64 Synchronizing Fireflies

Posted by on Jun 25, 2009 in avr, led, simulation | 18 Comments

Last week I invested some time to solder 64 Firefly boards. Only 2.432 solder joints later I was ready for some videos.

Every firefly acts completely autonomously, it has its own tiny controller, eye and luminary. They are all connected for power supply only.

Here are some different configurations.



  1. sam
    25. June 2009

    fffing amazing!!!!!!!!!! technical proof that god concept is completely redundant

  2. Daily DIY Network - Science Projects Plans Guides » Blog Archive » 64 synchronizing fireflies
    25. June 2009

    [...] 64 Synchronizing Fireflies Read more | Permalink | Comments | Read more articles in Electronics | Digg this! Source: MAKE Magazine [...]

  3. Marcus
    25. June 2009

    Completely amazing. I still disagree that all those power cables are a good idea. But I bow before your results and soldering patience ;)

  4. Stefan*
    26. June 2009

    This is so nice! Very well done. I had to watch all movies to the end and couldn’t do something else.

  5. Meadhbh Hamrick
    26. June 2009

    w00t! inspirational!

    after seeing jeri ellsworth’s NES purse at the maker faire this year, i had a dream about making a NES clone, but using an array of 256 x 224 ping pong balls for the display. i had been thinking about using MSP430′s for the job, but it’s good to see there are proven alternatives.

  6. foz
    30. June 2009

    This really made me think of your firefies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-FpzW7u-fc

  7. robert
    1. July 2009


    I’ll need a few (about 100) TT balls as LED diffusors for an Ikea lamp mod. The cheapest ones I could find were 25€ for 120, but they all had a logo printed on them. What’s your source ?

  8. Alex
    1. July 2009

    Hi Robert,
    I bought mine at ebay, around 25 € for 120 white and without any printing on them.

  9. Matheus
    2. October 2009

    Simply Awesome! After setting up two fireflies, using the code available on the page, I realized that the flashes are a bit slow. Any tips?

  10. Eric
    8. January 2010

    What do you use for the breakaway power sockets? I’m having trouble finding a suitable part on Mouser (I have everything else set up in my cart, just can’t seem to find a good one for that…)

  11. Alex
    8. January 2010

    I’m now using this part S5438-ND from Digikey. Don’t know if Mouser has something like that.

  12. Eric
    8. January 2010

    Thanks for the quick answer! Mouser doesn’t carry that supplier, nor do they have a suitable replacement in stock. However, it looks like I can pick up most of the stuff from Digikey, except the photo-transistor… minimum order of 4,000. Do you pick it up from a different distributor?

  13. Alex
    9. January 2010

    That one is from rs-components.com (or rs-online.de here in Germany).

  14. Vlatko
    1. April 2010

    Can someone tell me if it is possible to use a photodiode instead of phototransistor?

  15. Alex
    1. April 2010

    A photodiode should work as well. You may have to adapt the resistor in series with the diode to form a voltage divider.

  16. Vlatko
    6. April 2010

    Can you explain a bit more about adapting the resistor value. How should I calculate the correct value?

  17. Alex
    6. April 2010

    Choose a resistor that matches the “resistance” of the diode in the lighting conditions you want to use.
    The voltage divider (resistor and diode) should divide the voltage in equal parts (optimum), e.g. 5V over the voltage divider, 2.5V over the resistor and 2.5V over the diode. That way you get the most range out of your sensor. Remember to do the measurement in the lighting condition you want to use (probably in the evening or at night).

  18. Inspirace pro vaše projekty | ?Art.cz
    7. October 2011

    [...] projekt, který bych si rád vyzkoušel jsem našel na webu tinkerlog.com. Autor tam ukazuje sv?j kit, který se chová jako jistý druh sv?tlušky. Ty se umí bez jakékoliv viditelné komunikace synchronizovat v blikání, až nakonec blikají [...]