SMT Blinky Grid Kit

Scroll messages and animations across an LED matrix, and reprogram it by holding it up to your screen

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More details

We designed this version of the Blinky Grid Kit to be an excellent introduction for someone who wants to learn or practice surface mount soldering.

It functions exactly the same as the larger, through-hole Blinky Grid Kit, but it is assembled differently.

Scroll messages and animations across an LED matrix, and reprogram it by holding it up to your screen. It has 56 LEDs in a 7x8 array, and can display text and animations in a variety of ways. It is a standalone, surface-mount kit.

Now available as a pre-assembled product, in limited colors.

See it in action!

Updating through the website

(This video shows the through-hole Blinky Grid, but the programming interface is exactly the same.)

More details are available on the Blinky SMT project page.

Kit Contents

The kit contains an SMT Blinky Grid printed circuit board, a battery holder, a power switch, 56 (and usually a few extra) red, green or blue LEDs, a preprogrammed PIC16F1823 microcontroller, two 10 kΩ resistors, two ambient light sensors, a 0.1uF ceramic capacitor, a push button, a pin, and a butterfly clasp.

The contents are also listed and explained individually on the Parts List portion of the Blinky project page.

Build it

The SMT Blinky Grid is a surface mount kit. It requires different skills than through-hole soldering, but many things are the same. If you purchase a pre-assembled kit, no soldering is required.

At a minimum, you'll need a soldering iron, solder, and tweezers, but flux and solder wick are extremely useful. It requires a CR2032 battery, which is not included. Clear instructions are available at the Blinky project webpage.

It usually takes about an hour to build, but it may take more or less time depending upon your experience with soldering.

Surface Mount Soldering

While we won’t say that everyone can successfully solder surface-mount, you do not need extreme dexterity or super eagle vision. We’ve built a bunch of these with people who have never soldered surface mount before, between seven and fifty or so years of age–and everyone has been successful.

A seven year old girl, when working on her Blinky POV SMT, said, “This really isn’t that hard. You don’t have to help me. SMT is easy!” She was using an iron, solder, and some tack flux.

We chose the largest surface-mount packages available, 1206 and SOIC, in order to make this as easy as possible.

We’ve written a few pages on surface mount soldering, highlighting tools and techniques.

Open Source Hardware

This kit is open source hardware. We make the hardware source files like the schematic and the pcb files available for anyone to use as long as they credit us and release any modifications as open source hardware. The schematic and pcb files are available on the Blinky download page.


When you're finished building the kit, let us know how it went! We use feedback to improve future versions of our kits, and the warm fuzzies help us make more kits! Let us know in the forum or via email.