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.

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@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.

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This CheerLights display has a mind of its own


[Axel] wanted to participate in the CheerLights project this holiday season, but not one to always follow the rules he decided to make his display a bit different than most others out there. While the lights at his house are synchronized with the CheerLights project, he programmed his Cheeriobot with a little added personality.

Normally, Cheeriobot is happy to follow the rest of the world, changing its colors whenever the Twitter feed dictates. If things are a bit slow however, Cheeriobot gets impatient and will send a tweet to @CheerLights on its own to ensure that it doesn’t display a single color for too long.

[Axel] also created a mode that turns Cheeriobot into a bit of a contrarian. The display’s “Rebel Mode” causes it to change colors when someone tweets, but it selects a random color instead of following the rest of the pack.

It’s definitely an interesting twist on the CheerLights project, and we really like the fact that it keeps things moving if the stream of tweets ever slows down.

CheerLights: Synchronizing Christmas lights around the globe


They say that the holidays are a time to gather with others, which usually translates into spending time with friends and family. The folks at ioBridge Labs thought that while friends and family certainly are a big part of the holidays, it would be pretty cool to gather together flocks of strangers by using the Internet to synchronize their Christmas lights.

Participation in CheerLights is pretty easy, requiring little more than an Internet connection, some GE G-35 Color Effects lights, an Arduino, and an ioBridge. While those are the recommended components, an Arduino Ethernet shield will handle networking just as well. There really are no restrictions when it comes to hardware, so if you are so inclined, it should be relatively easy to roll your own display using simple RGB LEDs and a µC of your choosing.

The colors are dictated by the group’s Twitter feed, which can be found at!/@cheerlights. Whenever a message is sent to @cheerlights along with a color, all of the light displays listening in will change simultaneously.

We really like the idea, and think it would be pretty cool to see this sort of program rolled out on a neighborhood or street-wide level, so you could see dozens of strings changing colors all at once.

If you’re interested in checking out CheerLights’ current color, be sure to take a gander at their live stream here.

[via BuildLounge]

Twitter-enabled candy machine dispenses treats on command


[Michael Nilsson] and [Markus Olsson] were contemplating how to motivate members of their dev team when they came up with the idea of a candy machine that automatically dispenses treats when someone has earned it.

They picked up a candy machine, a continuous rotation servo and a controller, then got busy automating the dispenser. The mechanism behind the operation is actually pretty simple as you can see in [Michael’s] writeup. They disassembled the machine, removing the gear from the manual crank, attaching it to the servo. Once the servo was mounted place, they installed the servo controller and connected it up to a spare laptop.

The heavy lifting is done by a Ruby script that uses the Twitter API to scrape any mentions of @_macke_ or @sidpiraya. Incoming messages are checked for the words “give” and “candy”, triggering the machine to fork out some sweets.

If you think that their hard work deserves a bit of recognition, feel free to send them some candy by tweeting “give @_macke_candy” or “give @Sidpiraya candy”. Just remember to be considerate – nobody likes spam, not even candy machines!

If you’re interested in seeing the machine in action, be sure to check out the candy dispenser’s live stream at

Spamming a label printer with #cookiehammer

[John] has always loved stock ticker machines. These machines are highly collectible, so short of finding one that wasn’t hurled from a Manhattan skyscraper in 1929, a stock ticker is out of reach for the casual enthusiast. There is another way to get a stock ticker-like device though: hack a label printer to print out stuff from Twitter.

The build is really quite simple. A Dymo thermal label printer was modified to accept standard 2.25″ point of sale receipt paper. Now that the printer can shoot out line after line of text, [John] wrote a little bit of Ruby code using a Twitter API, RMagick for graphics processing and a Dymo printer driver.

Every 30 seconds, the code does a Twitter search for a specific hashtag and prints those tweets. #cookiehammer was the first thing that came to mind, so it stuck. Right now there’s a few tweets for #cookiehammer, but we expect [John] will have to put a new roll of paper in his printer fairly soon.

It may not be as informative as a stock ticker machine, but we think [John]‘s twitter printer build sure beats watching CNN. Check out the walk through after the break.

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Hackaday in the social tangle

Like any other organization out there, we’re always trying to find new ways to reach our audience. Admittedly, we’re not the fastest when it comes to adopting a new social communication site. We’re working on it though, trying to be a bit more interactive … or just plain active.

So, if you’re looking for other ways to get your hacking fix, or see some interesting commentary, find us on facebook, twitter, our own forums, and now G+. We just signed up to G+ and our name is “Hackie Smith”. If you need an invite, email us at see below.   Sometimes there’s good discussion in those places that doesn’t end up here on the site.

You can also find several of us spattered across the web in sites like Reddit and Slashdot.

[Update: Our g+ page got shut down. Feel free to find any of the writers on g+. I'll give out invites, look for "Caleb Kraft" or 60mango@gmail]