ThingM blog

What we think, what we like, what we make, and how we make it.

blink(16) prototype is woody and awesome

A few days ago ThingM friend Rusty, operator of the wonderful SomaFM, wondered if there would ever be a “blink(16)”: a blink(1) with a 4×4 grid of LEDs. Well it turns out that due to a secret feature of all blink(1) mk2s, it’s actually pretty easy to make, if you have some WS2812-style LED strip laying around.

 

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Making a blink(1) mk2 use 16 extra LEDs is pretty easy because it has a hidden 3-pin port for wiring up WS2812/NeoPixel-type LED strips.  In this photo, you can see the three holes: one each for Gnd, +5V, and data.

Below is a video showing it in action.  The two ‘blink1-tool’ commands used in the video are:

blink1-tool --random=1000  -l 18 -m 50 -t 50
blink1-tool --running  -l 18 -m 200 -t 200

Notice the “-l” option. Using this option, you can control a single LED in a blink(1) mk2. For instance, on a regular blink(1) mk2, you can do:

blink1-tool -l 1 --red
blink1-tool -l 2 --blue

to make the top LED red and the bottom one blue. For the “random” and “running” commands, the “-l” option means how many LEDs to use.

Some build photos from Flickr:
blink(16) blink(1) prototype
blink(16) prototype
blink(16) prototype
blink(16) prototype

Linux blink(1) Thunderbird Mail notification

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User @davb5 found a great way to use blink(1) for Thunderbird Mail events, using the Mailbox Alert plugin and blink1-tool.

As he says:

Thanks Dave!

blink(1) in UK & Germany

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Thanks to 1 Eyed Deer, we have our first distributor in the UK on Amazon.co.uk and Germany on Amazon.de.

Both of these are Fulfillment by Amazon, so you get Amazon’s speedy shipping and low shipping costs.  Thanks 1 Eyed Deer!

 

 

blink(1) has its own website!

Our little gadget-that-could, blink(1), has been seeing a lot of exposure and press.  And we’ve been selling a bunch!

Instead of having just a sub-page on our main website, we decided it was time that blink(1) got a website of its own.  It has general info about what blink(1) is and why you want one, but also links to downloads, the start of a Getting Started section, an ever-growing FAQ, and a list of ways to contact us with questions or comments.  It also gives us the needed space to build out more instructional material for blink(1), like How-Tos and Project Galleries.

Check it out: blink1.thingm.com

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blink(1) mk2s for sale in our store!

Did you miss out on the Kickstarter for blink(1) USB notification light?
Or the subsequent Kickstarter for blink(1) mk2?

You can now get blink(1)s in our online store: http://buy.thingm.com/!

blink1mk2-onesheetpic

Each blink(1) mk2 comes with a 5ft USB extension cable so you can put notifications where you want them.  blink(1) comes with a complete GUI application called Blink1Control that hooks in with IFTTT. And blink(1) is entirely open source.

For a limited time, we are also stocking the cool gooseneck USB extension cable that we shipped to our Kickstarter backers.  Unlike normal cables, this one stays in the shape you bend it.  It’s a lot of fun.

blink1-gooseneck-800

Node-RED plugin for blink(1)

Node-RED is an interesting visual tool for wiring the Internet of Things.  It runs in Node.js and looks to have incredible potential.  blink(1) user dceejay wrote a Node-RED package for blink(1) called node-red-node-blink1.

node-red-blink1-400

As he says, it:

“Sends the msg.payload to a Thingm Blink(1) LED device. The payload can be any of the following:

  • a three part csv string of r,g,b – e.g. red is 255,0,0
  • a hex colour #rrggbb – e.g. green is #00FF00
  • @cheerlights colour name – e.g. blue
  • The @cheerlights colours are – red, amber, green, blue, cyan, magenta, yellow, orange, pink, purple, white, warmwhite, black”

Get it here: https://www.npmjs.org/package/node-red-node-blink1

Pimping your blink(1) with bamboo & grass

 
TerjeOfNorway created a great step-by-step guide on how to to make a calming bamboo & (fake) grass home for his blink(1).
 
pimping-blink1
Full guide here:   http://www.terjeofnorway.no/2014/06/pimping-your-blink1/
 
If you are CAD and 3d-printer capable, the original blink(1) enclosure we put on Thingiverse works with the blink(1) mk2 and you can use it as a stepping stone to make your own enclosure.

New Python library for blink(1) & blink(1) mk2

Salim Fadhley has taken on the job of rewriting the basic Python blink(1) library we provided and making it so much more awesome. You can get it here: https://pypi.python.org/pypi/blink1

As he says: “This is a rewrite of ThingM’s original Python library. It includes the following modifications:

  • 100% test coverage on all library components
  • Python 3.x compatible
  • Automatic installation via Python Package Index.
  • Higher level control over the blink(1).
  • Single implementation with pyusb, intended to be installed with admin access or virtualenv.”

He’s also added features like gamma correction and white-point correction. Salim has been pushing his changes to the official ThingM blink1 github and we’re very proud to have it as part of the official blink(1) software set.

 

blink(1)mk2 Windows System Bar Controller using .NET

Jay Collett used the .NET library created by Jean-Francois Talbot (also in the ThingM github) to build a nice & small system tray app that does exactly what he wants.

blink1mk2-dotnet

Read about it here:

http://www.jaycollett.com/2014/06/blink1-mk2-for-the-win/

Jay includes all the source code so you can see how it’s done and modify it to your own tastes.

One of the downsides you might say of the Blink1Control app is it attempts to address the needs of many different use cases. If you want something very specific, building your own custom thing is the way to go. This is why we like Open Source so much: it let’s people customize their products to fit their lives.

blink(1) mk2 pre-orders open, shipping in June

We just opened pre-orders up for blink(1) mk2, our awesome USB RGB LED notification light.  We’re still fulfilling orders to our Kickstarter backers, but we expect to get all them out before June. Then we’ll start shipping pre-orders.

So if you’d like to pre-order your blink(1) mk2, visit: http://buy.thingm.com/blink1

And if you want a blink(1) mk2 before then, join us at Maker Faire! We’ll have a few for sale there.

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It’s super small, about as big as your thumb, but bright enough to be seen across a room.

The blink(1) mk2 has two independently-addressable RGB LEDs, so you can assign different events to different sides of the blink(1).

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