GitHub Universe attendees treated to custom RP2040 Badgers

We swing in the kind of circles in which news of the GitHub Universe 2023 conference lights up our social feeds each year. This time (well, now it’s last time) we were super excited to see photos of the official conference badges. We noticed they look a lot like a Pimoroni Badger, which is powered by our RP2040 chip, so we took a closer look to see if we were right.

two badges, one facing up, one facing down, and the packet the badge comes in, lying on a light coloured surface

Special custom gift

GitHub’s Martin Woodward made a dedicated repo to help conference attendees learn how to hack their badges. Lo and behold, in it he confirms that the hackable conference badges are indeed a custom version of the Badger 2040 that Pimoroni made especially for them.

An RP2040 is running MicroPython which throws text up on a built-in 2.9″ E Ink display. All five buttons dotted around the edge of the screen are user-configurable, and there’s also a Stemma QT expansion port so you can connect your own accessories, like sensors and whatnot. You can power the badge via its USB C port, or use either a 2 × AAA battery pack or a standard 3.7V LiPo cell. It’s “extremely low power”, according to Martin, which is what you need when you’re wandering around a conference all day and don’t want to be tied to a power outlet.

Open source ideas

Custom PCB aside, the GitHub Universe Badger is electronically identical to the original Badger 2040. This means conference attendees can make use of all the open source examples already out there where people have shared cool things they’ve done with their Badger — the devices aren’t tied to a one-time use as a conference badge. Pre-loaded goodies on the GitHub Universe Badger include an eBook reader, to do list, and image viewer.

Want cool badges for your event?

Martin’s GitHub repo pointed us towards, an open source community for people who want to create excellent badges for events. There are some magical designs on display in the gallery already. They’re also looking for volunteers to support the project, so join their Telegram group or Discord channel if you think you can help people make next-level event badges.

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