Hackers on a Plane – Defcon


This was my first time to Defcon and it was a great time. There are over 7000 people there and there are so many things to do you have to pretty much choose a path and go for it. You could spend all your time in the presentations or participate in the contests and compete for the glory and maybe even the esteemed black badge. There were a few that struck me. The hack the badge contest is for people to hack Joe Grand’s badge. The team that won managed to turn their badge into a frequency analyzer and pump music through it! They sent off to a rapper and had Joe Grand’s poem about the badge made into a rap that rocked. Video by Dan Kaminsky

For the robot contest, Team Octopi won for the second year in a row with their robot. In this contest you make a robot that can shoot 22 targets within two minutes. It’s a head to head double elimination tournament. My team proudly won third place! The video above is a little snapshot of the event!

After Defcon, 38 other hackers and I took a 24 hour journey by plane and bus to go to CCC camp, a huge, once-every-four-years, hacker conference North of Berlin. I’ll update you on that soon!

12 thoughts on “Hackers on a Plane – Defcon

  1. rdarlington says:

    Amplitude meter, not frequency analyzer. I don’t see them whipping out the FFT routines and running them at that speed on those little uC’s.

  2. samurai1200 says:

    Update on the contest! What did team MAKE place?

  3. MeredithPatterson says:

    Yep, it’s just a simple line-level meter — even a 16-bucket FFT, which is all that would really fit on that 5×19 LED matrix, is well beyond the abilities of a microcontroller with only 512 bytes of RAM.

    We seriously considered rigging up an auxiliary processor to do a real equalizer (cannibalize a cheap access point and drop OpenWRT on it), but decided that would be too bulky and not really in the spirit of the contest, so a line-level meter it was.

  4. MeredithPatterson says:

    Also, I was entirely too brainfried while talking to Dan to give shout-outs to the rest of our team, so I’ll do it here. Dustin Cooper, Martin Murray, Tongen and maxinux stuck with us the whole weekend and helped us bang out the code, hook up the ADC input, and figure out how to get the badly-documented USB dongle to actually flash the firmware on the microcontroller.

    The track’s available at http://www.osogato.com/hacks, and there’ll be a pictorial HOWTO up soon, with source code.

  5. rdarlington says:

    It was definitely a cool project. Props to you guys for making the coolest badge at the con. Maybe they’ll add a DSP to next years’ badge so you can do an FFT or even other cool stuff.

  6. joesmooth says:

    Designing this year’s badge and running the badge hacking contest was an absolute blast. I’m honored and humbled by what Team Osogato pulled off in only a few short days (well, 30 hours to be exact!). I’ll have a bunch of details up on my website soon (www.grandideastudio.com), along with pictures, schematics, firmware, development information, and links to the other hacks that were done on the badge. Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest and made it such an amazing event.

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