Fun things made with programmable LEDs

My pals Tod Kurt and Mike Kuniavsky are the proprietors of ThingM, a company that makes nifty programmable LEDs and other smart electronic components.

They just sent out their latest ThingM newsletter showcasing a few cool projects that use BlinkMs: a robotic drum kit, cabinet handles that light up when you touch them, and books that blink.

BlinkM in Books with Personality

BlinkM in DrumKit


ThingM in Glowpull


  1. When are they going to add a purchase link on their site? I would buy 18 pairs of those Glowpulls right now.

    1. It’s a TECHNOLOGY SKETCHâ„¢ and not available yet. Yeah, I wanna Glowpull, but shame on ThingM for trademarking TECHNOLOGY SKETCHâ„¢ – com’on fer chissakes is it really necessary?

  2. Can someone please explain to me why I’d want flashing LEDs on my books?

    I would like some Glowpulls though. Dunno what I’d do with them yet, I’d just like to have them.

  3. I dunno why but every time I see a book that’s been chopped to add something and make it no longer a book, I cringe a bit and think, “Poor book.”

    This coming from the guy who hollowed out an old paperback to hold a squirtgun to sneak it into the halls at middle school mind you.

  4. I know I’m just being a literal jerk, but “programmable LEDs”?

    LEDs can’t be “programmed” any more than an incandescent light bulb can. Or a bolt, or a nail. Now, “programmable microcontroller-based LED projects”…

    1. “programmable microcontroller-based LED projects”

      Well yes, but thingm sells a combined RGB LED and microcontroller in a single 4-lead package. As such it isn’t unreasonable to think of the part as an “I2C-programmable LED”.

  5. Reminds of Pink Floyd’s Pulse live CD with the blinking red LED from 1995. Mine doesn’t blink anymore.

    1. My Pink Floyd blinky album cover was hanging on in quiet desperation for a few years, and eventually stopped. Wonder if I can still find it and take it apart? Probably only needs a new coin cell or something.

  6. If I am pulling a cabinet handle that means I have already located it, so having it light up has absolutely no value to me. I suppose it would look kind of neat, though, and that makes it somewhat worthwhile- It’s valid as a project to do for the sake of doing a project.

    What I would really like is a key fob with a SIM card and a ringer that I could call when I can’t find my keys, and also a way to make the Prius key fob beep so I can find it when I need to get out of the car for a break.

  7. In that drumkit video, ThingM’s power supply voltage display shows it collapsing under the load of the solenoids as they fire.

    Count on me never engaging them for anything requiring any real engineering.

  8. Well… this could get us one step closer to the inventory system described in Cory’s Makers. The one where you enter what you’re looking for and the place where it is starts blinking?

  9. The mallet with a blinking LED was a bit underwhelming–I couldn’t really see it. But the mechanism itself seems to be a truly wonderful way to get your downstairs neighbors to hate your guts.

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