Badge from Diamond Age Comes to DEF CON

We’re huge fans of [Neal Stephenson’s] work and are usually looking to assign some of his vision to the gear that pops up in the real world. But there’s no stretching or squinting necessary with this one. [Kerry Scharfglass] has built a functioning Drummer’s Badge from the foundational Sci-Fi novel The Diamond Age.

The badge is called Sympetrum, which is a genus of dragonfly. In explaining what the badge is and does, [Kerry] instructs you to go and read the book first and we couldn’t agree more. This isn’t recommended reading; if you’re a geek you need to read this book.

The dragonfly badges are from a portion of the book that gets pretty weird, but the gist is that rod-logic (machines build from microscopic carbon nanotubes) is so pervasive that at all times you’re covered in mites that are actually machines. At a party, one of the characters notices everyone is wearing dragonfly pins that begin to pulse with the music and synchronize with each other. They’re actually indicators of what the mites within the wearers’ bodies are doing — synchronizing people with other people.

This badge is a working recreation of that, presumably without the billions of mites controlling people (but who knows, it is DEF CON). At the center of the badge is an STM32 driving ten APA102 modules. Interactivity is based on IR signaling. The badge will cycle random color animations when alone. But each badge also projects clock sync and metadata over infrared, so put some of them in the same room and they’ll tend to synchronize.

Simple, beautiful, and a great geeky backstory. This example of Badgelife proves that hardware badges don’t need to be packed with features, or have a huge BOM cost. If done well, you can do an awful lot with just a little hardware and strong dose of inspiration. It also makes hand-assembly a lot more approachable, which is what you can see in the images above. Thanks [Kerry] for giving us an early look at this badge, can’t wait to see them at the CON.


We’ll be looking for this and all other #Badgelife offerings at DEF CON 25. Join us for a Hackaday meetup on Sunday morning as we once again do Breakfast at DEF CON

Pop-up dragonfly robot could be the future of business cards

Engineers trying to be memorable at a job interview would be wise to pull one of these pop-up robots out of a wallet. This marvel of engineering uses a laminate construction technique to build a robot as a pop-up assembly. You can see the base used during the process, it’s a hexagon that serves as a scaffolding during the laminating process, and includes mechanical linkages that facilitate assembly.

The design calls for multiple layers of materials to be laser-cut to exacting specifications. Once all parts are completed, they are stacked using rods to align them, then fused together. One more trip through the laser cutter finishes the milling and the machine is ready for assembly. But with parts this small, you’ll want a solid method for putting everything together. The linkages we mentioned before allow for this when two parts of the scaffolding are separated. The only thing that makes this impossible as a business card is the need for a trip through the solder bath to cement the pieces in place. But perhaps some type of clasping mechanism could remove this need in the future.

Don’t miss the video after the break that explains the entire process. You’ll even get to see the little guy flap his wings. That’s all that it does for now, there isn’t any steering mechanism available as of yet.

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The CIA’s amazing bots

When you have a virtually unlimited budget, you can pull off some amazing things. This has become most evident recently as the CIA has been showing off some of its old tech. That dragonfly you see above is near life-size and actually flies. They hired a watch maker to build a tiny internal combustion engine to run it. That alone is pretty amazing, but this thing was actually flying in the 70’s. Upon further inspection of the wings, we actually have no idea how this sucker is supposed to fly. Despite our skeptical viewpoint, you can see a tiny clip of it flying after the break.  You can also catch a video of “charlie” the robot catfish.

[via Botjunkie]

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