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HeckleBot Prototype - First version complete July 27, 2003

Hecklebot is an idea by [JoiIto] of leveraging the unavoidable back-channel that occurs at conferences. It is an IRC bot that allows users on a channel to display messages on an LED sign that can be viewed by the speaker. This page describes a specific implementation of HeckleBot. For more information on the concept, see the following pages:

The first HeckleBot prototype is operational! [Joi] has received the unit in Japan and (after a few bumps) got it working. prototype. The hardware consists of an embedded uClinux device and a programmable LED sign. All the software runs on the embedded uClinux device and boots automatically out of flash. Once configured, there is no user action required to activate Hecklebot. Simply plug it into an Ethernet port and turn it on! LED Sign used is Pro-Lite TruColorII PL-M2014R (typically available at Office Depot, Costco, etc.)

The LED sign displays 16 Characters at a time with Times Square style scrolling. The sign dimensions are 28" x 4.25" x 1.875".

This HeckleBot prototype is based on some hardware I developed [in my day job]. To learn more about the uClinux embedded platform, see: UclinuxEmbeddedPlatform.

See HeckleBotStand for details about mounting the LED Sign on a camera Tripod.

HeckleBot Software

All the software runs on the embedded uClinux device and boots automatically. Once configured, there is no user action required to activate Hecklebot. Simply plug it in and turn it on.

Hecklebot signs into the configured IRC server, joins a channel, and listens for specific bot commands, such as:

Basic Commands:

    !heckle message...
    Sends the given message to the Heckling LED sign
    Display Hecklebot version information.

Bot Operator Commands The following commands must be private messages:

    !login [password]
    Login as a Bot Operator. To be able to do this your nickname
    has to be in the configuration settings. 
    Disconnect from IRC server and exit.
    !ledmsg raw...
    send raw data to the LED.  Special codes are required:
    As an example: <ID01><PC><CB><SA><FQ>My message<FI>
    !banner text...
    display 'text' during idle periods rather than the default message
    toggle the ability of others to heckle 
    a logged-in user can always heckle
    each time one uses the !noheckle command, Hecklebot
    will indicate the new state of heckling (enabled/disabled)
    !leave channel
    tells Hecklebot to leave the specified channel
    !join channel
    tells Hecklebot to join the specified channel
    displays some info about Hecklebot, includig its IP
    address, whether heckling is enabled, and who is 'logged in'

Web Interface can also heckle the speaker via any web browser by connecting directly to the hecklebot IP (displayed on the LED sign at boot and during idle periods). The screenshot at left shows the web interface

[full-size version of above screenshot]

The HTML for the above form is very simple. If you want to make it fancier, please do so by editing the HeckleBotForm page and I'll include your version into the next build of HeckleBot. Keep the HTML data small however. There is only room for 150Kbytes or so for HTML content (including images) on hecklebot.


Documentation is limited to date to the following:


For more information: