Mustachioed Nintendo Virtual Boy Gone Augmented Reality

Some people just want to watch the world burn. Others want to spread peace, joy and mustaches. [Joe Grand] falls into the latter group this time around. His latest creation is Mustache Mayhem, a hack, video game, and art project all rolled into one. This is a bit of a change from deconstructing circuit boards or designing electronic badges, but not completely new for [Joe], who wrote SCSIcide and Ultra SCSIcide for the Atari 2600 back in the early 2000’s.

Mustache Mayhem is built into a Nintendo Virtual Boy housing. The Virtual Boy itself was broken, and unfortunately was beyond repair. [Joe] removed most of the stock electronics and added a BeagleBone Black, Logitech C920 webcam, an LCD screen and some custom electronics. He kept the original audio amplifier, speakers, and controller connector. Angstrom Linux boots into [Joe’s] software, which uses OpenCV to detect faces and overlay mustaches. Gameplay is simple: Point the console at one or more faces. If you see a mustache, press the A button on the controller! The more faces and mustaches on-screen at once, the more points, or “mojo” the player gets. The code is up on Github, and can be built with Xcode targeted to the Mac, or directly on the BeagleBone Black.

[Joe’s] goal for the project was to make a ridiculous game that looks like it could have come out in the 90’s. He also used Mustache Mayhem as a fun way to learn some new skills which will come in handy for more serious projects in the future.

We caught up with [Joe] for a quick interview about his new creation.

How did you come up with the idea for Mustache Mayhem?

blockI was selling a bunch of my video game collection at PRGE (Portland Retro Gaming Expo) a few years ago and had a broken Virtual Boy that no one bought. A friend of mine was at the table and said I had to do something with it. I thought “People wear cosplay and walk around at conventions, so what if I could do something with the Virtual Boy that you could walk around with?” That was the seed.

A few months later, Texas Instruments sent me the original production release of the BeagleBone Black (rev. A5A). Eighteen months after that I actually started the project. The catalyst was to do something for an upcoming Portland, OR art show (Byte Me 4.0), which is an annual event that shows off interactive technology-based artwork. I wrote up a little description and got accepted. I had less than 2 months to actually get things working and it ended up taking about a month of full-time work. It was much more work than I expected for such a silly project. I originally was going to do something along the lines of walking around in a Doom-like perspective and shooting people when their faces were detected.

That would be pretty darn cool. How did you get from Doom to Mustaches? 

I saw a TI BeagleBoard demo called “boothstache” which drew mustaches on faces and tweeted the pictures. I thought that doing something non-violent with mustaches would be more suitable (and funny) to actually show my kids. I also secretly wanted to use this project as a way to experiment with Linux, write some code, and learn about face detection and image processing with OpenCV, which I plan to use for some actual computer security research in the future. Mustache Mayhem turned out to be a super cool project and I’m really happy with it. I sort of feel guilty spending so much time on it, since it’s basically just a one-off prototype, but I just got so obsessed with making it exactly as I wanted.

You mentioned on your website that Mustache was “designed to challenge the paradigms of personal privacy and entertainment.” What exactly did you mean there?

Continue reading “Mustachioed Nintendo Virtual Boy Gone Augmented Reality”

BSoDomizer blue-screens your enemies

In case you were wondering what industrious hacker [Joe Grand] was doing when he’s not building stuff for Prototype This!, designing Defcon badges, or testifying before congress, it’s this: The BSoDomizer is a VGA pass through device that displays an image of your choice on the victim’s screen. It can do this either periodically or via an IR trigger. The image of choice is a Windows style Blue Screen of Death. It’s powered by a watch battery. The project site has all the schematics you need plus ASCII goatse imagery; you’ve been warned. Embedded below is a demo of the device. We unfortunately didn’t get to see it when it was originally presented during Defcon 16. Continue reading “BSoDomizer blue-screens your enemies”

Prototype This premiers tomorrow

Discovery Channel’s new show Prototype This premiers tomorrow night at 10e/p. Every week the team will construct a new piece of unique machinery. The schedule for the first six episodes has already been published.

  • Mind Controlled Car, October 15
  • Boxing Robots, October 22
  • Traffic Busting Truck, October 29
  • Get Up and Go, November 5
  • Waterslide Simulator, November 12
  • Six-Legged All Terrain Vehicle, November 19

We initially reported on the show in August because it featured Defcon badge designer [Joe Grand].

UPDATE: [Joe] will be posting all of his schematics, source code, development notes, etc.

New Discovery Channel show starring hackers


A new Discovery Channel show titled Prototype This! will debut on October 15, 2008. Hoping to capture the same demographic as Mythbusters‘ audience, the show is about designing and creating robots, gadgets, and other things that nerds will love. Prototype This! is hosted by four wide-ranging experts: [Zoz Brooks], who’s got a PhD in robotics, [Mike North], who also has a PhD, in material sciences, [Terry Sandin], a special effects veteran of the Hollywood film industry, and [Joe Grand], who we’ve covered recently for his Defcon badge work. [Daniel Terdiman]’s glimpse behind the scenes reveals some interesting projects, from a stair-climbing robot to the creation of a pyro pack. We’ll be sure to set our DVRs to record.

[via Zero Day]

Defcon 16: Badge details released


Defcon will once again be one-upping the sophistication of the conference attendee badges. Wired has just published a preview of this year’s badge. The core is a Freescale Flexis MC9S08JM60 processor. The badge has an IR transmitter and receiver on the front plus eight status LEDs. On the back (pictured below), there is a mode select button, CR123A battery, Data Matrix barcode, and an SD card slot. You can add a USB port to the badge and upload code to it using the built in USB bootloader. All the dev tools needed will be included on the conference CD or you can download the IDE in advance. The low barrier to entry should lead to some interesting hacks. In previous years, you needed a special dongle to program the hardware. There is no indication as to what the badge does out of the box. Releasing the badge early is a first for Defcon and the one pictured isn’t the attendee color, but we’re sure someone will still come up with a clone.

Now comes the fun part: What do you think the best use of this badge will be? Would Defcon be so cavalier as to equip everyone in the conference with a TV-B-Gone? I think our favorite possibility is if someone finds a security hole and manages to write an IR based worm to take over all the badges.

Defcon 14 introduced the first electronic badge which blinked in different patterns. Defcon 15 had a 95 LED scrolling marquee. [Joe Grand] will be posting more specific Defcon 16 badge details to his site after the opening ceremony. Check out more high resolution photos on Wired.

Continue reading “Defcon 16: Badge details released”

Defcon badge hacking contest


[Joe Grand] is designing the Defcon badges for the third year in a row. Just like the previous years, they’ll be hosting a badge hacking contest. This time around though, they’re going to start leaking clues in advance. Earlier contests were often frustrating because of the specialized equipment needed to talk to the microcontroller. Hopefully this year it will be a lot more accesible. The specs for the badge have not been released yet, but after last year’s 95 LED scrolling marque, we can’t wait to see what this year will bring. [Joe] has posted info on the previous two badge designs and resulting contests.