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.

Supercon And Soylent Green

The 2023 Hackaday Supercon is all done and dusted, and we’re still catching up on our sleep. I couldn’t ask everyone, but a great time was had by everyone I talked to. It’s honestly a very special crowd that shows up in Pasadena every November, and it’s really the attendees who make it what it is. We just provide the platform to watch you shine. Thank you all!

It all started out on Friday with an open day of chilling out and badge experimentation. Well, chill for those of you who didn’t have a bug in their badge code, anyway. But thanks to some very keen observation and fantastic bug reports by attendees, Al and I figured out what we’d done and pushed a fix out to all 300 of the badges that were given out on the first day. And thanks to the remaining 200 folks who walked in the next day, who fixed their own badges at Tom’s Flashing Station.

From then on, it was one great talk after another, punctuated by badge hacks and all the other crazy stuff that people brought along with them to show off. For me, one of the highlights was on Sunday morning, as the Lightning Talks gave people who were there a chance to get up and talk about whatever for seven minutes. And subjects ranged from a mad explosive propane balloon party, to Scotty Allen’s experience with a bad concussion and how he recovered, to a deep dive into the world of LED strands and soft sculptures from our go-to guru of blinkiness, Debra [Geek Mom] Ansell.

Supercon first-timer Katie [Smalls] Connell gave a phenomenal talk about her wearable LED art things, Spritelights. These are far from simple art pieces, being a combination of medical adhesive, home-mixed Galinstan – a metal alloy that stays flexible at human body temperature, and soon even flexible printed batteries. That this whole project hit us without warning from out of the audience just made it more impressive.

And these were just the folks who stepped up on stage. The true story of Supercon also belongs to all the smaller conversations and personal demos taking place in the alley or by the coffee stand. Who knows how many great ideas were hatched, or at least seeds planted?

So as always, thank you all for coming and bringing your passions along with. Just like Soylent Green, Supercon is made of people, and it wouldn’t be half as yummy without you. See you all next year. And if you’re thinking of joining us, get your tickets early and/or submit a talk proposal when the time comes around. You won’t meet a more warm and welcoming bunch of nerds anywhere.

Supercon 2023 Is On: Live

Supercon is in full swing! If you weren’t able to join us in person, we’re streaming the main stage and you should absolutely check out the talks as they happen.

The full schedule is here, and you’ll find all the streams over on our YouTube channel. Come join in the fun.

For those of you are here with us in Pasadena, we’ve got a signup form for anyone who wants to submit a Lightening Talk for Sunday.

Hint: absolutely don’t miss Cory Doctorow’s keynote speech, taking place at 10:00 AM Pacific.

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!

2023 Hackaday Supercon: Cory Doctorow Signs On As Keynote Speaker

As if you weren’t already excited enough about the speakers and events that will be part of this year’s Hackaday Supercon, today we can finally reveal that journalist, activist, author, technologist, and all around geek Cory Doctorow will be presenting the keynote address on Saturday morning.

Cory has always been an outspoken supporter of digital freedom, from helping develop OpenCola in 2001 as a way to explain the concepts behind free and open source software, to his more recent work at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He’s made his novels available for purchase directly from his personal website in DRM-free file formats, and he’s even developed a habit of releasing some of them for free under the Creative Commons license. The hacker ethos is strong with this one.

Over the last year, he’s been particularly vocal about what he calls Enshittification — the inevitable decay of any online service where the users are, whether they realize it or not, the product. It’s a concept that’s perfectly exemplified by the ongoing slow-motion implosion of Twitter, and Reddit’s increasingly hostile treatment of its community. Cory explains that one of the signposts on this particular journey is when user-created tools, such as web scrapers or bots, are banned by the powers that be. Reverse engineering, especially when it can uncover a way out of the Walled Garden, is strictly forbidden.

Luckily, there’s a way out. Cory will be delivering his talk An Audacious Plan to Halt the Internet’s Enshittification and Throw It Into Reverse, not only to those who will be physically attending Supercon, but to the entire Hackaday community via our live YouTube stream of the event. It’s a presentation that’s critically important to an audience such as ours — while nearly anyone with an Internet connection can appreciate the problem he’s describing, hackers and makers are in a unique position to actually do something about it. Following the principles Cory will detail in his talk, we can build services and networks that actually respect their users rather than treating them like the enemy.

It Won’t Be Long Now

By the time this post hits the front page of Hackaday, there will be slightly more than a week to go before several hundred of our best friends descend on the city of Pasadena for Supercon. We recently unveiled the Vectorscope badge, dropped two posts listing off all of this year’s presenters, and offered up a list of fascinating workshops. The stage is now officially set for what we consider, as humbly as possible, to be the greatest gathering of hardware hackers, builders, engineers, and enthusiasts in the world. Check out the schedule and plan your Supercon ahead of time.

Tickets for the 2023 Hackaday Supercon are, perhaps unsurprisingly, completely sold out. But you can still add your name to the wait list on Eventbrite, which will put you in the running to grab any returned tickets should somebody have to back out at the last minute. Failing that, there’s always 2024.

Featured Image: Copyright Julia Galdo and Cody Cloud (JUCO),, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Eternal Dilemma

It’s two weeks until Supercon! We can almost smell the solder from here. If you’re coming, and especially if it’s your first time, you’re soon to be faced with the eternal dilemma of hacker cons, only at Supercon it’s maybe a trilemma or even a quadralemma: hang out with folks, work on the badge, go to talks, or show off all the cool stuff you’ve been working on the past year?

Why not all four? That’s exactly why we start off with a chill-out day on Friday, when we don’t have much formally planned. Sure, there’s a party Friday night, and maybe a badge talk or some workshops, but honestly you’ll have most of the day free. Ease into it. Have a look at the badge and start brainstorming. Meet some new people and start up a team. Or just bathe in the tremendous geekery of it all. This is also a great time to show off a small project that you brought along. Having the widget that you poured brain, sweat, and tears into sitting on the table next to you is the perfect hacker icebreaker.

On Saturday and Sunday, there will definitely be talks that you’ll want to attend, so scope that out ahead of time and plan those in. But don’t feel like you have to go to all of them, either. Most of the talks will be online, either right away or eventually, so you won’t miss out forever. But since our speakers are putting their own work out there, if you’re interested in the subject, having questions or insight about their talk is a surefire way to strike up a good conversation later on, and that’s something you can’t do online. So plan in a few talks, too.

You’ll find that the time flies by, but don’t feel like you have to do it all either. Ask others what the coolest thing they’ve seen is. Sample as much as you can, but it’s not Pokemon – you can’t catch it all.

See you in two weeks!

(PS: The art is recycled from a Supercon long, long ago. I thought it was too nice to never see it again.)

2023 Hackaday Supercon: The Rest Of The Talks

The 2023 Hackaday Superconference is only two weeks away, and we’re happy to announce the second half of the slate. As always, this is a great mix of well-known Hackaday faces, and folks we haven’t yet met. Whether they’re fixing up the Apollo Guidance Computer, building their own airplanes, trapping rubidium atoms, or teaching robots to sail, this is another super interesting round of talks.

Tickets are sold out, the badges are almost done, and we’re in the home stretch! We can smell the tacos from here. If you’re joining us, we hope you’re excited. If you’re not able to, we’ll stream as much as we can.

All that remains is the mystery of the keynote speaker.  Stay tuned! Continue reading “2023 Hackaday Supercon: The Rest Of The Talks”