Bursting a stock market bubble

Jan 14, 2009 10:53 · 283 words · 2 minute read code hacks

[![Balloons] My stock market Twitter bots (@ftse100, @nikkei225 and @dowjonesindex) are tweeting away nicely, but they’re all a bit - well, online, really.   I think it would be far cooler if it was more visual and tangible.  This is what I’ve got in mind.

A Cron job kicks off a Ruby script, which grabs the current FTSE (or whatever) price and feeds that to Processing sketch which runs an Arduino controller.  The controller is hooked up to a three-way valve - one outlet is attached to a compressed air cylinder, while the other is vented to the atmosphere.  On the third outlet there’s a party balloon - ideally one of the long, thin, sausagey types.

As the market goes up, the compressed air valve opens to inflate the balloon, and as the market drops the vent opens to deflate the balloon.  A quick glance at the balloon gives you an instant feel for the state of the market - flacid, and it’s all doom and gloom; priapic, and the IPOs are going well.

The other advantage is that it would be easy to detect a stock market bubble because the balloon would either burst or pop off the valve and fly across the room.  Although I’ve probably chosen the wrong time in the economic cycle for this to happen very often.

The cron and the Ruby and the Arduino and the Processing bit are all reasonably straight-forward, but I’m struggling to find suitable air valves.  I was wondering about using fuel injectors from a car engine, because they’re controlled by a pulse-width modulated signal, but I’m not sure whether that would work or not.   Anyone else got any ideas?

[CC-licensed photo by Jakob E]