Desktop Email Notification Bell


Instructables user [meseta] wanted an audible notification whenever he received an email, but must have thought that his computer’s built-in sounds were lacking in some regard. To get the perfect sound that he desired, he built himself a USB-powered notification bell.

Using an off the shelf “front desk bell” and a hand made electromagnet, he constructed a bell that could be triggered whenever a message showed up in his desktop email client. The electromagnet can be triggered by a quick pulse from a microcontroller, and in [meseta’s] case, he used a Forebrain dev board. He created a filter in his email client that runs an executable each time a message is received. This executable in turn sends a message to his microcontroller via USB, triggering the bell.

While we think that the notifier could have been put together using a far less powerful microcontroller, it’s a neat idea regardless. People seem to love alternative notification systems, so we’re pretty sure this bell will appeal to many in that crowd.

Keep reading to see a short video demonstration of his email notifier in action.


17 thoughts on “Desktop Email Notification Bell

  1. @bty You can’t use LUFA on an ATTiny, now if you said ATUSB that would be more proper or V-USB on ATTiny or ATMega etc, why do you care so much about what he is using to do what it is that he does, if he wants to use a Cray CX1 to ring the bell, wonderful. It’s not what you use to get where you want to go, it is the journey you took to get there that is more valuable. Clearly he wanted to learn about using a Cortex M3. Would you bitch at someone that wrote hello world in assembly for their first project instead of using BASIC when they wanted to learn about ASM?

  2. I do like the bell notification, although my favorite would still be some sort of blinking led on the top of the screen.

    @those arguing about the micro. I did think the same thing, it’s overkill. Yet, the price/overkill is only relevant if you are going to mass produce it. Otherwise, it’s whether the hacker could afford paying for it or not. We are interested in the idea here, not the implementation. You can go your own way. In the world that we live today transistors are dirt cheap…

  3. Bogdan speaks sense. After all, why would ANYONE use a microcontroller dev board when they could play around with raw transistors and logic gates? Because it’s faster and easier, not necessarily cheaper or smaller.

  4. When everyone’s finished having a go at Hackaday… Quite simply, I think the reason they say this is to ensure that even electronics newbies like myself realize that this kind of computing power is not neccessairly required for such an application, so that we are aware that we can make a cheaper version if we want to!

  5. We have a desk bell at work labelled “Audible Accomplishment Signaling Device” for when we fix a bug or get something to work. This would be a cool hack to hook up to our Trac instance for when issues are closed.

  6. @Anon – that is a good idea! My boss has been wanting to devote work hours to a hack, or project… that seems like a good proposal.

    My company also just released a SAAS project, this would also be a great notification system for when people sign up. It would be awesome to get annoyed by the bell ringing too much :P ( hopefully )

  7. I tried to build this. I have no idea how he got that coil to pull the clapper. Its impossible! I have been winding coils for days and on 5v usb its not possible to pull the clapper at a distance that he has. Have you tried to build one?? I think he stuck a ready made solenoid in there at the end of the day and just didn’t tell any one….

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