TiLDA MKπ, The EMF Camp 2016 Badge

The Scottish Consulate has stamped its last passport, the Dutch fire tower has belched its final flame, and the Gold Members Lounge has followed the Hacienda and the Marquee into clubland oblivion. EMF Camp 2016 is over, so all the 1500 or so attendees have left are the memories, photographs, and festival diarrhoea to remind them of their three days in the Surrey countryside.

Well, not quite all, there is the small matter of the badge.

In the case of EMF 2016 it was called TiLDA MKπ, and since there was a point earlier in the year when it seemed the badge might never see the light of day it represents a significant achievement from the EMF badge team.

The badge features an STM32L486VGT6 ARM Cortex M4 running at 80MHz, a 320×240 pixel colour LCD, magnetometer and accelerometer, and a CC3100 WiFi processor. The firmware provides a simple interface to an app store containing an expanding array of micropython apps from both the EMF Camp team and submitted by event attendees. As shipped the badge connects to one of the site networks, but this can be adjusted to your own network after the event. It’s been designed for ease of hacking, requiring only a USB connection and mounting as a disk drive without need for special software or IDE. A comprehensive array of I/O lines are brought out to both 0.1″ pitch pins and 4mm edge-mounted holes. At the EMF Camp closing speeches there was an announcement of a competition with a range of prizes for the best hardware and software uses for the badge.

shane-tweetThe TiLDA causes a sticky moment for our colleague, Tindie scribe Shane.
The TiLDA causes a sticky moment for our colleague, Tindie scribe Shane.

As is so often the case the badge was not without its teething troubles, as the network coped with so many devices connecting at once and the on-board Neopixel turned out to have been mounted upside down. Our badge seemed to have a bit of trouble maintaining a steady network connection and apps frequently crashed with miscellaneous Python errors, though a succession of firmware updates have resulted in a more stable experience. But these moments are part of the badge experience; this is after all an event whose attendees are likely to have the means to cope with such problems.

All the relevant files and software for the badge are fully open-source, and can be found in the EMF Camp GitHub repositories. We’ve put a set of images of the board in a gallery below if you are curious. The pinout images are courtesy of the EMF badge wiki.

We’ve featured EMF badges before, here’s our look at the EMF 2014 device.

LayerOne badges stop bullets; drive away

We love badges. And we’ve really got to thank [Charliex] for taking the time to write a huge post about this year’s LayerOne badges, especially since they’ve got their backs up against the deadline for pulling everything together in time.

Here it is, the stock badge on the left, with an add-on shield on the right. Now the original intent was to make this badge the chassis of an RC car. [Charliex] chewed through his development time trying to source toy cars that could be gutted for parts that would mount easily on the badge. This looked promising at first, but turned out to be folly. Instead what we have here is an Arduino compatible board with an RF transmitter which can be cut off and used separately if you wish. Attendees will be able to use the badge to take control of the toy cars (cases of them have been shipped to the conference), with the option to use the USB functionality to facilitate automation.

So what about stopping bullets? There is a bug in the module [Charliex] used to export the board design from Eagle. They came back from the fab house as 0.125″ substrate. That’s pretty beefy!

The conference is this weekend… better get on that!

Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!

In a an obvious marketing move akin to a drug dealer offering up free samples, Urban threads is offering free badge plans for hackerspaces that have robotic embroidery machines. We’ve seen this trend of badges coming up lately and we don’t know if it is the boy/girl scout in us, or the punk rocker that makes us pine for them. You may laugh, but look at that skull with the welding goggles on. If you don’t think that’s badass… then we disagree.

The idea of giving some away free isn’t new. You can download free photoshop brushes, free fonts, free circuits and all kinds of other free stuff from sites that sell better versions as well. We just couldn’t pass up the chance to point out that skull, and helping out hackerspaces is always good in our eyes. So, who has one of those embroidery machines?

The trackable Last HOPE conference badge

While Defcon badges have taken on the habit of being hackable electronics, The Last Hope badge is taking a new shape this year. It’s dubbed the Attendee Meta-Data project (AMD for short). Aside from the tombstonian dimensions, it features a trackable RFID tag that’s going to be used to create a different sort of conference experience.

Sure, the creators might use the badges to make sure they meet all the lovely ladies in attendance, but the idea is to use the data to improve the conference experience for everyone. Attendees have the ability to add tags indicating their interests. Combine that data with actual location tracking and people can now network and interact based on what and who they’re looking for. It’s social networking coming full circle to include actual socializing.