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BlinkM Quick Start Guide


While BlinkM is primarily a tool for hardware experimenters, anyone can have fun with BlinkM. This is a quick-start guide to create your own custom light patterns with a BlinkM. No previous programming or hardware skills are required. However, to get the full use out of a BlinkM, you will want to learn a bit more about Arduino or similar microcontroller and download theBlinkM datasheet.



1a. Get a BlinkM

BlinkMs are available at Sparkfun. They come fully assembled.

1b. Get an Arduino board

Arduino USB boards are also available at Sparkfun and Adafruit.
The Arduino Diecimila USB board is the recommended board to get. It costs about $35.

1c. Download BlinkM Documentation and Software



2a. Set up your Arduino

Once you have an Arduino board, you can install the Arduino software on your computer to talk to it.
Follow the normal Arduino setup guide for Windows or Arduino setup guide for Mac OS X.
If you already have an Arduino, be sure to have the latest Arduino software (Arduino-0010 currently).

The things you’ll do:

  • Download the Arduino software
  • Install serial driver
  • Plug in the Arduino board
  • Launch the Arduino software


At the end of the Arduino setup, you’ll be running the Arduino software environment and be able to blink the Arduino’s on-board LED.

2b. Program Arduino with BlinkM Communicator
BlinkM Communicator is an Arduino “sketch” (‘sketch’ = ‘program’ in Arduino terminology). It enables the Arduino to be an interface between you computer and the BlinkM.
Unzip the download ( Open the sketch (called BlinkMCommunicator.pde) in the Arduino programming environment. Then press the “Upload to I/O Board” button in the top row of buttons.


2c. Quit the Arduino software and Unplug Arduino

You’re done with the Arduino programming software for now, but feel free to use it later to play. Arduino boards can do much more than just interface with BlinkM!

Unplug the Arduino from the computer. ALWAYS unplug Arduino before plugging in a BlinkM.


3a. Plug a BlinkM into Arduino (in analog pins 2-5)

The BlinkM’s PWR (power) pins should line up with pins 2 and 3 of the connector, while the I2C (communications) pins should line up with pins 4 and 5.

3b. Plug Arduino back in to USB

When first powered up, the BlinkM will blink like this:


3c. Run and Play with BlinkM Sequencer

3d. Connect and Program your BlinkM!

Press “Set connection” and choose your Arduino’s port, as selected in Step 2a. It should be listed first, though it may not be.

Press “Upload” to save your sequence to the BlinkM.

Now your BlinkM will play back your programmed sequence whenever power is applied to the BlinkM.

3e. Disconnect, Unplug, Hook up to a Battery!

Attach a power source to pins 2 and 3, with + to pin 3 (“+” on some BlinkMs, a red dot on others) and – to pin 2 (“-” on some BlinkMs, a black dot on others).
Use only 3v-5v power sources such as coin batteries or power supplies to power BlinkMs. DO NOT use 9v batteries or any power supply that puts out more than 5.5v, YOU WILL DESTROY THE BLINKM.

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