The uninitiated usually believe that trading stocks is all about buying low and selling high; you purchase stocks that you think will increase in value and hold onto them until they do. But there are other ways to make money in the stock market that are more nefarious. It is possible to “short” stocks, which means you’re borrowing against stocks that you think will decrease in value. It’s like taking out a loan with a principle that decreases over time without you having to pay it down. Last month, Redditors made headlines by driving up the price of GameStop stock in order to stick it to stock-shorting hedge funds. To keep track of their GameStop stock trajectory, Redditor dickdemodickmarcinko built this ESP8266-based indicator.
Last month’s GameStop stock fiasco was the result of three very important factors. First, GameStop’s stock value had been in decline for years and was not expected to ever increase by an appreciable amount. Second, traders and hedge funds had shorted more stocks than actually existed to be purchased. Third, a large number of Redditors purchased the relatively cheap stock, which increased the stock value dramatically. To the people who had shorted GameStop stock, this was like their loan principle suddenly increasing by several times. That was further compounded by the fact that there weren’t enough stocks for them to purchase in order to bail out. Meme shenanigans or not, this was a historic endeavor with serious real world ramifications—and that was the point.
But those Redditors did end up with GameStop stock that suddenly had real value. dickdemodickmarcinko wanted a quick and easy way to see how their stock was performing and this device provides exactly that. It has a rocket ship cutout that is mounted to a small servo motor. The servo arm angle is determined by the current change in GME stock prices, so it angles upward when the value is increasing and downward when the value is decreasing. A small LCD screen on the 3D-printed enclosure also displays the stock price and the recent percentage change. An ESP8266 pulls that stock data from Yahoo! Finance, which has a handy API available that can be accessed by any internet-connected development board. Unfortunately, the rocket ship has been consistently pointing down as GME stock has plummeted thanks to questionable efforts by the Robinhood stock trading app and others. Even so, this is a useful indicator and more importantly a commemoration of a historic movement.