Next HOPE Badge Hacking Primer

[Travis Goodspeed] is taking a look at the attendee badges for this year’s Next HOPE conference. He’s given us a pretty good look at what is on the board, what it means to you, and how you can get at it. Of course the final hardware specs are a secret until conference time, but this will help you get some ideas and ensure that you bring the right add-on hardware. We normally try not to do too much quoting, but one of [Travis’] statements literally makes us laugh out loud (as opposed to what most people describe as lol):

“These badges are active RFID tags which beacon the position of each attendee a few times a second, so that the god damned devil army of lies–by which I mean the Next HOPE badge committee–can track each attendee around the Hotel Pennsylvania.”

No matter how you feel about the badge committee, the tradition of hacking conference badges is a fun, rewarding, and often frustration past-time. The badges are actually using the concept of OpenAMD. The last three letters stand for Attendee Meta Data which is an evolving concept. How can meta data about attendees be useful to all involved in a non-invasive way? How about associating yourself with a concept, like microcontroller programming. What if you could search to find out where other people interested in that are right now? Could be great… could end up in an impromptu meeting around the restrooms for no good reason. Either way, take a look at the teaser video covering the topic after the break.

Oh, one more note about the hardware. This year they’re moving away from PIC based badges to the more energy-efficient MSP430 line. It’s not one of the value-line processors that the Launchpad is meant for, but this bigger-brother ‘F’ chip will be no problem to work with if you’ve already spent some time with the ‘G’ series.

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Update: Atari Pause Button

The Atari 2600 pause circuit is now available in a kit form. We saw this pause method back in February and the kit uses the same circuit. We don’t really need a kit for this, the board is very simple to throw together. But we do appreciate the detailed installation instructions (PDF) that accompany it. After all, you don’t want to kill you classic gaming rig with a botched install.

[Thanks CPUWIZ]

PlayStation 2 Portable

[Raizer04] just completed his PlayStation 2 portable build. He feels that the PS2 hardware has much more to offer than the PSP and that’s why he chose to cram the PS2 slim hardware into a portable case. He started with an electronic toy to serve as a case donor and used bondo to form openings for the controller, speakers, lights, and screen. A beautiful paint job and some metal work resulted in the pleasant finish seen above. On the back you’ll find a lighted case fan, hard drive, and USB port. There’s no optical drive as games are loaded from a thumb drive. Take a look at the demo video after the break, but do yourself a favor and turn your sound all the way down first.

If this doesn’t quench your thirst for portable console projects you might also take a look at this N64 build.

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Morse Code Clock


[Johnny Carlo] put another spin on clock displays with his Propeller-based Morse Code clock. He repurposed a tap light, using the tap function as a switch input and actuating the bulb inside with the help of a transistor. If you want to know the time just give it a tap and the device will transmit back to you in a series of flashes. This is great if you’re contemplating a career as a Navy Signalman or just need another way to practice Morse Code.

[Thanks Mike]

TI Makes A Big Bid For The Hobby Market

This morning Texas Instruments unveiled Launchpad, a development platform for their low-cost MSP430 line of microcontrollers. We’ve seen these chips before, most notably in the ez430 Chronos sports watch. We see this as a bid for the hobby market currently enjoyed by Arduino, PIC, AVR, and others. TI’s biggest selling point is price, but we’re going to wait to share that with you. Join us after the break to see what the package offers, then decide if the price is right.

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