DEF CON 24 Uber Badge -- Powered by a Propeller Mini

JonnyMacJonnyMac Posts: 7,006
edited 2016-08-12 - 15:10:26 in Propeller 1
Ryan Clarke, who used to work at Parallax and has been a long-time fixture at DEF CON, asked Rick Galinson to create a very special Uber badge for DC24. If you know DEF CON, the Uber badge is coveted: winning one means entry to the con for life without payment. It's a big deal which is why for 20,000 attendees, there were only 20 Uber badges awarded.

This year is very different. Rick packed in his 30 years of Hollywood special effect experience into a badge that is mostly mechanical -- and it blew away everyone at DEF CON.

Here's picture of the badge:

And here's a video of the inner workings with some test software

Rick had me re-write the final software. We added some creepiness to the extending eyeball pupil, did some color changes, a little Morse Code output from the eyes -- everything was stirred up.

Anyway, the crowd went wild, especially on seeing the tentacle mechanism come out of the eye. During the opening ceremonies Rick had given one to Ryan. During Ryan's comments, DC owner Jeff (The Dark Tangent) Moss arrived. They stepped away from the podium and Ryan showed Jeff the badge. Even though they stepped away from the mic, you would here Jeff exclaim "Holy sh*t!" when he saw it. That made Rick smile a well-deserved smile -- the hours of work that went into the design and fabrication is just staggering.

Congrats to Rick for a fantastic job. DEF CON likes to do things differently, and this was different. He was forced to use every tool in his shop to deliver this badge -- and DEF CON appreciated it.


  • Peter JakackiPeter Jakacki Posts: 9,714
    edited 2016-08-09 - 02:24:16
    Great job guys, deadly cool giz and the exclamations are the real deal kind of feedback that let's you know ya done good. However, the bar has been set now and it's going to take some imagination to better it for next time. btw, would have loved to have seen the video of the finished article all made up (and the reactions).
  • Have a look here:

    and agree, cool and hard to beat
  • That is freaking AWESOME
  • How!??
  • Shawn Lowe wrote: »

    Me to, how is that eyeball on a tentacle done, trade secret maybe.

  • JonnyMacJonnyMac Posts: 7,006
    edited 2016-08-10 - 19:22:15
    Me to, how is that eyeball on a tentacle done, trade secret maybe.

    It's a very clever bit of mechanical engineering by Rick Galinson -- yes, the same guy that created the Propeller-powered paintball mini gun.

    The tentacle is a single, 3D printed piece. The bottom end attaches to a servo horn which causes the retract/extend behavior. Note, though, that the tentacle sticks out further than the badge is deep, so the retraction housing is circular in nature. This means that on retracting we pull the tentacle into a curved shape as it's going in. Of course, we straighten it on the way out. You can see this on the video Rick posted to his Facebook page.

    There are two more servos: one for up/down, the other for left/right. Each servo has two cables per axis; one side pulls while the other relaxes. This is a variation of a cable-controlled tongue mechanism that Rick created for the spitter dinosaurs in the first Jurassic Park movie.

    Have a look at this video -- it may help with understanding how cable mechanisms work, and how they're applied in move props that require organic movement. Please note that these are very "old school" compared to what Rick is doing. His design is elegant, easily scalable, and easy to produce with a decent 3D printer.

    BTW, Rick worked for Stan Winston many times. After Stan passed a few years ago, the shop became known as Legacy Effects. Rick does a lot of projects for them, using the Propeller as often as he can.

  • Found a couple pics on the phone. Fabrication and programming in a hotel room is not ideal, but we made it work. Again, great kudos to Rick for his monumental efforts on this project.
    600 x 800 - 406K
    800 x 600 - 425K
  • Rick also teaches an animatronic servo course based on the BASIC Stamp:
  • Thanks for posting the pics JonnyMac, very intuitive. Makes one want to get in to 3D printing, It is magic.
  • I seen this made it to Parallax's home page, congratulations.
  • Nicely done!!
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