Instructables
Picture of Twitter Watcher, the #twatch
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twatch-desk.jpg
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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 It's also software upgradable, so it's never outdated.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.
 
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Sp1ndawg5 years ago
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.
chad74725 years ago
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.
ian (author)  chad74725 years ago
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
samirsky5 years ago
I have a similar device I built from a kit. Ybox2 by Ladyada:
http://www.ladyada.net/make/ybox2/
I love it.
ian (author) 5 years ago
circuitmage5 years ago
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.
frodobot5 years ago
Would it be possible for this to show facebook's rss feed instead of twitter's?
alexholman5 years ago
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
ian (author) 5 years ago
Mike wrote me with a comment that didn't show up for some reason:

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?

My specific interest is in RSS news.

Thanks!

Mike

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.
mlmccauley ian5 years ago
Thanks! Mike
mlmccauley5 years ago
Would it be possible to configure the unit to display RSS feed data from LCD Smartie instead of system stats?
Ward_Nox5 years ago
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?
Winner!
stuie255 years ago
where did you get the vfd display?
ian (author)  stuie255 years ago
The VFD is a Futaba screen that’s HD44780 compatible. I got it on eBay, but you can find various types on the internet.
PKM5 years ago
Have you come across Listening Post? 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.

Standing in the dark watching a large wall of clicking, glowing green displays showing, in real time, 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 :)
maxpower495 years ago
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
ian (author)  maxpower495 years ago
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.
fultron895 years ago
TWITTER TRACKER TWITTER TRACKER TWITTER TRACKER!!!! OHHHH YEAHHHH!!!!
lemonie5 years ago
Drop vfd-tweets450.jpg into the intro as image #1 it looks better than what's currently showing in the thumbnail? L
ian (author)  lemonie5 years ago
Thanks. Done.