We’re still coming off the Hackaday Belgrade conference right now. If you were there, you know it was the greatest hardware conference ever. If you weren’t there, you missed out. Sorry. (Make sure you get in on the Hackaday Superconference in November.)
One of the many highlights of the Belgrade conference was, of course, the badge. The 2018 Hackaday Belgrade Badge is a masterpiece of hardware with a 55-key keyboard, RGB TFT LED, speaker, and a BASIC interpreter.
This badge is a masterpiece of electronic design by Voja Antonic. Just to take one small example from the design, check out the placement of the buttons. Think the slightly rotated buttons that make up the keyboard is only a stylistic choice? It’s not; by carefully rotating each button, the legs of each switch can fit in between each other. It’s brilliant.
Starting hardware this good, adding amazing software by Jaromir Sukuba to bring it to life, and distributing a badge to each hacker through the door is the perfect recipe for some amazing hacks. What were the best badge hacking tricks we saw at the 2018 Hackaday Belgrade conference? Check out the video of the badge hacking ceremonies and then join us below for a few of our favorites.
After this Spring’s Bay Area Maker Faire closed down for Saturday night and kicked everybody out, the fun moved on to O’Neill’s Irish Pub where Hackaday and Tindie held our fifth annual meetup for fellow Maker Faire attendees. How do we find like-minded hackers in a crowded bar? It’s easy: look for tables lit by LEDs and say hello. It was impossible to see everything people had brought, but here are a few interesting samples.
The security conference LayerOne 2018 took place this past weekend in Pasadena, California. A schedule conflict meant most of our crew was at Hackaday Belgrade but I went to LayerOne to check it out as a first-time attendee. It was a weekend full of deciphering an enigmatic badge, hands-on learning about physical security, admiring impressive demos, and building a crappy robot.
The Hackaday Superconference was last weekend, and it was the greatest hardware con on the planet. What can you build out of a conference badge? If you answered “a resin-based 3D printer” you would have won a prize. If you decided to put your badge in a conference water bottle and make a stun gun you’d receive adoration of all in attendance. Yeah, it got that crazy.
At other tech conferences, you’ll find gaggles of nerds sitting around a table with MacBooks and Thinkpads. The Superconference is different. Here, you’ll find soldering irons, tackle boxes filled with components, and loose WS2812s scattered about the floor. The smell of solder flux wafts through the air. You detect a hint of ozone.
The depth and breadth of hacks that came out of this were simply stunning. We a binocular virtual reality hack, an internet trolling badge, blinky add-on boards, audio add-on boards, a film festival was shot on the badge, and much more which you’ll find below.
We have started a Badge Hacks list and want to see details of all of the hacks. So if you were at Supercon be sure to publish them on Hackaday.io and send a DM to be added to the list.
Starting Up An Extra Day of Hacking
To get all of this creativity rolling we did something a bit different for this year’s Superconference. Instead of opening the doors up on Saturday morning, we set up a badge hacking area and party on Friday afternoon. The drinks flowed like the meniscus on a properly soldered lead, and by 2pm on Friday, everyone was hacking firmware on the incredible camera badge for this year’s con.
We didn’t stop on Friday. The Superconference is a hardware hacking conference, and that meant we brought out the soldering irons, experimented with melting aluminum with gallium, reflowed a few boards, and created a few deadbug LED cubes. This went on all weekend.
The hardware badge Mike Harrison designed for this year’s Hackaday Superconference is begging to be hacked. Today, I wanted to help get you up and running quickly.
The Hacker Village atmosphere of Supercon is starting up a day early this year. On Friday, November 10th badge pick-up starts at noon and badge hacking continues throughout the afternoon, followed by a party at Supplyframe HQ that evening. Plan to get to town on Friday and join in the fun. Of course, you need to grab a Supercon ticket if you haven’t already.
What do you do when your keenly anticipated hacker camp releases details of its upcoming badge and you really want to have a go at coding for it, but there are no badges for you to try yet? If you are [Artdanion], this is not a problem, you simply build your own.
He found his requirement to interface with genuine hardware exceeded the abilities of the emulator that the SHACamp 2017 badge team had thoughtfully provided, so he reached for breakout boards for the ESP32, the MPR121 touch sensor, and the e-ink display, and assembled his own clone on a piece of stripboard. Not only did it provide him with enough to develop his own apps, he found when he brought it to the event that the public release of the official firmware ran on it with only a few configuration tweaks. He had an official event badge, that wasn’t the event badge. Is this the first time this has been done? We think it might be.
The home-made badge is an impressive piece of work, but it ties into an observation we made at the end of our review of the official version of the SHA2017 badge. The use of an ESP32 with well-designed peripherals and a solid firmware means that this is a design that is likely to form the bedrock upon which some future badges are built. [Artdanion] has proved how straightforward it is to clone, we’d like to be so bold as to make the prediction that we’ll see more developments of this platform at future events. Meanwhile this home-made badge is a neat achievement, and we can only imagine the surprise of the SHA2017 badge team on being presented with a clone of their work for reflashing.
It’s that excellent time of year in which one slowly comes to the realisation that the summer’s eagerly anticipated events are now no longer at some impossibly distant point in the future, but in fact only a matter of a few months or even weeks away. For our European readers, this means that August’s SHA2017 hacker camp is appearing on the horizon, four days of outdoor technological indulgence for our community in a scout camp on the Dutch polders.
As it is a tradition of such events to have an electronic badge incorporating ever more impressive levels of computing power, it follows that the pre-production announcement of an event badge has become an important milestone in the countdown to the day. SHA2017 is no exception, and thus today we see the announcement of their take on the essentials for a hacker camp badge in 2017.
The most immediately obvious thing about the badge is its 296×128 pixel e-ink display, which should provide an immediate benefit in terms of battery life. There are the usual plethora of interfaces, GPIOs, USB, and Neopixels, and the user input is via a set of capacitive buttons. Powering the device is an ESP32, and a key design goal was to have a network for the badges that does not put pressure on the 2.4GHz infrastructure. We’re guessing they’re doing this using raw WiFi packets in the same way as the MAGfest swadge. On the software front it will provide a straightforward development route via MicroPython, and there will be an app library for those without the inclination to code their own. You can get an early look at the schematic from the project repo (PDF).
Their target is to have the badge ready and with stable software on day 1 of the event, a laudable aim if they can manage it.
Members of the Hackaday team will be making the trip to the Netherlands for SHA2017, we look forward to seeing you if you attend too, and please show us anything interesting you do with your badges! Keep your eyes peeled for the Jolly Wrench, and come say hello. You’ll find me with the OxHack contingent and giving a talk on the kit biz which I have also published in the Project to Kit series of articles.
We’ve covered so many badges here at Hackaday that we could almost serve of a retrospective exhibition of the art form. Of particular interest to us though is our own [Voja Antonic]’s badge for last year’s Hackaday SuperConference.