Wanted: Terrarium Caregivers 🌱

:herb: Blinks Terrarium :herb:

1+ player
6+ Blinks (the more the better, seriously)

Welcome Caregiver!

Hello! As a fellow Caregiver, I would like to welcome you to the world of Blinks Terrarium! I just know you’ll enjoy nurturing life and watching it grow in your own self-contained world.

To be sure, this ain’t one of those new fangled fast action games. You won’t need quick reflexes or logical thinking. Just your curiosity, patience, and a keen desire for discovery.

Slow down. Take a load off. Carve out some “me” time and explore the world that’s waiting for you!

Caregiver Basics

As a Caregiver, you gotta know the basics or else your critters ain’t gonna survive long.

Think of your tiles as little windows into your Terrarium. By itself, a single tile can’t do a lot, but get a bunch together and hoo boy you’re in for a treat! I encourage you to play with as many tiles as you can gather.


If there’s one sure thing, it’s that life needs water. Take one of your tiles and click it twice quickly. You just made what we Caregivers call a Dripper. You know it’s a Dripper because one of the faces turned light blue and now the tile is filling up with water.

Connect a few more empty tiles beneath the Dripper and you can watch as the water falls between them. The Dripper tile also determines the direction for gravity. Try rotating the Dripper tile and watch how the water flows.

If you need even more water, you can make your Dripper tile drip faster. Click it once to cycle through three drip speeds.

Of course, you can also make more Drippers if you need water in different places. Just be sure to keep them all pointing the same direction or else weird gravitational-type things are gonna happen. I ain’t no scientist so I can’t explain it.

To remove the Dripper entirely, double click the tile again.


You’ll need dirt if you want to grow anything. Take another of your empty tiles and click it three times quickly. Three of the faces turn brown. There’s your dirt!

Fertile Dirt

Use a Dripper together with Dirt and you might just get something to grow. Before that can happen, you’ll need to make the dirt fertile. Click your dirt tile once. You’ll see the center dirt face change from brown to green. Now you’re ready.

Try creating a configuration like this and wait a bit, with water slowly dripping into the dirt. You should eventually see a bud start to grow out of the dirt. Wait a bit more and it will expand into nearby tiles.

Nurture your plant. It will continue to grow. Add tiles to give it more space. Give it more water once it gets large. Don’t be afraid to rearrange your tiles at any time. The plant will show you where it is trying to grow.

There are several types of plants - each one grows differently. There are also other, non-plant, forms of life, but I’ll let you discover those on your own.


One last thing. If you ever want to clear a tile of everything, you can reset it by clicking quickly five times. Just be sure you know what you’re doing!

Explore & Discover

Now you’re a Terrarium Caregiver!

That’s all you need to know to get started. I encourage you to explore your Terrarium by simply playing. You might be surprised by how much life you can squeeze into such a small package.

Go! Have fun and play!


Unfortunately, installing Terrarium isn’t as straightforward as compiling it in the Arduino IDE. I am using @BGA’s custom blinklib, plus my own modifications on top of that. I think the simplest method is for you to download the two .hex files and install it from the command line.

First, grab BlinkBIOS.hex and terrarium2.ino.hex from my github via these links. Save them to a convenient folder on your machine.


Then upload them to your tile using avrdude. The command line I use is as follows. You’ll need to adjust %AVRDUDE_DIR% based on the location of your avrdude installation folder. For me it is in C:/Users/Scott/Documents/ArduinoData/packages/arduino/tools/avrdude

%AVRDUDE_DIR%/6.3.0-arduino17/bin/avrdude -C%AVRDUDE_DIR%/6.3.0-arduino17/etc/avrdude.conf -B 5 -v -patmega168pb -cusbtiny -Uflash:w:terrarium2.ino.hex:i -Uflash:w:BlinkBIOS.hex:i -u

Or in a Windows command prompt, change the forward slashes to back slashes.

I appreciate any and all input. This is the first release, but I will tweak it based on your feedback. Are clicks, double clicks, and triple clicks a good input method? Are there any colors you find confusing? Find a bug or weird behavior? It’s probably a side effect of the simulation, but I’d be curious to hear what happened.



Here’s some teaser time lapse videos. Be warned of spoilers! Don’t watch if you want to discover things for yourself.


Congrats on the release and the excellent accompanying instruction manual! :smile: I cannot wait to try this! Once I get my dev kit and KS2 Blinks I will have 27 Blinks to try this out on!


Hey @ScarPixel. Is there an updated version of the game? I would like to finally try it out. I can obviously deal with the Custom Blinklib, but I do not have your specific changes so it woudl be great of you could provide the .hex file (btw, you can provide the with_bootloader version as it already includes the BlinkBIOS).

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The two hex files are linked above. Hopefully they still work!

I plan to revisit Terrarium and do some cleanup after I finish my current project. I’ll try to make it easier for folks to load onto their tile.


I was able to get the command prompt to read the hex files, but it gave me this error:
avrdude: Error: Could not find USBtiny device (0x1781/0xc9f)

I don’t know anything about avrdude, so I have no idea how to troubleshoot this. I’m on Windows and have set up usbtiny in Arduino.

Usually unplugging and replugging the debugger cable fixes that for me. Are you able to load other games?

I finally got it to upload. Now to learn the timing for clicks. I’m experimenting with three blinks at the moment and drip time seems really slow, or possibly I’m just having trouble orienting the tiles correctly. First I got no dripping water, then I drowned my plant.

Glad to hear it! I’ve never tried with only three tiles before. Usually I put a drain (empty) tile under the dirt so the water doesn’t accumulate above ground, but with only three to work with that won’t be possible.

I’d suggest one dripper at the slowest rate with an empty tile between it and the dirt tile below. That should enable the plant to grow without overwatering.

I created a version of Terrarium that will work with the stock blinklib. For those that don’t want to bother with the .hex files linked at the top. You can program this one just like you would any other game, which makes it much easier.

Due to code & data limitations, you will only have one plant type and one critter type to play with.

I also copied the how-to in my original post above to the README on github.


Hi everyone. The past couple months I’ve been working with a wonderful artist, Brandi Payne, to flesh out some concepts for Terrarium. She did a great job to bring the plants and critters to life! Check out the latest instructions that incorporate her artwork:

To go along with this, I made some minor tweaks to the title. The latest versions of Terrarium are up on github. Notable changes are allowing more different fish colors, changing the reset from a multi-click to a long press, and overhauling the red plant type.

There’s the Deluxe version using BGA’s custom blinklib. You’ll need to download the .hex files and install from the command line. This has all seven plant types and three critter types.

Also, there is the Lite version that is compatible with the stock blinklib and the standard install flow. There’s only one plant type and one critter type, but it lets you get a sense for the simulation more easily.

WeepingTree_25pct HummingbirdMoth_212px


Have you considered distributing the custom blinklib version using my Blinks Installer?

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Yeah! Definitely need to look into that.