Help me whimsically prank some folks.
June 20, 2008 5:39 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find some small, cheap flashing lights? It doesn't really matter what kind of light they are as long as they flash, a variety of colors would be nice but not necessary, the ability to turn them on and off is nice but not necessary, they shouldn't require a cumbersome power source but they don't need to last much longer than ten minutes, and I need to be able to obtain them by tomorrow (Saturday) in NYC.

From what I can gather, tiny LEDs seem like they might fit the bill, but I know nothing of how one obtains or works with them. (Or even if they flash.)
posted by doift to Shopping (15 answers total)
Would bike lights fit the bill?
posted by Morpeth at 5:49 AM on June 20, 2008

Not sure I can help with the acquiring of said flashing lights, but I think you should be aware that depending on the circumstances, your prank might end badly. At least you have the benefit that you're not doing this in Boston.
posted by Grither at 5:50 AM on June 20, 2008

Second LED Throwies. You can also buy them premade.
posted by burnmp3s at 5:52 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think bike lights might be too big- I'm thinking dime-sized or smaller. I guess I didn't specify that before.

I've read about Throwies, but 1) I don't have time to get supplies online and don't know where to get them in NYC, and 2) they don't blink, do they?
posted by doift at 6:52 AM on June 20, 2008

From everything I've seen online, blinking a LED requires a programmable microcontroller.
They're really cheap, but you can't just get them at your local radio shack.

The only other part you need is an atmel avr tiny45 microcontroller
Search google for electronics store in your area, but I think you'll need to get them online.
posted by PowerCat at 7:10 AM on June 20, 2008

Yeah, I'm pretty sure making blinking throwies exceeds my timeframe and skill level at this point.
posted by doift at 7:27 AM on June 20, 2008

Maybe this is too obvious or totally not what you need, but lots of christmas tree light strings can flash. Despite the extreme off-season you could probably find some at K-mart (Astor Place or near Penn Station) or at those Jack's 99 cent stores.
posted by yarrow at 8:16 AM on June 20, 2008

You can buy pre-made blinking LEDs at Radio Shack. I used one to make a fake car alarm.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:22 AM on June 20, 2008

Christmas tree lights is an interesting idea, although I would prefer the lights be separate.

Even the pre-made blinking Radio Shack LEDs seem beyond my capabilities to hook up to a power source. Just reading the description on the website made me nervous.
posted by doift at 10:02 AM on June 20, 2008

Radio Shack also has a $4 self-contained blinky thing (just add batteries).
posted by moonmilk at 11:01 AM on June 20, 2008

You can get cheap kid and pet toys that have an LED capsule in them that flash when they are bounced around (example). My child has one his grandma found at Wal-Mart or Target department store. It flashes different colors and has a capsule in it that is about a dime or nickel diameter sphere. However, I don't know if you could rig it to run continuously - you have to keep smacking it to keep it running (I've never tried to open the thing up, yet, though.

Boy also had these fish that would float in the tub and when the bottom was immersed, lights would flash. They had some sort of little leads on the bottom, probably be pretty easy to turn them on permanently, but I haven't popped them open to check the mechanism. I'd check toy and bath toy sections of department stores and/or pet stores, I've seen a lot of flashy type balls like this for a few dollars each.
posted by nanojath at 1:04 PM on June 20, 2008

P.S. If this whimisical prank involves an airport or a bridge, friendly piece of advice: just skip it.
posted by nanojath at 1:07 PM on June 20, 2008

(aw, Grither beat me to it...)
posted by nanojath at 1:08 PM on June 20, 2008

Another (future) source: greeting cards?
posted by jsmith77 at 6:44 AM on June 22, 2008

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