Using blink(1) with nagios/nagstamon, and teatime!

nagios-blink1-jacobJacob is a user of nagios, the popular server monitoring tool, and nagstamon, a nagios status monitor tray icon for the desktop. But, as he notes:

Problem is the tray icon is not that present and sometimes I don’t see the notification in time. The blink(1) is the perfect addon for this, I now can see if something is wrong even if my screen is off.

He wrote a quick wrapper script to connect blink(1) to nagios and nagstamon and now he gets visual notifications without peering at a tiny tray icon.

See video of it in action on his blog post.

He also made a great set of command-line aliases for other daily blink(1) uses:

Thanks Jacob, these are great!


Using BlinkM with LabVIEW


Recently we discovered some interesting uses of BlinkM, our I2C-controllable Smart LED,  with LabVIEW.  LabVIEW is a data acquisition system used by many school, labs, and research institutions. If you took upper-level science and engineering courses in college, you probably ran into it. If you’re already using an I2C-capable microcontroller to take data, BlinkMs are a pretty natural addition to your test setup, as they work great to indicate test states.

Some of the ways we found BlinkMs being used with LabVIEW:


Tod interviewed on

Tod was recently interviewed for the podcast, episode #90 “Stick it in a Pumpkin“.  It was a lot of fun.  We talked about blink(1), BlinkM, electronics production, Kickstarter, and a bunch of other things.   You can listen to on iTunes or on the website.  And if you listen to the end, you’ll hear a special 25% coupon code for blink(1)s. :-)

If you’ve not heard of, and you’re interested in electronics, you might like it. It’s all about electronics. The host Elecia is awesome and wrote a pretty great book a few years ago called Making Embedded Systems.

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.