Stack of RasPis and blink(1)s for network monitoring


ThingM friend John Tokash made this awesome stack  of Raspberry Pis and blink(1) USB lights to help monitor his company network.

Our network at Curious had some partial outages recently (one portion of the network was down but others weren’t).  I set these up to monitor each portion of the network’s ability to connect to the internet.  Some are connected to switches, others are connected to WAPs.  They each hit a different url so I can see their status remotely and get notified.

The blink1s are at less than 25% brightness (#005500) to keep heat down and are still plenty bright.

Having a single physical object for each monitored network might seem like overkill at first glance, but for network monitoring this could be ideal: each RasPi is a self-contained full computer with network connection on the net segment in question. The RasPi could perform all sorts of diagnostic tests on a specific Ethernet segment without tricky switch/router configuration changes. A great solution, John!

Using Snarl Windows notification system w/ blink(1)


Snarl is a cool notification system for Windows (similar to what Growl was for Mac). Its philosophy is simple: “When stuff happens, tell me”.  But that’s incredibly powerful. Snarl comes with a lot of built-in notification sources and supported apps.  And now the developers of Snarl have created a tutorial showing how to integrate our blink(1) USB light as notification destination.

Snarl does quite a bit and you could use it instead of our Blink1Control app if you wanted. (And if you want to use Blink1Control and Snarl, just replace blink1-tool with blink1control-tool when following the tutorial)


blink1-tool for OpenWrt and Arduino Yun


Our command-line blink1-tool for blink(1) is available now as pre-compiled binaries for Arduino Yun and OpenWrt “brcm47xx” and “ar71xx” devices.  (The Yun is a “ar71xx” device running “linino”-flavored OpenWrt, routers like the Asus RT-N16 & Asus RT-N66U are “brcm47xx”-based)

If you’re handy with shell scripts, you can whip up a quick bandwidth monitor light alert with blink(1) in a few minutes.  blink1-tool is pretty easy, for instance, this causes the blink(1) to flash cyan five times:

blink1-tool --rgb #99ddff --blink 3

Find the pre-built binaries on our blink(1) releases page.

(and if you’re interested in how to build OpenWrt binaries from simple Makefiles, check out the Makefile for blink1-tool and the “wrt” and “yun” targets)


Chrome officially supports blink(1) hardware


Google wrote a blink(1) demo for Chrome!

Long ago we wrote test code to interface blink(1) with ChromeOS.  We were working towards a notification system for Chromebooks. It was shelved because our test was a big hack and proper USB HID device support for Chrome was on the horizon but wasn’t available yet.

Now a year later,  as of Chrome 39.0.2140.0, the chrome.hid API is public and Google created a blink(1) demo showing how to use chrome.hid. It’s just a simple set of RGB sliders but it’s wonderful.

We’re very excited by the development of USB HID and blink(1) support in Chrome.  Note that this works both Chromebooks and on Chrome for desktop OSes.  If there are any wizards out there who would like to help us get further on integrating blink(1) with Chrome, please drop us a line.

blink(1) in Hackaday Store

hackaday-blink1bWe are very excited that our blink(1) USB notification light is now available in the Hackaday Store.  Hackaday is a great website for engineers, tinkerers, and electronics hobbyists. The new Hackaday Store is a highly-curated selection of interesting open-source hardware projects. (and awesome Hackaday-themed swag)  blink(1) is entirely open source and is extremely hackable so we think it fits right in.  Thanks Hackaday, you guys are awesome!

Blink1Control v1.94 released


Blink1Control, our primary control app for controlling blink(1) and hooking up to has been updated.  It fixes some long-standing bugs that really bugged us and improves functionality with Mac OS X’s “App Nap” feature.

If you use Blink1Control, please upgrade to v1.94.

Get it now from

For release notes, see our blink1 github releases page.

20% off in December for a blinkmas with blink(1)

blink1-wreath1-discountbInstead of cyber Mondays or black Fridays, we at ThingM think the entire month of December should be a time for discounts.

For all of December, get 20% off of blink(1) USB notification lights and accessories!
Use coupon code 20blinkmas2014 on

blink(1) is a small USB light to give you glanceable notice of anything on your computer or the internet. It makes a great gift or a great present for yourself.  It’s really useful in the workplace, as a monitoring tool or to let others know your availability.

If you’re in the EU, you can get blink(1)s shipped same-day from a nearby Amazon distributor.

Check out our list of blink(1) resellers for links.

EU friends: blink(1) in all the Amazons


Just a reminder for anyone in the EU area.  Thanks to our friends at 1eyeddeer, you can get our blink(1) USB notification light at  the following country-specific Amazon stores:

These are in-stock in Amazon’s warehouse and will ship immediately.  Now you can avoid the weirdly long shipping times and customs duties from ordering from the US.