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project overview
Zur deutschsprachigen Version dieser Seite
Year 2007
Number of pixels 144
Grayscales / Colors 8 grayscales
Illuminant 5mm standard LEDs
Power input
Contact person Arne Rossius
Project website

The BlinkenLEDs Plus is a multiplexed display consisting of 144 standard LEDs (Blinkenlights resolution and aspect ratio) that can play movies from the ATMega16's flash memory, an RS232 MCUF stream or BIN, BLM and BML files as well as Blinkström Advanced BS2.BIN files from an SD card (FAT16 or FAT32).

The project can also be used as an MCUF-Blinkenserver as movies read from SD card are output as MCUF stream simultaneously to being displayed.


The hardware is built on two stacked veroboards (160x100 mm). The upper board contains only the LED matrix, wired in two planes on the solder side: the rows are connected directly on the board as usual while the columns' wiring stands out a few millimetres from the board. Wires connect it to the lower board which contains everything else (controller, row driver transistors, RS232 port, SD card etc.). I used an edge connector glued flat to the board for an SD card slot.






BlinkenLEDs Plus Rev.3 is using the BlinkenPlus firmware.

Prototype & Rev.1

The BlinkenPlus firmware is now compatible with the early revisions as well.

The legacy software for the ATMega16 controller is written in assembly language and can be downloaded here. A perl-script that converts BLM files to assembly code (movies stored in the ATMega16's flash) is included.enthalten.

There are a few options at the beginning of the assembly code:

Option Explanation
COLUMNS_INVERTED Invert column outputs (active low, set to 1 for kit version).
KIT_REV1_CORRECTION Enable correction for PCB layout error in kit Rev.1 (mixed-up columns).
STREAM_TIMEOUT_VAL If no valid frame is received via RS232 for this period (in seconds), the BlinkenLEDs Plus continues playing movies from flash. The value '0' means infinity.
USE_SDCARD Activates SD Card functionality. Disable to save program memory (more space for movies).
BLINKSTROEM_COMPATIBLE The Blinkström Advanced plays movies slightly too fast. If this option is set, the BlinkenLEDs Plus will play a BS2.BIN file in the root directory at the same speed.
STREAM_INPUT If set, the BlinkenLEDs Plus accepts a stream via RS232 when no SD card is inserted.
STREAM_OUTPUT If set, the BlinkenLEDs Plus outputs all displayed frames as a stream via RS232 (regardless of the source of the data, be it movies from flash, from SD card or an incoming RS232 stream).
DEBUG Enable debug mode (output debugging messages to the serial port, can't be active at the same time as STREAM_OUTPUT.

Contents of the SD Card

The BlinkenLEDs Plus can read FAT16 and FAT32 formatted cards. Cards up to 32MB are usually formatted with FAT12 and must be re-formatted to FAT16 to be used with the BlinkenLEDs Plus. Supported card types are MMC, SD and SDHC. The files on the SD card must be in certain directories and have specific names to be found by the BlinkenLEDs Plus. This means you can use the same SD card with different projects without having to exchange the files on it all the time. The SD Card must be inserted before powering on, if you plug it in when the BlinkenLEDs Plus is already running it will be ignored.

  • If a directory "BLPLUS" is found, only files in this directory will be played.
    • In this directory, all files with the endings "BIN", "BLM" or "BML" will be played in the order they're listed in the directory entry in the FAT. When the files are copied onto an empty card, that will usually be the same order they're copied onto the card in.
  • If no "BLPLUS" directory exists, the BlinkenLEDs Plus will look for a "BS2.BIN" file in the root directory (Blinkström mode). This file will be played in an endless loop, just like with the Blinkström.
  • If neither the "BLPLUS" directory nor a "BS2.BIN" file are found, an error message will be displayed and no movies will be played.


More photos: