Blinkys are small electronic devices that make very bright light (usually flashing) using LEDs and small batteries. They are often sold by vendors at night-time events that have fireworks displays such as 4th of July, Canada Day, or Guy Fawkes Night. They are also popular at raves, new year’s eve parties and night time sporting events.
There is no industry standard or official name for Blinkys, but most common names use some combination of the terms, flash, magnet, strobe, body, blink, light, and/or jewellery. Common examples are, Blinkys, Blinkies, Blinkees, Body Lights, Blinky Body Lights, Magnetic Flashers, or Flashing Jewelry.
Blinky has also recently become the registered trademark of Blinky Ltd. A Cheshire (UK) company that specializes in solar powered flashing LCD promotional merchandise, despite the previous industry wide use of the term for the devices described here.
A typical blinky is a small metal cylinder that has threads on one end and a very small etched circuit board on the other. The threaded end is open to accept small button cell batteries, and another cylinder that screws on to hold them in place. The circuit board can be round and inside the cylinder, or larger, shaped, and glued to the outside of the cylinder end. Common designs have a rubber gasket inside the front (between the batteries and circuit board). Tightening the base causes the gasket to flatten and allows the batteries to complete the circuit with the back of the circuit board.
The most common designs use a set of strong magnets, one at the back of the Body Light, and another that can be removed. This allows the Body Light to be easily attached to clothes, or stuck on any magnetic metal such as buttons or belt buckles. Clips are often used to make earrings, a loop can make a pendant, or a ring can be welded to the back to make a finger ring. Double sided adhesive pads are sometimes used to stick the blinky directly to the body, most often in the navel.
The Circuit Board typically has anywhere from 2 to as many as 25 micro-LEDs. Current LED technology allows for every colour of the rainbow, even Infra-Red (for military/police), and Ultra-Violet (black light). Blue, White, Violet, and Ultra-Violet LEDs often need 2 or more batteries because of their high voltage requirements. Because it is an etched circuit board the front can be constructed to flash in a variety of ways, especially where there are multiple LEDs in multiple colours. A clear silicone gel, or acrylic plastic protects the fragile LEDs on the front (outside) of the board. Shaped boards have literally hundreds of variations combined with imprinting. Common shapes (besides the classic small round) are stars, hearts, flowers, flags, animals, holidays (like Halloween), and sports team logos.
Most often Blinkys are used for amusement at raves, parties and night time events. But they can have other uses as well such as:
* Blinkys imprinted with company logos at conventions.
* Safety lights for children during Halloween, or night time events.
* Fun and safety during camping trips.
* Emergency flashers for disabled automobiles or lost hikers (most blinkys have over a 1 mile visibility range at night).
While a few blinkys are made to be used once (like glow sticks), most can be reused with a fresh set of batteries. Typical blinkys use three AG3/AG4, or two CR927 batteries (see List of battery sizes). Although such batteries cost about $3 at watch stores, they can be had for $15 per hundred from online stores. (However, watch stores usually install the battery in your watch, which can be very difficult, while blinkies are usually just ‘twist, remove, replace, and twist’.)
Although the term ‘Blinky’, ‘Body Light’ or ‘Flashing Body Light’ usually means the round or shaped devices listed above the term has also come to sometimes broadly define a large group of similar items. These include:
Body Lights that don’t flash, but rather stay on brightly or slowly change colours.
Any small novelty that makes light, like a light up whistle, or a light up keychain.
Light up batons, mouth pieces, jewellery, or fibre optic wands.
Electroluminescent wire and badges
Clothing with flashing LED’s, like belt buckles or shoes. In the case of the shoes, which are usually running shoes or attractive women’s sandals, the flashing light is in the heel. The light starts flashing when the person wearing the shoes walks, runs, etc..