Have you ever wanted to show real-time tweets in a giant screen?

A few months ago, during the campaign for local elections, we (I and some school mates) were asked to develop a solution to show real-time tweets in a showcase. We felt that the offer was interesting and began looking around for a solution. We ended up with doing it nearly from scratch. This post briefly describes what we did.

Hardware

We bought 4 of these matrices leading to a 8x128 giant matrix.

We did not require much computational power, so we chose the Raspberry Pi with a USB WiFi adapter (for instance, this one)

Wiring

Flashmat matrices use the well-known I2C bus. Through the GPIO pins on the Raspberry we connected SDA + SCL. Then we connected VCC (at +5V) and GND.

Software

Full details about software have been published on my GitHub account. The project is open source and available under the GPL v3 license. It includes some code by C&D Elettronica which is released under the GPL license.

Follow the step by step guide to setup the software part, which consists of a C++ program to communicate with matrices and a python script to download tweets.

Results

We packaged matrices and the Raspberry in a 3D-printed orange case and everyone was happy:

Here’s a closer view (with the text rendered in green):