LED blinkies to light up your lapel pins
Blinking lights, commonly called “blinkies,” have been a popular addition to baseball trading pins for years. They can make a mascot’s eyes look more menacing while calling attention to the pin itself.
To create the blinking effect, a small light bulb (called a light-emitting diode or LED), is placed on the pin and connected to a hidden battery box on the back. When turned on, the LED achieves full brightness in microseconds and begins to blink red or green. Sometimes adjustments may need to be made in the design to allow for enough space to hold a blinkie.
For example, one baseball team wanted two blinkies to accent their mascot’s eyes, a large lizard. To get both of them on the design, space between the lizard’s eyes needed to be widened. However, later on, the team decided to go with just one blinkie, so the artist at The Monterey Company redrew the lizard’s head to show a side view.
Blinking Light Pins
“We have blinkies at our office that are three years old–and still work,” said Paul Stark, president of The Monterey Company. LED lights are difficult to damage and have a relatively long useful life.
One report estimates regular LEDs can last from 35,000 to 50,000 hours. By comparison, fluorescent bulbs last about 30,000 hours, and regular light bulbs last only 1,000-2,000 hours. When a LED is starting to fail, it will start to dim over time, rather than an abrupt burn-out like most household light bulbs. They do not contain mercury, unlike compact fluorescent lights.
Although LEDs are popular now, they were invented more than 88 years ago. In the mid-1920s, Russian Oleg Vladimirovich Losev created the first LED, but his research, though distributed in scientific journals, was ignored. In 1961, experimenters Bob Biard and Gary Pittman of Texas Instruments received the patent for LEDs, but Nick Holonyak, Jr. of the General Electric Company, developed the first practical visible-spectrum LED in 1962and is known as the “Father of the Light-Emitting Diode.”