THOTCON Badge Hacking Contest Begins!

We’ve all had a full week to recover from the THOTCON and B-sides activity here in Chicago and it is time to get back to hacking.    The badge that was distributed to THOTCON attendees was designed to be hacked and reused in your projects. In the spirit of badge hacking we’d like to announce our first badge hacking contest for the attendees of THOTCON 0x4.

The contest will start today and will run until 11:59 pm CT on Monday, May 27th 2013.

The rules are simple: In hacking there are no rules.

Although there are no rules your submission must be reproducible and should include:

  1. Video Demonstration of your Badge Hack
  2. Any applicable schematics for your hack
  3. Any code and compile instructions

In the interest of collaborative learning any requested information about the badge for the purpose of the contest will be shared with other contest participants. All contest submissions will also be archived on the official badge website.

There will be several categories we will judge against, you’re automatically entered to each category:

  • Best overall badge hack (make us say uhh!)
  • Most hackerish hack (what can you hack with the badge?)
  • Most unorthodox hack (does your badge now dispense cat food?)
  • People’s choice (the tubez chuze)

The prizes will be notoriety and some 3D printed randomness courtesy of the badge crew at Workshop 88.

The astute observer will notice that the pin outs on the side of the board fit the Arduino footprint for access to many of the ATMEGA128RFA1’s peripheral systems and compatibility with most Arduino shields.  The badge can be easily reprogrammed  via the unpopulated ICSP header with (at least) the following methods:

If you’re looking to hack your badge over and over again we have a few left over prototyping kits we were selling during the con and you can get them for $20 plus shipping by emailing us here. 

These include all the prototype rails and headers you need to use arduino shields  plus the passive components necessary to power the badge from a wall wart or other external supply.  The power system components are not necessary to reprogram or hack the chip.

Register here for the contest!



‘Twas the night before Thotcon…

Pics on FlickrHere are some pictures from the space the night before Thotcon.  Quite a few of the boards had been poorly soldered during manufacturing, and we had to do hot-air rework on them to get them to work.  Rudy was the hot-air magic man, but there were a bunch of people working to process all the badges.

Badges unveiled

A project that’s been going on at W88 for the past four or five months went public yesterday. We’ve been designing, prototyping and programming a PC board to be used as a conference badge at Thotcon 0x4, Chicago’s hacking conference. Yesterday around seven hundred badges were passed out to conference attendees, each badge having an Atmel processor, LED array, and 2.4 GHz transceiver. The badges were able to process location checkins from beacons throughout the room, display messages from the organizers, and report their own id to the network. Since the board includes the Atmel ATMega128RFA1 processor and an Arduino compatible form factor, the badges can be reused for many Arduino projects.
This was a big project for us, requiring a lot of late nights and a lot of learning. For the team, It’s the first W88 production board, the first experience with 2.4GHz networking, first double sided prototype, first time using a QFN processor package (with luck, also the last), first reflow rework experience – though we thought it could be done, there were many challenges. Not only did we get it done on time within planned cost, we had a lot of fun doing it.


Exploring the parts bin

Workshop88 has been the recipient of lots of donated electronic parts. An effort of an hour a week or so over the last several months to sort through them is starting to show some results, so some random jottings on what’s back in the lab seem useful.
An awful lot of resistors are back there. If anyone needs virtually any value of 1/8th watt thru hole resistor you can probably find it, along with a pretty full set of surface mount resistors. There are also some larger wattage resistors, though they’re not as sorted out.
The thru hole or breadboard LED supply is also well stocked. Many colors and several sizes are back there.
One useful looking find last night was a half dozen PIC processors, PIC16C745. These have built in low speed USB, so they could be used in any project that needs a USB port to control or monitor something else. While not the latest part, at least they’re from this millennium.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on what’s available in the electronics bins for members. While most of what’s there is far from leading edge, for breadboarding purposes it’s ideal. One project that Jim and I have discussed is to have a simple PCB manufacture setup right in the room, so that an idea could go from concept to populated board in a couple of hours.

Designing and making your own Halloween costume – Base Mesh

In this article we’ll discuss using your character turnaround to create a base mesh. While I won’t be explaining in detail how to use Blender – that’s beyond the scope of my experience – I will be introducing important terms and concepts that you can then use to find more knowledgable sources of information. So let’s get started.

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Volunteering for Quest Academy

The Quest Academy in Palatine is opening an “Innovation Center” next year that will include a 3D printer for the kids to use. Vinnie Vrotny, director of academic technology, asked Workshop88 to bring a couple 3D printers to a benefit event last evening. Proceeds of the event will help fund the center.
I brought the MakerBot Cupcake up to Hoffman Estates. I’d pictured a junior high gym as a venue – in fact the benefit was at a pretty upscale banquet hall. Initially I thought that jeans and hiking boots might not be suitable among the tuxedos and gowns, but I think our demo was very successful. Lots of people stopped for lengthy conversations, and were quite interested in the tech. It didn’t hurt that the printers were right next to the open bar.
We should keep some open contacts with the school, as some of our aims match well with theirs.

Designing and making your own Halloween costume – Planning

Welcome back! So you’re interested in making you’re own custom Halloween costume. If you weren’t able to find some Pepakura models already created, you’re going to need to design and model it yourself. Unless you’re an amazing sculpter who can imagine a great 3d object in empty space, you’re going to want some type of 2d references to work from. Doing some prep work up front can save you a lot of time down the road.

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Welcome, Hackaday readers!

Hey, we’re featured on hackaday today!

If you’re a hackaday reader just learning about Workshop 88, please feel free to connect with us online:

Email list – join our  Google group – You must subscribe to this to see the messages. (We approve everyone who is not a spambot.)

Twitter – Follow @Workshop88

Facebook – like us on Facebook

Meetup – If you are local to the the Chicago area, follow our schedule of all we do at our Meetup page.

Designing and making your own Halloween costume – Introduction

Hi there! I’m relatively new to W88 and was asked to blog a little bit about some things I have going. I have an Arduino sensor project I’ll be writing about later as it gets a little further along, but seeing as Halloween is right around the corner, I thought I’d start with designing and creating your own Halloween costume.

The design I’m going to be shooting for will be made out of EVA foam and should be relatively inexpensive, pretty durable, easy to work with, and not require a whole lot of tools. However, I’ve never done this before so these posts may just be a documentary of my crashing and burning.

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