2013 LayerOne Badge Hacking Contest Winner


[Dynotronix] wrote in to share the news that he won the 2013 LayerOne badge hacking contest. In addition to the good news he included a description of his badge hack.

We got a good look at the hardware included on the badge several days ago. You may remember that it’s outfitted with footprints for 48 LEDs around the perimeter which are driven by two ICs. Looking at the image above it’s hard to miss the fact that [Dyno] didn’t populate any of that. He went right for the power of the XMEGA processor to analyze and generate signals.

But what specifically can you do with the signal this thing generates? Turns out a rather simple circuit can make it into a transmitter. [Dyno] concedes that it’s a remarkably finicky setup, but just a few components on a scrap of copper clad turned this into an FM transmitter. Check out the video where you can hear the sweeping alarm-type sounds pushed to an FM radio via his voltage controlled oscillator circuit which has a range of about fifteen feet.

20 thoughts on “2013 LayerOne Badge Hacking Contest Winner

    1. Agreed. ;) Typically the second morning of the con, most are sleeping it off, while I’m up early soldering. So, the lack of stiff competition worked in my favor. As I mentioned, I wasn’t pleased I that I couldn’t make this self-contained, and wear the whole contraption around my neck and have it function. Charlie’s PCB is a freakin’ work of art, but I’m going to lobby for “enhanced hackability” in future iterations. Namely, good sized, grounded, plated through-holes on the bottom edge of the board, fat traces for power brought there as well, and hopefully a good-sized grid of holes on a 0.100″ matrix for a prototyping area.

      1. Dynotronix, you are the man. Flame searching troll comment and you do the right thing. Agree with him and tell him what you would have like to have done better. I respect you.

        1. It’s not flame-searching trolling, it’s a simple truth that this is not the kind of thing you’d expect to win such a contest.

          Now it IS flame–searching trolling to accuse normal comments of being trolling, it’s in fact a classic.

          Not that the response from Dynotronix was not indeed nice and avoiding silliness.

          Incidentally, since it’s overshouting FM with super-annoying noises is it in fact a nasty device meant for grievers? (I could not see the last bit of the video due to youtube being stuck for some reason.)

          1. Didn’t say HaD did it.
            But perhaps I should have said self-censorship instead for clarity, although then I’d first would have to have done a testpost to see the current state of HaD, you never know when that stuff turns up its ugly head, and sometimes it’s not even done by the site owner but some update of the site software defaults to having some silly censorship enabled, I’ve seen that more than once (or at least that was what the administration claimed)..

            And incidentally perhaps I was just venting about the maniacal efforts of said ‘D*sc*very channel’ :)

      2. 1) drinking water before and after “drinking” allows me to do the same, but alas drinking might not be for everyone

        2) sadly, most people are much more impressed if its self contained. i on the other hand i consider it the “easy part” and not worth doing if the project is only “for fun” or “proof of concept” ect

        3) if you succeed in petitioning them into the whole “solderable with regular iron” thing,
        i might hire you to petition the whole dam industry to go back to through-hole :P JK
        … i hate S.M.

      3. I’m not dismayed because I think this is a crap project, on the contrary I think it is brilliant! Its just there are no LEDs used on a LED development board. Its ingenuous that you thought outside the box and did something completely different then its intended purpose (aka hacking). I just expected the judges to look at it and say no LEDs? Then you lose!

        I hope this clears up my ‘troll’ post :)

          1. The board was designed with three (ended up being 4 ) build paths. As a Scope/test equipment, led blinky toy, scope+led blinky toy and then just OLED+whatever we had left. That way it could be built in a shorter time or people who didn’t feel, or weren’t interested in the scope part. Since it was just three chips + 48 smd or thru hole leds

            I was surprised no one built a sound/light level detector and used the leds for that.

        1. as there were so many LED footprints ready to go, i’m going to take a wild guess and say that 98+ % of the hacks used LEDs to the point of silliness. after seeing the 100th LED flasher or whatnot, the novelty of a LED-less hack may have appealed greatly to the judges for originality.

          Again, this is just speculation, but with 48 LED prints…. you know lots of people had to of used them.

  1. I made big pad’s for ground, power and a bunch of IO on standard pitch header pins. Granted i did make a few changes to teardrop a lot of the pads, but the board house couldn’t get it done in time. We didn’t have any PCB casualties i’m aware of this year.

    As for SMD vs thru hole, well thru hole has been around for ever and you can go to just about any place like frys, radio shack etc and pick up a thru hole kit to learn to solder.

    Some packages are only coming in SMD, some boards are also harder to make as thru hole because the holes take up so much space.

    It’s not as difficult as people think it is, i know a lot of people are wary of it but in some ways its easier than thru hole, especially if you make a mistake, i see more people rip off pads removing DIPs than anything. But mainly we want to get people more comfortable with SMD.

    Next years badge is being prototyped already and yes its SMD again :)

    Plus its not like you have a local hackerspace that has microscopes, top end soldering equipment, pcb mills, plating machines and boxes of components lying around to improve skills, right !?

    It’d be cool to see more hacks, one one hand its disappointing to get so few people doing it, but on the other hand its great to see so many people build this board from scratch. I try to include varying sizes and more complex items to solder, the OLED with a flexible connector, looks hard, super easy. Same for the chip.

    We’re thinking that next year we may assemble some of the parts so that people have more time, keeping in mind that a lot of people just enjoy building them. We also may offer badges early to some pre-registered folks who intend to hack it, so they can work on it before the conference.

    We’re currently looking at using the Cypress PSOC5L series for next year, but its not set in stone yet.

    At least people persuaded me to not use the chip package with no leads, which i still think is easier to place. Don’t be surprised if a BGA turns up one year.

    I’m always up for feedback, just keep in mind about design constraints, part availability and meeting costs ( since no one sponsors these badges )


  2. what a great way to troll people who have thumping cars, put this in your car and roll up next to those types. WIN no matter how you look at it. Congrats on the win.

      1. I had a 200 watt linear amp on a CB with a mis-matched antenna, affected every other amplifier circuit around a 50 meter radius; Then It wouldn’t matter what your audio source is. If you are using an amp of any sort, my gross AM was in ur radio making awful noise, sometimes you could make out voice.

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