All the Unofficial Electronic Badges of DEF CON

2015 was the year of the unofficial hardware badge at DEF CON 23. There were a ton of different hardware badges designed for the love of custom electronics and I tried to catch up with the designer of each different badge. Here is the collection of images, video demos, and build details for each one I saw this weekend.

Whiskey Pirates

[TrueControl] did a great job with his badge design this year for the Whiskey Pirate Crew. This is a great update from the badge he designed last year, keeping the skull and bones outline. It uses a PSOC4 chip to control a ton of LEDs. The eyes are RGB pixels which are each on their own PCB that is soldered onto the back of the badge, with openings for the LED to show through. Two AA batteries power the board which has a surface-mount LED matrix. The user controls are all capacitive touch. There is a spinner around one eye, and pads for select and back. The NRF24L01 radio operates at 2.4GHz. This badge is slave to commands from last year’s badge. When the two are in the same area the 2015 badges will scroll the nickname of the 2014 badge it “sees”. The piezo element also chirps many different sounds based on the interactions with different badges.

[True] makes design an art form. The matte black solder mask looks fantastic, and he took great care in use of font, size, alignment, and things like letting copper show through for a really stunning piece of hardware art.

Keep reading for ten more great badges seen over the weekend.

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Chaos Computer Club (and Hackaday) Blocked By British Porn Filters

The Chaos Computer Club, Europe’s largest association of hackers and hackerspaces, has been blocked by several UK ISPs as part of a government filter to block adult content.

Since July, 2013, large UK ISPs have been tasked with implementing what has been dubbed the Great Firewall of Britain, a filter that blocks adult content, content related to alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and opinions deemed ‘extremist’ by the government. This is an opt-out filter; while it does filter out content deemed ‘unacceptable’, Internet subscribers are able to opt out of the filter by contacting their ISP.

Originally envisioned as a porn filter, and recently updated with list of banned sexual acts including spanking, aggressive whipping, role-playing as non-adults, and humiliation, the British Internet filter has seen more esoteric content blocked from British shores. Objectionable material such as, “anorexia and eating disorder websites,” “web forums,” “web blocking circumvention tools”, and the oddly categorized, “esoteric material” are also included in the filter.

A site built by the Open Rights Group is currently tracking which ISPs blocking which domains. is currently blocked by ISPs Three and Vodafone. Interestingly, this site – Hackaday – is blocked by the ‘Moderate’ British Telecom filter. The ‘Light’ BT filter – and all other British ISPs – still somehow let Hackaday through, despite posts about building shotguns cropping up from time to time.

UPDATE: Upon reflection, it comes to my attention that Brits have a choice of ISP.

Hackerspace Tours: MuCCC

Our trip to Germany wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a proper European hackerspace, and the Munich Chaos Computer Club was more than accommodating in allowing us to invade their space.

Before even walking in the door, you’re greeted with one of the coolest displays you’ve ever seen. Half of the front of their building is a gigantic flipdot display. It’s astonishing in person, and although no dots were flipped during our visit, we can imagine the noise would be deafening. Simply awesome.

Walking in the door, you’re greeted with the general meeting area, conference room, couches, and a Twilight Zone pinball machine. The machine didn’t quite work when we arrived, but within five minutes, [Sprite_TM] was behind the backglass and had everything fixed within an hour.

The back room and basement have the usual assortment of tools – a 3D printer, CNC, lathe, and electronics workbench. If you need a key made, head to the basement. You’ll also find an ATM in the basement. The story with that is that the news station in Munich wanted to do a story on how easy it was to get USB access to the Windows system in an ATM. The station couldn’t do it – but they faked it – and put the ATM up on eBay. Not much money later, the ATM found its way to the space’s basement.

MuCCC is more than just a space with tools, though: in the european hackerspace tradition, there are frequent presentations and talks that would fit in at an academic conference. Last Tuesday, [nicolas] presented a few techniques to protect cryptographic keys from physical integrity attacks, i.e. an evil maid attack or a SWAT team invading your router closet. It’s a daemon that listens to an AVR loaded up with sensors through a GPIO pin. If there is physical intrusion in the device – barometric pressure or light – keys resident in memory can be erased.

You can check out a gallery of pics from the space below.

Hacking SD Card & Flash Memory Controllers

We hope that some of our readers are currently at this year’s Chaos Communication Congress (schedule can be found here and live streams here), as many interesting talks are happening. One of them addressed hacking the memory controllers embedded in all memory cards that you may have. As memory storage density increases, it’s more likely that some sectors inside the embedded flash are defective. Therefore, all manufacturers add a small microcontroller to their cards (along with extra memory) to invisibly ‘replace’ the defective sectors to the operating system.

[Bunnie] and [xobs] went around buying many different microSD cards in order to find a hackable one. In their talk at 30C3 (slides here), they reported their findings on a particular microcontroller brand, Appotech, and its AX211/AX215. By reverse engineering the firmware code they found online, they discovered a simple “knock” sequence transmitted over manufacturer-reserved commands that dropped the controller into a firmware loading mode. From there, they were able to reverse engineer most of the 8051 microcontroller function-specific registers, allowing them to develop novel applications for it. Some of the initial work was done using a FPGA/i.MX6-based platform that the team developed named Novena, which we hope may be available for purchase some day. It was, among others, used to simulate the FLASH memory chip that the team had previously removed. A video of the talk is embedded below.

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Electromagnetic Field Camp

Emf Electromagnetic Field Camp is a three-day camping festival for people with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, geeks, scientists, engineers, artists, and crafters.

There will be people talking about everything from genetic modification to electronics, blacksmithing to high-energy physics, reverse engineering to lock picking, crocheting to carpentry, and quadcopters to beer brewing. If you want to talk, there’ll be space for you to do so, and plenty of people who will want to listen.

EMF is a volunteer effort by a non-profit group, inspired by European and US hacker camps like CCC, HAR, and toorcamp.  This year on Friday 31st August – Sunday 2nd September 2012 Will hold the first Uk meeting of its kind.

Events and activities will run throughout the day and into the evening, everything else (chats, debates, impromptu circus performances, orbital laser launches) will run as long as your collective energy lasts.

The Event is to be held at Pineham Park, Milton Keynes, UK.

As a Hackaday viewer you can get discounted tickets.

[thanks Jonty]

Klackerlaken gets the common man excited about electronics

The Klackerlaken is a combination of LED throwie and bristlebot. The bauble is easy to build and really has no other purpose than to delight the masses. The diminutive devices were first seen in the wild at the 2011 CCC (Chaos Communications Camp) as a hands-on workshop. Check out the clip after the break and you’ll see why this really sucks in the spectators.

We’ve seen a ton of Bristlebots before (this tiny steerable version is one of our favorites) and were intrigued to see bottle caps used as the feet instead of the traditional toothbrush head. In fact, that video clip shows off several different iterations including two caps acting as an enclosure for the button cell and vibrating motor. Googly eyes on the top really complete the look on that one.

Decorating the robots with LEDs, fake eyes, tails, and feathers helps to temper the technical aspects that kids are learning as they put together one of their own. We’re glad that [Martin] shared the link at the top which covers the creations seen at a workshop held by Dorkbot Berlin. This would be a great activity for your Hackerspace’s next open house! Perhaps its possible to have follow-up classes that improve on the design, using rechargeable cells instead of disposable buttons, or maybe supercaps would work.

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Watch all of the freshly published talks from 28c3

The 28th Annual Chaos Communications Congress just wrapped things up on December 31st and they’ve already published recordings of all the talks at the event. These talks were live-streamed, but if you didn’t find time in your schedule to see all that you wanted, you’ll be happy to find your way to the YouTube collection of the event.

The topics span a surprising range. We were surprised to see a panel discussion on depression and suicide among geeks (hosted by [Mitch Altman]) which joins another panel called Queer Geeks, to address some social issues rather than just hardcore security tech. But there’s plenty of that as well with topics on cryptography, security within web applications, and also a segment on electronic currencies like Bitcoins.

There really is something for everyone and they’ve been thoughtful enough to include playlists for all talks, just the lightning talks, and lightning talks categorized by the day they occurred. Get those links from their YouTube channel description, or find them after the break.

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