Video Review: AND!XOR DEF CON 26 Badge

The AND!XOR team have somehow managed to outdo themselves once again this year. Their newest unofficial hardware badge for DEF CON 26 just arrived. It’s a delightful creation in hardware, software, and the interactive challenges built into both.

They call this the “Wild West of IoT”, a name that draws from the aesthetic as well as the badge-to-badge communications features. Built on the ESP32-WROVER module which brings both WiFi and Bluetooth to the party, the badges are designed to form a wireless botnet at the conference. Anyone with a badge can work to advance their level and take more and more control of the botnet as they do.

Check out the video overview and then join me below for a deeper dive into all this badge has to offer.

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Stephen Hawking’s Legacy Includes Making His Work Widely Approachable

We are saddened by the passing of physicist Stephen Hawking. One of the great minds of our time, Hawking’s work to apply quantum theory to black holes launched his career and led to his best known theoretical discovery that black holes emit radiation, aptly known as Hawking radiation.

Thinking back on Stephen Hawking’s contributions to humanity, it strikes us that one of his most important is his embrace of pop culture. While his scientific discoveries and writings are what will stand the test of time, in our own age it is remarkable that Stephen Hawking is a household name around the world.

Hawking’s first book, A Brief History of Time, has sold more than 10 million copies and for many readers was their introduction into the way physicists view space and time. It was written for general consumption and not reserved for those who were already bathed in the jargon of theoretical physics. It sent the message that contemplating science is something that is fun to do in your spare time. This work continued with his more recent mini-series Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking created for the Discovery Channel.

A fan of the series, Hawking appeared in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1993 and made subsequent, often repeat, appearances on The SimpsonsFuturama, and The Big Bang Theory. This was great fun for all science geeks who knew of his work, but it has a far more profound effect of normalizing interaction with a world-class scientist. Appearing on these shows told the story that the pursuit of knowledge is cool.

Having scientists in the public light is crucial to research and advancement. It lets the general public know what kind of frontiers are being pursued, and why that matters. This trickles both up and down, inspiring the next generation of scientists by introducing deep topics at an early age, and ensuring funding and opportunities for this upcoming wave of researchers has widespread support.

Stephen Hawking showed us some incredibly complicated secrets of the cosmos both through his discovery, and through his ambassadorship of scientific knowledge. He will be greatly missed but leaves behind an admirable legacy which we can all strive to live up to.

[Main image by Martin Pope via The Telegraph]

Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Alien Autopsy And Jacking On

There’s still a few days left in our sci-fi contest, and unless you really pull out the stops today, it might be too late to get your entry in. Even though the contest is wrapping up, a lot of projects are wrapping things up and posting their finished projects. Here’s a few good ones.

These puns are awesome

chestbursterThe folks at the LVL1 hackerspace had the idea of making a life-sized game of Operation. This plan changed when someone at the hackerspace had the great idea of making it an alien autopsy. The game play remains the same, but this time the puns are awesome.

The play field is a life-sized alien, stuffed with metal-lined holes that set off a buzzer whenever the modified hemostat touches the side. Inside these holes are incredible puns that include, “Farscraped knee”, “Phantom Tentacle”, a “Tattoine removal”, “Jeffries Tuberculosis”, “HALatosis, “Babelfish in the Ear”, and “Grabthar’s Hammertoe”

The hackerspace took their alien autopsy game to the Louisville 2013 Mini Maker Faire where it was a huge hit. We’re thinking some of the puns were a little too obscure for the general population, but the attention to detail is impressive; there’s a 3D print of Pilot from Farscape. Awesome.

Jacking On

jackingon

In the Futurama universe, immoral robots get their fun by “Jacking On”, or supplanting their 6502-based CPUs with a ton of electricity. This is contraindicated by Bender’s operational manual, but a robot needs his fix, right?

[RodolpheH] and [pierrep] are building one of these jack dispensers, but instead of simply supplying a whole lot of electricity through a jack, they’re creating a Raspi-powered wireless audio streaming device. Plug some speakers into the jack, connect to the Raspi, and you’ve got a very cool audio system on your hands.

The team is going all out with the design of their jack dispenser, using random bits of plastic stuff for the enclosure and a USB-powered plasma ball for the top. It impresses random strangers, and that’s the only thing that’s important, right?

Unplayable Holophonor replica is unplayable

holophonor

You won’t find all that many props or homemade replica builds here at Hackaday, but [Harrison Krix’s] work is second to none, and his Futurama Holophonor replica is worth drooling over. [Harrison] sourced an old (and apparently grimy) clarinet from a local thrift store, which he strips clean of its keys and attachments. The body itself receives some subtle modifications from the lathe and epoxy to plug some holes. Custom-spun plastic pieces complete the rest of the body, including the meticulously crafted bell which houses 54 LEDs.

[Harrison] also whips up a breakout board for a mini Arduino Pro with 4 fading and 4 blinking channels, and some custom power supply options for the Holophonor’s base: a scratch-built fiberglass AAA battery holder and optional AC adapter jack. As an added bonus, he’s fitted the Holophonor’s stand with a set of Robot Devil hands that hold it in place. The only video is an illumination test, but it sure is pretty. You can see it below! It looks perfect, but alas is unplayable which actually makes it even more authentic.

The Holophonor is the latest in a slew of work from Volpin Props. You probably remember [Harrison’s] first Daft Punk helmet from a few years back, or the second one that followed shortly after.

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Bendërbrau now a reality

It appears to be 5 o’clock somewhere as everyone seems to have only one thing on their mind. [Simon] set out to make his own Bender Brewer from the television show Futurama. But he made sure to include some key functions from episodes in the series. First and most notable Bender’s stomach contains a beer brewing kit, we think a coffee roaster would have been better, but to each their own.What we hackers love best is the ‘brains‘ of Bender, a 6502 processor controlled via remote to play a selection of 15 random sayings, including the infamous “Bite my shiny metal”, well, you know.

Finally, yes, we do realize this project was started and finished about 2 years ago. We like to think we allowed it time to ferment.

[Thanks Leo]