blink(1) mk2

blink(1) is the world’s best indicator light, designed to give you glanceable notice of anything on your computer or the internet.

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Product Info

    Examples of what blink(1) can do:

  • Pulse when someone mentions you on Twitter.
  • Glow red if your computer’s CPU is slammed.
  • Flash when a web page has changed.
  • Show the status of your continuous integration build.
  • Display multiple information sources simultaneously.
  • Work in parallel with as many other blink(1)s as you have USB ports.
  • Works with IFTTT.

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Hackaday Review

Everyone loves blinky things. The blink(1) is a well polished LED indicator system that is simple and versatile. You can pretty much hook anything up to this little thing. The device itself is very apple-esque, all white with nice soft edges. It contains 2 LEDs and a small microcontroller which runs them. The packaging is beautiful, and you can tell a lot of thought and revision has been put into the product.
The software is freely available from the blink(1) site. They provide standalone desktop apps with GUI for OS X and Windows, command line tools to control the blink(1) directly, and a good helping of APIs and SDKs.
At the command center, we installed the blink(1) Control application and hooked up the device to alert us whenever a new project was posted on Here are the steps we took to get this working.
First we went over to IFTTT. If you haven't seen this before, then you really need to take a look at that. IFTTT (If This Then That) is a genius little web application that lets you hook up all your favorite services and software so that they can trigger each other. Literally, if this thing happens, then do that thing.
We created an IFTTT account, then went to the blink(1) channel to activate the channel. We then went to the blink(1) Control application, copied the unique IFTTT key, and pasted it to the blink(1) channel to activate the unit.
Next we had to setup a little recipe that would hook a new item in our global RSS feed to our blink(1) channel. Under My Recipes, we selected Create a Recipe, clicked on this, selected Feed, and clicked on New feed item matches which brought us to the screen shown above. For the Keyword, we entered "has added a new project" and pasted the Feed URL ( into the appropriate box, then clicked on Create Trigger. For the that component, we selected the blink(1) channel in the Action Channel then chose Send blink(1) event Action. Finally, we gave our rule the name "New Project"; this name is important as we would use this same rule name in the Blink(1) Control app.
We connected the blink(1) unit to the USB port and opened the blink(1) Control app. At the IFTTT tab, we added a new rule and gave it the same name as in the last step in IFTTT: "New Project" (to edit the name, double click on the rule name). We selected a blinky pattern, then we were done! When you are creating a rule for yourself, you may want to play around with the patterns a bit as you can achieve quite a bit from within this app.
While a lot of hackers might turn their nose up at what is essentially an LED on a usb stick, the blink(1) is nothing to be sniffed at. It is well packaged, well designed, and the software stack is awesome. It has me seeking out new things I can use to make it blink!



What's in the box?
Each blink(1) mk2 comes with the blink(1) mk2 unit itself and a clear 5ft USB extension cable so you can place the blink(1) mk2 in a location of optimal visibility.

Wait, so this is just an RGB LED with a USB connector in a case?
Yes, but it is the most flexible and the easiest one to use, anywhere. To make it all work, there is also a tiny USB controller with firmware to make it easy to program and control, but basically yes.

Which computers does blink(1) work with?
Just about anything with a USB port. Specifically, blink(1) is a USB HID-compliant device and the blink(1) apps work on Mac OS X 10.7+, Windows Vista+, Ubuntu/Debian-style GNU/Linux. The command-line tools can be compiled for just about any POSIX-compliant Unix-style platform including the Raspberry Pi, DD-WRT WiFi routers, BeagleBone, and some Android phones.

Can I hook it to my Twitter?
Yep! The BlinkATweet app lets you control blink(1) based on Twitter keyword search or Twitter user post.

What other web apps does blink(1) work with?
Via, you can link your blink(1) with just about any web service, including blogs, Twitter, email, Google calendar and more.

Can I control it from my phone?
Yes! If your phone can load a web page it can control blink(1). The Blink1Control app on your computer can appear as a web app for your phone or any other network enabled device.

Is blink(1) hackable?
Definitely. The enclosure designed to open (with a little force) so you can get at the circuit board. And if you know microcontroller programming, you can modify how blink(1) functions. You could even turn the blink(1) into a USB keyboard and mouse emulator! blink(1) is open source hardware, with everything about it on github.

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