One of my favorite projects that I’ve been a part of over the past few years.  I wish I could take more credit for it. The big design props go to friends, and collaborators, John “Parts” Taylor, and JoeJoe The Clown for this one.

We created  50 laser cut wood bento boxes and sent them to a small select group of Hackerspaces, Universities, Engineers, and other really really smart people.   Each box had a circuit board, jumpers, and some other fun stuff (like a Nintendo controller).

Each box was wrapped in butcher paper, and sent unsolicited.  When folks received the boxes, there were no instructions, only the circuit board which connected via USB.   Once plugged in the board revealed a series of hacking challenges, which had to be solved in order in unlock the next clue, which eventually led to a event invitation.  Discovering the Easter Eggs became it’s own contest (to the best of my knowledge I3 Detroit, was the only one to do so).

The puzzle pieces were partially trivia, mostly hardware hacking, and had lots of fun cultural references thrown in.  My favorite parts were achieved through incorporating a Uzebox chip (an open sourced gaming platform), which allowed JoeJoe to design multiple 8-bit environments capable of rick-rolling people, and opening secret rooms by keying the Konami Contra code on the NES controller.  It could also be re-flashed to play PacMan (which a lot of folks did).

 

 

HERE IS A LIST OF THE ORIGINAL MECHANICS:
-ON THE THUMB DRIVE

1. ENCRYPTED FILE AND CLUE FILE

1.1 CLUE.TXT file = “He might have enlisted Bletchly Park to un-encrypt that file, but you’ve got what it takes. Think about his words that have been reused in everything from The Simpsons to Oliver Stone’s JFK.  It definitely isn’t William Morose.”

1.2. ENCRYPTED.CPY contains a zip file

README.TXT
INVITATION_URL.CPY

1.3. README.TXT = “That first one was a soft lob, but this is a formal invitation to hack.  In this circuit board are several easter eggs.  Tell us what you’ve found when you finally unlock the invitation…

1.4. INVITATION_URL.CPY contains the pre-event url.  The password on this file is unique for each device.

-ON THE RED BULL CIRCUIT BOARD

2. UZEBOX (Open Source Design 8-Bit Game Console-built onto board)

2.1 Once they solder on the composite video and audio RCA jacks, they will see an 8-bit logo and hear a midi-tastic version of “Never Gonna Let You Down” with text that says “GOTCHYA!  NOW THINK CONTRA-DICTORY.”

2.2. If they solder up the NES controller jack and go find an old controller, and they happen to enter the UP-UP-DOWN-DOWN-RIGHT-LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT-B-A-START (a famous cheat code from Nintendo)…  they will get another screen with an 8-bit picture of the NYC skyline from the park…  and our faces in the clouds.  “Name this park in Brooklyn… and its not Underfoam or McCarren.”

2.3  After they’re done with the invitation, they can turn this board into any classic game by re-flashing the EPROM.

3. DAC (Digital Audio Converter)

3.1 Another audio jack, this time a mini-headphone jack, can be soldered to the board.

3.2 The right channel has a speak-and-spell voice repeating “L O O K D O N T L I S T E N”

3.3 The left channel has intermittent bursts of noise

3.4. Running the left channel through a spectrogram will show an image of Red Bull Logo and text that says “All Your Bulls Are Belong To Us”

4. MORSE CODE

4.1 There are a few LEDs on the back of the board blinking out messages in Morose Code:

4.2.  “W I N S T O N C H U R C H I L L”

4.3  “N I N E T Y S I X H U N D R E D B A U D E I G H T O N E N O N E”

5. SERIAL PORT

5.1 On the back of the invitation, there is the usual placement information in white text for chip placement during assembly.

5.2 There are also some small pads that are called out for serial

5.3 If they wire up a serial port and connect it to a computer, it will be repeatedly printing:

P>  SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?
E>  SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?
E>  SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?
L>  SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?
T>  SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?
H>  SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?
E>  SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?
F>  SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?
O>  SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?
A>  SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?
M>  SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?

6. DEEPER EASTER EGGS

6.1.  In the empty space in the memory on the chips, we will bury more messages or quotes:

I’M SORRY DAVE, I’M AFRAID I CAN’T DO THAT, YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED, ETC

6.2  We will also have other active serial ports that aren’t as obvious on extra pins of the processor saying something like:

THERE IS NO UNDERFOAM PARK IN BROOKLYN, BUT THERE MIGHT BE A PARK UNDER THE FOAM

6.3  We will have a “jumper” on the board…  if they close the connection with solder, the behavior of certain things or messages in certain areas could change.   (i.e. new messages on serial port, new images in audio)

IF YOU GOT THIS FAR AND YOU HAVEN’T PEELED UP THE FOAM YET, YOU ARE UNINVITED!