Author: Ethan Hartman

Community Manager for Blinkinlabs, Ethan just loves talking to people about things that aren't working quite right. That is, he likes helping people make things work better. Yes. He's done various things throughout his career, including running the lab at a major California winery, but he's most renowned worldwide for efforts in the "Occupy Meatspace" movement.

BlinkyTile Updates!

The BlinkyTile Kickstarter campaign is coming to an end, and we have a few things that we’d like to share before it’s all wrapped up!

Pattern Mapping Demo

Here’s something we’re excited to share: a demonstration of a sculpture that we’ve mapped out in software. This allows different kinds of effects, including the waves of darkness and light shown here:

The mapping for this one was a manual process- take a picture of the sculpture, determine the x and y coordinates of each of the tiles, then record them into a table in the animation sketch. Based on this, we’re building a software program to take care of the tedious bits and get down to sweet lighting action.

But that’s not all!

There are a few other cool pieces of news, so head over to the Kickstarter Update Post if you want to read more, including news about PCB panels (as in the post’s featured image.) And time is running down, so now’s the time to share BlinkyTile with your friends!

The BlinkinLabs Team

BlinkyTile is a success!


Most of the regular readers of this blog have probably been over to see our ongoing Kickstarter campaign, but just in case you haven’t…it’s been great.  We blew through our funding goal in less than 12 hours, and have almost doubled our target in a little more than a week.

The photo above is from just after the end of Maker Faire, where we not only showed off sculptures made with the new product, but also invited attendees to solder a tile into one of the sculptures – the results were pretty cool visually, and we taught more than a few people how to solder.

So – BlinkyTile is going to be the second product from BlinkinLabs, and we’re really excited about that.  Whether you backed the campaign, shared it with your network, or just checked it out – thank you for your support!  And if you haven’t done that yet, luckily there’s still time – our campaign is running until October 20th.

Thanks again,

-The BlinkyTeam


Blinkinlabs at New York Maker Faire!

Soldering + child

Hello loyal fans!  If you haven’t heard from us as much as you might have liked in recent weeks, that’s because we’ve been up to some good stuff. We have some exciting things happening in the next few days, not the least of which is our visit to this weekend’s World Maker Faire New York!

If you’ve never been to a Maker Faire, we can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s the biggest event in the world for the stuff we like – things that light up, move, make noise, and are open and hackable. And we’re pretty excited about what we have to show off (more on that soon…)

If you think you might be able to visit, you’ll find us in the “dark room” once again – that’s usually on the second floor inside the New York Hall of Science, but check the information when you get there.

And leave your feed-scanners set to “blinky” for our upcoming announcements!


Headlamps and burners


Just a quick Friday post for y’all, sharing photog / hacker / NYC Resistor member William Ward‘s recent BlinkyTape exploits. And according to him, BlinkyTape is all the lighting you need for Burning Man!

Well, “utility lighting.” But either way, you’ll definitely find some good uses for BlinkyTape out on the playa.

Anyone else planning on using BlinkyTape at Burning man? Share with us on the forums!

BlinkyTape Goes Retail at Story NYC!


A few weeks ago, we were approached by a very interesting NYC Retail space, STORY. STORY is an innovative retail store that re-creates itself periodically – it’s almost like a retail gallery. They were looking for products for their brand-new collection, called “COOL.” Flash forward to this week, and BlinkyTape is suddenly for sale at in a retail space for the very first time!

I had a chance to check it out yesterday, and it’s really a compelling collection of stuff. The headliner (appropriately) is Aros the new smart air conditioner from Quirky and GE. However, there’s some other great stuff like Grady’s Cold Brew Coffee and Hay Rosie Ice Cream.

And, best of all, COOL includes a special limited edition BlinkyTape package that includes a rechargeable USB battery!

Oh yeah, and this:


So head over to the 10th Ave & 18th St in Manhattan to check it out!

Ambient Weather Indicator


Another great use for BlinkyTape comes to us from our forum user Eric C. aka “revsin.” Like our last post this is an ambient information visualizer – but for a very different purpose. Eric is a motorcyclist and wants to know at a glance if it’s going to be dry for the next few hours – i.e. whether or not it’s a safe time for a ride.

In order to do this, he’s writing a python script that quickly scrapes a weather website for the next few hours of weather and then writes it out to his BlinkyTape – each LED corresponds to a few minutes.

Very awesome – click through to for the python!
Read more

Awesome BlinkyTape use in the field – SAWS

saws (1)
There are few things that make us as proud as when we see a great use for BlinkyTape out in the wild. So you can imagine our delight when we saw a tweet about this blog post on the “Engine Room” blog by the Financial Times.

If you’ve ever been tasked with keeping an eye on a bunch of servers running in a far-off colocation facility, you know that it’s all about the tools. And – get this! – some clever sysadmins at FT have used BlinkyTape to streamline their server monitoring.

They’ve engineered a Raspberry Pi-based system that runs a python script translating their servers’ status into friendly colored lights! While a blinking red light won’t tell you what is wrong, it’ll tell you when something is up in a very obvious way. This should go a long way towards avoiding every sysadmin’s worst fear: not knowing the server has been down for awhile.

If I ever have another server-tending gig, I’ll definitely be building something very similar. Bravo, Silvano!

New Lightpainting Tutorial!

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 8.08.10 AM

Exciting developments in Blinkyland – while many of you know how easy it is to do cool light painting with BlinkyTape, we realized it was high time for an updated light painting tutorial. So we made one, complete with the helpful animated gif you see above!

Enjoy the gif here or click through for some additional detail. Then, head to the forums and discuss the finer points of light painting technique, or share your creations on your favorite social media network. We look forward to seeing what you come up with!

RainbowMaker Prototype

RainbowMaker Prototype Installation @nycresistor from Ethan Hartman on Vimeo.

A few short weeks ago, while our fearless leader, Matt, was in Brooklyn, we undertook a marvelous undertaking: installing a near-magical prototype high on a wall over an archway at one of our favorite haunts, NYC Resistor.

Stills don’t do it justice – check the video for a brief but magical taste of the RainbowMaker in action.

Thus, meet what we’re calling “The Maker of Rainbows,” or “RainbowMaker” for short – it’s a prototype of a board that can power up to 8 4-meter LED strips (or more!) and it’s perfect for medium- to large-scale lighting installations or, yea verily, wall art.

Matt and I spend quite a while rigging this up – it required the use of hacksaws, laser cutters, wire twisters, ladders, and more! (OK, in this case “more” is probably just “hex keys.”) But, in the end, we were able to firmly attach the RainbowMaker to the century-old brick wall in the wave format you see here. If you head to Resistor’s Interactive Show you should see it in action.

I know what you’re thinking: when can I have my own RainboMaker? We’re still working on the details but we do hope to be able to commercialize something like the RainbowMaker soon. If you’re excited about it, send some love over our way with your Twitter machine – @Blinkinlabs.