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In true spirit, Make: Live is very much a DIY production. Instead of tripods, we use zip ties to mount webcams to chairs and we jury rig an old monitor to act as our prompter. Along those lines, I decided to create an on air light to indicate when we’re broadcasting. While I could have just wired a switch to a light fixture, I wanted to take the idea a step further. Using Ustream’s API, I set up our on air light to turn on automatically when we start broadcasting. This project was just for fun, but learning how to use the XBee Internet Gateway to get the Arduino online wirelessly will come in very handy for future projects.

Networked On Air Light
Most of my networked projects have used an Arduino with an Ethernet Shield. For this one, I tried the XBee Internet Gateway, which is free ConnectPort software that allows XBee wireless radios to retrieve web pages. This allowed us to hang the light wherever we wanted without the need to run an Ethernet cable to it. Having an XBee Internet Gateway in my home also means that I can easily add wireless sensors and other internet-connected projects without filling up my router’s Ethernet ports.

This project serves as a good template for any kind of wireless notifier; it’s not just for Ustream. You could customize the project to indicate when your significant other is online, when you receive a new @ reply on twitter, or if rain is expected today. The Arduino and XBee Internet Gateway make a great pair for many internet-connected projects. To learn more about XBee mesh networks and the XBee Internet Gateway, Robert Faludi’s book, Building Wireless Sensor Networks is a great resource.

Check out the full project write-up over on Make: Projects:

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Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson is a Brooklyn-based creative technologist, Contributing Editor at MAKE, and Resident Research Fellow at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.



  1. Becky Stern says:

    Nice video, Matt! Love the project.

  2. That is so very very cool! Bravo on reaching Engadget too :)

  3. This doesn’t look as complicated as I thought it would. Thanks!

  4. [...] a big fan of the XBee Internet Gateway. I used it for The Networked On Air Light and a personal project called the Ego Ticker. XIG lets you use XBee radios to wirelessly connect [...]

  5. Oh wow! Very easy. And it looks so good. I think I’ll try to make it myself on weekend. And recommend it to my friend. Thanks a lot!

  6. astute says:

    Nice Project! Love to do some experiments

  7. Epc says:

    wow fantastic video