Solar Powered, Tweeting Bird Feeder

feeder-v3

The folks at Manifold created their version of a tweeting bird feeder, and [Chad] wrote up a behind-the-scenes of their design. The goal is something we’ve seen before: When the bird lands to eat, take a picture and tweet it. In this case, they had some corporate money behind the project, and that allowed them to buy a nice solar panel and battery pack to keep the whole thing running.

The write-up is full of the experimentation that we all enjoy: They found that detecting motion through the camera feed wasn’t reliable, so they switched over to a PIR sensor. The PIR sensor was too sensitive to heat changes during the day, so they went with an ultrasonic rangefinder, but wind caused issues there. They finally came up with a solution which involves using two sensors to confirm motion. This seems a bit more complicated than it needs to be, but it works well for them.

We think it is nice to see companies getting behind quirky projects. All told, they spent dozens of hours on this, and they chose to give all of their findings back to the community in the form of thorough explanations and project diagrams. It would be nice to see more of this.

The weather in Colorado hasn’t been the best lately, so the birdhouse hasn’t been tweeting for a while. In our experience, a project that’s turned off is in the dangerous position of being scavenged for parts. Hopefully that isn’t the case here, and we will see it back in action when Spring starts.

Tweeting beer dispenser requires co-worker approval

tweeting-beer-dispenser

Having been faced with an empty beer fridge one too many times the team at Metalworks came up with an approval system for dispensing malted beverages. The trick was to remove the physical controls on a can dispenser. The only way you can get a cold one is to ask the machine via its twitter account. If there’s beer inside, it waits for one of your approved co-workers to give the go-ahead.

There are two versions of the machine. The first is a hacked refrigerator with a dispenser hole cut in the door. This resides in their Sydney office, apparently doesn’t work all that well, and is only shown in the video after the break.

The image above is version 2.0 which is located at their Singapore branch. It’s a much smaller device, but works very well since it started as a commercially available can dispenser. You can see the Arduino Leonardo and breadboard which make up the driver circuits.

There aren’t a ton of details on this, but it’s not hard to find about a million examples of an Arduino using Twitter. Here’s one that takes Morse code as an input and posts the message as a Tweet.

[Read more...]

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.

[Read more...]

A Little Tweeting “Ewok”

Tweet Receiving, that is. This Ewok model, named “Ewen the Cheerlight,” is able to rotate its head left and right as well as show expressions. The most interesting feature of this hack, however, is that the little Ewok actually wakes up each time one tweets a “colour” to @cheerlights and lets it’s owner [Joel] know what he thinks of the “color” you’ve chosen. [Joel] insists that he’s like this featured on [HAD], although it remains to be seen if it will soon be turned off after the tweets start rolling in…

As far as how the device works, the head is turned with a simple hobby servo motor, and the expressions are shown on a LED matrix. The model itself is built from a polystyrene ball and an old table lamp. The build really looks awesome.

All of this is controlled by an Easy USB Interface Board which is listed on [Pozible], the Australian version of [Kickstarter]. Be sure to check out the video of “Ewen” in action after the break! [Read more...]

Roomba shares all of its daily activity on the web

tweeting_roomba

Instructables user [matchlighter] wanted to see what he could program his Roomba to do, so he decided he would make his little cleaning machine report its status on Twitter whenever something happened.

He popped open the Roomba’s case to access its serial connector, crafting a simple interface cable from some spare Cat5 he had sitting around. He added a small voltage regulator between the Roomba and his Arduino in order to protect it from the high power output present while the Roomba is charging. Once the proper bits were in place, he hooked the Roomba’s serial interface to the Arduino and attached a SparkFun WiFly shield to allow for wireless communications. After a bit of coding, the Roomba was sharing its activities with the entire world on Twitter.

Not only did he want the Roomba to tweet, but he decided that he also wanted the ability to control it from the web. He created a simple interface using a handy library he found online and was sending cleaning commands to the Roomba in short order.

While there is no video of the Roomba in action, you can check out what it is up to here, and there’s plenty of code to be had on his Instructables page.

Solar-powered bird house Tweets using B-Squares

This bird house will tweet to let you know when the occupants pass through the door… err… hole. It uses solar panels to keep a battery topped off, and an Arduino along with an optical sensor which monitors the doorway to pass along an alert via an XBee module.

Admittedly, the video after the break is a bit tongue-in-cheek and doesn’t safeguard against the elements, or even against bird poop. AND it’s basically an advertisement for B-Squares. But we still like it.

These squares use magnetic corners to connect the solar squares together, as well as the squares that house the Arduino and the battery. These magnetic corners also act as the power and ground rails. Two nails have been pounded through the roof of the bird house, acting as a surface to magnetically attach the solar panels to, as well as a conductor to pass the power rails through the wood. It’s no wonder that B-Squares are closing in on  raising five-times their Kickstarter goal.

[Read more...]

Internet enabled drip coffee

A fresh pot of coffee is never more than a tweet away with the Tweet-a-Pot. It works in much the same way that our Troll Sniffing Rat does. For that build we used a Python script to monitor our comments, and this does the same except that the script read tweets through the Twitter API. It watches for a specific hash tag (#driptwit) and when found it sends a serial command to an Arduino. The microcontroller then writes a digital pin high to actuate a relay, powering up the coffee maker.

Sure, you have to preload the pot with grounds and water, but what do you expect, automatic coffee roasting and brewing? That’s quite a bit more work.

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