Someone recently suggested integrating the BlipBox with Processing. The Processing language is:

an open source programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interactions.

This was such an excellent idea that we simply had to do it. And now the beta version of the BlipBox Processing (or p5 if you prefer) library is ready!

Here’s an example of a very simple Processing sketch that talks two-ways with a BlipBox:

ProcessingBlipBox blipbox;
int x = 0;
int y = 0;
int value = 255;

void setup(){
  blipbox = new ProcessingBlipBox(this);

void draw(){
  blipbox.setLed(x, y, value);
  if(++x == 10){
    x = 0;
    if(++y == 8 )
      y = 0;
    value = blipbox.getX(0, 255);
    // scales X position to 0-255 range

For this to work, the blipbox.jar library has to be added to the sketch using the PDE (Processing Development Environment).

What the sketch does is the following:
It iterates over all LEDs by column and row, setting them to an initial value of 255 (maximum luminosity).
If at any point the touch screen is pressed, then the value is changed to reflect the horizontal position of the touch.

The library code is currently in CVS and will be part of the first BlipBox public release, so that everyone can sketch with the ‘box!

Updated: here’s a silly little video to show y’all it’s for real:

September 13, 2009 at 6:56 pm Leave a comment

It Works!

Having battled with flicker on the new PCB for some time now I decided to build another board, to do some creative rewiring, and see what happens.

So guess what? The new board works just fine. Without modifications.

To my embarrassment I didn’t much consider that there could be some freak component or connection problem with the first board I soldered up. But that’s exactly what seems to be the case. One lives and one learns. Then one forgets.

The upshot of this all is that
1) I’ve rewritten, optimised and generally improved almost every part of the firmware trying to fix this problem.
2) I am reluctant to send out kits until I figure out what caused the flicker in the first place. Any ideas?

In the meantime I will build a couple of units and put up for sale. Enclosures shall be ordered, but won’t arrive for some 3-5 weeks. Watch this space.

And with that, a sincere thank you for continued support and patience!

August 5, 2009 at 1:05 am 3 comments

Firmware Troubles

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

May 29, 2009 at 12:15 am 8 comments

Mailing List

I’ve created a mailing list for the blipbox which is open to everyone, whether you’re wanting to get seriously involved or just curious. Join up here.

May 23, 2009 at 2:37 pm 1 comment

Aluminium BlipBox

We’ve been working on a custom machined, aluminium enclosure for the BlipBox and we think we’ve hit on a winner with this one:

Aluminium BlipBox

Aluminium BlipBox

The form, feel and size is perfect. The internal components fit just right and we have plans to make space (and circuitry) for additional illuminated buttons. Oh and yes, it looks fantastic!

May 22, 2009 at 11:08 pm 2 comments

New PCBs

New PCBs arrived in the mail the other day from PCB train.

BlipBox PCB v6

BlipBox PCB v6

A few changes were made with this revision, notably the pins controlling the LEDs were swapped around to free up one more GPIO and provide PWM capable outputs for extensions.
As it turns out, this causes lots of problems! Hopefully they can be solved in firmware, something we’re currently working hard on. Unfortunately it means further delays for everyone waiting for the kits to become available. Watch this space for further updates.

May 22, 2009 at 10:57 pm Leave a comment

BlipBox PCBs On Order

BlipBox v6 boards

BlipBox v6 boards

I’ve updated the boards and put an order in for 15. The lead time is 15 working days, so they will take a little over 3 weeks to arrive.

If you would like one then let me know, the price will be around £15 for the bare PCB. I will try to put together a kit with the PCB, ICs, sockets, headers, LED units and touch screen – basically all you need to build your own.

I’m also working on producing some very nice, custom machined alu cases, but more on that later.

April 16, 2009 at 1:17 am 19 comments

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