The Hacks And Puzzles Of The Hackaday SuperCon Badge


The greatest hardware conference is right around the corner. We would be remiss if the Hackaday SuperConference badge wasn’t the greatest electronic badge in history, and we think we have something special here. We’ve already taken a look at the hardware behind this year’s badge, and now it’s time to take a look at the challenges for this year’s Hackaday SuperCon.

The Puzzles

A conference badge isn’t good unless there are a few puzzles to solve, and the 2016 Hackaday SuperCon badge doesn’t come up short. Hidden behind an accelerometer-based gravity simulation, a moving message display, a Tetris clone, and an infrared communications protocol are a series of five challenges. The first SuperCon attendee to beat the challenge will be awarded a fantastic cash prize of $256 and win the respect of their peers.

We have a lot to draw on for a conference badge puzzle. The most famous, of course, being the DEF CON badges from the great mind of [1O75]. For the last few years, the DEF CON badge has been the greatest example of how to present puzzles and crypto challenges in badge format. These challenges have ranged from phonographs to lanyard Caesar ciphers to x86 firmware hacking.

For this year’s SuperConference badge, we’re doing something a bit different for badge puzzles. The entire puzzle is in an application running on the badge. Details on this application will be revealed on Saturday morning. That doesn’t mean you have to be an embedded mastermind for these puzzles. To win the game, there are four tasks (plus a final one) that you must play on this badge with a 16×8 LED display and four buttons. Hints, of a sort, include Mastermind, Morse, electronics, history, and geography, and more.

All of these puzzles can be solved independently (bring a pen and paper), making badge hacking a group activity. The complete details — as much as we can say — will be revealed during the con, and the first person or team to see the word ‘congratulations’ on their badge will win a great prize and the respect of their peers.

Badge Hacking

Badge puzzles are de rigueur for the conferences we usually attend, but the Hackaday SuperConference is special. Just like last year, we’re going to be putting our own spin on badge hacking with special prizes in the following categories:

  • Most Blinky Badge Hack
  • Most Deadbug Badge Hack
  • Most Over The Top Badge Hack
Sprite_tm's spark gap badge from the 2015 Supercon
Sprite_tm’s spark gap badge from the 2015 SuperCon

If you want to know what we’re looking for in these categories, check out the best badges from last year. We had everything. The badge from last year was simple — just a piece of FR4 — but the attendees from last year covered them in piles of electronics. We had spectrum analyzers, enormous amounts of blinky, and the very beginnings of a Tesla coil badge thanks to [Sprite_tm]’s spark gap and [Radu Motisan] secondary constructed out of Kynar wire and a disassembled relay.

This year, we’re going to be continuing the tradition of the best badge hacks anywhere with three challenges. Build the blinkiest, the deadbuggiest, or the most over the top badge. The best of each will be awarded two hundred and fifty-six dollars.

This year’s Hackaday SuperConference is shaping up to be the greatest hardware con on the planet, and we have the badge to match. The puzzles are great, and we can’t wait to see what the community pulls off for the blinkiest and deadbuggiest badges out there.



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