An Extemely Unique Weather Display


Most home weather displays use an LED screen or other moderately interesting methods of showing you what’s going on outside. The [Tempescope], however, takes an entirely different route, actually recreating a tiny weather environment on your bookshelf!

This active weather device is controlled via an Arduino as well as a pump, ultrasound diffuser, and other assorted components connected to a computer. It was originally meant to display, or more accurately recreate (precreate?) tomorrow’s weather. What is even more interesting is that using [World Weather] software, it’s able to simulate the weather on any place on earth.

Early in this article [Ken] lists the art of [bonsai] as one of his inspirations. He’s open to suggestions as to how to expand this device, which can be seen after the break. We (I at least) would think it was awesome if there was actually a bonsai tree in the environment in keeping with its influences. Certainly our readers can give him some feedback as well!


  1. Ren says:

    If you owned a non-native plant, (e.g. bonsai) you could use this system in a “bio-dome” to recreate the weather of its native environment. i.e. water it whenever it rains in the original locale whether rain forest or desert.

  2. sneakypoo says:

    That, is awesome. The only thing that is a bit unfortunate is the amount of water remaining on the “glass” after it’s done raining. Not sure what to do about that though. Perhaps some kind of coating would make it easier for the water to slide off?

    Also, what about snow for us poor bastards up in the north? ;)

  3. Robert says:

    Very nice! I’m wondering if it might be possible to add some sort of snow…

  4. crenn says:

    That’s pretty cool! It would be pretty cool if for lightning it could make a small thunder sound as well (although not at night though).

    Might also be cool if you could interface it via WiFi so it can automatically update itself for the next day instead of relying on your computer!

  5. Dave M says:

    “…it’s able to simulate the weather on any place on earth.”? Hello? Hail? Sleet? Freezing rain? Snow?

  6. fartface says:

    I don’t see snow or freezing rain so it’s very incomplete.

  7. wardy says:

    Regarding the problem of water drops remaining on the glass… how about a small gear-reduced motor to drive a vertically orientated wiper that can do a full rotation (very slowly, maybe ~3 seconds for a single turn) and squeegee the water off the inside of the glass. Have the wiper parked at the rear of the unit while it’s not in use so its less obtrusive.

    Anyway, it’s awesome. I’d buy one, for sure.

  8. naturetm says:

    I could see a demand for something like this. It’s a nice example of functional art.

  9. foo says:

    “to quietly tell you tomorrow’s weather”
    … quiet except for the rain noise…!
    It’s clever, would be gorgeous if it had a coating on the glass as mentioned above, and a bonsai inside.
    But I think the rain noise would get a bit annoying.

  10. blarsblarson says:

    Sandstorm mode would tend to frost the glass.
    Earthquake mode might be tough on the bookshelf.
    Volcanic eruption mode would not be needed often, but could be interesting.

    How about a model for other planets?

  11. eroomde says:

    Everyone should have a copy of Bishop.

  12. Hack Man says:

    Needs lightning IMHO.

  13. valdas says:

    what about snow?:) blizzard?

  14. evilad says:

    Would love to see this reflect your mood using one of those mind-reading EEG headsets.

  15. Leclaron says:

    If the whole system were built into a window like enclosure that would be pretty awesome.
    It would be an interesting way to visualize the change in weather,assuming that it is enough of a change for you to notice. for lightning you could also use EL paint similar to what Jeri did here.

  16. Crazy Person says:

    Two ideas:
    1. Add an output that indicates the date and time of the weather conditions being simulated. Add a dial that lets you move time forward and backward.

    2. Add a globe with a pointer that lets you pick where to get your simulation data from.

  17. indiantinker says:

    Cool Build!

  18. HackerK says:

    Need freezing rain, snow storm for the great white north (or Hokkaido)

    Interesting build…

  19. dan says:

    TORNADO! Any wind in there?
    Real lightning.
    Little tiny seascape with the tides added/water level.

    Want the globe idea also.

  20. vonskippy says:

    I don’t see the appeal. It can only do a few weather modes, and even then it’s not all that realistic.

    Stick a retina display in a frame, drive some real weather graphics (and sounds too) and it would be a bazillion times more realistic then a drippy box with flashing LED’s (plus it will never leak over your bookcase).

    With current technology, this seems like a full step backwards in tech trying to simulate weather (reminds me of the old retro arcade game that had a tiny airplane model on a wire that went round and round and you could actually “fly” it up or down – weeeeeeeeeeeeeee).

    • Gutierrez says:

      It reminds me of a kind of calm technology. It gives a less obtrusive physical quality to the information.

      Sure I could make a pretty app, but where’s the hack in that?

      • anon says:

        To be fair vonskippy’s project would have hack value..

        1. There’s the hack of putting the Retina display and a computer to drive it on a frame. Trivial hack but still.

        2. Most importantly: You’re not going to download Retina-resolution footage of pure weather, period.
        You’ll have to go weather-hunting with a 4K camera and produce it yourself. Doing that the professional way is hideously expensive. Unless you’re a rich lunatic with industrial budgets I smell quite a few hacks in here.

  21. Gutierrez says:

    You have a cylindrical enclosure, so a pair of small (weatherproofed) fans angled in the bottom while running the ultrasonic mister should produce a visible vortex.

    I like the ideas of Styrofoam or other particulates being blown around in the enclosure, but requires the thing to be drier.

    Hail, Sleet, Freezing rain:
    Little clear plastic beads possibly on a screw pump.

    The key would be either layer the effects in the tube or placing water collection on the very bottom with the collection points for the bits having a bottom water can drain out of. That and lots of waterproofing.

  22. Icy says:

    I really like how this thing looks, but I have a feeling the rain sounds will make some people want to pee if they’re in the same room as it.

  23. bunedoggle says:

    Love the idea of snow but not with plastic beads or Styrofoam, it’s gotta be real.

    Here in New England we make snow (sort of) at ski areas with high pressure air mixing with water through a nozzle. The sudden drop in air pressure causes a drop in temp (pv=nrt) and the atomized water freezes.

    Perhaps if you add a CO2 cartridge and nozzle with the water pump you can make “snow”?

    Although, anyone who’s skied New England knows the snow they make is more like hail or freezing rain than snow.

  24. v8media says:

    I love it! I think a redesign incorporating some of these ideas people have listed would be great. While at it, changing the shape to match a snow globe, and having a display on the pedestal that says what area the current weather is being shown for.

  25. Scott says:

    Ctrl+F “Tesla” … nope.


  26. Richemon says:

    mini tesla coil for lightning

  27. neon22 says:

    Lumidisk for lightning. Incorporate it into the base :)

  28. ken says:

    Hi, thanks for all of your comments. (I’m the guy who made the hack)
    I realize the prototype needs a lot of improvement cosmetically, and I thank you all for your kindness in not pointing that out…

    I’d like to consider all of your suggestions, and see what I could incorporate.
    I definitely would like to reproduce snow and/or hail at some point.
    Real lightning strikes have always been at the top of my list, but I’m not sure how I could pull that off safely, especially with so much water around.
    Wind/Tornadoes are coming too.
    Earthquakes, never thought about that, but I seriously doubt there’s an API forecasting that…

    • targetdrone says:

      Nice work, Ken!

      Don’t fret about the cosmetics yet. I thought it looked great! Re: lightning, I think the blinking LEDs get the picture across nicely. Re: bonsai, any live plants or animals will cause a buildup of algae that will need to be controlled.

      Be careful of adding too much more. You already have a very clean looking design, and trinkets like clocks, or tiny models of people, or windsocks would instantly add clutter.

  29. Hirudinea says:

    That is awesome, but I think everyone has missed the obvious mod this thing needs, a little person inside it!

  30. M H says:

    Unique – there is only one.

    Extemely Unique – ???

    Something can be unique (only one of it), or not.
    Under what system of numbers/logic can something
    be extremely unique (or moderately unique, etc.), i.e. the number of items can be sort-of one, or
    really-really one.

    (Assuming that they intended to write “Extremely”)

  31. Brian Neeley says:

    While the addition of snow, sleet, (TORNADO!?!) etc would be interesting, I would make the casing opaque. Something so that the simulated lightning would not shine through. That would improve the effect (IMHO, anyway).

    A small bonzai would be nice, but so would a zen rock garden. It would have to be redone regularly, but it would also make for an interesting contemplation tool as well.

    Also, I didn’t notice, but does the amount of rain correspond with what is happening (or is supposed to happen) outside? A light mist is quite a bit different from a thunderstorm.

    All in all, I think this is a really interesting project, and is something that someone could make money on. I wouldn’t mind one for Christmas, and I could easily see giving one as a gift. I know that’s NOT what it’s all about, but this is the interesting sort of thing that “Makes a great gift”TM.

  32. mark says:

    This thing is amazing. Unique idea and great build quality. Shut up and take my money!

  33. Richard Milward says:

    Reminds me of this from about 4 years ago: You can search for “personal weather machine” and get some useful hits, but the original site ( is down.

  34. morganism says:

    I like it. and i like the drips on the glass, looks realistic that way.
    using sonic i suppose.,..

    Just go with 2 designs.

    the clear pipe,rotating with an interior stationary wiper on the back wall inside to give you a clean slate every hour, and a larger, window frame shaped one.

    Window frame shaped one could have a seperate laminate of wall on the back, and could incorporate a plasma type gas layer for ambient, and a couple of anodes for occasional overvoltage zaps for lightning.
    window one could also have a drip bar and a sonic for diff weather, and if using methanol instead of water, could prob do a pump and release to cool it enough to frost on the window. A transducer on a peltier could pulse occasionally to drop a bit of snow…..

  35. Marc says:

    This is awesome, Ken. However, I dislike that it seems to be perpetually raining where you live.

  36. ken says:

    Hi, we have recently released an opensource version of Tempescope here:

    The entire build has been redesigned so that you don’t have to go searching for the correct shampoo bottles etc… you can make the entire thing with laser cut acrylic.

    We are yet to incorporate many of the very useful feedback I received here, and the build instructions are still premature, but we thought we should release it at this stage because we’ve been receiving a few e-mails from people wanting to build their own Tempescope.

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