Introduction: USB Real-Time Notification Device

About: I have extreme enthusiasm and interest for learning and how things work. I like to learn, manipulate, invent and then market. This has led me to learn programming, web development, mobile application developme…

What is Noteu?

Please click below to visit our Kickstarter page to learn more and if its of interest to you pre-order a production model.

Noteu is one of the first customizable, hackable real-time displays that keeps you updated in life, social media and business. Instead of needing to check multiple websites, apps or open any windows Noteu tells you what you need to know at a glance all in one place. With its easy to use Java application you can choose amongst a wide range of updates and alerts for Noteu to display such as email, twitter mentions and even paypal transactions with huge customization. Noteu being based on the Ardunio platform and being Open Source allows for infinite hacking.

Step 1: The Case

There were many prototypes made using vaccum forming and 3D printing. The blue vacuumed formed prototype is our primary as it has a superior glossy finish which is not achievable through 3D printing.

The case is a two part design which snaps together once the PCB, USB-b connector and LCD are fitted. Our production model which you can get through Kickstarter will be injection moulded from polycarbonate for its toughness and will have an excellent glossy surface finish. The colour will untimely be decided by the backers of our Kickstarter.

CAD files for front and back are attached for you to print your own.

Step 2: The Circuit

My prototype circuit can be split into two parts. The Atmega328 microcontroller which has its job of interfacing with the LCD and the usb to serial adapter which connects it to the computer. The production circuit will use the Atmega328 and the FTDI FR232RL microchip as the usb to serial converter however the FTDI chip is surface mount and requires a production PCB which is why I have used the adapter.

The Arduino Uno/Duemilanove boards use the same microcontroller and have a build in usb to serial converter to connect them to your computer. You can use an Arduino board to replace building the circuit from scratch.

Noteu uses a 16x2 LCD and a piezo beeper to display and alert notifications to you. You can connect an LCD and piezo beeper to your Arduino board pretty easily and start displaying things right away! Arduino provide a great guide for setting your Arduino up with an LCD.

Arduino page on setting up LCD's:

Cheep LCD's :

Piezo beepers can be found at almost any electronic retailer.

Step 3: Programming...

This is the part that takes a lot of work.


The Arduino board must be programmed to accept text via serial and then display it to the LCD. Then serial text can be sent to the Arduino board and its then displayed onto the LCD. A set of commands can be associated with certain functions. For example the Arduino can be programmed to whenever serial text equal to '-' clears the LCD display and '*' turns the beeper on for 50ms. After assigning text to functions you can fully control the LCD and the beeper from serial text which can be send from almost any programming language.

You can use Arduino's serial prompt to send serial and control the device and display anything you want which is pretty cool.

I have attached an Arduino sketch which allows you to control your LCD and beeper through serial commands that can be send via the Arduino's serial prompt.


After you have control over the LCD from your computer you have to build a program to now interface with it. You could use processing at which is an easy to follow language like Arduino you can experiment around with to build all sorts of GUI applications and interface with the device via serial. If you want to display say your recent emails you need to build a program that checks your unread email count for example from Gmail say every second and when it changes it retrieves your latest email and displays it.

However this can be very daunting...

Within the production model we are building a Java application that can be used by anyone compatible on windows, linux and mac to interface with Noteu and everything you want to display. This includes things in life such as weather updates, social media such as twitter mentions and Facebook messages and finally business such as emails and your recent paypal transaction.

We are also providing Java API's and the serial protocol to interface with Noteu how you will if your more of a programmer and want to use it for customized purposes.


To build a program to interface with say twitter and then Noteu is a lot of work and we are currently in development of a program that can do all this for you. Though Kickstarter you can pre-order a Noteu and that helps us get past the high initial costs barrier and take Noteu to production and of course put a Noteu in your hands for you to use!

This is our second attempt on getting Noteu funded via Kickstarter and we appreciate and will put in endless hours to satiety every backer.