In early summer, a few of us in nearForm realised that an Open Source hackable conference badge inspired by legendary ones like DEF CON, could be the icing on the cake of an already exciting NodeConf EU 2017.

As a long-time fan of Espruino, I immediately contacted Gordon Williams and our small group started throwing around ideas for a JavaScript-centric badge. We very quickly narrowed down the spec to the following:

  • Powered by the same module as the Puck.js, so lots of existing Bluetooth LE and Espruino goodness
  • Run off a CR2032 button battery for multiple days instead of a big bank of AAs
  • Daylight-readable LCD screen (OLEDs too small, ePaper too laggy)
  • Gaming button layout
  • Hexagonal PCB (of course!) with capacitive touch around the corners
  • NFC
  • Prototyping area
  • Looks beautiful

And in no time at all, we had our first prototype:

nodeconf espruino badge prototype

Minimal changes later and the final badge was revealed.
nodeconf espruino badge final

Here is a quick video of it action (many more coming):

We hid everything behind the Konami Code for the big reveal.

In addition to our grand challenge with a big prize, we have a Hacking Lounge and Workshop so attendees can learn how to add LEDs, buzzers, sensors, felt and glitter to their badges.

What can you do with the badge? Lots!

  • Run JavaScript directly on the badge
  • Access a JS REPL over Bluetooth
  • Use a Web IDE inside Chrome or standalone
  • Play Asteroids, Snake, T-Rex , Mario and Flappy Bird
  • Use it as an Etch-a-sketch
  • Use Blockly to write your code graphically
  • Use the extensive body of work that has built up around Espruino
  • Interact with a wide range of Bluetooth Low Energy devices including RGB lightbulbs, sensors and fitness equipment
  • Connect any hardware components you like
  • Act as an iBeacon or Eddystone device
  • Share a URL to an NFC-enabled phone
  • Act as a Bluetooth button connected to your phone or Laptop
  • Use Web Bluetooth to connect to your badge from inside a webpage

The badge is something we hope will live long after NodeConf EU has finished. Please reach out to us on Twitter or Facebook if you do something interesting with yours in the coming weeks and months.

In keeping with our ethos, the badge is Open Source Hardware and the design files are available in the GitHub repo. We encourage you to engage directly with Gordon if you’d like to create a badge for your event.

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