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.

Continue reading “Twitter Knitter combines 40 year old hardware with modern social media”

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.

Continue reading “Twitter radio”

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.

Continue reading “Twittertape machine keeps track of your social media stock.”

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.

Telegraph key makes for a fantastic Twitter input

In the interests of interface archaeology, [Martin] sent in the Tworse Key, a telegraph key that posts to Twitter using Morse code. It’s a fantastic build that nearly looks like something out of the 1900s.

We’ve seen a ton of Morse keyboards over the years, but never one so well-engineered for a single purpose. The guts and brains of the Tworse Key is an Arduino Ethernet that connect to Twitter over the API. The Tworse Key automagically posts all the Morse messages to Twitter. The Tworse Key may have fallen off the table a few times in the past 24 hours, but we do see a few purposeful messages like ‘sos’ and [Bell]’s preferred telephone salutation.

We could say that nobody uses straight telegraph keys anymore, but outside a few hardcore CW HAM radio guys nobody uses Morse anymore. This isn’t meant to be used as an everyday input device, though. It’s more of an exercise in interface archaeology. That being said, an iambic key would be a far more ergonomic solution. Check out the video of the Tworse Key after the break.

Continue reading “Telegraph key makes for a fantastic Twitter input”

@publictextbox is a Twitter enabled phone booth

In the interests of open communication in shared spaces, [dan] made a public text box that serves as a terminal to the @publictextbox twitter account. We could see something like this being useful in a hackerspace or other hang out to announce to the world the happenings of the resident makers and builders.

The software setup is very simple and can run on just about any old computer you might have lying disused in a corner. The app is built with Processing, and the code is extremely simple and easily modifiable. Even though the case is a lovely cardboard number, the Twitter Box can be dressed up as any imaginable form. We’d love to see a nice TARDIS blue, but we’ll leave that up to [dan].

You can check out the demo of the Twitter phone box after the break. Alternatively, you could re-tweet this post and take part in a load test for the @publictextbox.

Continue reading “@publictextbox is a Twitter enabled phone booth”