Developed On Hackaday: Let’s Build An Electronic Hackaday Badge

We’re going to build an electronic Hackaday Badge, and by “we”, I mean Hackaday community members who are passionate about the project.

I’ll be leading the charge. I had a great learning experience the last time I helped design the e-paper badge for the 2013 Open Hardware Summit, and hope to learn a lot along the way this time too. Since then, Badges have come a long way – at cons like DEFCON, LayerONE, Shmoocon, The Next Hope, Open Hardware Summit, The EMF, SAINTCON, SXSW Create, The Last Hope, TROOPERS11, ZaCon V and of course the rad1o from this year’s CCCamp. Word is that this year’s Open Hardware Summit badge is going to be pretty kickass too. So, we have some very big shoes to fill. But this doesn’t have to be about “my badge is better than yours”. And this badge isn’t meant to be specific to any single con or event. So what does the Badge do, then? “It’s a physical extension of the community, made specifically for hacker gatherings of all types and sizes.”

Regulars who have been following our blog will recall the Mooltipass project which kick-started the “Developed on Hackaday” series. The idea is to bring together a team of interested developers and Hackaday staff to build a project created by and for the community. Along the way, we’ll document it on so everyone else can keep track of the project as we progress. Building hardware using a distributed team is difficult, but it’s getting easier by the day. All of the design development already happens on computers, but geographic issues like team members in different time zones and getting prototypes built, assembled, and distributed for alpha and beta testing needs to be taken into consideration on distributed engineering projects. Our goal is to document all of these hurdles and other issues to help others who want to take on their own engineering projects.

2314631410991521283So we’re now kicking off a second project in the series. We haven’t fleshed out the details yet. It will be tied in to the user’s account, have a radio module and IR Tx/Rx, LED array and/or graphic display of some kind, some buttons, a buzzer and other stuff most badges have. We’ll need some nifty firmware and a web interface to round it up. Think of it as a physical extension of your avatar. We’d also like to have two flavors – a vanilla “user” badge and a superuser “sudo” badge to rule the other badges. Of course, we promise not to be evil and abuse the SU privilege. This Badge project was proposed by [Brian Benchoff], and he’s jotted down some of his initial thoughts in this project log.

What’s next? Follow the project and request an invite to the team. Let us know if you would like to contribute towards hardware, firmware code or website front end. We’ll be using Group Messaging to discuss the project. Let’s get crackin’!

44 thoughts on “Developed On Hackaday: Let’s Build An Electronic Hackaday Badge

    1. Pull the battery when you don’t want to be tracked? Just like leaving your cellphone at home when you go out to murder people. I mean. Do things and don’t wish to be tracked… Nah I’m sure you can add a switch to the radio module to turn it off, to save battery and avoid paranoia.

      1. I don’t think anybody is really worried about the tracking of a HaD badge per se, it’s more that it seems to advertise the concept of tracking and ID’ing at a time when that is so overdone already and a time where that is a real issue.
        And I think they could have picked another focus.

        Mind you I also don’t get the concept of the staff encouraging badges near them to be as loud as possible.. you’d think they would encourage a special executive reduction in volume when you are near a HaD staffer.

        1. Ah yes. I’m sure as the discussion progresses it’ll be a switch to the transceiver, and there should be a lot of discussion over security, especially when they have had multiple postings about how security is underwhelmed in projects. and the project log has “Beeps/flashes when within range of (other users) | (hackaday crew)
          A switch to select between beeping and flashing” so beeping is already designed to be turned off when wanted.
          I believe they just really want to endorse hackaday users to be able to meet up IRL without planning it much beforehand, unplanned meetups during cons. And the shape will undoubtedly advertise the site.
          Yeah I’d think they’d get swamped with fans and they’d want to make it more of a surprise/ harder task to track down staff members.

        2. I think it’s just a social thing at conferences. And good practice for getting boards made. And it’s an optional thing to use the badge, it’s the mandatory ID’ing that should be more concerning (until you have everyone faking names all the time so essentially everyone has no identity at all).

          1. And on a meeting with HaD visitors you expect someone to make a badge that can poll nearby badges and copy the info and then emulate that badge really. That’s what it’s all about, hacks :)

            And what if trolls pretend to be HaD staff with a fake ID? And maybe do something embarrassing to the suckers that fall for it.

            But maybe that’s the idea.

          2. Yeah, that’s the idea on hacks. And if people fake it and people fall for it that makes it even funnier (and relatively harmless unless they kidnap them etc. lol…). Depends on authentication designed into badge and user willing to authenticate.

  1. Apparently the project was started 10 months ago, and just now an article about it. Well, it should get much more traction now there’s a post on it. The GM is completely naked and the parameters of the project 10 mos later are bare. This is going to be great. :D How/when do we decide what main chip to use? arm/atmega… idk I’m mech and deficient in EE…

          1. Yeah I had to search it, but there are companies that advertise printing your custom ICs. But I have issues understanding using complex ICs and circuits in general, I would be completely useless until they decide what all it entails. Although, it would be really badass to have a hackaday IC running it. Maybe next time.

      1. And like the Mootlipass, let the sole developer pick some weird-arse toy language no-one else uses, let alone has heard of.

        And make sure he leaves at the industry standard “90% done!” mark.

          1. The developer will write the software in the language that I tell him too.

            Of course if I neglect to do that (welcome to project management!) then I can’t really complain when I go “WTF!” at what they’ve done, write it all again and delay things by 6 months: see “Developer Déjà-vu” at

            “Sure, use some toy language that’s only a year old that no-one else has heard off, what could go wrong?”

            (Happens everywhere, people get distracted by the new & shiny.)

  2. Anool
    Depending on what you use radio wise (I’d like to help on radio firmware if I can; perhaps IR too (for a simple sensor (not sure if you want data exchanged) the Silicon Labs SI114x chip is a big seller)).

    Was wondering if dev info will be totally public so I can help on a non-committal basis? Normally pretty busy but want to help on one of these hackaday projects.

    1. Nice tip on the Si114x. We’ll check if it fits within the BoM cost limits. You’re most welcome to pitch in – even on a non-committal basis. The development will be as public as we can manage. Logs are being posted on the project page. There are three separate git repositories for the HW, FW and the SW. And a spreadsheet is helping us keep track of things. You get get links to all of this from the projcet page.

    1. Something “cool” eh? So, we’ll put a small fan on it to cool the processor AND the wearer!
      Following another comment about it looking like a quadcopter board, it could have 4 fans!

  3. [Anool]

    How about basing it on the HaD Pro Trinket?
    (or use it as an initial development platform, moving up to a more powerful uController as features creep.)

    There could be two development tracks, a FAST track which uses readily available modules such as an nRF+ or an ESP*, an SDR
    and stuff like that with a common software development enviroment.
    And then when it is 90% decided, begin with a custom PCB to incorporate the features without the bulk of the modules.
    PLEASE use common/readily available electrical connectors!

    1. After a long round of discussions, we’ve settled on using the ATSAMR21 – an ARM Cortex M0 with a 2.4 GHz radio combined. This will allow us to do some nice stuff like create an ad-hoc network, among other things. We’re going to create a prototype board consisting of the R21 and some associated parts so the firmware folks can start working on it quickly, while the main hardware is in development.
      Check out the tentative BoM here :

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