We're back, and we're pleased you're here.
We're a group of engineers, artists, and programmers in San Francisco. John Adams (@netik) leads this project, along with Bill Paul (firmware engineer), and Egan Hirvela (Game design). We've designed a limited edition electronic conference badge and need your support to produce our devices in time for DEF CON 27, on August 7th
What is this thing?
If you're unfamiliar with electronic conference badges, they are usually some sort of printed circuit board badge that you wear on a lanyard. They're filled with puzzles, easter eggs, and all of cool toys that hackers love. They also act as a development and educational platform, encouraging people to learn about hardware development and manufacturing.
While DEFCON has their own official badge each year, #badgelife groups have been rolling their own badges to show off their skills in a sort of unofficial contest. We like this idea very much.
Over 40,000 people will attend DEFCON this year, and while we can't make a badge for everyone, your support will help us make more badges and guarantee that you get one too.
Best of all, the more badges we make, the cheaper it becomes to make each device. We are increasing our production run to 500 if we can raise enough capital.
Where are we now?
Our first prototype is back from the factory and is shown in the video and images here. Our operating system is up and running, and all features from the radio, to the bling LEDs are working, We're nearly feature complete on the OS, and have a game to write.
Our software and hardware work and we need your support to make it to production.
Badge Hardware Specs
Our board is packed with features! It's a full computer, display, and sound system in a custom bomb-shaped board that's guaranteed to piss off the TSA on the way home.
We've made some serious upgrades since building our first badge in 2017:
- 650mA LDO (3.3v) and charging system
- A new micro controller, the Rigado BMD340 - 64MHz 32-bit ARM® Cortex™-M4F CPU with 1MB Flash & 256kB RAM
- Complete Bluetooth 5.0 and Thread (802.15.4) solution, for badge-to-badge battles!
- ChibiOS real-time operating system
- 24bit/96Khz STEREO Audio driven by the CS4344 DAC and LM4880 200mW Stereo amplifier.
- Two 87dB Speakers (not shown in the current prototype, that's what those wires are for hanging off the board. We're not done, ok?!)
- 320x240 detachable TFT touch screen with Micro-SD port
- 4GB MicroSD card containing our game code
- CP2102 UART - Low cost USB Interface
- JTAG (SWD) programming interface
- 32 RGB LEDS driven by a dedicated I2C LED controller to save battery and CPU. No more heat-busted neo-pixels to deal with!
- Seven tactile 4.2mm buttons arranged in a Joypad with A/B/Enter buttons
- 2000 mAh LiPo battery with full MAX73833 1 Amp USB Charging circuit
- (no more searching all of Vegas for batteries during the con!)
- Surface mount design with limited through-hole parts.
- Many LED pattern modes. Such blinky, so wow.
- LED Dimming so it doesn't blind you.
- Badge to Badge Sea warfare/bombing game with multiple levels and RPG-like attributes. Level up and battle your friends!
- Video playback with synchronized audio (We're seeing around 18 FPS right now on the new code!)
- Digital Audio playback, audio amplifier, and speaker.
- SECRET STUFF
All specifications subject to change at any time based on market/part availability
What makes our badge different?
This is a lightweight system with a long battery life, and the battery itself is rechargeable! You don't have to run around the conference trying to find AA batteries or other strange and rare camera batteries, which many badges run on.
Unlike many badges, this badge is not a collection of random modules stuck together. It's a brand new design, built from the ground up on a single PCB (not counting the screen)
We're also putting ChiBIOS on the board (a real time operating system), and a large SD card for you to place graphics, sounds, or video on. We'll include all of the video and audio conversion scripts for your development use.
What's this game all about? Why a Sea Battle?
We really liked watching people battle each other at DC25. We want to keep that going and thought that a Sea Battle game might be fun, based on your votes on our Twitter account.
The game is full color, with animation, and has been developed by our game designer, Egan, who worked on many AAA game releases. John's writing the software, Bill has done extensive work to bring the board and drivers to life.
The board will also have easter eggs, a crypto puzzle, radio chat system, setup screen, and more. If you access the console via FTDI/USB you might find some more things to play with, but we'll keep that a secret for now!
Can I get the design / HW / SW / Build my own?
Yes! The hardware design (KiCad) and software (in C) will be fully open sourced to the public right after DC27 and will be made available to backers (upon request) prior to DC27 if you really, really want it or want to help.
When can I get one if I contribute to the Kickstarter?
All badges will be available for pickup, at DEFCON, on the 1st day of the conference. We will also ship badges (at your request) at the beginning of July.
So, what's left to do? Can you do it?
The project is on time, and we've done this before. In our day jobs we manage complex projects all the time for major companies. We are solid project managers and we're well on our way.
Once we're settled on the hardware design, we will manufacture as many badges as we can, expecting them to return around June 1 depending on how manufacturing goes. All the while, we will be working on the badge's software, loading it into the final, production badges in mid-June.
We would like to be finished no later than June 15th, with an expected ship date of July 1.
If we reach $30,000, we will create and release a limited edition DC27 challenge coin with custom art work, and give this coin to our backers. (DESIGN TBD) We made one last year and they were pretty great:
The Red Board you see is a Macrofab prototype board. The final boards will be matte black with red soldermask, something like this:
Risks and challenges
For us, the largest risk is that fail to make our manufacturing deadlines and/or that our suppliers in China don't provide parts in time. We must send all designs to Macrofab (Houston, TX) for construction by mid-April 2019. So far, we have been doing well with regards to deadlines.
Our badges are entirely constructed in the United States by Macrofab, but we are dependent on China for the Screen, Battery, and Micro SD cards. Any of these orders could fail. We also cannot predict the failure rate of our constructed boards. We expect this to be as high as 10% or as low as 2%. The last time we made badges we had a serious issue with CPU and Solder-float.
We expect this issue to be greatly minimized because we are now using the BMD340 as a module and we are not directly soldering the CPUs.
Failure rate will increase unit cost, and there will not be an opportunity for a refund if some of our boards or screens fail to work.
A secondary risk is that we fail to write all of our software in time. There is a slim possibly that we could ship with an incomplete or buggy game. If we introduce bugs it will be difficult to fix them at scale and will require re-flashing of badges.
However, as we have a great head start on prototyping, with tested code and solid design, we feel that we can deliver this project on time, and fully tested, before DEFCON27 starts.
Lastly, we have backed campaigns on Kickstarter before. We know people back things and they don't get produced. We offer our badges in a limited quantity to ensure that we can complete the goal we have set out to do. We have day jobs, we are computer scientists and engineers with strong track records of making things happen in the world. This year we are increasing our run to 500 badges, and feel that our experience from DC25 makes it easier to do so and ship the full order.
We are running this project like a business, with spreadsheets, cost analysis, and planning. Lots and lots of planning.
An additional risk is that there may be minor hardware or software problems that we simply won't have the time to work out before the ship date.
You understand that by participating in this Kickstarter that you are buying a piece of untested (beta) hardware. We will make every effort to fix firmware issues before DEFCON. If we find bugs after that, we will open source our changes (and firmware files) for your use.
No Warranty.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (15 days)