The #twatch scrolls the latest trending topics from Twitter on an LCD screen. It's a stand-alone network appliance that stays updated without a PC. It was awesome to watch #iranelection, Michael Jackson, and other historic events scroll by while we developed the #twatch. This Instructable documents the #twatch hardware and design.

In addition to a Twitter trend ticker, the #twatch is also a generic ethernet LCD backpack. It'll show playlists, PC stats, and other info with programs like LCD Smartie. It's also software upgradable, so it's never outdated.

The #twatch is open source, so you can download our designs and build your own.

Seeed Studio has a few assembled #twatch ethernet LCD packpacks for $45, including worldwide shipping. Get them while they last because we won't make more soon. If you missed this project, sign up here to be notified of future #twatch preorders.

See this article with its original formatting at DangerousPrototypes.com, more discussion in the #twatch forum. We'll send a free #twatch PCB if you're the first to tweet the #twatch!

Concept overview

The #twatch grabs the latest trending topics from Twitter, then loads a few tweets for each. The trending topics and tweets scroll on a screen. The #twatch grabs fresh trends and tweets every five minutes so you always see the latest trending topics.

We also added a generic ethernet backpack mode, so the #twatch can also show PC stats from a program like LCD Smartie, more about this feature in part 2.

Step 1: Using it

The #twatch is easy to use.

  • Connect it to a home ethernet network with Internet access. The #twatch requires automatic network configuration (DHCP), this is the default setting on almost every modern home network.
  • Power it up. The #twatch requires a 6-7volt DC power supply. It uses a 2.1mm DC power plug, the most common type. Universal DC power supplies should include a 2.1mm plug.
  • Adjust the contrast. LCD screens change with temperature and age, use the adjustment screw to tweak the screen contrast.
  • The #twatch will configure the network settings and begin scrolling the latest trending topics and a few tweets from each. You may need to adjust the contrast again for the cleanest scrolling effect.

Get #twatch updates at the Dangerous Prototype blog.
<p>Do you have method to update firmware without the need of manually restart the device? My device is installed at location where accessible is very low,</p><p>Regards,</p><p>Neverlog</p>
This would be perfect if there was a way to hook it up to a LED ticker.would be great for people who want a ticker in their homes to update onsports, news, stocks, etc.
This is cool. Anyone know if there are any plans for a wireless network connection? The picture frame idea is kinda cool, but it would require you to be close to your router/PC to work.
I've seen wireless access points that are just a WIFI card with an ethernet jack output, that would probably work.
you could use a modded router as an access point and do it that way, but you would still have to have some cable
I have a similar device I built from a kit. Ybox2 by Ladyada:<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.ladyada.net/make/ybox2/">http://www.ladyada.net/make/ybox2/</a><br/>I love it.<br/>
Part 2: ethernet LCD backpack, is now online:<br/><a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Networked-LCD-backpack-with-LCD-Smartie/">http://www.instructables.com/id/Networked-LCD-backpack-with-LCD-Smartie/</a><br/>
I don't use Twitter at all, but this thingy peaked my interest. Nice gadget. I would suggest a name change though. Twatch sounds abit nasty IMHO...maybe Twitcher would be better.
Would it be possible for this to show facebook's rss feed instead of twitter's?
Somewhat off topic... This almost fits function I need to fill. Can anyone suggest something that would be perfect? I organize a vanpool commuting to work. We normally communicate via text messages if someone is not coming, but there's no central location to text into because someone texting in doesn't know if the person they're sending to is riding that day. I'd like a central message station sitting in the van to receive the various messages and scroll them during the morning. We have WiFi/ethernet fed from a Verizon card plugged into a Cradelpoint CTR500 router. I'd like something small (not old laptop sized) and cheap (sub-$100). The backend could be anything that a text message could be routed to... The phone number for my Verizon Card, Twitter, email, etc... I would just need a small unit that could access it and scroll the data. This would be perfect if this device could do twitter feed watching, but as is noted in step 6, additional hardware/hacking would be needed and I'm short on soldering/hacking time for this project. Can anyone suggest a mostly off the shelf solution? Thanks
Mike wrote me with a comment that didn't show up for some reason:<br/><br/><em>I'm wondering, would it be possible to set up your device to receive content from LCD Smartie other than machine status i.e. anything one could set LCD Smartie up to display?</em><br/><br/>My specific interest is in RSS news.<br/><br/>Thanks!<br/><br/>Mike<em></em><br/><br/>The #twatch shows anything LCD Smartie (or LCDproc, or LCDC, etc) can output, I just showed the default demo. The #twatch has a generic 'ethernet LCD backpack' mode that imitates a serial or USB Matrix Orbital compatible controller, only over the network. Matrix Orbital is pretty popular, so most LCD control software supports it. I'm going to publish the second part of my article today, it will cover this part of the design and how to use it.<br/>
Thanks! Mike
Would it be possible to configure the unit to display RSS feed data from LCD Smartie instead of system stats?
so basicly its a stock tikker for twitter trends...you know a site like hollywood stock exchange for twitter trends could be interesting
If its a tikker for twitter, dont that make it a Twikker?
where did you get the vfd display?
The VFD is a Futaba screen that’s HD44780 compatible. I got it on eBay, but you can find various types on the internet.
Have you come across <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/galleries/listening_post.aspx">Listening Post</a>? It's an art installation at the London Science Museum that my girlfriend introduced me to- a wall of about 270 of these VFD displays grabs text off public online chatrooms and displays what it finds in a number of modes. In spirit it's pretty much the big brother of your design.<br/><br/>Standing in the dark watching a large wall of clicking, glowing green displays showing, <em>in real time</em>, a visual waterfall of communication that is at that moment flying around the internet made me feel like I was in The Matrix. I even got to compliment the designer via a transatlantic Skype video chat. We live in the future :)<br/>
hey this is cool but is there any way to make it to display music from playlist and without the Ethernet plug i know this is a little off topic but hanks any way
It can display playlists, songs, PC stats, Folding @ Home, game stats, etc. Check out LCD Smartie, it's a program that does this for LCD screens. The #twatch does it over a network, though, instead of a serial, USB,or parallel port.
Drop vfd-tweets450.jpg into the intro as image #1 it looks better than what's currently showing in the thumbnail? L
Thanks. Done.

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