November 11, 2013
The XBMC, Piglow Information Display Addon

It’s no secret that I love LEDs, so when I saw the Piglow on, for a relatively cheap price I snatched it right up. And as usual, the same thing happened that always happens after I buy neat looking hardware that doesn’t have a bunch of pre-written software packages out there. I ask myself, “What can I do with this cool stuff?”. The answer this time was, let’s have it monitor  and display the functioning of my XBMC.  I decided to go all in and develop an XBMC plugin to make it easy for other folks to have the same setup, too!

So, after installing my Addon, you can dynamically choose to monitor 7 different criteria (3 at a time). Check out the video to see it in action.


Putting together a cheap, beautiful and effective media center has never been so easy! Here’s what you’ll need to use my Addon

Fits right into the PiBow, too!

Fits right into the PiBow, too!

The famous mini computer

The famous mini computer

Be sure to check the reviews

Be sure to check the reviews


The first step is putting all the hardware together. I won’t cover this here directly but I will mention a couple things specific to this setup. Be sure that you have a power supply with sufficient wattage. Many of the problems that people have with their Pi’s are from low wattage 5volt usb power adapters and the problem would be exacerbated with the PiGlow’s LEDs. Next, find yourself a clear case, leaving the Pi naked is asking for trouble. (Probably best if you keep your clothes on while working with electronics, too.) Just be sure your Piglow will not only fit inside the case that you find, but can be seen through it! Getting a Pibow will guarantee both.

Next, you’ll need to install a full linux OS with XBMC. Raspbmc is a distro that will make this really easy for you! Check out the instructions for installing here:

After that, there’s two dependencies to install –

  • Rpi.GPIO (Thanks to Tony in the comments for the updated method!):
  • The piGlow Python library. Check out the installation instructions at GitHub. Be sure to run the at the end of the instuctions, if that’s not working for you, neither will my plugin.

Finally, just download my .zip addon to the raspberry pi SD card and install with these steps:

  • Download the zip from ( ) to your Raspberry Pi
  • Settings
  • Add-ons
  • Install from zip file
  • Enter the path to the downloaded file and select OK
  • Open the add-on settings dialog and choose which conditions to monitor (or leave the default of volume, playmarker and mem)

That’s it! You should be up and running :) Email me at if you need some extra help or for corrections to my instructions.


There are four different choices to make in the addon setup, What each of the three arms will monitor and the brightness of the display.

There are seven different choices of things to monitor:

  • Volume (current system volume)
  • Playmarker (How much time is left in the show or song)
  • Cache (How much local cache is used)
  • Temp (How hot is your Pi)
  • Space (How much HD space is left)
  • MEM (How much memory is being used)
  • battery (How much battery is left)

If you got an idea for a new feature, let me know. Alternatively if there’s any impatient coders out there reading, drop by my github repo and add the features your dang self! :)


PiGlowInfo Addon XBMC

Dig into all the code for my PiGlowInfo Addon or grab the whole package for your modifying pleasure!



Hey thanks for reading this far! Maybe you'll be interested in more of my projects? Check out my homepage :)