Bonnie Eisenman bio photo

Bonnie Eisenman

Software engineer, author, knitter, Esperantist. Member of NYC Resistor and author of Learning React Native.

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HackPrinceton (Spring ‘14) was a whirlwind. Somehow Harvest and I won second place in the hardware track! Really, most of the credit goes to him. Given a pile of servo motors, and access to a laser cutter, the obvious choice was to make a hexapod. I wanted it to be Internet-controllable, and so, punning on the recent Twitch Plays Pokemon meme, we made Twitch Plays Twitchy: a six-legged blue robot that can be controlled via a stream.

The build

Twitchy consists of the following components:

  • Laser-cut blue 1/8” acrylic
  • 1 Arduino Uno
  • 1 Electric Imp
  • 12 servo motors
  • A python program that scans a Twitch.TV stream and sends commands to the Electric Imp
  • Hot glue, wires, breadboard, tape, etc. Hot glue is magic!

Fun fact: the servos are load bearing! They’re actually part of the legs.

Lesson learned: laser cutters are amazing.

The hackathon

Twitchy was built for HackPrinceton over the course of ~24 hours, almost as an afterthought. Really, credit goes to Harvest for the idea, the design, etc. My main contribution was the programming.

We won second place in the hardware track! It was actually really surprising for both of us, I think; we weren’t even sure if we’d make it to the demos (which were for the top 20 projects).

Lessons learned

  • Electric Imp is shockingly awesome; the getting-started process was really flawless and it’s incredibly useful to be able to control Arduino pins over WiFi.
  • Laser cutters are also awesome, and I need to learn how to design things in CAD / get access to one ASAP.
  • People are impressed by robots.
  • Twitchy is ridiculously cute.