Hacker-in-Residence: BeagleBone Shields


Josh Datko is SparkFun’s newest hacker-in-residence. We’re very excited to have him here for two weeks, where he’ll be working on building a shield for the BeagleBone Black to add security to your projects! Without further ado, here he is:

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Josh’s favorite movie is Raider’s of the Lost Ark, and his most notable skill is that he can DRIVE A SUBMARINE. Let’s learn more about Josh, shall we?

Hi Josh. Tell us about your background, interests, and some favorite past projects. What and where is your current job?

After graduating from the Naval Academy with a degree in Computer Science, I spent 10 years in the Navy where I served as a submarine officer. I’ve been deployed around the world on a submarine and to Afghanistan. I also worked for several years as an embedded software engineer in the defense and commercial sectors. I’ve recently founded Cryptotronix, where I’m making open source hardware cryptographic devices.

I have strong interests in security, anonymity, and embedded computing. I support the Tor Project, a project that “helps protect personal freedom and privacy” by running a relay on a BeagleBone Black. The BeagleBone is my favorite platform at the moment, and it’s great that I can help protect Internet privacy with this little device.

How and why did you get involved in SparkFun’s Hacker-in-Residence program, and why do you think programs like this are valuable?

I’m involved in helping my local hacker space, Loveland CreatorSpace get started. At one of the meetings I was talking about my projects and I met Casey Kuhns, a SparkFun engineer, who encouraged me to apply.

I think everybody wins with the in-residence program. I’m looking forward to working side-by-side with the SparkFun team, and I think SparkFun benefits by learning about the creative projects from other makers.

What is the project you’ll be working on at SparkFun? Why did you choose this project?

I’ll be here for a week and a half working on what I’m calling the “CryptoCape.” It’s a BeagleBone Black cape (other devices call them “shields”) that has some specialized crypto hardware and a battery backed-up real-time-clock. I’m hoping the CryptoCape will help people that want to add additional security into their projects, especially if their project involves networked communication.

Thanks Josh, and good luck! We can’t wait to see what you come up with. If you’re interested in applying for our hacker-in-residence program, you can apply here!


Comments 10 comments

  • The Hacker in Residence program sounds good, and I like how you tell all about the projects up front, but I haven’t seen any followups with the results. Does it just take a while to put together the story once the projects are done? Its ok if the projects aren’t all successful. I think your customers understand that not every 2 week project will produce a significant advancement in quadcopters, brain controlled toys, monocopters, or CryptoCape technologies, but we can all learn a little from failed projects, and ones that just need more time.

    • As an update to go along with Chelsea’s response, we are working on getting the prototypes ordered and tested currently from the CryptoCape, and are just digging through the formatting on Sophi’s tutorial and making sure the rest of the info is completed for you guys.

    • Great point! We have been keeping an eye on our hackers' projects as they progress, and so far, our first hackers, Tara Tiger Brown and Sean Bonner, are the first to have created a completed project and tutorial. All of our hackers are awesomely ambitious and creative, and in most cases two weeks hasn’t been enough time to have a project or tutorial to share with everyone. We may end up extending the residency timeframe, but in the meantime we’ll try to do a better job of keeping you updated on their progress and results!

  • Interesting stuff! I followed the links - would be great if there was way to use the BOB-11551 breakout to work with your BBB plans.

  • This is terrific to see! too many projects ignore security and then try to hack it on afterwards. This at least will make tacking some crypto on easier… if not designing in from the start. When are you starting to take orders? Alpha testers? I got a BBB sitting in my ToDo pile. Perhaps with this cape it can be the net facing portal to the Haiku Lab

  • REALLY LIKE!!! Chelsea’s writeup on Josh Datko and “Hacker in Residence”. As my Cash-flow increases, (or when it does… LOL!) I will be ordering a Beaglebone Black and One 7" Cape to use with my Weather station and Log. I am pretty Green at programming but I hope to Step-It-Up through 2014. I am a double-degreed Electronics Technician with 22 years Semiconductor Electronics Repair experience. Since I’m learning programming as fast as I can, I will be following Josh and his Shield creating. (You have a Fan Josh… LOL!) Greatly Interested in Beaglebone Black because of its “Impressive-Specsheet!!” Talk-About-Power! Funny how the controllers of today are “Light-Years” ahead of controllers of yesterday that I worked with such as the 68HC11 and Z80. (man does that date me or what??!! LOL!) Vince

  • Hope they have a few BBBs “stashed” for you, Josh! SparkFun, Adafruit, and Mouser are all showing 0 inventory on them.


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