Oct 232015

Thanks to NextThingCo‘s recent efforts with getting Debian on their nifty little C.H.I.P. board, I was able to quickly get working my blink1-tool for our blink(1) USB LED. Let the blinky disco commence!

Mostly as a reminder to myself, here’s what I did.  (based on the “Flashing with Debian” section of this document)

On the vagrant ubuntu VM, update the CHIP tools and flash the CHIP board (be sure to have the FEL-to-GND jumper in place when flashing, and remove it after):

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install u-boot-tools android-tools-fastboot git build-essential libusb-1.0-0-dev
$ rm -rf ~/sunxi-tools/
$ git clone http://github.com/NextThingCo/sunxi-tools
$ make
$ sudo rm -rf /usr/local/bin/fel
$ sudo ln -s $PWD/fel /usr/local/bin/fel
$ cd ~/CHIP-tools/
$ git pull
$ ./chip-firmware-update.sh -d
$ cu -l /dev/ttyACM0 -s 115200

Once the flashing is done, remove the FEL jumper and power cycle the board.  When it comes up, connect to it via ‘cu’ (the last command above), get it on the net, get the compiler tools, then download and compile blink1-tool.  No changes to blink1-tool Makefile needed. Easy!

# nmcli device wifi connect todbot ifname wlan0
# apt-get install build-essential pkg-config git 
# apt-get usbutils libusb-1.0-0-dev

# git clone https://github.com/todbot/blink1
# cd blink1/commandline/
# make

# ./blink1-tool --list
# ./blink1-tool --random=1000 -m 10 -t 20 -l 2
 Posted by at 1:29 pm
Mar 262014

About a year ago, while I was developing the blink(1) mk2, I created both a PIC16F1455 development board and a little assemblage that was tiny enough to toss in my laptop bag but powerful enough to let me develop on the PIC.  I could now develop firmware in a coffeeshop!

Portable PIC16F1455 Development Platform

It consists of:

All taped together with double-stick foam tape.

The Sabrent USB hub is because it acts a partial goof-protector if I short USB power & ground and the per-port power switches make it easy to power-cycle the device I’m developing without unplugging-replugging.  The solderless breadboard is just big enough to support the addition of a few extra components.  And my dev board has female headers with male pins that stick into the breadboard, holding it securely place and making wiring to the dev board a snap.

If only MPLAB X & PICKit3 wasn’t so pokey for programming (it can take 15 seconds from the time you click “Upload”  to having your code running on the device)

 Posted by at 2:36 pm
Aug 082013

[originally posted on the ThingM blog]


Whew, MakerFaire Bay Area 2013 is over and it was astoundingly fun. Not only did we get to interact with so many people doing awesome things with ThingM products (like these BlinkM MinM earrings) but we got to show off a bunch of projects made with blink(1) and BlinkM-family stuff to thousands of new people. We heard tallies of 120,000 people showed up over the weekend, and we love seeing the concepts the Maker community inspires diffusing out into the larger world, as this LA Times article speaks to.

This year not only were we fortunate enough to have a ThingM table in the Maker Shed (Thank you Leah, Alex, Will, Carlyn, & Mike for helping staff it), but we also gave talks. Mike spoke about the future of manufacturing in a work filled with Maker-inspired tools and techniques, while I gave a talk on the process we went through to take blink(1) from an idea to Kickstarter to production.

Slides from my talk are below.

 Posted by at 9:17 pm
Aug 072013

[cross-posted from the ThingM blog]


We’re working on an improved version of blink(1) and have launched a Kickstarter for it.

blink(1) mk2 is an updated version of the blink(1) super status light. The original blink(1) made it easy to connect any data source in the cloud or on your computer to a full-color RGB LED so you can know what’s happening without checking any windows, going to any websites or typing any commands. blink(1) mk2 maintains backward-compatibility while adding better functionality and great new features.

The main new features are:
– Better USB support
– Brighter via dual RGB LEDs
– Independently-addressable LEDs
– Improved Blink1Control application

We think it’s going to be great.

 Posted by at 11:14 pm