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BeagleBone Black project spotlight:
Facebook “Like” Counter

By Tara Stratton

Here’s something we are sure you will ‘Like.’ While at Maker Faire Bay Area this year, we gave away a few BeagleBone Black open-source computers to some lucky faire attendees. We heard back from one of the winners, Christopher Berg, about a creative but functional project he’s created on the board over the past few months that would make Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg quite proud.

Christopher made a Facebook “Like” Counter for his wife—an author who was in the middle of writing her first romance novel and was interested in tracking the number of ‘Likes’ on her Facebook page. His device gives his wife a readout of Facebook Likes that is easily readable and constantly updating. According to Christopher, many of his projects are inspired by his family—his kids have been the beneficiaries of many of his projects. (Cool side note—check out the Quorra from Tron costume he made his daughter for Halloween!)]

The Facebook Like Counter uses the JSON interface provided by Facebook to count the number of Likes for a page. Once it reads the value, the counter updates the display using a simple bit-bang SPI interface.

“It’s currently a really simple setup, but I’m planning on expanding it to provide more metrics, including books sold, Twitter followers, etc.,” said Christopher.

The part count for the project is really low. Christopher used the BeagleBone Black open-source computer (of course) as well as some jumper wires and a four-digit, seven-segment display that he found on eBay through some friends at 43oh.com. The display uses a PT6961 driver from Oasis. Christopher noted the display is “dead-easy to control and has a low pin-count. A few simple SPI commands and you’re good to go.”

But why BeagleBone Black? Christopher said he had his eye on BeagleBone for a while.

“When the new version came out, including a price drop — I had to have one,” he said.

After years of experience developing projects such as an electronic etch-a-sketch, a Bluetooth®-controlled RC car and even a retro VFD tube clock on several of TI’s development boards, including his favorite MSP430™ Value Line LaunchPad as well as the Tiva™ C Series LaunchPad and MSP430FR5739 FRAM Experimenter Board, he felt comfortable picking up the TI Sitara™ AM335x processor-based BeagleBone Black computer. In addition, the Ethernet on BeagleBone Black came in handy for this project.

“When you need a network-enabled board, there’s really no easier way to go,” Christopher said.

With several years of experience developing on TI’s microcontroller- based LaunchPads, Christopher admitted that he faced a challenge with this project since he knew almost nothing about Linux. However, he said that the Ångström distribution that comes loaded on BeagleBone Black helped him get the project going without having too much to learn. He used the Cloud9 IDE that comes pre-installed and was able to use JavaScript—something he’s already familiar with since he is a Web developer. Once he started working with the on- board software, he was able to get the project up and running fairly quickly.

“I have absolutely no electronics training, but I’m a great example that with the right tools, almost anyone can create these types of projects,” said Christopher.

What’s next on Christopher’s list of DIY projects? He said he’s always wanted to create a Hexapod using a BeagleBone Black and a 3D printer. Based on his track record, we can assume it will be awesome!

More details about Christopher’s Facebook Like Counter are available at http://forum.beaglefu.com/topic/124-facebook-like-counter-7-segment-display-and-cloud9/.


Last updated by jkridner.wordpress.com on Tue Oct 01 2013 19:55:24 GMT-0000 (UTC).
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