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Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery – Red Bull Hack Challenge 2011

So we got a curious package in the mail the other day…

Inside the Box

  • Red Bull Die-cut Circuit Board
  • Flyer (appears above, link to site)
  • Bag of Parts (listed Below)
  • Can of Sugar-Free Red Bull (*burp*, delicious!)
  • Classic Nintendo-style Joystick
  • USB Cable

Hacktory Board Member Andrew took it home, assembled the included surface mount parts onto the circuit board. The Board was mostly already populated with a handful of chips already applied to the board, including a USB port. The included parts we applied (to the very obvious marked spots on the board) were:

  • Classic Nintendo-style Joystick Port (7-pin)
  • Surface Mount 1/8" Stereo Headphone Jack
  • (2) Surface Mount RCA Jacks (Red & Yellow)
  • Surface Mount 6-Pin Jumper
  • 10 Assorted Wire Jumpers

Plugged the assembled board into my computer, and the first use became apparent: a Disk Image named ‘CREATION’ appeared on my desktop. So one of the chips is a USB controller, and one chip is a (small) memory chip with a disk image burned on it…. On the disk image are two files, the first, named ‘CLUE.TXT’ had this simple text copy:

Looking for a password?!

He might have enlisted Bletchly Park to figure it out, but you’ve probably got what it takes… and it’s not “SamuelMorse” either.

Good luck with this mystery inside an enigma!

The link goes to the Wikipedia Article – which answers a few questions…

The other file was named ‘ENCRYPTED.ZIP‘, and it’s attached to this post. It’s a password-protected ZIP file.

The key to the password probably lies in the blue blinky LED’s on the surface of the circuit board. They’re blinking in a repeating pattern that appears to be Morse code (except it’s the pauses, not the lights that signify dots and dashes). The ‘Clue.txt’ says it’s not ‘SamuelMorse’, but that’s not what the blinks decode to, I think, but the hint that’s it Morse Code.

18 Second Video of the Blink Loop Below!

Feel free to scrutinize the pattern of the above video of the blinking blue LED’s to decode the ‘clue’… You’ll note the pause for the loop to repeat.

Closeup of the Board

Note the 20 digit serial printed on the bottom – it might be a clue? Or the password itself? I don’t have a ZIP extractor that accepts passwords, so I’ll have to get a get some assistance in cracking this ZIP file.

The serial is listed below for easy copy-paste decoding. Might it be Base64 encoded?


(It is! Results of Base64 Decoding is below, including the odd capitalization)

Setec AStronomy

Plugged in, to show where the 5 LED’s are mounted.

First Thoughts

With the obvious surface mount parts, and the complexity of this device, I imagine it’s a single-board video game emulator. It has composite video and stereo audio out, for simple attachment to a legacy analog television. It comes with a single joystick, and is powered by the USB port. As there are two RCA outputs, and they aren’t particularly marked, one may be a mono audio out; but then why the stereo 1/8" jack on the other side?

Leave your Guesses in the comments!

Of course, this is speculation at present, until we unlock the ZIP file and discover it’s contents… Think you can figure it out? We’ve laid out a handful of clues, and we’re looking for our Hacktory Blog readers to help us figure all the ‘easter eggs’ in this unique device! Leave your thoughts in the comments of this blog post!

3 Responses

  1. Weird. The morse code blinking translates to (a slightly dirty version of) “WinstonChurchill,” which works as the password for the zip file. The text in the zip file reads

    “OK, that was an easy one… but you’re not there just yet. The riddle that ol’ Winston mentioned was Russia, but we’re talking about a different kind of puzzle altogether. Somewhere in this box there is another password, this time for a website. Poke, probe, and hack away at this circuit board… it’s an egg hunt. When you find the url and the password… go tell us what else you’ve found along the way. Good luck for real this time… you’ll need it!”

  2. Dave Viers

    Setec AStronomy is from a movie, Sneakers… Some mathematician created a box that would decode just about any encrypted connection. Setec Astronomy was an anagram for “Too Many Secrets”, not sure where the second capital S comes into play. And even less of a clue if it has anything to do with the rest of it…

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