The Institute Blinky Badge BM2015 (Private Campaign)

Jul 20, 2015

Project update 1 of 1

Blinky Badge Update

To the Institute Blinky Badge Backers:

We’re looking to ship your badges week of August 10, so if you’ve moved since you backed the campaign, or if you need your items sent to an alternate address because you’re on the road, etc., please check your account on Crowd Supply and change your shipping address. (An account was automatically created for you when you placed your order, so you may need to request a password reset to login to your account).

The badge design and firmware are now complete, and are in production. Above is what the final model ended up looking like — pretty close to the initial draft. I’m estimating the units will ship from China to Crowd Supply around August 3rd, which means they should be mailed to your various homes week of Aug 10. It takes about a week for the postal service to deliver, so you’ll hopefully get your stuff no later than week of August 17th — should be just in time for even the earliest of arrivals to the playa to get their stuff.

I managed to implement most of the promised features, including the lighting genome and sex. I’ll have to say, there were few lines of code more satisfying to write than the following:

meiosis(&egg, &(parent->haploidM[i]), &(parent->haploidP[i]));
mutate(&egg, mutation_rate);
mutate(sperm, mutation_rate);
memcpy(&(parent->haploidM[i]), &egg, sizeof(genome));
memcpy(&(parent->haploidP[i]), sperm, sizeof(genome));

Yep, that’s sex in C. :)

Enough of that. Above is a sampling of the UI screens on the badge. Yes, the UI is janky. But dammit Jim I’m a hardware engineer, not a UX designer! Be glad there /is/ a UI and not a bunch of wires to solder to program things.

There’s a quick start guide in the box, but there’s two things you need to remember to navigate the UI: holding down left & right simultaneously is the "home screen" escape sequence, you need to set your name otherwise you’ll be using a dorky auto-generated random name. The name entry UI is definitely janky, because you have to hit the "right arrow" to commit the name, not use the home screen escape sequence. C’est la vie, we can debate the details over cocktails in the dust.

The other two things I really want you to know are:

(1) you’re going to need a firmware update for the battery gauge to read correctly, and then you’re going to have to go through at least one full charge/discharge cycle to calibrate it. I didn’t find/fix this bug until yesterday, but the firmware image for the badge had to be released to the factory two weeks ago. Good news is this doesn’t affect core functionality, just improves the battery %’age remaining estimate; you could never get the update and you’ll get by. But come find me and I’ll update your firmware, I’ll sleep better knowing your battery gauge is initialized correctly.

(2) Yes, the OLED screen is just out there, unprotected. It’s a thin piece of glass which means if you smash it it’ll break. I am having the factory put a dab of hot glue on the thinner bit, but careless handling will still break it. Once it’s strapped to your camelback it should be good, unless you plan on moshing, or stepping on your camelback (oh wait…), but high bit is when you pack for the playa don’t toss this in with a bag full of heavy water bottles. I highly recommend you transport it in the shipping box, actually.

I’ll bring some spare screens just in case you happened to end up in a rodeo hug with a rhinoceros. Or some hippy decides to park their bike on your camelback while you’re at robot heart. >_<

I’m also bringing another 5V farm & lots of cables this year, so you can charge your badges. And btw, the battery life is pretty decent, I’m getting 24+ hours runtime on some lighting effects, so you may only need to charge it every other night.

Looking forward to see how this year’s badge works out, should be interesting to see how the radio ping & sex protocols hold out when we’ve got a camp full of people sitting around having sex. Let’s hope my bandwidth modeling was correct, and that I didn’t malloc() without free()!

See you in the dust!


PS: latest firmware is at & platform hardware docs at if you care!

Sign up to receive future updates for The Institute Blinky Badge BM2015 (Private Campaign).

Subscribe to the Crowd Supply newsletter, highlighting the latest creators and projects