By far the most desirable booth for the crowds at SXSW Create was the Sparkfun quadrant. We call it a quadrant because they had a huge footprint approaching 1/4 the tented area, but it was well used. They brought a number of staff down to Austin in order to give away a legit electronic badge project they call BadgerHack.
We love badge hacking. LOVE IT! But South-by isn’t purely a hardware conference so the badges aren’t made of PCBs (for shame). Add to that, free entry to Create scores you a wristband but no badge.
This is the answer to that, a badge giveaway and build-off aimed at kids but cool enough to make me feel only slightly awful for accepting one when I pretty much knew they were going to run out before the final day was done.
The USB stick PCB is, as you guessed it, an Arduino compatible loaded up with an FTDI chip and an ATmega328p which they call the BadgerStick. Accompanying this is a multiplexed 8×7 LED matrix board. Solder the three pin headers and the battery holder leads, connect to the plastic badge using the supplied double-stick tape, and you have a badge that scrolls a message in LEDs.
What an awesome giveaway. I really like it that they didn’t cut corners here. First off, the kids will value the badge much more because they had to actually assemble it rather than just being handed a finished widget. Secondly, there is the USB to serial chip and USB footprint that means they can reprogram it without any extra equipment. And an LED matrix… come on that’s just a gateway drug to learning Wiring. Bravo Sparkfun and Atmel for going this route with your marketing bucks.
The badge activity rounded out with some hardware interfacing. There’s a 3-pin socket that attendees could plug into 4 different stations around the booth. Once done they received a coupon code for Sparkfun that scrolls whenever the badge is booted up. For some at-home fun, the writeup (linked at the top) for the BadgerHack firmware is quite good. It offers advice on changing what is displayed on the badge and outlines how to build a game of Breakout with just a bit of added hardware.
Here’s a pair of LayerOne Badge hacks that actually included the RC as intended by the badge designers.
First up, we have the autonomous RC car built by [Arko]. He calls it Stanley Jr. as an homage to the Stanford DARPA Grand Challenge vehicle. It uses an Arduino shield to add a servo with an ultrasonic rangefinder on it. The lets the vehicle drive a bit, stop and scan the horizon, then drive some more. The hope is the rangefinder will keep it from running into anything. There’s a quick test run embedded after the break.
On the right is the badge hack which [Zjpahle] finished up after the contest was already over. He also chose to go with an Arduino shield, this time it’s an IMU board. But he added a standalone Arduino board to the vehicle which drives some EL wire (ground effects) and adds IR sensors to the front of the car. The IR sensors are for obstacle avoidance, and the IMU lets him tilt his badge for direction control.
We looked at the winner of the badge hacking competition on Wednesday. That hack didn’t involve the car, but used the badge as a Morse Code beacon.
Continue reading “LayerOne badge hacking twofer”
This year’s LayerOne Hacking and Security Conference is right around the corner. But it’s not too late to attend. You can still get a block-rate hotel room if you register by the end of April, and registration for the two-day event only costs a hundred bucks. It’s scheduled for May 26th and 27th in Anaheim California.
As usual, the Speaker lineup is quite impressive. Everything from Android Malware to embedded exploits and botnet adventures will be discussed. And then there’s the perennial favorite lock picking and hardware hacking villages. Did we mention badges? We’d bet it was this pick-and-place machine which helped assemble this year’s pile of badges. We haven’t seen any word on what they might include, but there’s a hacking contest so plan to pack your tools.
The crew over at the HarfordHackerspace used their wits and creativity to land a spot at the final round of Red Bull’s Creation challenge. The team arrived in Brooklyn just yesterday, ready to take on all comers in the 72-hour hacking challenge which kicked off earlier this morning.
Like any other hacker convention, the Red Bull challenge sports its own unique guest badges just begging to be poked, prodded, and otherwise fooled with. Once the team arrived in New York they were given theirs, and after the opening festivities came to a close, the hacking began. The badges were putting out what looked like Morse code messages via a single red LED, and while part of the team worked to record and decode the message, others started reverse engineering the badge’s on-board PIC.
They were successfully able to bypass the PIC’s fuses to read the code inside, and what they found was pretty funny. You will have to follow the link above to find out what it was, but rest assured, the Red Bull folks definitely have a decent sense of humor.
Following up on their post about the new Defcon 17 badges, Wired recently posted some of the best badge hacks of the con. Among the hacks featured were an LED frequency meter hack, a sound seeking dirigible powered by three badges, and a wireless geiger counter random number generator that sent random numbers back to a laptop equipped with a zigbee card. Probably one of the most impressive hacks mentioned, the hack that won the badge hacking contest, was the LED equipped baseball cap modeled above by [Joe Grand], Defcon’s defacto badge designer.
The hacked badge is connected to the cap by an ethernet cable, where the LEDs pulse on and off in order to defeat facial recognition systems. The cap’s designer told Wired that he initially designed the cap in order to sneak into [Grand]’s room to steal the über badges under his protection. Needless to say, the winner doesn’t have to worry about stealing the badges anymore as he was awarded his own über badge at the award ceremony. While we’re not completely sure who pulled off this awesome hack, we congratulate you and all of the participants of the badge hacking contest on your fantastic hacks.
Update: We’ve confirmed that the badge contest winner was in fact [Zoz Brooks], [Grand]’s co-star on the popular Discovery channel show Prototype This. From all indications, his hack seems to be legitimate and not a clever idea, however we are still looking to confirm this. Also, even though Wired’s article stated that the dirigible was sound seeking, we have confirmed that it is sound avoiding. Thank’s to everyone in the comments for pointing these things out.