About one month before Boilermake VI we learned that we would be able to sponsor
the event. At this point our conveyor kit was still a work in progress and not
ready to use for the hackathon. We knew that we would need to have some hardware
to for people to work with so we decided to create our own hardware badge.
If you don’t know already, a badge in this context refers to a “hackable” piece
of custom hardware. These badges are often created and sold at hacking conferences
such as Defcon.
After we laid out a rough design of what we wanted in the badge, we
started designing the pcb using CAD. For this badge we used a program called Kicad
which is free and open-source. In this program we first created a schematic of board, assigned each of the symbols a footprint, and placed all of these footprints on a pcb.
After review, we plotted this design and submitted
it to PCBWay to be milled into the individual boards.
It took me about a week of dedicated soldering to assemble all 20 of the boards.
I found the most efficient method of soldering to be to pick a single component and
solder them to all of the boards before moving on to the next component.
Another feature of these badges is that they often have a challenge
to go with them that requires the user “hack” the badge in some way for the answer.
This could be completing a game, solving a puzzle, or a technical challenge relating
to the hardware in the badge. In the upcoming weeks before Boilermake we created
a challenge that contained three smaller puzzles that could be solved through the
use of our guides:
For the first challenge they would need to plug the badge into their computer and
open a REPL for it. When buttons are pressed they would see a repeating list of characters
appear. These characters correspond to the different buttons on the board that can
be entered as a code. In the Morse code challenge, an LED would blink in morse code
characters that correspond to button presses. The last challenge was a game of Snake
where the user needs to score 15 to win.
Overall the hackathon was a great success for us. We learned a lot about what we
can do to improve our guides and hardware. We had over 10 people try out our hardware
and we had two winners of the our badge challenge described above. We later sponsored
Madhacks and a group win our best use of the Boilerboard challenge as well. You can
see their project here.
Kraft, Caleb. “Badgelife: Where Art And Electrical Engineering Collide | Make:” Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers, Make: Projects, 24 Aug. 2018, makezine.com/2018/08/24/badgelife-where-art-and-electrical-engineering-collide/. Link