Hacking & Maker tutorial: Hack a toy for your first Arduino project


This is a tutorial that explains how you can make a toy notifies you of getting a new tweet message.


As you know, almost anything is possible with Arduino. This beginner’s Arduino tutorial is designed to give an insight into how you can pull data from the Internet and use it to control things back in the real world. Twitter’s API is used to look for tweets with the specified account name as a mention.

This will then be used to trigger an electronic switch, called a relay, that will activate a battery-powered toy or device – which  will bleat each tweet. There is an LCD display to show the tweet and the sender.



Follow the diagram to create the control circuit. A breadboard is handy for this as you can easily reuse your components for other projects. You can also solder the components directly and fit it into a project box if you’re planning to create a more permanent installation.



Here’s what it’s doing:

  • When the Arduino receives the tweet, it makes pin 8 Hi for a half a second, set on line 188 of the code as a delay.
  • This gives power to the base of the transistor.
  • The transistor then increases the current flowing through the relay.
  • The relay is switched and closes the circuit of the toy to activate it.

The diode is important as it prevents damage to the components from high voltage ‘spikes’ that appear across the coil of the relay when the current is removed from the transistor.

If everything is connected correctly, you should now have a tweetable toy hack that will search for new tweets every minute, and alert you when a new one arrives by dancing and singing. Give it a try.




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