Puzzle PCBs

SparkFun has a new “HARP” out, so I did a quick dive into PCBs that are designed to test your hardware savvy and investigative skills.

This post was inspired by The Prototype, the new $60 “hardware alternate reality puzzle” with some kind of rogue-AI theme. You can safely read the blog post about it, but stay away from the product’s comment thread if you want to keep a clean slate. The product’s datasheets provide clues, as well as some fun Easter eggs for tech and sci-fi nerds.

The Prototype isn’t the first of its kind: Red Bull collaborated with LumiGeek to produce the Creation board in 2011, which poses challenges from spectrum analysis to a video game.

Don’t miss these Wired articles on past Def Con puzzle badges — true works of art from maker LostboY. (2013, 2014) I am seriously jealous of this guy’s skill, ingenuity, and design chops.

Finally, for a different—and cheaper—challenge, you can get the Cordwood Puzzle from Boldport. It’s an homage to an old, space-saving hardware assembly technique. (There are instructions in case you get lost, but for a real challenge, don’t peek.)

What are your favorites? I’d love to take a look!

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