Interactive LED block wall


[Dave Vondle] from IDEO Labs sent in the large LED pixel wall he built using BlinkM modules, an Arduino, and Flash to control it. The overall result is a blindingly bright, large, public display for people to interact with. The best part about the project is that [Dave Vondle] documents everything; from hardware to schematics to source code. Unfortunately, he was forced to remove the wall due to construction, but since every part of the project is open source, it lends itself to be easily recreated. I’m sure we’d all like to see a wireless controller hookup to play pong on the streets of Chicago.

10 thoughts on “Interactive LED block wall

  1. Ouuuchhh…126 BlinkMs? So expensive…and he’s just controlling them manually, not using the BlinkM internal scripting which is their main strength. I’m totally biased since I make and sell ShiftBrites, but they use the same LED and would have cost about $471 instead of $1300. The guys at actually made a similar glass brick wall with ShiftBrites:

  2. Those shiftbrites are cool to know about. I wanted to have everything on a data bus so I could make the electrical grid the mechanical structure as well. Also since the wall is so big it is nice to have the ability to only update the pixels that needed to be updated.

  3. Not every part of the project is open source! The BlinkM firmware is closed. I do not have anything at all against ThingM on this point (A licensing issue, I understand), but I did want to mention that I recently got involved with the CYZ_RGB project that Matteo Caprari started a couple years ago to produce functionally equivalent open source firmware for the BlinkM board.

    CYZ_RGB has languished for a while, but I recently got involved and completed a port of CYZ_RGB to the ATTINY44 used in the BlinkM MaxM. I am currently in the process of enhancing the MaxM port to support 16 bit hardware PWM with logarithmic power output during dimming (to give brightness output that appears linear), and hopefully I’ll be able to add some other neat tricks too that are not present in the shipped firmware, such as light script enhancements.

  4. Hi. I’m one of the guys who makes BlinkMs. I agree that shiftbrites are great for making large LED arrays, but what Dave is doing that IS much easier with BlinkMs is that he’s letting each individual unit do its own fading. That way, he has to send much less data to get each individual unit to fade from color to color. His hardware only has to send a color and a fade time and let the BlinkM do the hard work of interpolating between two colors and smoothly fading between them. That requires much less bandwidth and lets him address individual pixels in the array without keeping track of what’s in the rest of the array. Also, because he was buying such a large quantity, we gave him a discount, which we’ll offer to anyone else who’s buying that many. Send a note to if you’re interested.

    Also, fwiw, John’s doing great stuff with the cyz_rgb project. We will continue to ship BlinkMs with our own firmware, but if you’re comfortable with an AVR programmer and embedded systems programming, we encourage you to take a look at that project.

  5. holy crap, i live in chicago….id like to check this out sometime…

    is it always on? logan square aint far from me!

    ideo labs, do you guys have a hackerspace goin on up there? would be cool if there was one in chicago somewhere…

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