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.
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.
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]
[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?
UPDATE: The director’s cut of the story
While coverage of the official Defcon badge has been pretty heavy, there was a badge that was far more exclusive and talked about way more. For the last ten years at Defcon a group of hackers known as Ninja Networks hosted an invitation-only party for selected attendees. For the 2009 event, [cstone] and [w0z] created an electronic badge which acted as the ticket to the party. The badge is based around an 8-bit Freescale microcontroller (MC9S08QE8) which drives 10 individual 16-segment HIOX-format LED displays. Continue reading “Ninja Networks Party Badge”
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.
A fake ATM machine, set to capture ATM information was found at Defcon 17 in vegas this year. Its design has a tinted plastic window at the top which attendees noticed had a computer in it. It was quickly removed by the police. Is this an amazing coincidence? We doubt it. Someone probably knew exactly who was going to be there and either wanted to scam some hackers or just wanted to have some fun.