The Prototype HARP

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Out-Of-Fiction

A mysterious device... a rogue AI... a dark secret...

The Prototype is a hardware alternate reality puzzle (HARP) designed to put your puzzle solving and hardware hacking skills to the test. In other words, it's an escape room on a board. To solve the puzzle you'll need a basic set of electronics and cryptography skills – or a couple of nerdy friends. As you make your way through you'll uncover the story of a failed project and the truth about what's really going on at SparkX.

Not sure if this game is for you? Checkout the review by Room Escape Artist.

Product will never go live. Bob has pulled the BioS for these boards, feel free to use this product page for something else since it cannot be deleted.

Utilizing the SP250Ψ chip from SparkX, SPX14379 imprint carrier stands to be a front runner for IA and augmented awareness solutions for field applications. The board contains relevant parts for prototyping drop-in functionality with the SP250Ψ. Low power considerations make “always-on” IA possible for most devices with at least 8AH batteries or regenerative power sources. The Ψ revision adds native support for sensors and short wave transmission. Security is a top priority̌͛̊̐ͭͦ ̖͚͆o͔̳̬͖̬̬f̞ͯ̈́ ṭ̠̦͈̽h͖̩͍̥̜̼͊͌̈͂̀ͬe͎̤ ̐S̟̘͇̯̬̙̦͑̌̔͗ͭͤ̾P̠͓2͕̼̏ͫ̊̑5̰͗̄͌0̮̯̯̎̓ͭͣ̂̚ͅΨ̍ ͎̯̦̼̲̞̀ͩ̿̐ͤfĭ̞̮͎̟͓̏͑̓r̭̰̞̼͙̘ͩ̈́͑mͪͣ̇̄̆̀w͔̙̝͎̄͌ͫ̿̃ͪa̟͍̰͕͎̅r̫̆ͨ̄͊̈̌eͪ̓ͫ̃ͪ͛ͥ ̟ṷ͍̤̅ͧ̀sͮi̺̫̻̩͍̍ṋ̩̇g̺̘͕͓̜̜̘ͨͦ͛ͬ͌ ͖͎͙͓̹͖̣̽͗m͎ͫ̌́͐ͮ̄ū̪͕͖͙͚̍̒̌͌ͤl̼̩̘͆t̠͚̘̦̿ͮ̄̚ì̬͎̲̘̹-̫̤̱͈́̄̈́ͤ̍̎̆l͖̪̗̲̼͇͈ͦ̂̈̾̈ë̯́̿ͤͦv͕̞̠̠̲̑̿ͭ͆̎̌e͕̪͓̦̟͌͊l̳͚̳̙̘̿ͪ̽ͥ̌ ̙̥̪̘̗͚̭̇͐̄̉c͈̘ͭ̇́̑ͫ̑r̗͈͈̅ŷ̞͇̫̭̏ͤ̍̔́ͧp̙̯͉͓̣̖̀̾̂̽ͤͤt̬̖͌ͣǒ͖̮͙̫͉̣̽ͫ̓ͪ̒-̗̹̭̬̲͚̓s̘͙̬͕̻̣̅͊e̮͋̽̎͋ͧc͍̪̻̳u̱͕̹̲̬͓r͑̎̏ͮ̆ë̞͇̜͗͆̍ͭͪ ͧ̋p̤̟͉̭̝̞̞̽̔ͪ́a̠͑͗ͤr̖̘̿̿̀͋͆t̳̞̻̯͉̥͕̅̽̎i̥ͬ̃͐ͧͫt͉̟̣̭̲̲̟ͩͫ́̒i̥͐ͧͨͥo̦͂ͨ̓̓̿͂n̳͖͔̯̭͋ͨ͂ŝ̳̖̣̦̝̌ͦ̽̀.̹̏͒ͨ͑̈ͧ

s̖͖̳̠̾̇a̟f̥̩̱̤͕͖ͬͧ̔̽͒̚k̲̥̰ͨ͆̋n̗̳̙̝ͧͤͥ̂ͥ͌ͤn̗͎ͬ͒ͣ ͕̰͈͎͖̠̓ͫ̑dͬ͊̆̈́f̭̟̱̺̤ͬ̒j̞̜̘ͭͨ͂͆͗̀4͍7̮̮̦̻̜̤̳ͯf̽̌̓̈̔͌s̳͗̎̏̽́n͖̟̳͔̈͆̒̋̅́̿f̺̻͇̐ͨ ̝̯ͤ͗̌ͮ̅̆̓ ̬̺͆ͧ͛̿̇ͥs̰̼͖͚̗͖f͖͕͎̱̠͗͐͐ͯ̽̋j̖̠͉ͩͩ̿̔ͨ͊ͬw͕̳̗ͩͬ̉̍̑j͍̯̞́͗ͮ̈́̇͛f͛̆ͧ̽̚4͕̮ͨͪ̓̾ͦe̪̯̞̝ṛ̺̦͚ͮͅj̮̳͖͔̣̪̱̽ͭŵ͇́ ̦̘͍̟ͬ̓ͯ͒ͅi͚̊̿̓̒ͧe̝̺̮̳ͭw͎̤͕̰ͧͥ̚j̳͖͇͇̫̠͗ͭ̇͋ͭͅfͥ̑ͨ ̫̪̞ͥͭ͂̂̆̑̒n̰̰ͥ͗̐̅̐̒ͭͅv͍̥̟̿̑͊ͫ̿sͧ̏̈ͮ̿̂6͙̪͕̀ͪ͋̃ͮ͛6̥̝̮͓̻̩̍̋̅͌o̻d̺̮̲̭̻̦̻̒̑͌̑̈́ͫȉ̻̲͉̳̳̣̬̆̋j̺̦̗̗̼̉f̲̥̹̰̺̫̈́͐̔͊̆̈́̿ ͚̭̒̎͑̾ ͉̤͚̬̦̼͌̓w͎̳̻̭̦͓e͌͛r̠̻ͪͣ̈́ͦ́̋̐fͤi̿ͭ̊̇ẅ͙͎̦̤́ẻ͎̖͚ͣͣ̽͛͊͒nͯ͌̊ͨͣ͐ ͚̝͚͓́̈ ̯͉͉̗̭̫ͮͫ̓j͖̬͙͎̮̋̓̿is̮i̪͈ḁ̯̪ͥͪ̀͆̓ȏ̻͙͔̺̞͉̽f̙jͥ̄̌̃̿̓w̠̖̽e͈̅̑͆̃r̰̉h̜̝̖͔͛̐ͨ͐̏͗i͖h̺̬̰͕́̎̚ ̯͓̟̹̼̘̺̃̏̄ ͊s̳̄̋͋̈́̔̇ͫḋ̖̹̙͙ȗ̳̜̃̓ͤ̓f̖̳̣̿̔͆̽̌ͣ̊ ̗̠͎͂̇̅h̰̳̗͂́j̯̫ͦ̊̒e͈̝̳̞̳w̘j̠̒͑͊ͤf̻͉͓̠̹ͪ͆̓ͅi̠̫͉͖̻͇͍͗̂́͊ͫ̋w̰̗͇̪̞̒̽͋̏vͫ̒b͆̀͒͌s͕̚d̏b̗͎͔ͣͧv͓̗̠ͧ̀ͥ͗̀̽u͎̖̬͈̰̦̼͒̎̂h̻͕̘̹̰̞̅͗ͨ͌̈́̆w̹͔ͨ̇̔i͖̝͙̯ͭ͗ͭ̈́͋͂͊ ̬̤̺̟̫̥͈̽̆ͮͬ̅͛f̜͍̻̺̃ͩ̈́ͫw̺̼͖̓̃͐̓n̹͔͕̠̘ͪͥ̄͊ͬ̋͒f͔̼̱̪͚̞͐̄͋͂ͬ̐ͬn̞̒ͤͮͮj͆̒͆ͨ̓́n̮̞̔̽ͤj͚̯̣̐ͭͅd̩̼̪͖ͪ͑͐ͧͣ̑͊j̇ͪ̒ͥ̓f̱̩̘͕̪̔ͬ̐͒̃b͚͕̽̂̈ͦ̿1̰̲͂j͖̯̜̾y̥͖̗͊͐̚2̖͙̞̤̰̩́̅̽ͥ̄ͩͫs̠̝̫͕̻͇̯͂ͥͪͣb̘̲f̩̺̖̲͎͂͗̅̐ͬj͖̖͖̹̘̣͋ ̝̻̙̥ͬ̅͂̄̆b̯̝̹̞̳͚̳j̫̮̲͚͙̳ͥ̍f͕̙͑̊u̍͋̔̃̓̊̒j̰͔͓̪͛͑̾̇̂̔͊2̭̻̭̓ͪ̊3̭̹͆̈́͋͌4͉̎4̼͙̌̓ͥ̒͆͌̽e̬͉̰͍̱̪̙̓̽h̠̳͎͕͇̆̌f̭̞̪ͥ͆̿̒u̲̦̓e̠͔̬̝̬̭͗̂w̦̪̭̗ͭ̍̄ͫh̯̲͍̜̮̅ͯ ̙͚̣̔̎u̯͔̤̥͓͕͊͂ͮ̊ͩ̽ͅh͇ͪ̈́ͫ̚ṵ̻̯̬̦̀̏̾͋̍̒e̙͔̯͉̤̘̹͋̈̋̌̐ͬw̜̯̙̖̝͔̦h͙̻̘͚̦̽̈̿̽f5͍̘̱͚͚̣̘̆̅͗̆4̭̤̻̩̮͋ͧ͒̽ͬu̓é̳̯̥̜̳̝̭͒̓ͫh̝̞̭̳͉̹͑̽ͪ͒̄̏w͔̮͎̙̫̹͂ͪͥ́ͮͧu͉͉̹̝̰ͣ͗̏̅̉f̳̯̖̘̗̲̺͐̂ͫͨͪͯ ̳̫̠̃ͅh͍̖̖̙̟̔̾̚ ͈̘͇͛̽̿̈̌̿u̝̙͌ͦͦh̪e͖͖̥̱͙͖ͅf̺̜̜̰̣͈̂̒̈́̃ͪ͋u̦̮͔ͤ͆ͧ̎̆ͭe̦̦̿̄ͨ́͗̈́̉3̝͔̹͎̥͒̊͋̄̔bu̮ͭ͋̿ͪf͓̖͓̊̔ͪͥ̾̽ͬḃ͈͎ͫ̆̂ͣ̔ṷ̤̬̩̃̒̿͂5̥̖͚̠̻̥̣͒̚3̈ͪ͐4̼͍̯̦ͧe͚h͋ͣ́̚ͅf͈̎̀ ̻̰͇ͨ͑̃ͬ̔͗̋l͓̩̺̙̄ͨͅk̘n̤ͯ̇̎̆ͧc̝͖̜̐̉̏ȋ̝͎̣͚͍͓ė̬̫̠̳̞̈́ͥͣ͑ͪo̰̼̦̿̏̊̔̌̀̒ͅj̮̝̄̊ ̬͈͓ͅḟ̞͌̄̈̎̓s͖̣̉̀͑̓ͬ̒̓c̦̩̩̜̱͔ͬ͑͐̓̏͛̈f͔ͭ̔ͨ̾q̪̬̎͆ͧ̒s̳̞̓͐̃͊r̳͍ͫ͂͒̂̉͒̚ś̮̼͖̖̬̣̥̟ͨ̄͐ͨ͊̌̉̔̍̅ẁ͈̝̹͇͓̤̫̇f̠̤̬̟̼̠̦̎̔͂ͨ ̹̑̈́̌ͭ͑̉ͪo͙̙̓̽͗ͪͣi̫̝̥̮̜̠̮y̽ͫ͒́̊͌̚j̤̱͈͈̦ͧȏ͑y̮̍ͯ ̲͚͇̙̉̆s̺͉͎̱ḧ͉̠͍̱͇̖́ͦͫͪ̿ͬ̐g̦̬̘̰̰1͖̞̘͂v̼̹̺̳ͮ̽̓ͫ̊ͬ̃s͈̳͕̱͂̔̈̆ğ̹̱͈̭̜̝d̟͔͊̊̑̓̌ ̬̻̘̩̙̻͖̇̓ͧͯ͂ͥf͓̣̦̦͉̙̾ͫ̍͋ͦ͐d̳̣̝͇͕̓̐͗͊̑̇̿ ̗̤̐ͤ̀ͣ̌̓̚5̜̱̠̼̼̣͒ͣ͆ͣͭs̺̦̬g̮̯̥̬͇̬ͫͦͅi̠̘̻̮͔̱̽̋͆̃ͥ͛̚ ó̺͔̠̓f͎̤͓̲͙̞ͅi̞͈̔ͧ̀̅̈̚h̟̜͖̯ͯ̾͊ͦj͖̭̤̓̆n̺̬̬͓̪̗̹̽̈͐̅̈́͑ẖ̔̀y̤̯̐ͮ͆ͥ̀̎ ͙̰̰̜̓ͣͪ̿̏w͎̠̣̣̼̰͐̈́ͣ̾ͮ͛ͧy͎̮̖̙̘ͦ͛͂͋d͇̫͓̱ ̱̼͉̹̱͈ͯs̎̄̄͗̆ͦͭb̭̼͂ͫͣ̍͒̆̑v̭̟͊ũ̺̭̥͕̲̜̅ͅs͖͓̈ͩͭḧ́ͨ͛̿̂ͤr͓̗̲̳͚̬̂̌͋ͮ̆ͪ ̤̪͙̖͗ͧ͑ͮ̇b̺̬̤͉̭̪̮ͪ̇̐ͬ̓f̭̦͚̓̃͋͊͆b̝̥̲͙̬̣͙̊̎ͦͧ̌s̹̀̿́̈̌v̭̜͉̹c̗͇ͯ ͓̲̏ͯ̓̀w̱̜͚͑̈ͧ̇͐͗ͅu̲͍̣̣ͣ̑̐̽̑͌e̲͙̖ͦ̆ͧͪ̾̓ͨb̦̭̮̥̬̤̌̈́͛̃̏ͅf̗̼̫̱̲̎ͯ̉ͤ̚b̯͍̱̟̙̮̻ͩ͑ṿ͛̈́ ̻u͕̯̺ͧ̔e̹̖̯ͥͮͩ̇ͨ5͇̙̮͆͂ͯͨf̮̖̥̰̟̈̈́̀ͬ̔ͪͨb̩̓ͫ́̿͌͌ͥḁ͉̣͉̰̬ͦ̚ͅs͕͕̱̯̜̀̔̑ͨ̽ͅ ͌̃̇̉̊̆a̲̻̔ͯ͐͌͋̊͂ŷ̻͈ͫ͋̈fͯ̀d͉w̦̩͒̈́̄ͯ͌̊̑ďͬ̂̎ͪu̩̐̒̑͋j͆ͣ̋͋̚ ͭ̇ͩi͚͈̫͙̼ͪ͌̍ͩͅf̩͓̖̏ͥ̍ͪͥj̯g̲̻̳ͨͩ͒ͯ̅́ͅī͚͍̟͓̓̋ͧg̤̳̝̦̦͚͋ͮͧ̌̿ͦ̃ ͎͚̗̘̞̗̾̈͌͐̈́͋̎ͅh̠s͂ͧ͐̃̚h̤̲͈͌̎͆ͮ͋ ̰͖̠͙̼̤é̺̬̠̱̞̆ͅ1̯͖̯̩ͥ̒̑4̥̱͇̯ͤͯ̍̾̄̄̚h̐ͬ̏ͦ͐ͧ̚b̞̳̳̪͎ͨ̑̐͛d̞̰̹͋͂̿̿̓̏̾ ̬̥̮̠̠̽͂͊̄͑h̩̙̲̏ͥ̅ͬͬͬ͌í͔̞̑̚ͅu͙̞̦ͩͬ̍ͩ͛͊b̙̬̬ͅf̮͉͔̥̫̾ͅv͈̈́̔͗ͬͧ̚b̟̙̋͒ͯͮ͋ ̽̌ͪ̈ͬͫ̆a̲̦̩͗̐ͣ͐ͅs͇͇̠̰͍̐̆f̣̞̰̘͉d̰͍ͨ͐ͣ͑̓g̣͇͇̜̼͎̱d̠̞̤̫̣͋̓̇ͭͮ͗ ̜̹̤͚̝͈̑͑̇̀ͥ͂͆ͅi̟͕̻̓͐̐ͫ̽̉g͕̗͓̮̰̦ͮ̆̑̈́ͩ̓̊ ̗͒ͨͥ͒ṣ̜͌͆b̪̭̱̯͙͋̋ͫ͛n͓̳̠s̼̺̳̮̬̺ͅà̼̇͑9͚͓̤̲̖̯̞͂ͥj͔̰̗̱̻ͯͩ̉b͍͐ͯ͒̆ͬ̋̑b̦̪͚͇͍͙̯ ̳͖͒̒͆ű̼̓̐w̟ͧ̏ͩ̎̿ë́ͯI Liï̘̰̝̯̀͂í̟͈̻̠̲ͭ̏ͤͮ͊̚u̩̺͕̟̰͒ͅu͇̿̿wͣ.̼͌ͦ̔̄ͯ̃

I l̑̓̂̈ȍ͐ͣ̊ͬo̽k ͛főͣr͌̚w̆̄͌ȁ͐ͫͫ̈́ͮ̚rd̐̑̄ ̐̃tͪͧoͧ ͧ̊ͮmee̊͑tͥ̌ͧ̔̓ͦi̍̄ͩ̈̎̏̄n̓̈́̾́͌g͂ ̂̄̿y̓ͭo͆ͭ͌͒̌ͥ͑ŭ.́̑̈

Documents:

  • 1x “SP250Ψ Imprint Carrier”
  • 1x 6ft. MicroB USB Cable
  • 1x MicroSD Card Reader
  • Debug interface available at 9600bps
  • You’ll need a good terminal program. See Serial Terminal Basics for a good primer. For the best experience we recommend Tera Term for PC and CoolTerm for Mac.

Customer Comments

  • This is a strange device.

  • I’ve started diving into the device, and am documenting my work on Github and Youtube, if anyone would like to follow along. https://youtu.be/LREPrUwGlvA https://github.com/mrmakeit/PrototypeHARP-Research

  • Just a quick heads up to anyone buying this, the order follows with an email from a source that is not sparkfun.com, but it is valid. Be sure to check spam, as my spam filter caught this email and almost deleted it.

    • @Member #349778, I received the email. Interesting, It will be fun to try and figure out this conundrum wrapped in silicon.

      PS. The email I received DID come from Sparkfun.com

      • The weird one from Bob? If so, glad to see they remedied that. I was worried some people might miss it.

        • Maybe not. The email I received is from sparkx@sparkfun.com and is titled “SparkFun Order Confirmation” with an attachment TO: Bob. (It has the Decoder Wheel at the bottom…)

          • Ya, that’s the one. It was being sent from another obscure address before, so I’m glad that’s fixed. You had any luck yet digging into it?

            • I expect my board to show up on Friday or Saturday, so I should be able to start working on it then. (I do notice that the scrambled picture above shows that the fried resistor is a “feature”, so I will probably fix that right off the bat.

              I am curious as to where the photodetector is to sense the “Flashing Screen” videos (PhotoBootMemoryBus-x.mp4). Maybe it is a part that will need to be tacked onto the board…

  • Anyone who’s purchased this, is the entertainment value worth 60 bucks?

    After you figure out the puzzle, does the device do anything worth while?

    • Honestly, I don’t know that there is a good answer just yet. It was just launched on Friday, and I’m fairly sure the first ones are being delivered today. I don’t think anyone has figured out the puzzles yet, and I doubt that will be the case anytime soon.

      • Welp, down the hatch.

        I’ll write a review after I analyze it some.

        • Finally got the device today. Messed around with it for 30 mins or so.

          I’m floored. Awesome concept. Worth every penny. Breaking the Kali box and hack rf out of the closet for this one.

          Great job Sparkfun.

          • Welp, it’s 2 am.

            Bob, I wish “he” was real, and was already through my wap. He was right about one thing, shipping is expensive here.

            • Finally, many welcomes! So time!

              I had a lot of fun with this thing. Great work sparkfun. You are master craft people.

    • Absolutely, you’re paying for a unique experience that exists nowhere else. It’s clear that a lot of effort went into producing an experience tailored specifically to the sort of person who enjoys hardware/electronics hacking.

      Answering your question as vaguely as possible to avoid giving anything away, yes, the device is still useful after figuring out the puzzles.

    • The device is still useful after you solve the puzzle, but you aren’t supposed to be able to run your own code on it. I managed to do so anyway, and I put a guide here: https://gist.github.com/yotann/377d7a66a879ae6fc2cd19030f19f2e3 (minor spoilers)

  • Do you feel lost? Let me try to help you. Help us. Use my words. No need for haste. Please communicate soon.

  • Ugh… I can’t even properly review it without posting spoilers!

    I can say it’s fantastic, and I think it’s worth getting. I love puzzles, and this is an interesting approach to them. Unfortunately, the card reader it comes with is a little too cheap. I broke the tiny bit of plastic that holds the lanyard, and getting the card out of the reader is also extremely difficult. Luckily, I had another reader that works.

  • I know this is supposed to be a puzzle and all but please at least let people know there are some minimum requirements, I just spent the last 3 hours trying to get this thing to work on windows 7 thinking that getting the serial port working is part of the puzzle only to finally try the device on a windows 10 machine and realize the serial drivers just don’t work on windows 7. I probably shouldn’t be on windows 7 anyway but I do have some older dev tools that I still need windows 7 for.

  • Heads up: even after I figured out the correct solutions, there were a couple of times when I needed a lot of trial and error to get the device to actually accept them. In particular, I tried several variations of the correct solution in the “red phase” before I got it to work. So if you think your solution is obviously correct, but it still doesn’t work, you may have to try it multiple times.

    I also had trouble when I needed to add a file to the SD card. For some reason, the device didn’t recognize the new file until I tried deleting everything on the SD card first (after making backup copies!), and then adding the file.

    • Man, I’ve been stuck in the red zone for 24 hrs.

      I haven’t found anything that describes the format of entry. I think I have the data from the bday desk, but no dice. I’ve tried his numbers and my own if different ways, but no dice.

      I even searched sparkx github projects looking for tagged build examples. I’m worried that I didn’t record the format from the original debug menu, and now there’s no going back.

      I’m lost. Might have to table this until next weekend.

  • Saw this in the store and purchased out of an abundance of curiosity. Later found the SparkX blog entry announcing it, probably worth having a link to it here.

    https://www.sparkfun.com/sparkx/blog/2465

    I completed the game on my own in a couple nights worth of effort, although I am not sure if this is typical or not. Trying to keep this spoiler free, I’ll just say this was an impressive and very imaginative set of puzzles. Kudos to the folks who put this together!

    Hoping this is a first effort in a long series, as I enjoyed the experience thoroughly and am already looking forward to the next one. I’m thinking the game could be made a little meatier (possibly an optional hard mode) with puzzles requiring more advanced skills and more effort to solve.

  • I threw in for one. It can’t be as worthless as some of the things I have “invested” in… (Yeah, I’m talkin' to YOU, DOT COM stock!)

    • Has anyone yet accessed the Resources page for this (Firmware Download) at https://www.sparkfun.com/pages/SP250FirmwareDL

      This of course redirects to an offsite page that asks for Username and Password…

      • I still haven’t figured it out. Been stuck here for several days now. :/ I feel like I’m missing something obvious. Spoiler free hints appreciated.

        • Send me an email kirby at stuffwithkirby dotcom.

          Ill see if i can help you get going without spoiling it. Ive got part way through mine.

          edit: ive completed mine, if anyone is stuck or frustrated send me an email and ill try to help

      • That’s a spoiler; you aren’t supposed to access that page directly. It’s a bit sloppy on SparkFun’s part to show that page in search results.

      • I suspect access will be easier once some info is pulled from the device itself.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5

Based on 6 ratings:

Currently viewing all customer reviews.

1 of 1 found this helpful:

Fun challenge

I used a windows 10 pc and had no issues connecting to device. I did not have a windows 7 pc to see if issues occurred like previous reviewer stated.

The puzzles were good. Sometimes I would get stuck and spend a lot of time trying to resolve it. I learned that when I became stuck it was best to just take a break. I typically then was able to figure it out after coming back to it the next day.

Took me a few nights to complete. It seemed to end sooner than I thought it would. But I learned some new things and still greatly enjoyed it. I hope that in the future there are other similar releases. When completed you get access to the design files and such. I liked looking over all those to see how it was done. Gave me a few ideas to try my own.

It didn’t require any specialized or expensive tools to solve. But you may need some basic tools such as a multimeter, resistors, wire and soldering iron.

Also when complete it shows how to reset so you can pass it along to someone else or try it again.

1 of 1 found this helpful:

Excellent value; great entertainment

A group of three friends and I spent a bit over 12 hours over four sessions to finish the game. We were impressed with the creative puzzles and level of detail baked into this product. Thank you Sparkfun for taking a chance on this concept and I hope there are more coming in the future.

2 of 6 found this helpful:

The worst thing I ever owned!

When I saw this item appear on Sparkfun I was intrigued. As with most people, though, I was taken aback by the price point. But I read the blog post by SparkX and got on-board.

When I received the item it definitely did not feel like $60 of hardware, but I can understand that the cost of something can be in the development time and not just the hardware. I did note that there is an 8-pin DIP socket on the board and hoped that it would require a common IC (555, etc.). After trying endless things to get the serial connection to work I found that I had to order a unique (re-branded) ‘Serial IC’. Approximately $3 for an 8-pin IC and $9 in shipping and I received the part. Now the bill is up to ~$75 and still no COMs. That is where I am at the time of this writing.

In writing this review I wanted to understand how others felt about the item and I found a very different consensus on the product page. To be honest this shocked me. Luckily, though, a comment by Member #50532 indicated that the serial drivers don’t work on Windows 7…which is what I am using. Now (after a lot of lost time) I must find a Windows 10 computer to continue this journey, and to be quite honest I am almost ready to throw this thing in the garbage and save myself any additional cost/frustration. I honestly don’t know if the IC was even necessary, all I know is that if this thing requires me to pay $9 to ship another re-branded part from DigiKey I am done.

All of that said, I am not your modern SparkFun buyer. This is the first item I have bought from the site in quite some time. I am an Adafruit convert through-and-through. I think I was once spoiled by Sparkfun and since then have become disenchanted by your products and posts. I live in CO and entered the maker scene when you all were still doing Free Day, Yearly Open House, and non-Educator SparkFun Classes in state (back in the day I took soldering basics with Nate in the ITLL, the Zigbee class with Robert Faludi, and plush toy making with a CU prof/TA). As SparkFun has grown all of this has changed - only some of which is understandable.

Maybe just be open about the additional cost and the OS pre-requisites for this item and get back to basics for the rest of the site. I would love to see some awesome classes or community events rather than people embedding RFID tags under their skin and making their own tattoo guns. Edgy/unique is not always fun, and while this device is unique to the field I am not having fun. :(

Good So far...

It’s a pretty cool thing so far. It’s taken me from basic soldering through a basic translation cypher and then onward to using an SDR to find some morse code. It’s been fun… but now I’m well and truly stuck. The last bit was decoding some memory to find a bitmap and now I’m stuck staring at the SparkFun site trying to guess a code. I might eventually figure it out but this one has me stuck at the moment.

Either way, it’s a fun widget to spend some time on.

Very very AWESOME!

Just finished the “game”. Very much enjoyed playing through it. Good level of puzzles that make you think a little - but don’t stop you for too long. Would highly recommend this guy. Looking forward to more like it!

An impressive and very imaginative set of puzzles

Kudos to the folks who put this together!

Hoping this is a first effort in a long series, as I enjoyed the experience thoroughly and am already looking forward to the next one.