Front NIC Activity LEDs?



  • I just built a pfSense box, and it uses Intel gigabit NICs (two single PCI, and one dual PCIe). I want to put LEDs on the front of the box, but I don't have the soldering-fu necessary to modify the NIC cards themselves (besides the fact that I'd be really upset if I ruined the $160 dual-NIC card).  I went in search of a USB-powered LED controller, and found this:

    http://groovygamegear.com/webstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=82&products_id=239

    Does anyone here think this viable?

    I'm a (Windows) programmer, and have never done any micro-controller coding, but I'm willing to give it a shot.  I have six NICs in my box and want to show green/orange for speed (100 or 1000), and maybe blue for activity. I'm going to put the LEDs into a 5-inch drive bay blanker panel.

    BTW, my pfSense box is as follows:

    Athena Power Micro-slim case
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA74FM-2 (with integrated 10/100/1000 NIC)
    CPU: AMD AM3 Sempron 240
    RAM: 2GB
    Intel EXPI9402PTBLK 10/100/1000 PCIe dual-NIC
    2x Intel PWLA8391GT 10/100/1000 PCI PRO/1000 GT
    1x Rosewill PCIe 10/100/1000

    It's got four subnets (LAN/WLAN bridged, Guest WLAN, Guest LAN, DMZ)

    The Guest Wireless subnet will only be enabled when family friends visit and bring a wireless device for internet connectivity.

    The Guest LAN subnet will be for use when I need to build/work on someone else's machine that I'm not in direct day-to-day control of (this happens more often than I like - grin).

    EDIT =================

    I also found this. It's a lot more expensive, but it looks to be more versatile, and more FreeBSD-ready.

    I also found this - it's kinda pricey but with the 2-line LCD display, it's more versatile and they've got code samples for pretty much any language/platform you could name:

    http://www.phidgets.com/products.php?category=15&product_id=1203



  • I have seen a lot of NICs over the years that actually have jumpers to attach front LEDs to them, have you checked your card to see if any such jumpers exist ?

    Otherwise, the soldering of LEDs is not that hard, I used to do it 10 years ago for some mates that did custom boxes, but if you are totally green I would advice some practice beforehand :-)



  • @eirikz:

    I have seen a lot of NICs over the years that actually have jumpers to attach front LEDs to them, have you checked your card to see if any such jumpers exist ?

    Otherwise, the soldering of LEDs is not that hard, I used to do it 10 years ago for some mates that did custom boxes, but if you are totally green I would advice some practice beforehand :-)

    None of the cards have those jumpers (that was the very first thing I looked for).  As for soldering, I REALLY don't have the soldering gene in my DNA.  All of the Intel cards use surface-mount LEDs, too, which makes it even more delicate..

    I discovered the Arduino open-hardware controller board, but I'm not at all sure what I need to assemble a LED controller. I posted a message in the SparkFun forum hoping someone there can lead me down the appropriate path.

    I figure that if I can manage to get this implemented, I could contribute back to the pfSense project in some small way by detailing my exploits. Of course, I'd be real happy to find that someone else has already blazed that particular trail. :)


  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    Some well-placed mirrors might be easier :-)

    Or some of those really long plastic "light tubes" that some chassis have to redirect LED light from farther back in the system.



  • @jimp:

    Some well-placed mirrors might be easier :-)

    Or some of those really long plastic "light tubes" that some chassis have to redirect LED light from farther back in the system.

    depending on how your system is set up (layout of parts, etc) the light tube option might be the better way, but since I don't have any reference pictures to look at I can't say for sure…



  • I left a message on the FreeBSD development forum asking if it's feasible. I hope so because this would be a bitchin' add-on for pfSense. :)


  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    If you can find something with LEDs that are addressable by led(4) you can use the blinkled package that already exists to show network activity on an additional LED.

    I'm not sure what it supported by that right now, except the LEDs on ALIX, WRAP, and Soekris embedded systems.



  • Back in the day I used an addon for Smoothwall that allowed you to use the LEDs from a keyboard to show activity. (http://martybugs.net/smoothwall/leds.cgi) Maybe someone could do the same with pfSense?


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