AEMBLINK Harvests Solar Energy to Power Blinkenlight

Not too long ago, it seemed like every attendee at any given convention and trade show wore blinking LED name tags, corporation/company logo buttons, or jewelry. It was enough to give a healthy person a seizure while roaming through a sea of blinking LEDs. While some were designed with artistic flair, others looked like cheap tchotchkes from the buck store. That said, they all had one thing in common — they were all battery-powered, which meant they would lose power eventually and would need a replacement.

The AEMBLINK features polycrystalline solar panel, AEM10941 solar harvesting PMIC, and a low-power LED blinking circuit based on TI’s TPL5110 nano-power system timer. (📷: Jasper Sikken)

IoT hardware engineer Jasper Sikken took the LED blinking gadget a step further by replacing that battery power with solar, using his AEMBLINK blinkenlight. Like any other blinking gadget, the AEMBLINK is a simple LED blinking device, only instead of a simple circuit, Sikken’s design makes use of a polycrystalline solar panel, AEM10941 solar-harvesting PMIC, Nichicon JUWT1105MCD supercapacitor, and ultra-low power LED blinking circuit based on Texas Instrument’s TPL5110 nano-power system timer.

According to Sikken, the AEMBLINK can blink for 8-hours on a single charge, charges in just 5-minutes in full sun (@ 800W/m² solar irradiance), and can harvest enough indoor light (200 lux) to blink seemingly forever. Jasper goes on to explain, “The LED blinking circuit is ultra-low power. Average current is ~10uA. The LED pulses are only 14ms long, long enough for our eyes and brains to perceive at full brightness and they have ~2 seconds blink interval, short enough to strongly draw attention. Highly efficient LEDs with large viewing angle were selected.”

The AEMBLINK is light enough to be worn as a badge or jewelry, and is available now for $34.90 on Sikken’s Tindie page, which gets you the fully assembled PCB (including solar panel and supercapacitor), a pair of pinch clasps, and a necklace and earring hook to make it wearable.

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Author: Cabe Atwell

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