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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Pill dispenser tattles to the Internet when you don’t take your pills

pill-taking-reminder-hardware

Here’s another entry in the Parallax microMedic 2013 contest. [Tim] calls it his Propeller-based Internet Logging Pill Dispenser (PDF file), or P.I.L. Box for short.

The hardware is a base unit into which a normal plastic pill organizer is placed. We like this design, as many pharmacies will fill pill boxes for you and this doesn’t complicate that process. You simply pull out the correct box at the beginning of the week and put it in the base unit. You can see one white LED is shining on the Monday slot in the box. This lights up starting an hour before the set pill taking time. This way if you walk by it reminds you. There is also a voice tailor made to scare the elderly that comes out of the speaker, and a simple messages spelled out on the set of seven segment displays. The base unit detects when you press the button to open the pill box and counts that as a properly administered dosage.

Now, if you forget to take the pill it’s not a good thing. The server, which is running on the laptop, will rat you out. It uses the Twitter API to alert whomever is following it — meant for a relative or caregiver — that a dosage was missed. Let’s hope they’re good at keeping up with their Twitter feed!

We remember seeing one other microMedic entry so far, this heart-shaped heart simulator. But we’re going to look around and see how many other good ones we’ve missed.

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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.

Hackaday Links: March 8, 2013

Cheap GPS modules

GPS

If you’re making a GPS-enabled project, you may have noticed the commonly available GPS modules are pretty expensive – usually around $50. Here’s one for $8. It’s a U-blox PCI-5S GPS receiver on a PCI Express card. There are test points for serial and USB data, though, so fitting this in your project is a breeze.

Grandfather clock makes a giraffe’s scarf

knit

Here’s a clock project from [Siren Elise Wilhelmsen]. Over the course of 365 days, the clock knits a giant, 2-meter tube of yarn that should be the perfect start for a half-dozen pairs of socks. No video for this, but if you find one, post a comment.

A huge hackerspace for Hotlanta

hotlanta

Atlanta is getting a new hackerspace. It’s called My Inventor Club and they’re starting to move into their space. Judging from [Scott]‘s pictures of the new space it’s huge. We can’t wait for the video tour once they’re done moving in.

Ardino and Windows 8

arduino Uno eega

Windows 8 is… weird… and you can’t install unsigned drivers without a lot of rigamarole. This means installing the Arduino IDE is a pain but [Dany] has a solution. Reboot into “test mode” and you can install unsigned drivers without your computer throwing a hissy fit.

Tweet for welts and bruises

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[Zach]‘s boss told him to come up with a Twitter-controlled paintball gun. Why he was asked to build this is beyond us, but the build is still cool. It’s powered by an Arduino and was built in just 12 hours. If only there was a video stream…

Hey guys, need some help here.

Alright, I’ve got a little problem with component sourcing. I’m making a ‘shield’ for the Raspberry Pi. Does anyone know where I can get really long female headers for the GPIO pins so the board will fit over the USB and Ethernet jacks? Here’s the project if you’re curious. I think the female part of the header needs to be 14mm high at least to fit over the USB port.

EDIT: Samtec ESQ-113-33-L-D. Here’s their site. This site is amazing. You can actually… find things. Completely unique experience here. Thank you, [Richard].

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.

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