How to use Strobe lights to alert for calendar events

Aaron Young
3 min readAug 31, 2022

I was having a problem at work — I needed to be on time for meetings, but at the same time, my team chats via multiple means, and I have three work emails. I am suffering from notification fatigue. However, of all my notifications, meetings are the most important, and I solved the problem, at least for me. I’ve cobbled together a system with three strobe lights interfacing with google calendar. Each strobe is a different time frame warning; for me, 15 min, 5 min, and 1 min warnings. Each strobe is a different color. Here is how I set it up.


  1. A Raspberry Pi or Docker, somewhere local, to install and run the program on
  2. You’ll need Home Assistant, a free and open-sourced home automation solution.
  3. You’ll need smart plugs compatible with Home Assistant. You can check to see if your brand has been integrated or not on their integrations page. I used tp-link Kasa smart plugs and a smart power strip.
  4. Strobe lights, I am using 3; I purchased Roxant Pro Mini Strobe Lights
  5. If you want multiple lights with multiple colors, some cellophane works. I’m using cellophane bags for this purpose.

Let us begin setting up our solution:

  1. Install Home Assistant. Follow the Raspberry Pi installation guide or the docker container’s instructions. Bonus, you can install it on some NASes, I have mine installed on a QNAP, but they also have instructions for Synology. Both of those directions can be found here.
  2. Once installed — let’s set up the system, or onboarding as they call it. Don’t worry about setting up devices. We’ll do that momentarily.
  3. If you haven’t already, set up your smart plug(s) and connect the strobe light(s).
  4. Log into Home Automator if you have not already.
  5. Navigate to “Settings” on the bottom left, then “devices and services.”
  6. Search integrations for the brand of your smart plugs, then click add integration if it didn’t pop up.
  7. After adding it, it’ll ask what room, pick the appropriate one, or create a new one like “Office.”
  8. Now it’s time to add google calendar. Follow this guide. It’s lengthy but works. Follow the following three sections first within the Prerequisites “Generate Client ID and Client Secret.” Within Configuration, both Manual configuration steps” and lastly, “OAuth and Device Authorization steps.”
  9. You can optionally share external calendars to your google account; for example, I have shared my work calendar with my personal account.
  10. Go back to settings, then click on Automation and scenes
  11. On the bottom, click “Create Automation” and click “start with an empty automation.”
  12. Please give it a clever name
  13. Under triggers, change trigger type to a calendar
  14. On the following line, use the drop-down to choose the appropriate calendar.
  15. You can use an offset to set, for example, a 15 min warning. I’d put the offset to 15 minutes and use the before radio button to accomplish this.
  16. Under the “Actions” sections, click on the device and select the smart switch for your event. And for your action, set it to turn on.
  17. Optionally you can have it turned off after some time. To do so, click add action, set the action type to “wait for time to pass (delay),” and specify the duration, then add yet another action to turn off your device this time.
  18. When you are done, click save

Congrats — you’ve set up a strobe light to trigger based on an event.