Welcome to Defcon 17 with Dark Tangent and the Making of & Hacking the DC17 Badge

Presented at DEF CON 17 (2009), July 31, 2009, 10 a.m. (80 minutes)

For the fourth year in a row, the DEF CON Badge makes its appearance as a full-fledged, active electronic system. Pushing fabrication techniques to the limit and using some components that are so new they barely exist, the design of this year's badge took some serious risks. Did they pay off? You be the judge! Every year, there are new problems and experiences to learn from and share. Join Kingpin as he guides you through the entire process of the badge, from initial concept drawings to prototype electronics to firmware design to manufacturing. At last year's Closing Ceremonies, The Dark Tangent deemed the DEF CON Badge Hacking Contest a "black badge" event. Now, hacking the badge can earn you the ultimate in bragging rights. Kingpin will go into detail of the hackable aspects of the DEF CON 17 Badge, including setting up the development environment and using the bootloader to load your own firmware. The goal is to get people up and running faster, so they have more time over the weekend to make the badge do crazy and mischievous things. Not all the secrets of the badge will be revealed, but armed with the knowledge from this talk, you'll have a step up on the competition.


  • Joe Grand / Kingpin as Joe Grand (Kingpin)
    Joe Grand, also known as Kingpin, is an electrical engineer and hardware hacker. He invents things for his company, Grand Idea Studio (www.grandideastudio.com) and has had the honor of designing the DEF CON badge for the past four years. Back in the day, he was a member of L0pht Heavy Industries and, more recently, a co-host of Prototype This!, an engineering entertainment program on Discovery Channel. He's also the sole proprietor of Kingpin Empire (www.kingpinempire.com), a hacker-inspired project that gives back to the computer underground, technology, and health communities through charitable donations.
  • Jeff Moss / The Dark Tangent as The Dark Tangent