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[Defcon 18] DC18 Badge Hacking Contest Results

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  • [Defcon 18] DC18 Badge Hacking Contest Results


    The Badge Hacking Contest exists to award the most ingenious, obscure, mischievous, or technologically astounding badge modification created during the weekend and is supposed to be fun and encourage people to try new things and show off their skills. This year we had 21 entries ranging from pure firmware modifications by non-hardware folks to insane hardware creations. The energy in the Hardware Hacking Village during submissions was palpable. Everyone was having a great time showing off their work and seeing what others had done. Hardware hacking at DEFCON has definitely taken on a life of its own!

    The Dark Tangent, Zac Franken, and I reviewed the submissions and selected our favorites, then narrowed down the Top 3 and Honorable Mention from there. There were so many interesting entries and, as with every year, the selection process was not easy. While we'll never be able to please everyone, I think the Top 3 show a great cross section of what can be done with the badge.

    Thanks again to everyone in the HHV and all those who participated in the contest. If you have source code/schematics that you want to share, PM me or contact me via

    I don't know what next year's badge will entail, but I hope to see you all at DEFCON 19!

    Joe Grand aka Kingpin

    DC18 Badge information (schematics, firmware, slides, links to badge hack project files, etc.) can be found on my site here:

    Pictures of the various badges here:

    Pictures of all badge hacking contest entries here:

    And, some videos here (search for "DC18 Badge Hack"):

    1ST PLACE: GoatBar Barcode Writer/Emulator by Brad Threatt
    UPC-A/UPC-E Barcode Writer/Emulator. Take advantage of the self-checkout lines by entering a lower-priced item into your badge using the nice GUI and two buttons, scanning the badge with the laser at checkout, and placing the higher-priced item into your bag.

    2ND PLACE: STD In by Team Redacted
    Virus propagation and social network analysis. Passing "friendly" virus between badges with capability to track propagation path and originator. Also functioned using two DEFCON 17 badges.

    3RD PLACE: The Badge-a-Lyzer by Dan Z.
    Breathalyzer using an alcohol gas sensor to detect alcohol concentration on the user's breath and LCD to display current level of intoxication (Noob, Hacker, Goon). Demonstrated using a sober subject (Dan Z.) and a not-so-sober subject picked randomly out of the Hardware Hacking Village.

    HONORABLE MENTION: Origami Dragon from the Paper Badge by Doug
    Doug's finely crafted origami dragon showed how to make the most of an unfortunate situation (e.g., running out of all 7,780 electronic badges)

    OTHER ENTRIES (in no particular order):

    Personal Oscilloscope
    Uses standard oscilloscope probe and displays the measured voltage level over time on the badge's LCD

    802.3af Power-over-Ethernet power modification

    Team Bashfork :(){:|:&};:
    Dancing Badge w/ Ninja Party Badge Bruteforcer

    Optimized Tomfoolery
    Porn Theater
    Adult-themed slideshow with 4-bit audio generation using resistor ladder

    501d3r Guy and 14rG0 (youngest participant @ 13 years old)
    Long-range TV-B-Gone

    Flash detector & camera jammer w/ UV lights (attempted)

    "Mad Max Bot" sound-controlled robot using DC17 Badge

    Team Tardfest
    XXX Interactive
    Adult-themed game

    Flava Flav Badge
    Segmented image of Flava Flav shown on LCD with bonus image at the end

    Paper badge w/ 7-segment display aka "Short Changed"

    RFID & Barcode Emulator aka "Retail Ripper"
    Two part hack: UPC barcode emulation and 125kHz RFID emulator. Both identifiers set in source code.

    Paper Badge Display aka "Accidental Badge Surplus"

    Red Lambda
    Slot Machine aka "DEFCON Slots"
    What better way to enjoy Vegas (without losing your shirt) than to play slots on your badge? PRNG w/ nice character/graphic set.

    Dustin C.
    Nokia LCD w/ sexy animation

    Coffee/Drink Mixer
    Using transistor and DC motor. LCD screen displays image when drink is properly mixed.

    Sharing of unique IDs between badges over USB. Determines degrees of separation using Bloom filter.

    Brad C.
    "You're Busted" alternating red/blue police lights

    DEFCON Super Rocker 18 Guitar
    Contains a stroboscopic tuner for each string (working) and optical pickups (not fully functioning yet)

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