Hackaday Twitter hits 40,000 Followers!

hackaday-40k-twitter-followers

I’m not sure exactly how many readers keep an eye on our Twitter account: @hackaday. We hit a new milestone today at 40,000 followers. For those of you who have been watching the Twitter feed recently, you’ve probably noticed it’s no longer limited to simply announcing each new post as it hits the front page. Madness, right?

A little over a week ago [Mike] promoted me to the role of Community Editor; a new position here aimed at directly engaging readers. For now, that means helping to guide conversations in the comments toward a degree of helpfulness and productivity. I’ve also sent out a handful of tweets to sort of test the waters, but considering my job is to engage the community, I thought I’d just ask! What can we at Hackaday be doing differently with social media (particularly Twitter) that you would find valuable? Hit up the comments and let us know, or join the conversation on Twitter: #HaDSuggestionBox

A Twitter Connected Mechanical Calculator

The TwitALU

Two students at the University of Bristol wanted to create a computer to demonstrate how ALUs work. The result is the TwitALU, a Twitter connected mechanical calculator.

The device uses a custom 7400 series ALU based on the famous MOS 6502 processor. Instead of doing the calculations on a silicon die, the ALU drives mechanical relays. This produces a nice clicky-clacky sound as the calculation is computed.

To start a calculation, you tweet @twittithmetic with your input. A Raspberry Pi is used to load the instructions into the ALU. Once the computation is done, it’s tweeted back to you and displayed on the Nixie tube display. It’s not efficient, or fast, but it does the job of demonstrating the inner workings of the device while doing simple math.

The device’s schematics are all available on the website, and are helpful for understanding how a simple ALU works. After the break, check out a quick clip of the TwitALU in action.

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Twitter Knitter combines 40 year old hardware with modern social media

When presented with a vintage Empisal Knitmaster knitting machine, members of the TOG Dublin Hackerspace worked together to not only bring it back from the dead but to also add some custom hardware that allows for computer generated patterns.

At first the Knitmaster was in fairly bad shape requiring a few custom machined parts just to function.  It was originally designed to feed in special punch cards that mechanically directed the many moving parts of the machine (called “dibblers”) to knit patterns in yarn.  Using an Arduino, a number of servos, and a microswitch to detect when the knitting carriage is pulled across, this card-read system was replaced with a computer controlled mechanism that can direct the machine to print out images one row at a time.

Of course, you don’t get too many opportunities to name your project something as cute as “The Twitter Knitter”, so once the system was working, it was only a matter of writing some code to snatch tweets from the web and generate images out of the text.  Visitors of the Dublin Mini Maker Faire got to watch it in action as they posted tweets with a particular hashtag which the machine happily printed in yarn (as long as they weren’t too long).

Video demo after the jump.

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Visualize Twitter with an LED matrix

visualizing-twitter

What’s your favorite color? Don’t tell us, Tweet it to [Sebastian's] favorite color Twitter display and you’ll be contributing to the artwork hanging on his wall.

This answers a very important question, what do you do with your projects after they’re completed? For us the best part is the planning and building. Once it’s done the thrill is pretty much gone for us. We haven’t even switched on our Ping Pong clock in over a year. But [Sebastian] recently dusted his 10×10 LED matrix for this project.

Tweets are parsed by a Python project he wrote to try out the Twitter API. It looks for a set list of colors . He asserts that people aren’t that creative when you solicit their favorite color but to prove him wrong we’re going to say our favorite is Amaranth. After it finds the color it pushes it to the next pixel in the spiraling pattern shown above. But wait, there’s more! To give the pixels a but if extra meaning he uses the total length of the tweet to set intensity.

If you need a Titter enabled hack that displays a bit more specific data you’ll want something that can actually display what was Tweeted.

Twitter radio

twitter-radio

This anthropomorphized wood bowl will read Tweets out loud. It was built by [William Lindmeier] as part of his graduate work in the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University. View the clip after the break to see and hear a list from his Twitter feed read in rather pleasant text-to-speech voices.

The electronics involved are rather convoluted. Inside the upturned bowl you’ll find both an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi. But that’s not the only thing that goes into this. The best sounding text-to-speech program [William] could find was for OSX, so there is a remote computer involved as well. But we think what makes this special is the concept and execution, not the level of hardware inefficiency.

The knob to the left sets the volume and is also responsible for powering down the device. The knob of the right lets you select from various Twitter lists. Each turn of the knob is responded to with a different LED color in the nose and a spoken menu label. You can get a quick overview of the project from this summary post.

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Twittertape machine keeps track of your social media stock.

During the gilded age, oil magnates, entrepreneurs, and robber barons would have a ticker tape machine in their study. This machine would print stock and commodity prices and chart these men’s assets climbing higher and higher. A lot has changed in 100 years, as now [Adam] can be kept apprised of what @KimKardashian, @BarackObama and @stephenfry ate for breakfast with his Twittertape machine.

Interestingly, [Adam]‘s build didn’t start off as a tarnished lump of 100-year-old brass; he built his beautiful ticker machine out of old clock movements he picked up on eBay. Even though the shiny part of the build only holds the roll of paper, it’s still a wonderful build. Right now the machine is connected to Ethernet, but he’s planning on adding WiFi and a few batteries for a completely wireless build.

Unlike the other ticker tape machine we saw this week, [Adam] did away with the loud clashing of gears and solenoids found in 100-year-old ticker machines. This ticker machine prints on cash register receipt paper and a very small thermal printer in the base. Although [Adam]‘s build doesn’t sound like two robots trading blows, there’s no ink needed and no danger of the letter wheel becoming misaligned and misspelling everything.

Check out [Adam]‘s build in action after the break.

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Display Twitter on an Arduino

If you ever wanted your name out on the Internet, now is your time to shine. [Chris] hooked up an Arduino to the Internet and is streaming the results of combing through Twitter live to the entire world.

The SocialBot9000, as [Chris] calls his build, is an Arduino Uno connected to an Ethernet shield and an LCD character display. The firmware uses the Twitter API to search for recent posts containing the phrase, ‘socialbot9000.’ A PHP script on the Arduino does all the heavy lifting and with the great Bildr tutorial on getting the Ethernet shield up and running, [Chris] was off to the races.

Because it’s extremely doubtful that everyone on the Internet could manage typing a message into Twitter that would be correctly parsed by the SocialBot9000, [Chris] put a small form up on the build log that will correctly generate the message and take you to your Twitter account for posting. After all that was done, [Chris] decided to have some fun and set up a live feed from a camera in front of the LCD display for the world to watch.