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Connect your impExplorer Developer Kit with BlinkUp

In this part of the Getting Started Guide, we’ll work through the process of activating your impExplorer™ Developer Kit and configuring it for Internet access. To proceed, you’ll need an impExplorer Developer Kit and an Electric Imp account. If you haven’t created an account yet, you should do so now — the Guide covers account setup here.

Setting up any imp-enabled development device involves connecting it to your local network and associating it with your account. Both of these tasks are accomplished using Electric Imp’s BlinkUp™ technology.

What is BlinkUp?

If you’ve never used BlinkUp before, this short video will show this unique optical configuration technology in action. It shows different hardware being configured and an earlier version of the Electric Imp mobile app, but exactly the same principles apply to the impExplorer Developer Kit:

Now you’ve seen what BlinkUp does, let’s use it to get your impExplorer online and activated.

Note This guide only applies to development devices. Commercial imp-enabled products have their own configuration apps, and you should follow the product manufacturer’s own guidelines.

1. Download the Electric Imp App

You activate and configure your impExplorer Developer Kit with the free Electric Imp app. Download it now from either the iTunes App Store or Google Play depending on what kind of mobile device you use.

When the app has downloaded, launch it and sign in using your account username and password. Make sure Amazon AWS is selected as your impCloud™:

Every impExplorer Kit is bound to the AWS impCloud, so this Getting Started Guide assumes you will create your account on the AWS impCloud. If you wish to use the Azure impCloud, you will need to use other development hardware.

2. Select Your WiFi Network

The Electric Imp app walks you through the process of configuring your impExplorer Developer Kit. After signing in, tap Configure a Device then select Wireless as your connection option. Now enter your WiFi network’s details. Its name (SSID) may be pre-set to the network your phone is connected to, though this may not be network with which the impExplorer Developer Kit is compatible.

The impExplorer Developer Kit’s imp001 card uses the 2.4GHz 802.11n standard, compatible with older 2.4GHz 802.11b/g networks. If your network runs in the 5GHz band, however, the imp001 won’t be able to connect to it. If your phone is connected to a 5GHz network, this may be the one shown by the app. Consider re-configuring your network for 2.4GHz operation, or create a separate guest network if your router can host multiple networks simultaneously. Just tap on the Network Name field to manually enter the 2.4GHz network’s SSID.

Hint Tap the eye icon in the Password field to view the password’s characters as you enter it.

You can read more about imp network requirements here.

The imp001 in your impExplorer Developer Kit is capable of determining what kind of security — WEP, WPA or WPA2 — your network uses, so all you need to do is enter your WiFi password. If you’re connecting to an unsecured network, leave the password field blank.

The imp doesn’t support enterprise-level WiFi authentication (802.11x), which requires that you log in with a username as well as the customary SSID and password. If you’re setting up your development device in such an environment, you’ll still be able to configure it to connect to a separate, consumer-grade network.

Hint You can save your network settings for future use. To retrieve them, tap the triangle in the Network Name field: you’ll be presented with a list of stored networks — just tap the one you want to use.

3. Perform BlinkUp

Tap Next in the app. The following page tells you to power up your impExplorer Developer Kit with the mini USB cable (connected to either a USB AC adapter or a USB port on your computer). The on-board imp001’s status LED will now begin blinking orange if you have a brand new impExplorer Developer Kit, or red if it has been used before:


 

Tap Next again and then tap Send BlinkUp. Quickly lay the phone’s screen face down and flat on the upper surface of the impExplorer Developer Kit. There’s a three-second countdown to give you time to do this:


 

Because BlinkUp transmits data optically, it can be adversely affected by unusual lighting conditions, especially very bright lighting such as direct sunlight. For best results, we recommend that you:

  • Try to block out any direct bright lights, or perform a BlinkUp in the shade.
  • Hold the device still during the process.

Always run a BlinkUp with the screen facing away from you and towards the device being configured, especially if you suffer from a medical condition that makes you susceptible to strobing light. The app has a three-second countdown before BlinkUp starts, so you have time to place the phone and look away or close your eyes. The app vibrates the handset when BlinkUp is done.

4. Watch the impExplorer Developer Kit Connect

Your impExplorer Developer Kit will use the data it received during BlinkUp to get online, contact the Electric Imp impCloud and request access. Its progress is indicated by a status LED in the imp001. You’ll see green first, either three seconds solid or a rapid flash — both signal that BlinkUp was successful. Next you’ll see a mix of red and amber as the impExplorer Developer Kit connects. If the process went smoothly, you’ll see the LED eventually slowly flash green — it’s connected, activated and ready to use:


 

Your impExplorer Developer Kit’s progress getting online is also displayed by the Electric Imp app. If the activation process is successful, the app will tell you the device’s unique ID code by which it is initially listed in impCentral™, the platform’s development and device management console. The app also displays the URL of the device’s cloud-based ‘agent’. You’ll learn more about agents in a later section of this Guide, but for now the next step is to locate the impExplorer Developer Kit in impCentral. We’ll do this in the next section.

You may see the LED flash green and then keep the green light on. This indicates an impOS™ update is in progress. Don’t worry if you interrupt this process: impOS uses a smart upgrade process that won’t ‘brick’ the unit if the update fails in any way. The imp001 will continue to run and simply re-download the update next time it’s power-cycled. When the update has been installed, the device will restart — you’ll see the LED flash red, then orange and finally green when it’s connected.

If the LED doesn’t flash green, the device is having a problem getting connected, and you should check out the troubleshooting tips below.

Connected or not, after a short time the imp001 LED will turn off to save power. This is normal, and the device is still running. But if you need to configure your impExplorer Developer Kit again, you’ll need to power-cycle it: a lit LED tells you that your impExplorer Developer Kit is ready for BlinkUp.

Once your impExplorer Developer Kit has been activated, there is no need to reconfigure it unless you wish to change its WiFi settings.

Troubleshooting

Just as the LED will tell you if your impExplorer Kit has successfully connected to the Internet, it will also tell you if the connection was unable to be made. A fast flashing red LED, for example, tells you that the device wasn’t able to read the BlinkUp transmission — perhaps you held it too far from the phone’s screen. If this happens, just try BlinkUp a second time. Keep an eye on the LED: the pattern of colors and flashes it shows will tell you where the problem is occurring.

This short video has some further guidance to help you:

Here is a list of the imp LED connection color codes which you can use to track down the cause of the issue, and advice to help you get connected. We also have a list of mobile devices that have been used successfully with BlinkUp.