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How to make and set up a twitter bot on your own server / Raspberry Pi

As a follow up from my ealier post introducing my twitter bot I thought I'd tell you how I did it and how to set one up on you own RaspberryPi or other Linux server.

How it works

It's not that tricky when you think it through, it is just hooking a few existing processes together to create your working bot. The only real tricky part for me was that I hadn't used Python before and had to learn it from scatch!

Here's a quick run through of what I used:

Twitter API - stating the obvious really but you need to use the api to do anything on twitter!

Twython - a Python wrapper for the the twitter API, it takes all the hard work out of posting and reading tweets

Python3 - you'll need to do all your programming in python to make use of the Twython

Python daemon - for running you script as in the background as a service

Wolfram|Alpha API - to answer questions

Wikipedia API - to get more answers

 

What you need to do

There is quite a lot of things to cover here so I'll not go into much detail about those tasks which are easy to complete with a little googling and I'll concentrate on the things which I struggled with.

Twitter

First off you'll need a twitter account, I started a new one just for my RaspberryPi to tweet from. Then you'll need to go ahead and create an app within your twitter account and generate some keys for use with the API.

Wolfram|Alpha

Same here, open an account and set up an app to get an API key

Set up your RPI

Folder

You'll need a folder to put all your code in, I set mine up in a directory in my home drive, something like:

/home/usr/pi/bin/tweeter

Use these commands to get you going:

cd ~
md bin
cd bin
md tweeter
cd tweeter

Daemon service

Next up you need to download the Daemon class suitable for Python 3.x - daemon3x.py script and save it in the directory. You can do this in command prompt:

wget http://www.jejik.com/files/examples/daemon3x.py

Install Python3

run the following in the command prompt:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install python3

Install Twython

run this from the command prompt:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install python-setuptools
sudo easy_install pip
sudo pip install twython

Install my tweetbot script

Download tweetbot-d.py and save it to your directory.

wget https://www.childs.be/data/uploads/tweetbot-d.py

Or you can get hold of the code over at GitHub:

tweetbot code GitHub

Open it up in your favourite text editor and add in your API keys for Twitter and Wolfram|Alpha, then change the twitter ID of the stream you want to follow and additionally the superuser id which will enable you to turn the tweetbot off remotely should you need to:

nano tweetbod-d.py

Save and exit:

Ctrl+O
Ctrl+X

 

Fire up your tweetbot

We should now be ready to start it up, you can use the following commands to start, stop and restart the bot

python3 tweetbot-d.py start
python3 tweetbot-d.py stop
python3 tweetbot-d.py restart

Logging

By default the script will log all activity from the bot to a file named

tweetbot.log

you can check on everything your tweetbot has been up to in this file:

nano tweetbot.log

Start the tweetbot when your Pi boots up

If you want to start the bot up automatically when the server boots up follow these commands:

sudo nano /etc/rc.local

then add these lines (obviously change the directory to the one you have saved your script in)

# Start tweetbot service
echo "Starting tweetbot script"
python3 /home/pi/bin/tweeter/tweetbot-d.py start

 

Using the tweetbot

The script runs in the background monitoring any tweet containing your @twitter_handle, it then kicks in to analyse the content of the tweet, on discovery of the following hashtags:

#cputemp
#uptime

it will run a run some command line code to reply back to the user with the appropriate answer. On detection of:

#question

it will run a search through Wolfram|Alpha of the rest of the text in the tweet and reply with the answer. If Wolfram doesn't come back with anything it will try wikipedia as well.

Should you need to turn the twitterbot off for some reason when you can't access the Pi by usual means there is a kill switch built in. Simply tweet:

#stoptweeting

from your specified superuser account and the tweetbot will shut itself down.

 


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