Weather Display Is Cloudy With A Chance Of ESP8266

[Mukesh Sankhla] writes in to share this unique weather display that looks to be equal parts art and science. Rather than show the current conditions with something as pedestrian as numbers, this device communicates various weather conditions to the user with 25 WS2812B LEDs embedded into the 3D printed structure. It also doubles as a functional planter for your desk.

So how does this potted plant tell you if it’s time to get your umbrella? Using a NodeMCU ESP8266 development board, it connects to openweathermap.org and gets the current conditions for your location. Relative temperature is conveyed by changing the color of the pot itself; going from blue to red as things heat up. If there’s rain, the cloud over the plant will change color and flash to indicate thunder.

[Mukesh] has made all of the STL files for the printed components available, as well as the source code for the ESP8266. You’ll need to provide your own soil and plant though, there’s only so much you can send over the Internet. Incidentally, if the clever way he soldered these WS2812B modules together in the video catches your eye, you’ll really love his “RGB Goggles” project that we covered earlier.

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Clear Some Space And Build A Cosmo Clock

Like many of us, [Artistikk] is inspired by astronauts and space travel in general. To keep the inspiration coming, he made the Cosmo Clock — a sleek little clock that changes color whenever an astronaut is launched into space.

As awesome as space is, we’re inspired by the amount of Earth-saving reuse going on in this project. The actual time-telling is coming from a recycled wristwatch movement. [Artistikk] cut a bigger set of hands for it out of a plastic container, and used the lid from another container for the clock’s body.

The launch inquiries are handled by an ESP8266, which uses a Blynk app and some IFTTT magic to get notified whenever NASA yeets an astronaut into space. Then the ESP generates random RGB values and sends them to a single RGB LED. The clock body is small enough that a single LED is bright enough to light up all the parts that aren’t blacked out with thick paper. In case you’re wondering, the pattern around the edge isn’t random, it’s Morse code for ‘sky’, but you probably already knew that, right? Make a dash past the break to take the tour.

Clocks that wind up in space are much more complicated. Check out this tear-down of the clock from a late-90s Soyuz spacecraft.

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Viewing Countrywide Weather At A Glance

For his latest project, weather display aficionado [Richard] has put together a handsome little device that shows the temperatures recorded at nine different airports located all over the British Isles. Of course the concept could be adapted to wherever it is that you call home, assuming there are enough Internet-connected weather stations in the area to fill out the map.

The electronics are fairly minimal, consisting of a NodeMCU ESP8266 development board, a few seven segment LED display modules, and a simple power supply knocked together on a scrap of perfboard. As you might expect, the code is rather straightforward as well. It just needs to pull down the temperatures from an online API and light up the displays. What makes this project special is the presentation.

As [Richard] shows in the video after the break, the key is a sheet of acrylic that’s been sanded so it diffuses the light of 42 LEDs that have been painstakingly installed in holes drilled around the edge of the sheet. Combined with a printed overlay sheet, this illuminates the map and its legend in low-light conditions. It’s a simple technique that not only looks fantastic, but makes the display easy to read day or night. Definitely a tip worth mentally filing away, as it has plenty of possible applications outside of this particular build.

With his projects, [Richard] has shown himself to be a master of unique and data-rich weather displays, and a great lover of the iconic seven segment LED display. While his particular brand of climate data overload might not be for everyone, you’ve got to admire his knack for visualizing data.

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Table Tennis Ball Lamp Serves Up Style

Although RGB LEDs diffused by ping pong balls will probably never stop being cool, [thomasj152] feels that flat panels of balls have become a bit of a tired concept. After a lot of effort and two complete builds, he has spun up an 80-ball spherical lamp. The results are positively glowing!

All the balls are connected together with some clever 3D printed pieces that were inspired by the classic soccer ball layout of hexagons and pentagons. [thomasj152] chose this shape because it’s fairly easy to code animation sequences for it.

The design also breaks down nicely into two halves, which makes it easier to wire. All 80 of the balls are controlled with a single NodeMCU ESP8266 development board.

This stranded version is the second lamp [thomasj152] built. The first one used the same soccer ball style, but had RGB LED strips instead, and the balls were wrangled with laser-cut support pieces. Strips lay much flatter than strands do, leaving the inside tidy and spacious. Unfortunately, the LED strips got fried accidentally, which is extra sad because the strips version looks like way more work.

The bright spot here is that [thomasj152] can now provide instructions for both versions. He even has code that cycles through each pentagon and hexagon section, lighting them up one at a time for testing and sanity checks. Roll past the break for a walk-through video that shows both versions and explains the differences.

Got a bunch of wall space begging for blinkenlights? Apparently it’s possible to throw together a working 300-ball video wall in less than 24 hours. Who knew?

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The Corona Clock

Schools are closed here in Germany until after Easter vacation, and that means that our almost-six-year-old son Max is staying at home with us. The good news is that my wife and I work from home anyway, so it’s not too stressful as long as he can look after himself for eight hours per day. The bad news is that there’s no way a kindergarten kid can take care of himself for such long stretches, and we don’t want to just park him in front of the boob tube. At least there’s two of us.

The new stay-at-home life has required some adjustment, but for at least the first five days (and counting) it’s working out pretty darn well. One trick: my wife came up with the idea of a visual schedule to help Max divide his day up into kindergarten-sized chunks, and then we added an LED strip behind it to turn it into a linear clock of sorts. And we did it with stuff we had lying around the house.

Granted, it’s not a super deep hacky-hack, and some of you out there could probably get it done with a handful of 555 timers. But it was quick, gets the job done, and heck, with NTP sync, it’s the most accurate kiddie clock in the world! So those of you out there who are stuck like we are, trying to balance childcare and working from home, here’s a quick project that can increase familial harmony while giving you an excuse to order more LED strips.

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You’ll Flip For This Toggle Switch Handheld Game

Teacher says that every time a toggle switch clunks, a hacker gets their wings. Or something like that. All we know is that there are few things the hardware tinkerer likes more than the satisfying action of a nice flip. Which by extension means this handheld game built by [Roman Revzin] and controlled by nothing more than three toggle switches will likely be a big hit at the hackerspace.

The parts list for this game, which [Roman] calls the ToggleBoss, is about as short as it gets. There’s a NodeMCU ESP8266 development board, a common SH1106 OLED display, and a trio of suitably clunky toggle switches. Add a bit of wire, toss it all into a 3D printed enclosure, and you’re halfway to thumb flicking nirvana.

Naturally, you might be wondering about the sort of games that can be played with three latching digital inputs; after all, it’s not exactly the most conventional controller layout. But there is where ToggleBoss really shines. Instead of trying to shoehorn traditional games into an exceptionally unconventional system, [Roman] has come up with several games which really embrace the limited input offered to the user.

In a platforming game not unlike the classic Mario Bros, the positions of the physical switches are mapped to virtual walls that are raised and lowered to control a character’s movement through the level. Another game shows the player three dots which correspond to the intended switch states, which they have to match as quickly and as accurately as possible. [Roman] has released the source code to his current lineup of games, which hopefully will inspire others to try their hand at creating software for this fascinating little system.

With the availability of cheap OLED displays and powerful microcontrollers, we’ve started to see more of these bespoke gaming systems. While some will undoubtedly prefer a pocket full of Nintendo’s classics, we think there’s something special about a game system that you can truly call your own.

Tiny Duck Hunt Looks Like Big Fun

Unless you’ve held on to an old tube TV, did the hack that lets you use a light gun with an LCD via Wiimote receiver and a couple of microcontrollers, or live close to one of those adult arcades, you might be really jonesing to play Duck Hunt by now. It’s time to renew that hunting license, because [Danko] has recreated the game for NodeMCU boards, and it’s open season.

Instead of ducks, you get to shoot cute little Twitter-esque birds of varying sizes and point values, and a tiny cab-over truck if you wish. There’s a 60-second free-for-all, and then time is up and your score is displayed. As a special bonus, there’s no smug dog to laugh at you if don’t hit anything. Be sure to check out the demo and build video after the break.

This pocket console lives on a nicely-wired breadboard for now while [Danko] works on a custom PCB. He’s also planning to add support for Arduboy games in the future, and maybe a joystick instead of a D-pad of buttons.

There are a lot of myths floating around about how the old CRTs read the NES light gun, but our own [Will Sweatman] shot them down in his fascinating Duck Hunt: Reloaded write-up.

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