Lead creative Rob Millington, and 3D artist and innovation developer Stuart Dearnaley both work for The Neighbourhood. The creative studio has produced a wide range of work for its clients. This has included a digital souvenir pack for The Fat Duck restaurant, a website for the Tea Building in Shoreditch and 3D visualisations of the 62 Buckingham Gate building in Westminster, London.

The Arduino microcontroller has revolutionised what we’ve come to call experiential design – the creation of real-world projects that interact with people. The users can be either in the same physical space as the project – or can communicate with it over the internet, as Rob Millington and Stuart Dearnaley from Manchester-based creative studio The Neighbourhood demonstrate here by building a sheep that bleats when sent a tweet.

Arduino is an inexpensive circuit board that connects to a computer via USB. It passes information to the computer from any sensor you connect to it, and from the computer to a huge variety of output devices. Almost anything is possible – you just need to experiment, bringing a DIY creative mentality inspired by TV shows of our youth from Blue Peter and The Great Egg Race to Robot Wars.

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. We’ll be using Twitter’s API 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 for us will bleat each tweet. We’ve also added the ability to add an LCD display to show the tweet and the sender.

Time to complete

2 days


Arduino circuit board, Ethernet Shield, breadboard, long wires, jumper wires, 10k Ohm resistor, TN4007 Diode, 5V relay, BC549C transistor, hackable device (battery-powered toy in this case)

Optional items: 2 x 10k Ohm potentiometers, BC1602A LCD display


Files for this tutorial are downloadable from here

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