Internet of Cowbell

It's a cowbell. On the Internet.

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It's a cowbell that rings when you tweet #morecowbell, because I gotta fever and there's only one prescription.

The world may not need #morecowbell, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. I bought one from Amazon and hooked it to the internet. Now it sits in my office and rings whenever anyone uses #morecowbell on Twitter.

I'll include pictures, code and build details so you can build one too.

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  • 1
    Step 1

    Since this is a pretty open ended project there are lots of ways you can implement it. If you don't have a part called for in the instructions, find another way! I prototyped the whole thing with cardboard and tape before getting all the brackets and things I needed to make something I could hang on the wall.

    So, things you will definately need:

    Imp, Imp Breakout, Cowbell, Solenoid (or something to hit the bell), 2x NFET (I used a Sparkfun mini FET shield), Diode (I'll explain that below), power supply, Some way of holding it all together (I used wood, angle brackets, nuts and bolts, but anything should work).

    Here are the electrical steps I went through:

  • 2
    Step 2


    First, we need to get power to everything. If you are using a smaller solenoid which operates at 5V, you can use the USB connector. I have a big bell and wanted to hit it hard so I went with a 12V/600mA solenoid so I needed to use a 12V wallwart. I happened to have a nice female power connector which matched up to my wallwart, so I figured out which was positive and negative and soldered them onto the corresponding battery pads on the Imp Breakout Board. If you are using a breakout board from Sparkfun, checkout their guide to getting a power selector soldered. If you are using the battery pads for your power supply make sure you move the jumper over to the BAT side of the power selector, if you are using the USB, you'll need to select USB. I hate jumpers and want this to keep functioning so I just shorted BAT to VIN.

    Now's a great time to see that what you have is working. Go ahead and power it up and put the imp in. It should start flashing it's LED. If you are new to the platform check out the getting started guide to get things up and running.

  • 3
    Step 3

    FET Shield

    FETs allow you to drive more current at a higher voltage on a pin than you can straight from the Imp. The Imp is only capable of 4mA at 3.3V, but my solenoid requires 600mA at 12V. You can use discrete FETs to drive each load, but I wanted something that would look nice and be reliable so I bought the Sparkfun Mini FET Shield.

    The only problem is that it includes a boost power supply that I don't want and isn't rated for 12V. I took my heat gun to it and pulled the power supply parts off the board. This gets it ready to start hooking things up.

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Sophi Kravitz wrote 04/09/2015 at 22:39 point

so many skulls!! 

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Jasmine Brackett wrote 04/09/2015 at 17:00 point

340+ This must be driving you nuts! 

What's your next move? A distributed network of cowbells?

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andyhull wrote 04/06/2015 at 09:49 point

Needs more bells!  search> ebay >"Set of Westminster chiming rods for mantel clock"

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Brandon Harris wrote 04/06/2015 at 21:11 point

I like where your head is at, though #moreWestminsterChimingRods doesn't have quite the same ring!

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Brandon Harris wrote 04/04/2015 at 00:19 point

@zakqwy, I'm working on it. I need to get it mounted to the wall first. I'll see if I can at least get a YouTube up soon.

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Casual Cyborg wrote 04/03/2015 at 03:22 point


If I post on twitter #morecowbell in a salsa music pattern...

Will it play like salsa?

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Brandon Harris wrote 04/04/2015 at 00:20 point

If you can post to Twitter in a Salsa pattern, I can play it.

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Casual Cyborg wrote 04/10/2015 at 14:55 point

Don't suppose you have a hashtag that pauses the Cowbell for a beat, half beat, quarter beat? Cuz it'd be nice for me to have that to make the salsa beat. Otherwise, you're just hearin dinner bells all the friggin time...

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zakqwy wrote 04/03/2015 at 02:00 point

video feed plz

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Brandon Harris wrote 04/06/2015 at 21:09 point

I've got a periscope feed going here:

There's about a 20 second delay in the video stream, but the bell is quite quick (sub-1 second)

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