New Email Notification Light

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.

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

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

stlbud5 days 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?

hoggernick1 month 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:

yzerbeat1 month ago


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

Jan_Henrik1 month 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.