Category: Assignment-03-Blink

BirdBot5000: By John Choi & Miranda Jacoby

BirdBot5000 is a pigeon that reads tweets about pigeons.

BirdBot5000 Schematic

Most of BirdBot5000’s components are 3D-printed with the Robotics Club’s MakerBot. Arduino is used to control the single servo that powers BirdBot5000’s ability to move.

BirdBot5000 Guts

On the programming side, Temboo is used to interface with Twitter, as well as to assist in generating Processing code. The Processing library for Blink(1) is a bit outdated, but still somewhat usable, so it was also incorporated. Finally, Processing TTS (Text-to-Speech) was implemented to get the bird talking.

The final program searches for a new “pigeon” tweet every 10 seconds. When such a tweet is found, the servo activates, the Blink(1) changes color, and the tweet is read aloud. After the tweet is read, the servo activates again to return BirdBot5000 to its resting position.

BirdBot5000 PaperMockup

BirdBot5000 is for the consumer who wishes to always be in the know about pigeon-related news on Twitter. BirdBot5000 can also be configured to search for different keywords over varied time spans.

Tired of reading through an endless scroll of tweets? Have a little birdie tell you the latest news instead!

Note that this device can also be used to systematically scare little children at the local aviary.


Blink(1) — Transparency — Charlie & Charlotte


Transparency is a tool designed for citizens to gain insight into the inner workings of the legislative branch, promoting transparency and public awareness about congressional action. In this project the blink(1) becomes the lights illuminating the Capitol Building. Forming an interface between the public and congress, the lights indicate in real time if a bill was passed, rejected or somehow deferred, by changing colors. The lights will blink red if the bill was just rejected, pink if the bill was deferred, and blue if the bill was passed. By categorizing each act of congress, Transparency illuminates how the systems and processes facilitating congressional action can have unexpected and even insidious effects on what actually ends up as law. More broadly, this tool allows people to know when there are decisions being made that could affect their life without even knowing it.


Three IFTTT recipes control the lighting in Transparency. Each of the recipes uses the ‘Feed’ API as its “If” input and the ‘blink(1)’ API as its “Then” output.  The color of light coming from the blink(1) can either be red, indicating a rejected bill; blue, indicating a passed bill; or pink, indicating a bill that was neither passed nor rejected (for instance: bills sent to subcommittees, deferred, or otherwise recycled internally). Each recipe, associated with one of these colors, parses the most recent update of an RSS feed from, which reports the status of every bill in congress following each occasion that the house or senate assembles. If a specific keyword, either “passed,” “rejected,” or neither, is found, then the recipe is triggered, causing the blink(1) to light up with the specified color. So in practice, this protocol will always cause the blink(1) to first turn pink any time the RSS feed updates, then turn blue or red if the bill in question was passed or rejected, respectively. Otherwise, the light will stay pink, representing a sort of default or baseline.