Making an indie badge for DEFCON 26

For many years, I have admired the official electronic badges of DEFCON, especially the ones, that push the boundaries and use the PCB production techniques to make little art pieces that people put around their necks and hack on during and after the conference.

A few years ago, I started doing PCBs in weird shapes and playing with the silkscreen for various projects, but this year I decided to push it a bit further and see if I could make an indie badge and bring it to DEFCON and see if people will actually buy it.

I’m from Denmark and similar to Kerry Scharfglass, didn’t wanted to focus on the skulls and that estetic, so I decided to go with a viking themed badge, featuring a long boat and combining it with a few star constallations from the northern night sky.

Viking badge

The electronics are build around the Happy Gecko microcontroller from SiLabs, specifically the EFM32HG322 with 64KB flash. The cool thing about this microcontroller is that it has built in USB that can run without the need of an external crystal and it has a built in voltage regulator, so that things like badges can be made with very few extra components and still make it super easy to update the code on the microcontroler, without the need of a programmer, you just need a micro USB cable.

To make this self updating possible, this badge is using the Geckoboot bootleader, written by esmil, originally for the Bornhack badge last year.

The main firmware on the Viking Badge simply blinks the LEDs a bit. I have tried to experiment a little with a puzzle on this board, but I’m very new to this and it’s probably either way too easy or way too hard… but hopefully I can do better on that next time.

A big thank you to Esmil and KNielsen for helping me out with the firmware on this badge.