Defcon 17: Badge Details Released


Defcon is upon us once again, and that can only mean one thing: new badge designs. Our friends over at Wired posted the picture above along with a description of this year’s new badge. Since our last post, there has been little new information released regarding the components used for the new badge. However, we now know that it utilizes a microphone and a full color LED along with the Freescale mc56f8006, an advanced digital signal processing microcontroller. [Grand], the badge designer, told Wired that while this year’s design is a bit simplified compared to last year’s design, it is not nearly as easy to hack. Just like last year, the functionality of the badge hasn’t been announced yet. We’re hoping for some kind of communicator. Be sure to check out Wired’s article if you want to see the high res pictures.

15 thoughts on “Defcon 17: Badge Details Released

  1. From the source code Wired distributed, here’s what it seems like: Somehow the LED is responsible for transmitting messages in Morse Code. The RGB LED is PWM dimmed alternating R, G, then B on a cycle. The microphone does an FFT on the sound input and determines if it’s over a ‘sleep’ level. It will begin transmitting if this threshold is passed. It also scans for constant extremely high-level noise and when found goes into ‘dance mode’ which is clearly designed for clubbing, where the LED goes wild. I’ll let you know if I find anything more interesting. I’d love to see someone try to make a voice-stress analyzer from one of these.

  2. SPOILER ALERT: the ‘secret’ message which is morse coded by the badge is: (lit. There are also some cool modes to ‘dance mode’ I found. If you are in the loud environment for more than a certain time it will dim and stop using the fft to set LED color and start ramping it up and down. After an even longer period it will start broadcasting ‘SOS’ in morse code. One of the cooler DEFCON badges i’ve seen yet.

  3. One more blurb: The badges link together end-to-end to form a circle. It uses the I2C (single wire) network on the badges end to connect and form a master-slave relationship. The master uses an FFT from the microphone on that badge to set all other badges LEDs to the same value, basically turning several badges into a glowy blinky pulsy sound-activated TRON disc.

  4. It doesn’t transmit the secret message until a particular tone is received at a high enough level.

    So when the a large group is gathered together in a dark room, and the tone is made, they will all flash the message simultaneously. Could be cool in an auditorium.

    No badge to badge communications, though, without connecting them together. Light output, sound input, so they can’t talk to each other.


  5. they could program each badge with a unique flash sequence, then track your movement/location with video cameras and appropriate software. perhaps even modulate the audio from the mic over the flashing led… and record your conversations.

  6. @charlie
    this is a great idea and defiantly a possibility.

    could also change the colour of the LED to the loudness/pitch of your voice like a mood ring.
    also by linking them together could make a POV wheel.

  7. @jme
    the led’s on all the badges are pretty much in the same place, so a pov wheel wouldn’t work too well. There are also badges a normal person can’t get. The speaker, press, contest, and human badge might not be too hard, but the goon and uber badge would be pretty much impossible unless you are either a goon, and the uber badges are I think, only on Joe and DT.

  8. If you d-load the source code from the link in the wired article, you can read through and find the ASCII values for the letters to be displayed when the badge enters morse code mode (as m4cgyv3r pointed out above). Look for “sec” in the code and you’ll find the ASCII values.

    To get the badge into morse code mode play around with garage band or some other music tool. I was able to get it by hitting a note around C6.

    Sweet badge design Joe!

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