RGB stroboscopic guitar tuning

This is [Michael Ossmann's] RGB LED stroboscopic guitar tuner. If his name is familiar that’s because we mentioned he’d be giving a talk with [Travis Goodspeed] at ToorCon. But he went to DefCon as well and spent the weekend in his hotel room trying to win the badge hacking contest.

Despite adversity he did get his tuner working. It’s built into a toy guitar that he takes on road trips with him. By adding a row of RGB LEDs between two of the frets he can use the vibration frequency of an in-tune string to flash the three different colors. If the string is not in tune the three colors will dance around but matching it with the LED frequency produces a stable color. He then uses that big yellow button to advance to the next string. See his demonstration after the break.

This is basically a built-in plectrum tuner that uses one LED package instead of two.

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DefCon 18 Official Badges

The details are out for the DefCon 18 badges. The new design has a lot of goodies packed into it, most notably a 128×32 LCD display. You can’t see it in the image above because it’s on the other side of the badge; the ribbon cable passes through a slit in the substrate to reach the connector on the back. The board has a mini-USB connector and is meant to get even the unseasoned novice up and running with some firmware tweaks. The Freescale processor (which is the same chip as last year’s badge) is running a bootloader that can be accessed and flashed using a terminal program. Yeah… impressive.

But it doesn’t stop with the component selection or firmware mastery, these badges are beautiful too. What you see above is the prototype, but the 7780 badges produced come in seven different flavors (as usual), laser etched on a PCB that uses Aluminum as the substrate. Line up all the badges side-to-side and you get a graphic art storyboard. [Joe] outdid himself this year, and he’s been nice enough to share the development details (PDF) which we spent way too much time drooling over.

[Thanks Kim]

2010 Ninja Party badge

Wired took a look at this year’s Ninja Party badges. We were giddy about all the goodies involved in last year’s must-have badge that served as an invitation to the party. It was tailor-made for hacking, including an on-board disassembler. This year’s details are still a bit sparse but the offering is more along the lines of a market-ready product. The badges come in hand held gaming format, with a d-pad and two buttons. They can connect wirelessly with each other and with hidden base stations, allowing participants to fight in the digital realm for LED-indicated achievements. The teaser is tantalizing and we can’t wait to hear details about the real/digital gaming adventure soon to unfold.

HOPE badge proximity sensor

The HOPE conference was last weekend and [Nathan] spent some time with fellow members of Makers Local 256 developing this badge proximity sensor. They took one of the HOPE badges, which have a radio on board for the tracking network, and wrote code for its MSP430 to detect other badges nearby. It uses a Geiger counter they brought with them as an enclosure, re-purposing the analog gauge to reflect the level of active radio signals in the area. You’ll find their demo clip embedded after the break.

If you managed to get your hands on one of these badges, don’t be shy about sharing your hacks. We want to see them.

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Next HOPE badge hacking primer

[Travis Goodspeed] is taking a look at the attendee badges for this year’s Next HOPE conference. He’s given us a pretty good look at what is on the board, what it means to you, and how you can get at it. Of course the final hardware specs are a secret until conference time, but this will help you get some ideas and ensure that you bring the right add-on hardware. We normally try not to do too much quoting, but one of [Travis'] statements literally makes us laugh out loud (as opposed to what most people describe as lol):

“These badges are active RFID tags which beacon the position of each attendee a few times a second, so that the god damned devil army of lies–by which I mean the Next HOPE badge committee–can track each attendee around the Hotel Pennsylvania.”

No matter how you feel about the badge committee, the tradition of hacking conference badges is a fun, rewarding, and often frustration past-time. The badges are actually using the concept of OpenAMD. The last three letters stand for Attendee Meta Data which is an evolving concept. How can meta data about attendees be useful to all involved in a non-invasive way? How about associating yourself with a concept, like microcontroller programming. What if you could search to find out where other people interested in that are right now? Could be great… could end up in an impromptu meeting around the restrooms for no good reason. Either way, take a look at the teaser video covering the topic after the break.

Oh, one more note about the hardware. This year they’re moving away from PIC based badges to the more energy-efficient MSP430 line. It’s not one of the value-line processors that the Launchpad is meant for, but this bigger-brother ‘F’ chip will be no problem to work with if you’ve already spent some time with the ‘G’ series.

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Hackit: Ideal conference badge?

assembly

In 2006, Defcon 14 premiered a unique electronic badge. All it did was blink, but it raised the bar for what was expected from a hacker conference badge. In 2007, they went from 2 LEDs to 95 in a scrolling marquee. Along with a POV mode, the badge had two capacitive switches to let the user edit the displayed text. Defcon 16’s badge featured an IR transmitter and receiver for transferring files from an SD card. It worked as a TV-B-Gone and had pads to access a USB bootloader. That was the same year that The Last Hope debuted their RFID tracking badges.

This year the official Defcon badge reacted to sound, but they were no longer the only game in town. Ninja Networks brought their 10 character party badges with a built in debugger. The Arduino compatible HackTheBadge 1.0 also made an appearance. With these new entrants into the field, we wondered what you’d want to see in your ideal badge. What badge would you want to see at next year’s Defcon? Leave you comments below and keep in mind that it should be an idea that is easy to cheaply mass produce.

UPDATED: Forgot to mention the Neighborcon 2 badge based on the GoodFET20.

[Photo: Ninja Networks]

HackTheBadge 1.0

hb_bw_prev_s (Custom)

[Martin] tipped us off to HackTheBadge 1.0. Possibly more elusive than the NinjaBadge, HackTheBadge has a Dpad, a 3×5 LED matrix, Arduino compatable headers, and 46 GPIO channels. You can download the open source plans if you didn’t get one at Defcon. You probably didn’t, there were only 14 given out. You can also order one pre assembled.  This makes us wonder, does being low in quantity qualify this as elusive?

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