Firmware Troubles

May 29, 2009 at 12:15 am 8 comments

I’m working hard on fixing some issues with the firmware which gives problems with the new PCBs.
To start with I just couldn’t get the LED’s to light at all. Eventually I made some progress using the most excellent TLC5940 library, though I couldn’t integrate it with my multiplexing code.
Some of the problems have been down to my lack of understanding of how the processor’s various registers work, in particular how timers are configured. Others have been plain stupid but no less frustrating, such as incompatibility between various versions of the arduino development kit (0011 works, 0013 flakes out over interrupts and on 0015 my code won’t compile!).
Oh well, it’s a learning process, and I now have a completely rewritten and much improved LED controller. Currently everything actually works, more or less, and with same the code running on both the previous (v4) and latest (v6) PCBs. But on v6 there is flicker… Noticable flicker.
I’m not sure if this is due to me changing the LED multiplexing pins. On v4 all five multiplexing pins were on the same port, in v6 I swapped some out for pins on a different port.
Whatever the reason I’m still working on fixing it. Hopefully v6 will turn out to be fully, flicker-free functional. Meanwhile here’s a pic of how nice it will look.

BlipBox By Night

BlipBox By Night


Entry filed under: BlipBox, News and Updates.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kai  |  May 29, 2009 at 9:12 am


  • 2. seamus blake  |  June 3, 2009 at 6:34 am

    can one buy a blipbox somehwere? if so how much?


    • 3. marser  |  June 7, 2009 at 4:37 pm

      There will be DIY kits available at some point, however it might be a little while until they’re ready. I intend to build and sell a few units ready-made as well, for those who have better things to do than soldering. I can’t imagine exactly what that would be, but I am told such people exist.
      So please subscribe to the mailing list or check back on the blog/website to find out when some boxes are ready to ship.
      And hey, thanks for the interest!

  • 4. kai  |  June 7, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    giant BlipBox spotted at contemporary art venue:
    were Angela Bulloch and Holger Friese’s “Pixel boxes” an inspiration at all?

    good luck with your firmware troubles!

    • 5. marser  |  June 16, 2009 at 1:36 pm

      wow, that’s nice. Not seen them before, I missed the show at the tate.

  • 6. Adrian  |  July 22, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Just picked up on your project from the URL you left on the Dorkcamp site. I look forward to talking to you there, first because I’m also playing with 5940 driver chips (for a POV display) but also because I’m curious about the appeal of this sort of interface.

    There are a number of projects that show people like a relatively low resolution interactive display like the monome. Blipbox picks another tradeoff towards a touch LCD, and as a fan of pinball machines I much prefer flashing lights and moving parts to images on video screens so I do understand the attraction.

    Why is this ? Some of these interfaces are more tactile than others (pinball with some force feedback, monome with switches) but Blipbox looks attractive even with the touch screen (and the touch screen provides features that switches can’t offer). Are we attracted to big, bright simple displays rather than a hi res LCD ? The simple displays could be simulated, but I feel intuitively that it would lose something : are the colours poorer, or the response too slow ?

  • 7. marser  |  July 27, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Interesting questions –

    I think there’s an appeal with minimal interfaces that challenges your creativity – just what can you do with some leds and a screen? Well the possibilities are endless.

    In comparison, I think controllers such as the JazzMutant Lemurs are of course stunning, but can be intimidating, and you wouldn’t really want to set about reprogramming the firmware as a lunchbreak project.

    And creativity is what it’s all about, really.
    Oh, and reliability, aesthetics, cost…

    I look forward to seeing you at the burningdork, if I can make it… seems the tickets are sold out?!

  • 8. Adrian  |  July 31, 2009 at 11:54 am

    There’s a lot of ‘feel’ about traditional interfaces such as bulbs – the slow on and off times, etc. LEDs and LCDs sometimes do better, sometimes worse. Bulbs are getting a bit steam-punk but a LED array still has a hand-made feel about it – there are small jiggles in the alignment and differences in brightness.

    Yes, I’m afraid the tickets are sold out. There were a few reserved for people doing presentations or workshops : don’t know if there are any of those left.


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