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.

31 thoughts on “BlinkM Gets Upgraded To A USB Mass-market Device

      1. looks alot like this project.
        vusb+attiny45+rgb led
        and full 24 bit color!

        the control software better be something amazing, because, i agree that $30 hard earned bucks is rather high.

        I can spec this thing around (mouser quantity 250)
        the attiny45 – $0.59
        rgb led – $0.32
        usb male type A – $0.46
        pcb? – 0.60 sqr/in , wont be much bigger than that
        total – 1.97

        so sell for 30 make for 2, not a bad profit…
        i know casing, but how much does a chunk of square translucent plastic cost at production quantities?

  1. “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…

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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!

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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$
    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

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.