HHV Rube Goldberg Machine

To celebrate DEF CON 30, the Hardware Hacking Village (HHV) is hosting a Rube Goldberg Machine (RGM) Event! This idea has been kicking around the HHV volunteer circle in one shape or another since at least DEF CON 20, so it’s about time that it happened! The goal is to create a series of devices that combine to form an end-to-end Rube Goldberg machine for transmitting messages. The hope is that all sorts of creative devices will be connected up to each other to move bits through various complicated and fun analog/digital methods. Ideas have ranged from simply wiring RX to TX — to using radios to bounce the message off the moon!

In order to make this event successful, it’s helpful to standardize the connectivity requirements between devices. The hope is that selecting a simple specification (RS-232) and publishing it early will allow:


Between the ports

Joining/Parting the network


In order to join the RGM, devices will employ standard RS-232 (TIA-232-F) for communications. Each device will be responsible for presenting a Data Terminal Equipment (DTE) port and a Data Communication Equipment (DCE) port. At a high level, participant devices will be expected to receive on their DCE port, and retransmit the data on their DTE port. Communication will be standardized at 9600 Baud, 8 data bits, No parity bit, and 1 stop bit (9600B 8N1). It is up to the device to use whatever creative mechanism it wants to move data between the two ports it exposes. We ask that systems try to keep latency of message transmission to under 600 seconds to keep the messages flowing. Our goal isn’t for the conference to end before a message has been transmitted!