BlinkyGrid - requested change

I picked up a couple of these to introduce some friends into soldering. Basic project with lots of solders to complete, and an immediate reward when finished.

Ive had one running for a couple weeks or more now on just two AA batteries, so am amazed at home little the project sips in current. And am most likely gonna order up more for a larger class community center class on basic electronics.

The grid is 8x7 pixels. And the characters are built from a standard 7x5 font… But the text scrolls from the bottom to the top, using the silkscreen text as an alignment. And this uses 8 LED’s per col, and 7 per row…

If the font is 7 pixels tall, why not orient it so it scrolls from right to left, stead of bottom to top? As one row of pixels is wasted in text mode. Perhaps giving the user a choice in direction?

As well, would it be feasible to put ‘memory left’ on the web page?

And finally, has anyone made other tools for programming? Would be nifty if one could create an image of a pixel map they wanted to scroll, and have an app that just reads the gif and programs the blinkygrid. Would imagine it would be a trivial matter to convert an image file into an ASCII PPM image, then feed that into the pixel array and program the blinkygrid from that… Would be coolio if one could make an 8 pixel high, and ${SizeOfMem} wide image, then automagically push it to the grid. Same function could also use figlet produced font data as a pixel array… Allowing the user to pick from differing fonts as offered by ‘figlet’. This can also be installed into a web engine easy enough. Conversion of any graphic format to PPM is done by imagemagick or netpbm, and creation of pixel arrays from alternate fonts by figlet.

Thanks for the consideration.


Hi Anjin, thanks for the suggestions. They are all good suggestions, we’re only limited by time and our limited abilities with javascript and website development :smile:

If you end up making a larger order for a class, please let us know in advance, as we can offer an educational discount to group classes like that.

You make a good point about the sub-optimal orientation of the grid with respect to the font and character scrolling. We could certainly work to fix that, but at this point we’ll probably just redesign the blinky kits and incorporate that change as part of “Blinky v2” or something like that.

We could certainly add a “memory left” output on the programming webpage, that’s a great idea, thank you!

One big feature I want to add to the blinky programmer is a way to save/load messages, especially for complicated pixel messages that take a while to “click in”. This would probably just be a text field for each message that captures the message metadata and pixel/font data.

Everything is open source, so you’re welcome to build a cool image converter for programming. We’d love to see what you can come up with! Here are some references:

Transmitter webpage code:

The javascript is kind of a mess, but it works.
Interesting functions include handle_message_text, handle_message_pixel, make_config_byte, wrap_messages, encode_xmit_data, and start_dump.

Design documentation for the blinky kits:

Explains all about the bootloader, pixel vs font-table messages, the message data format, how we wrap multiple messages into a “hex”-like file, and the actual “black and white squares flashing” data transmission.