BlinkM gets upgraded to a USB mass-market device

[TodBot] has a new piece of hardware on the way up. His Blink(1) is currently about 50% funded on Kickstarter. It’s a USB nub that has an RGB LED inside of it. When plugged into a computer it can be used as a status indicator. At first that sounds like a let down, but his marketing is fantastic as the myriad of uses really caught our attention. If you’re on the road you can use it to report back your server statistic. Plug one into each rack-mounted servers for quick visual indication of which one has crashed. Or find your own use.

You probably remember [TodBot] as the creator of the BlinkM. Recently he was calling it the world’s smallest Arduino. Well this Blink(1) is being marketed as Arduino programmable as well. The board size is about the same, and both have an RGB LED module. The difference is that the BlinkM had an ATtiny85 and needed a serial converter to program it. This has a USB plug so we’d bet he’s swapped the tiny for an ATmega8u2 or something from the same family.

Don’t think one blinky LED is going to cut it? For folks that just need more resolution there are other hardware options out there. For instance, this project gives you a wireless 8×8 RGB led display to use as an indicator.

Comments

  1. JbLb says:

    strange that the 3 link go to the same page !!!

  2. pe7er says:

    Nice! That 8×8 RGB led display reminds me of the Arduinome, a MIDI controller device (based on the Monome) that uses the Arduino: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arduinome

    It would be great if the 8×8 led display would have similar buttons that could trigger processes on your PC :-)

  3. loopingz says:

    3 times the same link?
    Where is the kickstarter page?

  4. BW says:

    This device will retail for more than $30.

    Really? An LED in a USB plug?

  5. Josh Malone says:

    “Plug one into each rack-mounted servers for quick visual indication of which one has crashed.”

    Or you could set up an actual system monitoring service… :)

    /me can’t see this being a useful alternative to Nagios/Icinga/Groundwork…

    • Sven says:

      I’ve been talking a lot to server maintenance people, and most say it can be a nightmare finding the specific gray server in a room full of identical gray servers. Especially if you are unfamiliar with the rack marking systems.

      If you had something like this, you would just program the LED stick to light up red if it loses connection with the OS, then tell any service tech that any machine with a red light has a problem.

      $30 seems a bit high for something like this though, it’s just a USB connector, RGB LED, AVR, crystal oscillator and a couple of resistors and capacitors. They probably need to bring it down to something like $10 if they want to sell any of them.

      • draeath says:

        Or techs can not be lazy and actually label them.

        When I worked in the datacenter, we used Ubersmith. We made sure to print out and affix the device ID to the server on both sides.

        Between knowing what rack and what part of the rack it should be in, and this device ID, it was difficult to not find something… provided the techs didn’t get lazy and screw up the labeling.

      • Aaron says:

        Or you could just buy Dell servers, which come with a superset of this functionality built in.

        Speaking of which: thirty bucks apiece? Are you drunk? How am I going to fit one of these per server when I can’t even justify the expenditure to myself? Good luck with the rich hobbyists, though!

      • NewCommentor1283 says:

        if FINDing it is your nightmare

        then fixing it is a trip to hell and around the corner hehehe

  6. normaldotcom says:

    The cost of this device could really be pared down–I could probably get a board fabbed and populated with the same functionality for a few dollars with v-usb and a tinyAVR!

    http://code.google.com/p/avr-usb-rgb-led/

    • Zmaster says:

      That’s exaclty what popped in my mind when i was reading the article. And it seems to actually be something similar by looking at the photos.
      I think 10$ is the maximum price i would pay for it and i still can’t find a good reason to buy one.

  7. rasz says:

    lol, this is more expensive than USB:

    -DVB-T dongle
    -32GB pendrive
    -some arduino clones
    -some cellphones (without contract)

    price is about 10x, sounds like they target hipsters and retar^^^rduino fans.

  8. sneakypoo says:

    At 30 bucks a pop that better be some mind meltingly good software. But even if it was, no way in hell I’m paying 30 bucks for an LED and a micro.

  9. B says:

    Wow, I love the pricing.

    $25 for one.
    $55 for two. $27.5 each.
    $140 for five. $28 each.
    $270 for ten, or $27 each.

    Given that $25 includes free shipping, the device cost is far less than $25, which means for 5+10 quantities, he’s insanely ripping you off, since shipping costs don’t go up much, even for ten of these things. Fulfillment labor goes down, too – as do per-unit costs for him.

    For blinkm and derivatives, he’s got about a bazillion distributors. The fact that they didn’t support him on this speaks (pardon the pun) volumes.

  10. lwatcdr says:

    It is too big and too expensive.

  11. Necromant says:

    Eeee, who whould want to pay 40$ for an attiny stuffed with vusb + rgb led?

  12. jjrh says:

    Looks too big to be useful. If they could get it down to the size of those bluetooth adapters that are pretty much flush with the usb port (and a pain in the ass to pull out – had to use pliers once) I could see it being handy. The whole point would be to basically forget it’s there until it started shining red.

    There would def be benefit to having them on a rack or remote equipment. It’s easy to ask someone if there is a bright green light shining or a bright red light shining.

    In a large data center, setting it to blink and change colours would make things easier for the person searching for a machine.

    The price is rather high for this sorta thing though. Interesting idea though.

  13. Hirudinea says:

    Well it does look cool.

  14. NewCommentor1283 says:

    my last post must have been reported because it was so rude, mean, and insensitive, so ill resay only the math part:

    100 computers * 25$ = 2500$
    -OR-
    a 49$ unlimited buisness licence for a central software, checkable by: cellphone tablet text email ect

    not cost effictive AT ALL! on the other hand, for home use: cool

  15. mike says:

    this is most of the way there (hardware-wise) and it’s 2 for 20.

  16. davehillier says:

    Wow, that’s expensive… maybe I should productize mine :D

    Should hackaday be plugging kickstarters like this?

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