An Even Smaller World’s Smallest LED Blinky

Everything can be done with a 555. It’s a universal law, as all readers know. And a flashing light, you might think, will have been done before many times. But nobody has ever created a 555 flashing light as small as thie one created by [TWires], who has taken a TI LMC555 chip-scale packaged 555 and dead-bugged a working flasher on its surface using 01005 discrete components. There is a video showing it in operation that we’ve placed below the break, and it’s tiny. We probably all consider ourselves to be quite good at soldering, but this piece of work is in another class entirely.

The project was inspired by [Mike Harrison]’s previous holder of the smallest blinky prize, which used a PIC microcontroller atop a tiny surface mount supercapacitor. It uses the same capacitor for power, but we’d say it’s taken the blinky to new levels of tininess. Does this mean a new arms race is upon us in the world of tiny blinkies? We hope so, and though it’s difficult to imagine they can get much smaller we can’t wait to see what people come up with. If there’s one thing about our community it’s that saying something can’t be done is unwise: one of you will find a way if it is at all possible. Even Microchip’s MIC1555 might be a bit big though, so something inventive is called for.

For a fascinating run-down of the state of the 555 art, read this article from our own [Ted Yapo].

14 thoughts on “An Even Smaller World’s Smallest LED Blinky

  1. You want a real challenge? Build a 640×480 VGA full color LED display for cheap. At 1 cent per pixel that’s 3072 dollars. Even at 1/16th cent per pixel it’s still an annoyingly high price.

      1. If you’d value your time, you wouldn’t be in this kind of hobby wouldn’t you?
        We (hackaday readers) do this kind of stuff because we have nothing else to do that really interests us as much as working with electronics.
        But seriously, charging your hobby time as if it was to be labour time is silly… a discussion that has been talked about many times before on hackaday.
        (from here on, please read the text with sarcasm in mind)
        But if you do value you time as money, then why waste time sleeping. Because as $15/hour you are wasting $120 dollars each day, let’s skip eating too, 3 meals (including preparing) could cost you up to $45 dollars. Parties… nehhh just skip these, we’re not into that stuff. Anyway… 165 * 365 * 60 (possible productive years in a lifetime) = 3.6 Million
        Hmm… never realized life was that expensive, perhaps I shouldn’t do it. Perhaps I should be working all the time, because money is much more important then anything else, having fun and learning something or improving or maintaining skills should be illegal considering the amount of money involved.

    1. I used an JBC Nano station
      https://www.jbctools.com/nant-nano-soldering-product-821-category-1-menu-1.html

      I used the conical 0.1mm tip
      https://www.jbctools.com/c105101-cartridge-conical-o-01-product-167.html

      I didn’t apply solder directly, I either used what is on the BGA pad or applied a little to my soldering iron and the with some extra flux soldered the joint. I really wish I could film the proces and show you how I do this. But I only have a stereo microscope with which I can take pictures through the eyepiece, but I cannot solder and film at the same time.

  2. This reminds me of a guy on I’ve Got a Secret (I think) decades ago who took on Feynmann’s challenge of building a nano-scale electric motor and just blew way past what would have been a “winning” size.

    They also had a guy who built an airplane in his living room (not from a kit) and a fellow who sailed a boat made of cardboard down the Inland Waterway.

    At the other extreme, I’d like to see a single LED the size of a paper plate.

    1. single LED as the chip itself?

      Due to the way LED magic works, it:
      1) would be incredibly expensive to make a “chip” that big
      2) would be very inefficient because of how LEDs work

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