GPN 17

Posted on Tue 30 May 2017 in Blog • Tagged with GPN, CCC, Event, Tech, Programming

GPN 2017 was awesome. It inspired a few new projects and breathed passion back into a few dead ones. I will write down some of my ideas here for safe keeping, but first a few highlights of the event.

For those that don't know GPN is a Gulash themed congress organised every year by the Entropia hacker space. It's held in the medium town of Karlsruhe. As such the event is much smaller than most chaos events, with only about 1000 registered attendees this year. This made quite an intimate atmosphere where you really could have in depth conversations with people about their projects. In my experience CCC events feel more like everyone is doing speed dating for their Github profiles.

The headline of the event was the badge, which like other events consisted of a micro controller, screen and some sensors. For me I saw a difference with this badge as the development team from the very start used hardware that encourages hacking. At it's core is an Expressiv ESP8266 with a USB programmer added for good measure. Replacing the firmware should be easy, but I haven't tried yet as it isn't necessary. The Entropia team have provided a ROM store the device can actually access it's self over WiFi making installing apps very easy. The chip it's self is supported by Arduino, and uploading ROMs to the store is (supposed to be) easy.

However the really impressive thing is that all of this was pulled off in 3 months by a couple of students that had never done a production run before. The best part: they managed manufacturing themselves, acquiring a pick and place machine and doing everything except PCB manufacture in house. They are an inspiration to the hacker community in my opinion.

Now I am not sure if it is advertised on this blog or not but I am an active member of the c-base's electronics lab team. What this pair of students pulled off is leaving us feeling a bit embarrassed, which inspired me to suggest we build our own badge for 34C3. The c-base recently finished upgrading its systems to a centralised control system called c-flo. We could build a badge that syncs with this system and allows users to page each other as well as get notifications from the c-base's assembly at congress. Dumb idea? Probably. Moving On...

PixelFlut is a popular game at chaos events, and this year's GPN was no exception. A server was provided with a 10Gb/s fibre connection. This year was my first time taking part in the games, even so in a couple of hours I was able to hack together a competitive python script. That is until several parties started using server clusters in the internet to attack with speeds in excess of the 1GBb/s my laptop's hardware could provide. After threatening to come back next year with server grade NIC's in an external GPU enclosure I realised someone needs to beef up the Server implementation, to be able to handle multiple 10Gb/s clients.

A friend and I are now looking into improving the server side software, and the possibility of an FPGA implementation. I also intend to pack my gaming rig into a rack case and take it as a "PixelFlut Attack Server" to this year's congress. NOC you have been warned.

GPN was also a kick in the teeth that I should finish some of my abandoned projects. L-CAD has not had a commit in over 6 months. I should realistically just man up and write some tests for what I have and prove that the f*cker actually works. PySketch is pretty much done, save a couple of features, however is largely unimpressive; I should probably stop beating a dead horse there.

My Synth project still holds some interest for me, however the whole modular approach might have been a step in the wrong direction, and the NAND core was defiantly a false start. At this point I have come to the conclusion that to make something musically interesting I need to get more experience with the style of instrument I want to make. True or not it is a great excuse to acquire and play around with some synth hardware. Heck maybe I can even compose a track for my Game.

I think that summarises everything interesting for GPN. Everything else that happened is of little relevance to a tech blog. If you want to hear about the rest come find me in person.