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Command-line Tools and C library for blink(1) USB RGB LED

Build Status linux Build Status macos Build Status windows

This is an official collection of C/C++ commandline tools for controlling the blink1 USB RGB LED.

This code lives at It started as the commandline directory in

For pre-built binaries, see the Releases page:

To build, see the Makefile and down below for build variations and OS-specific requirements.

The current tools are:

  • blink1-tool -- command-line tool for controlling blink(1)
  • blink1control-tool -- blink1-tool for use with Blink1Control (uses HTTP REST API)
  • blink1-tiny-server -- (README) Simple HTTP API server to control blink1, uses blink1-lib
  • blink1-lib -- C library for controlling blink(1)
  • blink1-mini-tool -- commandline tool using libusb-0.1 and minimal deps
  • blink1raw -- small example commandline tool using Linux hidraw

Type make help for a full list.

Also see in this directory:

  • scripts -- examples shell scripts using blink1-tool

Supported platforms

Supported platforms for blink1-tool and blink1-lib:

  • Mac OS X 10.6.8, 10.7+
  • Windows XP+ (built with MinGW & MSYS)
  • Linux (most all, primary development on Ubuntu)
  • FreeBSD 8.2+
  • Raspberry Pi (Raspian)
  • BeagleBone (Ubuntu)
  • OpenWRT / DD-WRT
  • ... just about anything else with Gnu Make & a C-compiler

In general, the blink1-tool builds as a static binary where possible, eliminating the need for shared library dependencies on the target. However, static builds can be problematic for some systems with different libusb implementations, so doing make EXEFLAGS= will generally build a non-static version.

OS-specific Notes

Linux (including Raspberry Pi)

To use blink(1) as a non-root user, udev rules must be installed. On Debian-like systems (Ubuntu, Raspian), these udev rules are installed with:

sudo cp 51-blink1.rules /etc/udev/rules.d/51-blink1.rules
sudo udevadm control --reload
sudo udevadm trigger

Building from source

In general you can do:

git clone
cd blink1-tool

If your OS is not detected automatically, you can force it with something like:

OS=linux make

To see the supported platforms, please consule the Makefile.

Build variants

There are two primary USB libraries that blink1-tool can be built for:

  • USBLIB_TYPE=HIDAPI -- Uses the feature-rich cross-platform hidapi library (default)
  • USBLIB_TYPE=HIDDATA -- Uses a simple, cross-platform hiddata library (included)

For Linux, there are to HIDAPI_TYPEs you can choose from:

  • HIDAPI_TYPE=HIDRAW -- Uses standard hidraw kernel API for HID devices (default)
  • HIDAPI_TYPE=LIBUSB -- Uses lower-level libusb commands (good for older Linuxes)

To compile for a particular USBLIB_TYPE or HIDAPI_TYPE, specify them when buildling:


OS-specific prerequisites for compiling

If you have the ability to compile programs on your system, you may already have everything you need to compile blink1-tool.


  • In a terminal, install pre-reqs and build:
  • sudo apt-get install build-essential pkg-config libudev-dev
  • sudo apt-get install libusb-1.0-0-dev (optional, only for libusb variant)
  • cd blink1-tool
  • make
  • HIDAPI_TYPE=libusb make (if you instead you want libusb version)


  • Install pre-reqs and build:
  • sudo pkg install gmake gcc git libiconv
  • cd blink1-tool
  • gmake
  • sudo ./blink1-tool --red --flash 3


  • Xcode
  • In Terminal, setup Xcode and build:
  • xcode-select --install
  • cd blink1-tool
  • make


  • Install Chocolatey package manager
  • In an admin CMD shell, install VisualStudio, MinGW, & MSYS2:
  • choco install visualstudio2017community visualstudio2017-workload-vctools mingw msys2 cmake
  • In a normal CMD shell, set paths and build:
  • set PATH=C:\tools\msys64\usr\bin;%PATH%
  • pacman -S zip unzip
  • call "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\BuildTools\VC\Auxiliary\Build\vcvars64.bat"
  • set MAKE=mingw32-make
  • cd blink1-tool
  • mingw32-make

Windows (old way)

  • Install Visual Studio 2015
  • Install MSYS2 :
  • In MSYS2 bash shell:
  • pacman -S base-devel make git zip unzip mingw-w64-x86_64-toolchain
  • export PATH=${PATH}:/c/msys64/mingw64/bin
  • export PATH=${PATH}:"/c/Program Files (x86)/Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0/VC/bin"
  • make

For other OSes, see the Makefile for details

Using blink1-lib in your C/C++ project

See Makefile for your platform

Docker and blink(1)

[this may be out of date after the repo move]

To build the image from the Dockerfile

  • docker build -t robtec/blink1 .

Running the container

  • docker run -d --privileged robtec/blink1

Note the --privileged tag, docker needs this to access the hosts USB controllers

Docker resources