As I am happy with the progress my little project is taking, I thought I would share with you all what I am working on. I like to make physical things and one of the things I have been developing is and old-school split-flap display (You know from those boards in old train stations). Some day I like to make 140 units, so I can have a live twitter board in my living room, but for now I have settled with one 🙂

I needed a purpose for my display… So I thought I would make a vSphere / Datacenter Alarm Box, based on some good old-school components. At first I wanted to use my good trusted Arduino, but unfortunately it does not support HTTPS/SSL (not powerful cpu to deal with the encryption). And if I want to make an alarm box for the vSphere environment, it need to at least be able to get all kinds of info from your virtual center server. So I ordered an Raspberry PI, a new open hardware platform like the Arduino, but based on a much more powerful processor and running linux (and all this for $30!).

After some tinkering around this weekend, I was able to get my Raspberry PI to talk to Virtual Center using the official APIs 🙂 So I can now get alarms, check for other things like retrieve the CPU and Memory Usage of the entire cluster (last 5 minute average). So besides using only my split-flap display, I decided to also build 2 analog panel meters in my box, as these measure 0 to 5volt, I can easily control them just using PWM, so they can show (in percentage) at any time the CPU and Memory consumption of your Cluster.

I am not 100% finished yet, but all the components are starting to fall in place 🙂 So I thought I would share with you and of course if you have any great ideas about what this Alarm box should monitor/detect, please let me know. I am also putting in a 7-segment display, to show the amount of running Virtual Machines.


















Here a video of the split-flap display part I have build for testing.

Let me know if you like this project and if you maybe someday want an Alarm box like this, as I can consider making a few.

I plan on making the face plate from aluminum or really nice oiled wood. Their will be a serine on top of the box, that can go off on certain events you selected, with just the light and/or sound going off. So they box will be completely stand-alone (NO PC required) and will be about $75 in parts. Just plug in power and ethernet, it will run a webserver that you can connect to to configure it.

to be continued…