going to get!

The Prizes!

Now that the scoreboards are finalized we can announce the overall winners of the Alternate Reality Game and the prizes they will receive!

crazyflie_pageFirst, we’re giving away a Crazyflie Nano quadcopter to each of the people who were the first to post all the details for the first three Transmissions on the Major Tom profile pages.

Transmission 1 Winner

[kline] wins Transmission 1 as he was the first to post all the details from the transmission and did some great work to convert the QR code into an image using Python.

Transmission 2 Winner

[Tyler Anderson] wins this round as he was the first to decode the status message from Major Tom.

Transmission 3 Winner

This was a tough one since we know some people got very close to the answer on IRC but were led down rabbit holes instead, however [Ted] wins as he was the first to finally locate the launch site longitude and latitude hidden in the audio files.

Final Transmission Winner

Printrbot Simple Maker KitNext up we have the winner of the Final Transmission. Someone suggested that when the pixel art contest was over we should 3d print all the entries, so this inspired us to give away a low cost 3d printer that the winner could use to do just that. Therefore we are presenting a Printrbot Simple Makers Kit.

This prize goes to the person at the top of the scoreboard and winner of the pixel art contest [XDjackieXD]. Congratulations and we expect to see your Portal Cube rendered in plastic sometime soon!

Best Overall Contributor

hexyFinally, since this ARG was a team effort and some people put in outrageous amounts of work we decided we should award a prize for Best Overall Contributor.

This was a hard decision as so many people contributed throughout the month. But we feel that the efforts of [Emerica] really stand out, not only was he responsible for figuring out the use of OpenPuff in Transmission 2, he also contributed massively to the Pixel Art Contest and even built a stunning rendition of the Space Needle over the location of Seattle. [Emerica] wins a Hexy the Hexapod robot kit for his contribution, we hope to see many creative uses for this little fellow in the coming months.

Mission Complete.

It may be all over, but we just want to say how much fun putting together this ARG has been and how much it has shown the creativity, ingenuity and pure genius that exists in this community.

It was wonderful to watch everyone come together to work things out and the life that has sprung up in the IRC channel is really great to see. We hope we can all continue to play and build together as we truly believe there is nothing this community cannot accomplish when we come out of our respective sheds and workshops and work together on something.

Thank you all for participating and good luck in with your entries in The Hackaday Prize!

Hackaday Space: Final Transmission Minecraft Puzzles Explained

This is the last part in our round up of the ARG that we ran throughout April. Just in case you’ve had your head buried in a hole this last week, it was a month-long series of puzzles that lead up to the announcement of the frankly awesome Hackaday Prize. During the week we’ve covered Transmissions 1, 2 and 3 detailing how we put the puzzles together and the things that went wrong. For the final stage we wanted something a bit different. Throughout the ARG we had been inspired by the book Ready Player One, so in this stage we wanted a high score table that people could compete over.

Since we’d managed to get reasonably far ahead of ourselves during Transmission 3 we had just over a week to plan this round. We pitched some ideas around the office for video games we could make with high score tables. None of these really stuck and we soon realized we didn’t have the resources to get the graphic design work done for most games. Someone suggested that we try making a MUD themed around a space port with rescue for Major Tom being the last stage. This seemed like a great idea at first and I began work on it using the RanvierMUD framework. It soon became clear however that writing all the text for a full featured MUD is actually a massive endeavor and I frankly am not that great of a writer.

Learn the secrets and watch a video tour of the Minecraft world below.

Continue reading “Hackaday Space: Final Transmission Minecraft Puzzles Explained”

Hackaday Space: Transmission 3 Puzzles Explained


Yesterday we did a run down of Transmission 2 as part of a series of posts covering the ARG that we ran throughout April. Today I’m going to reveal all the details in Transmission 3, how we put it together and what the answers were.

In classic Hackaday fashion we hadn’t planned any of this, so by this point all our initial ideas we already used up and we were now running out of creativity so it was a real slog to get Transmission 3 out the gate. However we somehow managed it and opened Transmission 3 by posting a series of 5 images of space telescopes:

Continue reading “Hackaday Space: Transmission 3 Puzzles Explained”

Hackaday Space: Transmission 2 Puzzles Explained


So yesterday we gave you a round up of Transmission 1 which went out on April 1st. We quickly went from having to put something fun together for April 1st to running a full month-long ARG making things very very hectic at SupplyFrame HQ. Let’s take a look at what pearls of data were hidden in the week 2 offerings of the Alternate Reality Game. In case you’ve been stuck somewhere without Internet for a couple of days, the game was a lead up to announcing The Hackaday Prize.

Transmission 2 started with the following video appearing at the top of the Hackaday blog:

Continue reading “Hackaday Space: Transmission 2 Puzzles Explained”

Hackaday Space: Transmission 1


Phew, what a month!

As most of you by now are probably sick of hearing, we ran a series of puzzles throughout April in the run up to the announcement of The Hackaday Prize. We had a lot of fun putting this together, and a great many of you pitched in and tried to solve the problems we presented. In all we were very impressed at the community spirit that came out of these challenges, so we thought we would do a write up of what was in the puzzles, how we built them, and the fantastic solutions that you all came up with.

We’ll be doing these as a series of posts this week since they’re quite long, for details on Transmission 1 keep reading after the break.

Continue reading “Hackaday Space: Transmission 1”