Picture of New Email Notification Light

In this Instructable we will build a fun desk gadget to alert you when a new email arrives in your inbox.

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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials


Raspberry Pi (RadioShack #277-196)

protoboard (RadioShack #276-168)

(5x) 220 ohm resistor (RadioShack #271-1111)

(5x) white LEDs (RadioShack #276-017)

n-channel MOSFET (RadioShack #276-2072)

10K resistor (RadioShack # 271-1126)

Micro USB cable (RadioShack #26-2738)

2A USB AC power supply (RadioShack #55075817) web only

22 gauge wire (RadioShack #278-1218)

5mm thick Plywood

3mm thick Plywood

(4x) 1.5" 8/32 machine screw

(4x) 8/32 nut

(2x) 4/40 nut

(2x) .75" 4/40 machine screw

various paints

hot melt glue


Read a schematic

Solder a simple circuit

Modify a program (no actual programming required)

Step 2: Setting up the Raspberry Pi: OS and Networking

Picture of Setting up the Raspberry Pi: OS and Networking

We'll need to configure the Raspberry Pi before we get things up and running. I'll be making several web-connected Pi projects using the Netgear Wi-Fi adapter, so I've created a brief companion guide for setting up the wireless connection and links to properly setting up the Pi. Follow along here:

Connect the Raspberry Pi to the NetGear G54/N150

Step 3: Setting up the Raspberry Pi: Updating and Downloads

Picture of Setting up the Raspberry Pi: Updating and Downloads

We'll need to download a few more things in order for Python to be able to properly check our inbox and use the GPIO.

Enter into the terminal:

sudo apt-get install python-dev

sudo apt-get install python-pip

sudo pip install feedparser

sudo easy_install -U distribute

sudo apt-get install python-rpi.gpio

MacCupcake3 months ago

With the sheer amount email that I get, it would always be blinking!

Very nice... good work!

stlbud8 months ago

Only works with a gmail account. Author should have made this clear at the beginning of the project.

How do I mod this to work with other mail systems?

JamesB3 stlbud7 months ago

It will work with any email provider that has an ATOM/RSS feed of your account. Admittedly, I don't know of any provider other than Gmail that does this. You may be able to get an IFTTT recipe to workaround it though.

hoggernick9 months ago

Very cool project. One caveat - that python code appears to be putting your google account username and password into the URL that it pulls the email count from. That's not such a good idea. I'm pretty sure that anyone with access to your router logs would be able to see your account credentials. This can be a very bad thing - stolen email credentials can equal stolen paypal account, stolen ebay account, stolen amazon account, i.e. life=living hell. There are other ways to read gmail's atom feed that don't expose your credentials. This looks like a much safer way to do it:

yzerbeat9 months ago


That's a very nice project and the instructable is perfect. Congratulations! ?

Jan_Henrik9 months ago

haha, very cool, you can add a servo to this red flag thing, so it goes up when you got a new mail and down when you have read it! :D

Oh gosh, this is so cute!

Thanks! I spent way too much time on the case design haha.