Adding Cellular Connectivity To The Hackaday Supercon Badge

Did you manage to make it down to Hackaday Supercon 2023? Maybe you did, and maybe you had a great time hacking away on the badge. [Dan] and ex-Hackaday alumnus [Mike Szczys] certainly did, with the guys from Golioth adding cellular connectivity to the hardware and developing a community art project.

The badge was hooked up over I2C to a Golioth Aludel Mini, which is a prototyping platform featuring a Sparkfun nRF9160 cellular modem. A custom Micropython implementation was compiled for the badge so that the badge could act as an I2C peripheral to be queried by the Aludel Mini. The sketch app on the badge was tweaked to allow the small pictures it created to be be uploaded to a cloud site called Badgecase, programmed in Rust. Amusingly, it turns out the sketch app uses a rectangular workspace, though you only see a circular section of it on the Supercon badge’s awesomely round display.

Much of the hack is happening off-board from the badge itself, but it’s a neat piece of work that shows how easy cellular connectivity is to implement these days. We’ve seen some other great feats with the Vectorscope badge, and it looked great if you happened to 3D print a case for it, too. Video after the break.

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Add Some Blinkenlights To Your Supercon Badge

We’re not sure what is more amazing here: the glow of the blinkenlights themselves, the tedium involved in creating it, or the fact that [makeTVee] soldered 280 microscopic WS2812 LEDs while at Supercon.

This hack began before the con when [makeTVee] designed the LED-diffusing frame in Fusion 360 and printed it in clear resin. Rather than solder the LEDs straight, the frame has 280 teeth that support each one at a 55° angle.

Not only does this look cool, it makes the bridging of DOUT to DIN much easier. That leaves GND and VCC to be painstakingly connected with 30 AWG wire. How, you might ask? With a little help from 3.5x magnifying glasses and the smallest soldering iron tip available, of course.

But that’s not all. Since 280 addressable LEDs need a lot of power, [makeTVee] also designed a holder for the LiPo battery pack that fits into the existing AA holders.

Want to see more awesome badge hacks? Check out the compendium.

A Look At All The Badge Hacks Of Supercon 2023

For those of you who’ve had the opportunity to join us in Pasadena for Supercon, you’ll know it’s a wild ride from start to finish. Singling out a single moment as our favorite is pretty much impossible, but certainly the Sunday Badge Hacking Ceremony has to rank up there. It’s the culmination of ~78 hours of intense hardware and software hacking, and that’s not even counting the pre-show work that attendees often put into their creations. Every year, without fail, this community manages to pull off badge hacks that are beyond anything we could have imagined — and we’re the ones who made the thing in the first place.

Unfortunately, in the mad rush, we’ve never had a chance to actually photograph the hacked badges and share them with the Hackaday readers. This year, at the urging of some of the badge hackers themselves, we were able to throw together a suitable overhead light at the last minute and actually snapped shots of each badge after it was presented to the audience.

The resulting images, sorted by badge hacking category, are below. While some proved difficult to photograph, especially with an impromptu setup, we’re happy to at least have a complete record of this year’s creations. Hopefully we’ll be able to improve on our technique for 2024 and beyond. If yours shows up, or if you’d like to share your appreciation, sound off in the comments below!

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Render of the shell pictured standing on the pavement, with shell parts printed in white and button parts printed in orange

Packing For Supercon? Here’s A Printable Case For Your Badge

Hackaday Supercon 2023 is a week away, and if you’re still thinking about the equipment you need to take with you, here’s something you’ll want to print – a case for the Supercon 2023 badge that you will find inside of your goodie bag. This year’s Supercon badge is a gorgeous analog playground board we call Vectorscope, powered by an RP2040, MicroPython, and a ton of love for all of the creativity that we’ve seen you bunch express through the wonders of analog electronics. There’s a round LCD screen, SMD buttons galore, as well as some pokey through-hole headers, and if you’ve carried a badge around, you know that all of these can be a bit touchy! You’re in luck, though – just in time, [T.B. Trzepacz] brings us a 3D-printed shell.

Over on Hackaday Discord, we’ve been watching this shell go through multiple iterations throughout the past few days – the initial design pics appeared almost as soon as we published the PCB files for the badge! Yesterday, [T.B. Trzepacz] dropped by the Design Lab where we’ve been putting finishing touches on the badges, and armed with the real-world PCBs, made the final tweaks to the design – then gave us the go-ahead to spread the word.

This shell is practical but elegant and does a mighty fine job protecting both the badge and the wearer. Nothing is hidden away, from the buttons to the expansion headers, and the lanyard holes keep it wearable. At this time, grab the Basic 2 files – these should work for SLA and FDM printers alike, and they’re tolerant enough even for FDM printers below average. Pick your favourite color scheme, or go for one of the transparent SLA resins, and when you arrive at the Supercon, you’ll have a case you can rely on.

Want to give this case your own spin? Perhaps a Pip-Boy aesthetic or a Vectrex console vibe? Should you want to modify anything, the Fusion360 sources are right there, open-source as they ought to be. It’s been a pleasure watching this case design grow, and in case you’re looking to hire a skilled engineer in Berlin, [T.B. Trzepacz] is looking for work!

Simple Badge Is Simple, But It’s Yours

Making conference badges, official or unofficial, has become an art form. It can get pretty serious. #badgelife.

But DEFCON-goers aren’t the only people making fancy personalized nametags. Hams often had callsign badges going back as far as I can remember. Most were made of engraved plastic, but, at some point, it became common to put something like a flashing LED on the top of the engraved antenna tower or maybe something blinking Morse code.

Going back to that simpler time, I wanted to see if I could make my own badge out of easily accessible modules. How easy can it be? Let’s find out. Along the way, we’ll talk about multicore programming, critical sections, namespaces, and jamming images into C++ code. I’ll also show you how to hijack the C preprocessor to create a little scripting language to make the badge easier to configure.

Bottom Line Up Front

The photo shows the Pico badge. It has an RP2040 CPU but not a proper Raspberry Pi Pico. The Waveshare RP2040-Plus clone has a battery connector and charger. It also has a reset button, and this one has 16 MB of flash, but you don’t need that much. The LCD is also a Waveshare product. (This just happened to work out. I bought all of this stuff, and I don’t even know anyone at Waveshare.) The only other thing you need is a USB C cable and a battery with an MX 1.25 connector on it with the correct polarity. Hardware done! Time for software.

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Hackaday Podcast Ep 241: Circuit Bending, Resistor Filing, The Butterfly Keyboard, And The Badge Reveal

Hackaday Editors Elliot Williams and Tom Nardi meet up virtually to talk about the week’s top stories and hacks, such as the fine art of resistor trimming and lessons learned from doing overseas injection molding. They’ll go over circuit bending, self-driving cars, and a solar camera that started as a pandemic project and turned into an obsession. You’ll also hear about Linux on the Arduino, classic ICs etched into slate, and an incredible restoration of one of the most interesting Thinkpads ever made. Stay tuned until the end to hear about a custom USB-C power supply and the long-awaited Hackaday Supercon 2023 Vectorscope badge.

Check out the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Download your own, unlimited-edition MP3 of this week’s podcast.

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2023 Hackaday Supercon Badge: Welcome To The Vectorscope

This year, the Supercon badge goes analog! (Or at least fakes it pretty convincingly.) Taking inspiration from the phosphor scopes of yesteryear, the 2023 Vectorscope badge is part analog audio playground, part art project, and all about prototyping. Who doesn’t like the warm glow and lovely green fade of an old Tektronix tube scope? That’s what we’re after.

Conceptually, the badge is two separate devices in one. Most obvious is the vectorscope, which takes in voltages in the 0 V – 3 V range and plots them out in X-Y mode in glorious fake-phosphor effect on the lovely round IPS screen. We’ve also tied an audio amplifier to the Y input that plays whatever waveform you’re watching.

But you don’t have to bring your own waveforms with you – the other half of the badge is an arbitrary programmable waveform generator that drives two channels. Off the bat, it’s configurable with the front panel controls, so you’re obviously invited to make Lissajous figures and store them in the program memories.

Combining the two halves lets you draw in voltages and time, but not until you connect them together, naturally. You see, this isn’t an analog simulation – it’s the programmable equivalent of the real deal, courtesy of the AK4619 ADC/DAC. Voltages go out on one set of pins and come back in on the other.

And you get to play around with these voltages in through-hole space too, because we’ve included a very generous prototyping board for your analog explorations. Does this instantly suggest a curve tracer to you? Be our guest! Other forms of analog video-mangling? We want to see what you come up with. Make an audio filter and watch it work on the screen in front of your very eyes.

Of course we’re not leaving you code monkeys out in the cold. MicroPython puts the “programming” in the programmable waveform generator. If you’re not content with the four stock waveforms, you’re invited to write your own. And this is where it gets artsy.

You can upload your own repetitive waveforms to the onboard direct digital synth routine, but why stop there? We’ve left most of the processing power of the underlying RP2040 untouched, for you to use. And four buttons on the front panel let you store and play back your code, so you have space to stash your demos, and a sweet joystick with a custom keycap gives you control.

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