Nick Steele
hacks things and practices open sourcery. Engineer.

The Imp Cube Hack

Earlier last week, Dustin and I put together a neat little Twitter contest and gave away some Electric Imps and Rainbow Cubes. When a few lucky people hit certain multiples (64, 128, 256, and 512) with tweets including the hashtag ‘#ImpCube’. Whenever someone tweeted this, we would use the Imp to tell a Rainbow Cube in our office to light up a single LED in the cube – after 64 tweets, it would put on a little light show and then reset itself. The contest was fun (and distracting) to watch here at the office and was surprisingly easy to strap together using the Imp (which is programmed using Squirrel) and the RainbowCube (which runs on on Arduino – specifically the Rainbowduino). The

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Electric Imp has an open API and we used and Zapier to tell the cube to iterate its lights. After receiving an update from twitter that someone mentioned the hashtag, Zapier would push to, which helped us make sure that contestants could only

enter once, meaning that they were allowed one tweet as an entry and then logged, so if they sent multiple tweets they wouldn’t update the cube or be entered help with term papers in the drawing again.

Once Webscript received an update, it would run this script:

if request.form and request.form.username then if not storage[request.form.username] then //This checked user storage storage[request.form.username] = 1 local response = http.request { url = '', //This is the Imp API params = { value=1 //Send the imp a "1" since logging is handled here. No need to log twice! } } storage.count = (storage.count or 0) + 1 local response_count = http.request { method = 'post', url = '', //This updated our Tweet count on our website data = { value=storage.count } } return 200 else storage[request.form.username] = storage[request.form.username] + 1 return 409 end else return 'hi there' end

From this script, we would ping the cube, which would receive simply a “1″ from Webscript, and then we would run some Squirrel code on the Imp to tell it to send some data to the cube:

cube <- hardware.uart57 //We connect to the Rainbowduino with UART: Pin 5=Tx, Pin 7=Rx cubeWire <- hardware.i2c89 //Pins 8 and 9 were capable of I2C protocol class RainbowCube extends InputPort //Input port takes API calls { //In this case, we were taking API calls type = "number" name = "tweet" constructor() { base.constructor(); currentLED = 0; } function set(user) { //We got a tweet from a user! was used to track the tag "" server.log(user + " Sent a Tweet!"); incrementCube(user); } function incrementCube(user){ cube.write("1"); cubeWire.write(0x52,"1"); local result =; //Get some feedback } } //Instantiations imp.configure("Tweet to Cube v1",[RainbowCube()],[]); hardware.pin1.configure(DIGITAL_OUT_OD_PULLUP);// Pin 1 can signal a single LED cubeWire.configure(CLOCK_SPEED_100_KHZ);//Handle I2C cube.configure(9600, 8, PARITY_NONE, 1, NO_CTSRTS);

This code then sent a byte of data (in this case, another “1″) to the cube, and for every byte it received

it would light up a single LED within the Matrix. We could do this over either UART or I2C protocol too, which is super neat! There’s even some code available for the Rainbowduino to operate solely through UART protocol cell phone spy bug that allows for all sorts of neat commands to be sent through your Tx connection. While I didn’t use this

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code a highly recommend checking it out if you have a Rainbowduino to mess with. The code that I had running on the cube can be found on my github here, and feel free to email me with any questions at nick[at]