Weather is one of those things that seems to be endlessly interesting to hackers. We may decry the notion that weather can be accurately predicted two days out, much less seven, but if there’s an extended forecast available, by gosh we’re gonna take a gander at it.
So why pick up your phone or open a browser tab every time you want to check the temperature? If you’re so into it, you should build a desktop weather widget. [opengreenenergy] has written a great guide to a tidy build of this classic and oh-so-useful project that covers everything from the soldering to obtaining an API key. Inside is an ESP8266 and a 2.8″ touch screen display that shows localized conditions via Open Weather Map. The main screen shows the time, date, current weather, 7-day forecast, and the moon phase for each day, and subsequent screens go into further detail. It’s informative without being busy.
We love the streamlined look of the snap-fit enclosure. This may be a fairly simple project, but the build as designed is challenging due to the space constraints inside. Check out the video after the break, which features the venerable Stickvise.
Most of us don’t spend that much time thinking about lightning. Every now and then we hear some miraculous news story about the man who just survived his fourth lightning strike, but aside from that lightning probably doesn’t play that large a role in your day-to-day life. Unless, that is, you work in aerospace, radio, or a surprisingly long list of other industries that have to deal with its devastating effects.
Humans have been trying to protect things from lightning since the mid-1700s, when Ben Franklin conducted his fabled kite experiment. He created the first lightning rod, an iron pole with a brass tip. He had speculated that the conductor would draw the charge out of thunderclouds, and he was correct. Since then, there haven’t exactly been leaps and bounds in the field of lightning rod design. They are still, essentially, a metal rods that attract lightning strikes and shunt the energy safely into the earth. Just as Ben Franklin first did in the 1700s, they are still installed on buildings today to protect from lightning and do a fine job of it. While this works great for most structures, like your house for example, there are certain situations where a tall metal pole just won’t cut it.
With little more than four economical stepper motors, a Raspberry Pi Zero, and a 3D printer, [Thomas Barlow] made himself an awfully slick Smart Flip Clock that can display not only the time, but also weather data as well. This is done by adding a few extra graphics to some of the split-flaps, so numbers can also be used to indicate temperature and weather conditions succinctly. Displaying the time has to do without a colon (so 5:18 displays as 518), but being able to show temperature and weather conditions more than makes up for it.
According to the project’s GitHub repository, it looks as though each split-flap has thirteen unique positions. The first ten are for numerals 0 through 9, and the rest are either blank, or used to make up a few different weather icons with different combinations. A Python script runs on the Raspberry Pi and retrieves weather data from OpenWeather, and the GPIO header drives the display via four geared stepper motors and driver boards. The rest of the hardware is 3D printed, and [Thomas] helpfully provides CAD models in STEP format alongside the STL files.
A dingy and cold early February in a small British town during a pandemic lockdown is not the nicest time and place to take your exercise, but for me it has revived a forgotten memory and an interesting tale of a technology that promised a lot but delivered little. Walking through an early-1990s housing development that sprawled across the side of a hill, I noticed a couple of houses with odd antennas. Alongside the usual UHF Yagis for TV reception were small encapsulated microwave arrays about the size of a biscuit tin. Any unusual antenna piques my interest but in this case, though they are certainly unusual, I knew immediately what they were. What’s more, a much younger me really wanted one, and only didn’t sign up because their service wasn’t available where I lived.
All The Promise…
Ionica was a product of Cambridge University’s enterprise incubator, formed at the start of the 1990s with the aim of being the first to provide an effective alternative to the monopolistic British Telecom in the local loop. Which is to say that in the UK at the time the only way to get a home telephone line was to go through BT because they owned all the telephone wires, and it was Ionica’s plan to change all that by supplying home telephone services via microwave links.
Their offering would be cheaper than BT’s at the socket because no cable infrastructure would be required, and they would aim to beat the monopoly on call costs too. For a few years in the mid 1990s they were the darling of the UK tech investment world, with a cutting edge prestige office building just outside Cambridge, and TV adverts to garner interest in their product. The service launched in a few British towns and cities, and then almost overnight they found themselves in financial trouble and were gone. After their demise at the end of 1998 the service was continued for a short while, but by the end of the decade it was all over. Just what exactly happened?
For most of us, getting weather information is as trivial as unlocking a smartphone or turning on a computer and pointing an app or browser at one’s weather site of choice. This is all well and good, but it lacks a certain panache that old weather stations had with their analog dials and stained wood cases. The weather station that [BuildComics] created marries both this antique aesthetic with modern weather data availability, and then dials it up a notch for this enormous analog weather station build.
The weather station uses 16 discrete dials, each modified with a different label for the specific type of data displayed. Some of them needed new glass, and others also needed coils to be modified to be driven with a lower current than they were designed as well, since each would be driven by one of two Arduinos in this project. Each are tied to a microcontroller output via a potentiometer which controls the needle’s position for the wildly different designs of meter. The microcontrollers themselves get weather information from a combination of real-world sensors outside the home of [BuildComics] and from the internet, which allows for about as up-to-date information about the weather as one could gather first-hand.
The amount of customization of these old meters is impressive, and what’s even more impressive is the project’s final weight. [BuildComics] reports that it took two people just to lift it onto the wall mount, which is not surprising given the amount of iron in some of these old analog meters. And, although not as common in the real world anymore, these old antique meters have plenty of repurposed uses beyond weather stations as well.
Not that long ago, making a low-power and wireless weather display complete with an e-ink screen would have required a lot of work and almost certainly would have been larger than the device [Dmitry] created.
His low power e-ink weather gadget takes advantage of one of the niftier developer boards out there to create a useful and slim device that does exactly what he needs and not a lick more. It’s fast to look up weather online, but not as fast as glancing at a display in a convenient location.
The board [Dmitry] selected is a LilyGO TTGO T5s, an ESP32-based board that integrates an e-ink display, which requires no power unless being updated. It has been loaded with just enough smarts to fetch weather information using the OpenWeather API, and update the display accordingly.
Powering up the WiFi to fetch an easily-parsed JSON file and update the display only once per hour means that a battery can provide months of runtime. As a bonus, the LilyGO board even includes the ability to charge the battery, making things awfully convenient.
Smartphones are portals to an overwhelming torrent of information. Yes, they’re a great way to find out the time, your bus schedule, and the weather, but they’re also full of buzzers and bells going off every three minutes to remind you that your uncle has reposted a photo of the fish he caught ten years ago. Sometimes, it’s better to display just the essentials, and that’s what Weather Note does.
It’s built around the Adafruit Feather Huzzah, a devboard built around the venerable ESP8266. It’s a great base for an Internet of Things project like this one, with WiFi built-in and ready to go. The Weather Note talks to a variety of online platforms to scrape weather data and helpful reminders, with the assistance of If This Then That, or IFTTT. Reminders to walk the dog or get some milk are displayed on a small OLED screen, while there’s also a bunch of alphanumeric displays for other information. WS2812 LEDs are used behind a shadowbox to display weather conditions, with cute cloud, rain, and sun icons. It’s all wrapped up in a tidy frame perfect for the mantlepiece or breakfast table.