DEFCON 16 KICKED off once again with a keynote by Joe Grand, aka Kingpin, maker of the Defcon badges for the last 3 years. This time, it was no different, a PCB with a bunch of goodies, and a call to hack.
As usual, there are eighht badges, each a different colour, white for human, green for press, purple for vendors, red for goon, and other colours for speakers, contest, staff and uber. Other than the colour of the PCB, and of course the stencil on the front, all have the same features.
Press, Goon, temp and Kingpin's own badge
The main CPU is a Freescale JM60 microcontroller, generously sold to the Defcon folk at a steep discount by Freescale. The rest of the badge has an IR LED, and IR receiver, an SD card slot, and a bunch of red LEDs for bling. You need bling. All of this is powered by a CR123A battery, and there are blanks for USB and Freescale BDM ports.
As far as speed goes, the JM60 runs at a blistering 12MHz, but if you plug in a USB device, it steps up to 48MHz, the speed of the USB port. The battery life was specced to last for all of Defcon, unlike last year when the coin batteries didn't make it for the long weekend.
Getting back to functionality, where the goodies, like, the fun starts out as soon as you turn it on. The IR LED immediately sends the Sony TV off control 5 or 6 times. From there, there are two modes, send and receive. Send mode has the red LEDs sweep back and forth, revieve has two LED spread apart then come back.
If you have an SD card in the slot, the IR LEDs can send files between the badges at a blistering 711b/sec. You just write protect the one file you want to send, and it sends automagically when something is there to send to. Received files end up on the same card as well. Because of file system constraints, you need to use at least a 32M SD card. They also capped a 128K file size limit to keep people from dying of old age before it is done sending.
If you don't have an SD card in the slot, the receive does all of squat. The send mode however is much more fun. It is a badge sized version of the TV-B-Gone device. Yeah, even though it has a low range, it will turn off most TVs, so bring your badge with you for reasons other than people knowing you go to conventions for fun. This alone is worth almost the price of admission to Defcon.
Should you not like the range, you can prance on over to the Hardware Hacking Village and get a more powerful LED and solder it on. If you don't like the code, or want it to do something abnormal, there is a full copy of Codewarrior on the Defcon CD, time limited. Kudos to Freescale once again for that.
The badges almost didn't happen in time though, and if you look at the picture above, there is a paper backup badge. Because of incompetence by 3M, Chinese customs corruption ($1000 to get parts through customs for no real reason), and the olympics, things almost didn't happen. Couple that with Source Electronics not having the common sense of your average roadkill, and things only got finished on August 4th. In China. Defcon stared on the 8th.
Yes, the badges made it, mostly. A handful made it early, a few more delayed press and speaker registration by an hour, and the rest trickled in throughout Friday and Saturday. They did make it though, mostly due to a lot of yelling on the phone by Kingpin and others.
Everyone got a their badges in the end, and they are cool. TVs across Las Vegas are no longer safe, not to mention what people come up with in the badge hacking contest. Defcon set out to make a functional yet hackable badge, and they succeeded. The fun is only beginning. µ
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