Kamehameha!! PCB Badge

PCB Art has surely captivated us over the past few years and we’re ever intrigued with the intricate detail the community puts into their work. We’re no strangers to [Arnov]’s work and he has impressed, yet again, with his Kamehameha PCB badge.

Unfortunately, no 555 timer was used in the making of this project, but don’t let that turn you away. Instead, we have an ATtiny84 microcontroller for implementing the logic to control the LEDs, a MOSFET-based driver for driving current through the LEDs, and, of course, the LEDs to give the “turtle destruction wave” its devastating glow. Pay really close attention to the detail [Arnov] put into the silkscreen as you can see that’s a pretty crucial part of this build.

Aside from marveling at [Arnov]’s work, fans of the OrCAD PCB designing software will learn how to import an image file into their project as [Arnov] walks through that step in his tutorial. He even has some pretty good reflow soldering tips if you’re looking to try your hand at SMD soldering.

Another cool build [Arnov]. Keep it up!

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Star Trek Tap Controller, Take Two

Engineering student and DIY enthusiast [Xasin] thought that the usual ways of controlling various home devices, such as phone apps and web interfaces, were too boring. Instead, he developed the wearable Tap interface which is a cross between a Star Trek comms badge and mobile holo-emitter. The basic idea is to control stuff by tapping the pendant. But things got a little out of hand since this project started two years ago.

[Xasin] began with Tap version 1 back in 2019, and learned all about coding for BLE, making 3D printed cases, and eventually working out all the kinks in the system. Tap v1 used capacitive touch sensing, but the current version detects physical taps using an accelerometer and also can detect gestures. Feature creep along the way brings a sensor array, an array of emotive LEDs, an OLED screen, and a speaker. The whole thing is powered by a dual-core ESP32 Pico MCU. [Xasin] has published his project on GitHub in case you want to explore some of these other features on your own.

The project is only partially up and running because a few critical components are unavailable due to the global parts shortage. But it will soon be able to control smart home devices, such as [Xasin]’s standalone Dragon’s Home smart home system that we wrote about earlier this year. If you want to learn more about tap controlling in general, check out this article from 2018. You can see the Tap introduce itself and its features in the short video below the break.

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The Hackaday Remoticon 2 Badge: An Exercise In Your Own Ingenuity

The twin challenges of the pandemic and now the semiconductor shortage have been particularly hard on the designers of event badges, as events have been cancelled and uncertain supply issues render their task impossible. When an event goes virtual, how do you even¬†start to produce a badge for it? Make the badge and rely on enough stalwarts buying one? Or maybe produce a badge that’s a fancy take on a prototyping board?

For Hackaday Remoticon 2021, [Thomas Flummer] has produced a novel take on the second option by distributing a badge as a set of KiCAD files that can either be ordered from a PCB fab as a prototyping board or used as the canvas for a PCB to use whatever components are to hand. To demonstrate this, he’s produced an example badge that’s a MicroMod carrier.

So if you’d like to chase the full Remoticon experience with a badge there should still be enough time to order a set of boards, but to design your own electronics you’ll need to get a move on. What you might build upon it is up to you, but if you have an ESP32 module lying around you might wish to consider cloning the SHA2017 badge or its successors with the badge.team platform.

We’ve seen Thomas’ work before more than once on these pages, most notably as the man behind the BornHack badges.

Hands-On: BornHack 2020 Badge Has 9×32 Of Bling Fed By CircuitPython

Despite widespread pandemic cancellations, BornHack still happened this year and they even managed to once again bring an electronic badge to all attendees. If you missed it, I’ve already published an overview of the hacker camp itself. Today let’s dig into the 2020 BornHack badge!

Designed by Thomas Flummer and manufactured in Denmark, it takes the form of a PCB in the shape of a roughly 60 degree circular arc with most of its top side taken up by a 9 by 32 array of SMD LEDs. There is the usual 4-way button array and space for an SAO connector on the rest of the front face, while on the rear are a set of GPIO pads and a pair of AA battery holders for power. Connectivity is via USB-C and infra-red, and usefully there is also a power on/off switch.

At the heart of its hardware is a SAMD21G18A ARM Cortex M0+ microcontroller which is perhaps not the most exciting of chips, but the hardware becomes more interesting with the LED drivers. A pair of the IS31FL3731 chips (you may recognise from Brian Benchoff’s Mr. Robot badge) each drive half of the Charliplexed LED array. These versatile chips take the bother of scanning the LED matrix away from the microcontroller with their own internal frame registers fed from an I2C interface. This choice both makes the best use of the relatively meagre microcontroller in this application, and opens the way for the software choice. This badge runs Adafruit’s CircuitPython, and can thus be programmed over the USB connection in the same way as any other CircuitPython board. To test this I put aside my GNU/Linux laptop, and picked up something considerably less versatile to test its ease of use: a Chromebook.


# configure I2C
i2c = busio.I2C(board.SCL, board.SDA)

# turn on LED drivers
sdb = DigitalInOut(board.SDB)
sdb.direction = Direction.OUTPUT
sdb.value = True

# set up the two LED drivers
display = adafruit_is31fl3731.Matrix(i2c, address=0x74)
display2 = adafruit_is31fl3731.Matrix(i2c, address=0x77)

text_to_show = "BornHack 2020 - make clean"

CircuitPython devices mount as a disk drive in which can be found a Python file that can be edited with the code of your choice. The BornHack badge ships with code to display a BornHack banner text, which serves as a quick introduction to the capabilities of its display. It’s noticeable that the text scrolling performance leaves something to be desired, but this microcontroller is hardly one of the more powerful supported by the CircuitPython platform. The Chromebook was happily able to edit the code, though viewing the Python serial console necessitated diving into its Linux virtual machine.

The BornHack badge then, an attractive design that fulfils the aim of being capable and easy to program through its use of the popular CircuitPython platform, and through its decent sized LED matrix and available GPIOs with the chance of seeing a use beyond the camp as a general purpose display/experimentation platform. It may not be the most powerful of badges, but it does its job well. In particular it has achieved the feat missed by so many others, of arriving at the camp fully assembled and with working hardware and software. You can see more about it in Thomas’ badge presentation at the camp (cut from a stream, talk begins at 5:27) which we’ve placed below the break.

We look forward to seeing its influence upon other similar badges. Meanwhile if you are interested, you can compare it with the 2019 BornHack badge which we reviewed last year.

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Hands-On: AND!XOR Unofficial DC28 Badge Embraces The Acrylic Stackup

Still hot from the solder party, a new AND!XOR badge just landed on my desk courtesy of the hacking crew that has been living the #badgelife for the past five years. Originally based on the Futurama character Bender, the design has morphed to the point that it’s no longer recognizable as a descendant of that belligerent robot. Instead we have a skeletal midget whose face is half covered by a gear-themed mask.

At first glance, you might not even notice the character design because you’re too distracted by the beautiful composure of the hardware. This year’s badge includes a double stack-up of acrylic on top of a red circuit-board. Anyone who has used acrylic bezels in a badge design can tell you the cost for material and laser cutting time is significant. In this case the overall aesthetic of the badge is based upon the look of the mirrored gold with the art detail laser etched into the back. It’s a unique bling without even turning the power on. Continue reading “Hands-On: AND!XOR Unofficial DC28 Badge Embraces The Acrylic Stackup”

CampZone 2020 Badge Literally Speaks To Us

The pandemic has left my usual calendar of events in shambles this year. Where I’d have expected to have spent a significant portion of my summer mingling with our wonderful and diverse community worldwide, instead I’m sitting at home cracking open a solitary Club-Mate and listening to muffled techno music while trying to imagine myself in a field somewhere alongside several thousand hackers.

As a knock-on effect of the event cancellations there’s another thing missing this summer, the explosion of creativity in the world of electronic conference badges has faltered. Badges are thin on the ground this year, so the few that have made it to production are to be treasured as reminders that life goes on and there will be another golden summer of hacker camps in the future. This year, the CampZone 2020 badge was given its own voice and perform neat tricks like presenting a programming interface via WebUSB!

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Hands-On: The Pandemic DEF CON Badge Is An Audio Cassette

My DEF CON Safe Mode badge just arrived in the mail this afternoon. The Vegas-based conference which normally hosts around 30,000 attendees every year has moved online in response to the global pandemic, and the virtual event spins up August 6-9. Known for creative badges, North America’s most well-known infosec con has a tick-tock cycle that alternates electronic and non-electronic badges from year to year. During this off-year, the badge is an obscure deprecated media: the audio cassette.

This choice harkens back to the DEF CON 23 badge which was an vinyl record — I have the same problem I did back in 2015… I lack access to playback this archaic medium. Luckily [Grifter] pointed everyone to a dump of the audio contents over at Internet Archive, although knowing how competitive the badge hacking for DEF CON is, I’m skeptical about the reliability of these files. Your best bet is to pull the dust cover off your ’88 Camry and let your own cassette roll in the tape deck. I also wonder if there are different versions of the tape.

But enough speculation, let’s look at what physically comes with the DEF CON 28 badge.

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