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What You Need
x86-based computer (Intel or
AMD) running Windows with
a free printer port
One LED driver board
144 ultra-bright LEDs
100 meters of CAT5 wire
5 amp, 5 volt DC power
20' x 5' roll of chicken wire
10' x 18' white sheet or
frosted plastic shower curtain
Hot-melt glue gun and glue or
silicon rubber sealant
Electrical crimp tool and
metal crimps
Other items listed in
Exhibit A
How to Hack a
Building-Size Display
several weekends
very difficult
In 2001, a group of determined individuals with a keen eye toward art
and technology created a project called "Blinkenlights." This project took
a twelve-story building and turned it into a large bitmapped display upon
which they put animations, static images, and a working interactive "Pong"
The project was completed by the Chaos Computer Club of Germany,
which was celebrating its twentieth anniversary. They wanted to mark the
occasion and give a gift to the city of Berlin. From September 12, 2001 to
February 23, 2002, an office building in Berlin was hacked to become a
giant interactive computer.
Behind the building's front windows on the top eight floors they placed 144
lamps. A computer switched each lamp on and off independently to produce
a monochrome matrix of 18-by-8 pixels, transforming the building into
a huge display. In the evening, an ever-changing array of animations and
images could be seen from several miles away. There was even an interactive
component: spectators could play the old arcade classic Pong on the build-
ing using their mobile phones, and passersby could place their own "love
letters" on the screen.
Photographs copyright 2003 Chaos Computer
Club and Rene Schneider (Figure 8-28).