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Server Room Monitoring with many hosts

written by admin, on Apr 17, 2015 6:05:00 PM.

The Starter Kit: Server Room Monitoring allows to monitor temperature, humidity and illuminance. It can be used with nearly any programming language. If the kit is used together with the RED Brick, there is no programming necessary at all to receive emails if a measured value exceeds a predefined maximum or minimum value. The value range can be configured with the help of simple sliders. To date it was only possible to use locally installed sensors.

With the newly released version 2.2.4 of the Brick Viewer it is now also possible to evaluate sensors from other hosts!

Master Brick

Every sensor that can be reached by a RED Brick through the local network can be administered. You can now use several Starter Kit: Server Room Monitoring and control them with one RED Brick. It is also possible to add additional sensors to PCs or with Ethernet- and WIFI Extensions. They just have to be in the same network as the RED Brick.

One additional improvement of version 2.2.4 of the Brick Viewer is, that we removed all of the callbacks for Bricks and Bricklets from the Brick Viewer source code. The usage of callbacks in the Brick Viewer did lead to unexpected behaviors for users. If a user program did run in parallel to the Brick Viewer and the Brick Viewer deactivated a callback, the user program did not receive any data anymore. For many users this was often not easy to understand, they thought that there program or the Brick/Bricklet was faulty. With the new version these problems now belong to the past!

RED Brick now with openHAB and Nagios

written by admin, on Mar 11, 2015 5:30:00 PM.

The evolution of the RED Brick goes on! Today we released RED Brick image version 1.6 and Brick Viewer version 2.2.3. Alongside lots of small improvements there are several big news. In the following we will explain them in detail:

Master Brick 2.1 with high stack connectors

Thus far the IMU and Master Brick did use 9mm stack connectors, while all other Bricks (DC, Servo, Stepper, RED) used 12mm stack connectors. The idea was to make sure that all of the modules use as little space as possible. Unfortunately there are some cases now, where the height difference between the Bricks is problematic. For example, we would need two different front panels for the Starter Kit: Server Room Monitoring to support the RED Brick (12mm distance to Ethernet Extension cut-out) as well as the Master Brick 9mm distance to Ethernet Extension cut-out).

For that reason we decided to change all of the top Brick connectors to height 12mm. With this change each Brick will have the same height, which will make the development of cases a lot easier. For the mounting kits we will also only need the 12mm spacers (although for some cases 9mm spacers will still be needed). Currently the IMU Brick is the only Brick with 9mm stack connectors. It will be changed to 12mm in the next production run too.

New Service: openHAB

openHAB is an open source solution for home automation that supports a lot of products from different manufacturers. It is possible to view measurements with a web interface or a smartphone app (e.g. room temperature). It is also possible to control thermostats or lamps and similar. Additionally the a user can define rules that allow an autonomous control. A distinctive feature is that incompatible products from different manufacturers can interact through openHAB. A list of currently supported products can be found here. The Tinkerforge building blocks are of course supported too ;-).

openHAB is now directly available on the newest RED Brick image. If the service is activated, the RED Brick can be used as a control station for home automation. The configuration of openHAB can be done through the Brick Viewer with the help of configuration files.

It is for example possible to control the Starter Kit: Weather Station with a RED Brick through openHAB. To demonstrate this, we added an openHAB example to the documentation of the kit. All of the important functions are implemented with the help of openHAB: The measurements are shown on the LCD (through rules) and the backlight can be toggled through the openHAB interface. This example can be used as a good starting point for openHAB, you should be able to easily integrate products from other manufacturers, such as smart lamps or remote control mains switches.

Starter Kit: Weather Station openHAB example screenshot

New Service: Nagios

Nagios is now pre-installed on the RED Brick, too. As openHAB it can be enabled as a service in Brick Viewer. Nagios is a software that can be used to monitor server installations. With the appropriate hardware you can monitor temperature, fans, load and many more measurements. If problems occurs, Nagios can for example send email notifications.

If you wanted to use Nagios on an old RED Brick image, you would have to install and configure it manually. With the new image it is possible to do the configuration via mouse click. To configure Nagios you can define rules. Each rule consists of a sensor (Bricklet) and a critical- or warning-range. If a measurement is outside of the defined range, the state of the sensor will be seen as either “warning” or “critical”. For each rule it is additionally possible to declare whether and with which state a notification email should be send. Typical monitoring tasks can be automated with a few clicks in the Brick Viewer!

Starter Kit: Server Room Monitoring: Screenshot of Nagios Brick Viewer Service Tab

In the new Brick Viewer version only Bricklets that are available locally (localhost) of the type Ambient Light Bricklet, Humidity Bricklet, PTC Bricklet and Temperature Bricklet are supported. The next Brick Viewer version will also support sensors that are connected to external PCs. To update to the new version you will only need to update the Brick Viewer, which will be available in approximately two weeks already.

Additionally to the possibility to send emails, it is also possible to use the web interface that Nagios provides. The web interface is also available on the RED Brick:

Starter Kit: Server Room Monitoring: Screenshot of Nagios web interface

If you want to use Nagios as it is normally done, you can easily use an SSH connection or the Console tab of the Brick Viewer and do the configuration through the classical configuration files. If you have created a configuration with the Brick Viewer you can easily add your own configuration files in parallel. They will not interfere with each other.

Together with the Starter Kit: Server Room Monitoring we now have a complete solution that allows to realize distributed server room monitoring without the need to do any programming or software installation. You only have to extend the kit with a RED Brick (the kit can now be ordered including a RED Brick). If you want to deploy several kits (to monitor servers at different places) you only need one kit with RED Brick. It can retrieve measurements from all of the other kits too!

Update of the Starter Kit: Server Room Monitoring

Many customers of the Starter Kit: Server Room Monitoring did order it together with a Humidity Bricklet. This makes a lot of sense, since humidity is supposed to be in a defined range inside of a server room. If the air is to dry, the risk of an electrostatic charge increases significantly. Thus we added the Humidity Bricklet to the default configuration of the kit. Additionally it is now possible to directly order a RED Brick together with the kit (see above).

To be able to utilize the RED Brick we modified the case. The back side now has a big cut-out that allows to connect USB devices to the RED Brick. Conceivable USB devices are webcams, GSM dongles or WIFI adapters. The cut-out for the Ethernet Extension had to move 3mm (from 9mm to 12mm), to now support the RED Brick, as well as the new Master Brick (see above). All of the currently open orders will be shipped with the new front panel. Please write us an email if you need the old front panel (if you have Master Bricks with 9mm height that you want to use). We still have lots of 9mm front panels in storage

Starter Kit: Server Room Monitoring  with RED Brick

The documentation of the Starter Kit: Server Room Monitoring has been extended by an example for the usage of the RED Brick together with the Nagios service.

RED Brick Image 1.4 available!

written by admin, on Jan 30, 2015 7:08:00 PM.

We released the new RED Brick Image Version 1.4 today. It is super awesome, we highly recommend that you update!

The new features in the new image can be used with Brick Viewer Version >= 2.2.2.

Downloads: RED Brick Image 1.4, Brick Viewer 2.2.2


Fast Image and the Full Image are merged into one image. The differences between these images, for example the start of a desktop environment, are implemented as services which can be independently activated. You can now turn services on and off with the Brick Viewer and switch back and forth between the Fast Image and the Full Image on the fly.

If you turn all of the services off (equivalent to the old Fast Image) the RED Brick will now boot incredibly fast! It only takes 10.7 seconds for the RED Brick to completely boot up and being available in Brick Viewer. To achieve this speed we had to switch from sysvinit to systemd, which proved to be a huge improvement!


Additionally you can now import and export your programs from the RED Brick with the Brick Viewer. If you download the new Brick Viewer first, you can even export your programs from the old Image Version 1.3. Update the image afterwards and import your programs back again in Image Version 1.4! With this it will be really easy to update to new image versions.

Access Point

If you have one of our WIFI USB Adapters there is another awesome feature. You will be able to turn the RED Brick into an Access Point with just a few clicks. You can then for example directly connect to the RED Brick web interface or to the Brick Daemon on your RED Brick with a smart phone or similar. No external network equipment needed!

Since we got the feedback that some of the compilers and interpreters on the RED Brick are too old, we also switched from Debian Wheezy to Debian Jessie and removed the dependency to the Raspbian repository. For example Python is now available in version 3.4 instead of 3.2. This also means that hard to fix package dependency problems occurring because of incompatibilities between the Debian wheezy and the Raspbian repository are now gone! You will now be able to apt-get anything from the Debian repositories without doing any harm ;-).

Happy New Year from Tinkerforge

written by admin, on Jan 1, 2015 9:25:00 PM.

We wish all of you and your families a happy, healty and tinker-heavy 2015!

MakerBeam has reduced their prices for 2015. We will of course pass the price cuts to you, the prices in our shop have already been adjusted. The Starter Kit: MakerBeam is now available in a convenient storage box and it costs less then 100€ now!

The end of the year 2014 was pretty stressful for us. The sales launch of the RED Brick shortly before Christmas resulted in a huge amount of orders, that we were able to completely ship before Christmas. During the holidays a big a amount of orders did accumulate again, we will be able to ship all of the currently open orders on either Friday or next Monday.

The complexity of the RED Brick with all of its features, such as support for many programming languages, stack communication, support for Ethernet Extension, network manager etc. did result in a first image release with some bugs. All of the big blunders should be fixed in the current image (1.3).

Altogether, the year 2014 was a very successful year for us. We were able to release lots of new products and kits. The highlight was of course the RED Brick. We never before had a product with such a huge development effort behind it. In 2015 we plan to enhance the RED Brick a lot. Beside the possibility to configure a WIFI access point on the RED Brick with the help of the Brick Viewer, we would like to support GSM sticks and do lots of more usability enhancements. We also already have some prototypes of Bricks and Bricklets ready that need to be tested and refined. Additionally we plan to add lots of new accessories to our shop.

Thank you for the fantastic year 2014 with you! Stay tuned for for an even better 2015!

New Master Bricks and Merry Christmas

written by admin, on Dec 24, 2014 4:54:00 PM.

We released a new version of the Master Brick last week, the first customers should have already received them! Because of all of the excitement in the last two weeks we forgot to officially introduce it :-).

The Master Brick 2.1 has several small improvements compared to the predecessor (Master Brick 2.0):

  • Bugfix: You can now flash the Brick again with an Ethernet Extension present in the stack, this wasn’t possible in version 2.0.

  • I2C Bus: I2C is used as a bus for communication between Bricks and Bricklets, e.g. to read out the EEPROMs of the Bricklets. The longer the bus is, the harder it is for us to ensure a stable communication between Bricks and Bricklets. With a Master 2.0 and four Bricklet connectors, the maximum bus length was 4x2m = 8m. To increase the electromagnetic immunity, we split the I2C bus into four different buses with an I2C hub.

  • USB: The USB interface is now equipped with an ESD protection IC and an EMI filter.

Next year we want to update more of the existing Bricks/Bricklets and there will also be many new ones!

We wish all of you and your families a merry, quite and tinker-heavy Christmas!

Status update: Shipping at Tinkerforge

written by admin, on Dec 17, 2014 12:52:00 PM.

Thank you for all of the orders! The announcement of the RED on last Friday and the articles from Golem and Heise (German) did lead to a rather large shipping backlog.

All currently open orders will be shipped this week. Generally we will be shipping up until December 23rd.

We did prepare very well this time, but could nevertheless not keep pace with the orders. Currently we are working at full speed to process the backlog. Thank you for your patience!

Since we frequently got this question: We will ship up until (including) December 23rd. So you do have some more time left to order if you want Bricks and Bricklets underneath your Christmas tree. If you order from outside of Germany, the only shipping option that can guarantee a shipment before Christmas is FedEx. Orders with DHL or Deutsche Post as shipping option may not arrive before Christmas.

One of our tasks is to flash the ordered SD cards. You can take a look at our flashing setup in the image above. It uses a USB 3.0 hubs with 10 USB 3.0 card-readers each. This setup is currently running around the clock.

HDMI cables and some of the cases will be delivered subsequently.

Edit: Miraculously, new plastic arrived already today. So there won’t be a shortage of cases!

In beforehand we did speculate about the composition of the orders. One question was, how many accessories will be bought together with the RED Brick on average. We did misjudge the amount of necessary HDMI cables. We estimated an order rate of 25%, but in reality about 85% of all RED Brick orders include an HDMI cable. We already ordered new HDMI cables, but our supplier also seems to have a backlog. We do have a similar problem with our cases. Our laser cutter, that is used to cut the cases, is also in continuous operation. Our former big stock of plastic is drawing to a close and new plastic will not arrive before Christmas. We likely won’t have enough plastic here to produce all of the necessary cases. So we have to deliver some of them subsequently.

Don’t panic if your package is missing an HDMI cable or a case, they will be delivered separately as soon as possible (see delivery note)!

RED Brick released

written by admin, on Dec 12, 2014 3:01:00 PM.

It’s happening! After nearly a year of development and in sum over 7400 hours of work, we are able to release the RED Brick today! The last days were suspense-packed for us, since we had some small delays. The delays nearly put a release date before Christmas at risk. Up until yesterday we did not know exactly if we would be able to release the RED Brick on schedule. However, now the time has come, the RED Brick is available in our shop for 69.99€.

In the last few days we gave the RED Brick away to a small group of testers, they gave us lots of feedback and found many bugs. All of the bugs should be fixed in the current release version, some of the improvement suggestions will be added to the Software in the next few weeks. Please write us an email ( if you find more bugs or if you have other constructive feedback!

We look forward to your feedback!

Please note that the stack communication had to be changed for the RED Brick. To be compatible, all of the Brick firmwares need to have a version of at least 2.3.0. Otherwise they won’t be recognized in the stack.

IoT with Cumulocity and Tinkerforge

written by admin, on Dec 2, 2014 12:01:00 PM.

Surely everybody has heard of the Internet of Things. It describes the vision of intelligent objects which assist us in our everyday life. A realization of this vision can be made possible by embedded systems in things and their interconnection (”Internet of Things”).

The Tinkerforge building block system makes the development of intelligent things very easy, but interconnecting these things can be hard. Cumulocity makes building Internet of Things solutions simple and affordable for all businesses through ready-made cloud applications. Cumulocity offers a free 60 day access for Tinkerforge customers. Starting today, you can find the access code on a flyer in your order.

The RED Brick countdown has started

written by admin, on Nov 12, 2014 7:29:00 PM.

The long waiting time will be over soon! We plan to release the RED Brick in early December.

In the photo above you can see the yield of a small test production of RED Bricks. At the beginning of the week we produced a small quantity. The goal was to recognize problems with faulty/defective components as early as possible. The production run was not completely without issues, but we did not have bigger problems. This means that we can start the production in the end of this month.

Unfortunately there are still many open todos. Currently we are working with full speed to get the software in a usable state. We still need to implement some small things, test a lot and of course fix bugs. But all in all things are going well. We did already start with the documentation, but there are still full sections as well as a final touch missing. Additionally there are marketing todos like making photos, press releases and a video for the RED Brick.

As you can see, there won’t be any boredom in the Tinkerforge headquarters. Nevertheless we are optimistic that we will be able to release the RED Brick in early December.

Stay tuned!

You don’t know what the RED Brick is? Read our old blog entries (chronological order):

RED Brick status report

written by admin, on Oct 16, 2014 2:28:00 PM.

The last time we wrote about the RED Brick is now over a month ago (RED Brick in EMC laboratory). A lot of work has been done in the meantime. We already wrote about the general software infrastructure of the RED Brick. Now we want to give you an update:

Stack communication with other Bricks: The stack communication between RED Brick and other Bricks was a lot more effort than expected. The currently used protocol could not be used, thus we had to change it. The new protocol had to be discarded and reworked several times until we found an implementation that could support the peculiarities of the DMA controller on the RED Brick and still be compatible with the normal Brick microcontrollers. However, we now do have a protocol that is stable, corrects errors and performs well on both platforms.

Ethernet and RS485 Extension: We would like to support these two extensions at sales launch. The Ethernet Extension uses the Wiznet W5200 Ethernet IC. There is no Linux kernel support available for this IC. We were however able to develop a driver based on the similar W5500, which already had a kernel driver in the works by Wiznet. If you now put an Ethernet Extension on a RED Brick stack, the Ethernet Extension will be seen by the underlying Linux as a normal network interface (”eth0”).

RED Brick API Daemon and Brick Daemon: The RED Brick API daemon implements the RED Brick API. It is the interface between the RED Brick and anything external. With this API you can configure the RED Brick. You can upload programs, schedule and execute them. The API Daemon is now nearly done. The Brick Daemon has been extended, besides USB connections it can now also manage serial (RS485 Extension) and SPI (stack communication) connections on the RED Brick.

Brick Viewer: The Brick Viewer is currently still missing lots of necessary features. We still need to implement lots of the features that will be needed to use the RED Brick as a black box. This includes configuring network configurations, hostname, ip address or configurations for the local Brick Daemon (port, authentication, logging). It will be possible to monitor the state of the RED Brick (processes, cpu/memory usage). Extensions need to be configured (baudrate, slave addresses, etc) and much more.

Below you can find a first screenshot of the RED Brick tab in the Brick Viewer:

More hardware hickups: We did already talk about errors in the hardware design. Unfortunately we did not manage to fix all of the bugs in the first go. The datasheet of the processor has a table with the available pins. It shows the available features for each pin (e.g. input, output, etc). Nearly all pins can do input as well as output, according to the table this is also true for “PG2”.

This pin is used in our design by the second extension. Unfortunately we only found out that this pin does not really support output very late in the development. We just couldn’t get the Ethernet Extension working if it was put on the stack as a second extension. We then found a hint about this in the revision history of the datasheet:

In the revision history they say that they changed the pin description for PG2 from Input/Output to Input only. But they only put this hint in the history, they didn’t actually change the table! GODDAMNIT!

What does this mean? We already had the circuit boards for the production run ordered, we couldn’t cancel them anymore. We discussed the issue and came to the conclusion that we can’t sell the first version of the RED Brick with a known bug that prevents the usage of a second extension. This would not affect a huge amount of applications, but it just does not comply with our standards regarding quality.

We will use the circuit boards with the bug on them to do another test run of the RED Brick production. We will then be able to test the hardware extensively, since we will have lots of prototypes. After that we will order new circuit boards and we are now planning the production for the beginning of December, so that we can start selling RED Bricks before Christmas.

Stay tuned!

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