Back in 2008, I built an “Err” sign for a friend using Peggy. Peggy is an electronics hardware kit by Evil Mad Scientist that powers a programmable LED grid. Its most recent “Peggy 2” version is now Arduino-based! For those not familiar, Arduino is an open-source hardware and software prototyping platform bearing a USB interface.
You can do all sorts of cool things with Peggy. Above is a “RGBW super-pixel” setup, which uses red, blue, green, and white LEDs (4 total per super-pixel) to craft a non-primary color in any 2x2 given segment on the grid. My particular project this time was to build some wall art for my new apartment: Ignignokt, the first of the two Mooninites….
A picture of my now completed Ignignokt sign (right), next to one of the original “Err” signs from 2007 (left).
In early 2007, as a marketing project for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie, several of these LED signs were installed in 10 cities (nationwide). However, this promotion literally “bombed” when someone called in a bomb-scare over one of the signs being “suspiciously” mounted to the underside of a highway overpass in Boston, Massachusetts. The signs had already received attention on the internet, but after this event they began to appear on eBay for as much as $5,000 USD.
My actual build of ‘Ignignokt’ took place yesterday at Noisebridge, a workspace in San Francisco that's open 24/7 to hardware hackers and enthusiasts. The parts had arrived earlier that day, and after a few hours… I had already completed it! You'll need moderate soldering and electrical skills, and also some patience… especially for this particular design, as some of its LEDs sit between the points on the provided 25x25 LED grid.
The board and its components are more attractive on this “Peggy 2” version, compared to that of the original ‘Peggy’. There is better symmetry to the circuit layout and more intricacy. The pins for optional USB configuration are readily accessible from the front of board, and it still has rubber feet on the back to prevent short-circuits and to help protect your walls from scratches.
Overall, Peggy 2 is fun to work with and a cool creative outlet. I look forward to building more with both Arduino and Peggy in the future. It was great meeting some of the folks at Noisebridge, too, which also hosts weekly “Circuit Hacking” events for beginners. Check it out if you're in San Francisco and new to electronics, or check out this latest version of Peggy if you're looking for something cool to tinker with!