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Give Your Cat Twitter Powers

Give your cat a Twitter account and have her post updates automatically whenever she sits down on her bed or when she leaves her bed. In addition, capture pictures of your cat when she's on her bed and upload those as well so you can keep tabs on her antics while you're away from home.

In this instructable, I'll walk you through the process of

    • building a cat sensor out of a simple momentary switch, foam core and foam strips
    • reading the cat sensor on your Mac or PC using Arduino and Processing
    • automatically posting status updates to Twitter when your cat takes a nap or wakes back up
    • taking pictures of your cat on the bed with a webcam and uploading the pictures to a webserver

Want to see a twittering cat in action? Follow @zooooey on Twitter.

This instructable is inspired by Tom Igoe's Networked Cat Project in the book "Making Things Talk"

Step 1 Theory / Overview

The overall plan is as follows: We'll first build a cheap "cat sensor". To read that sensor from a PC, we'll use an Arduino board running Firmata firmware. To take pictures of your cat, we'll capture still images from a web cam stream. All the logic will be handled in Processing. We'll use existing libraries to send Twitter updates whenever your cat sits down or leaves the bed. When the cat is on the bed, we'll capture still shots and upload those to a web server using FTP. We'll then add links to the pictures to the Twitter messages.

Here's the shopping/scavenging list, from most to least expensive:

    • 1 old laptop or PC with internet connection. Mac or PC will both work fine; Linux will be trickier - you're on your own there with video capture support.
    • 1 webcam
    • 1 Arduino board + USB cable
    • 1 momentary switch
    • stranded wire (I like 24AWG)
    • 1 sheet of foamcore
    • some springy sheet material (e.g. Foamies sheets)

Tools: Just the basics

  • soldering iron
  • xacto knife
  • hot glue gun