Weather Portal

There have recently been a series of web query projects that use the miraculously tiny and affordable ESP8266 micro controllers. Most have involved the output going to a tiny screen with small graphics. The local YMCA in Anchorage just completed a beautiful remodel but lacked funds for decorative elements. I wanted to build them something large, interesting and of course computer affiliated with lights, but not too obtrusive for the understated and easygoing place. The budget was zero so it couldn’t be too expensive to construct. The wonderful work by Daniel Eichhorn https://blog.squix.org/ already did most of the groundwork for my project—carefully integrating the parsing of weather information with the simplicity of using an insanely cheap build with the Wemos D1 mini that only costs $4. The other ingredient was a simple strand of Neopixels which can be as long as you want—so scaling the project is up to you. The Weather Portal is just a simple 2 inch diameter tube that is as long as the neopixel strand. The strand faces inward projecting onto the flat white painted surface like a screen. The tube isolates the projected image and makes vertical animations of the weather possible. The tube I did for the YMCA is made of 6 feet of Aluminum—Speed Rail and can be easily obtained from a metal supplier fairly cheaply. Metal working is difficult for most so I also presented an easier alternative of plastic 2 inch PVC pipe from the big box store with only 1 meter of Neopixels. If you want cheaper and easier go with a cardboard mailing tube and call it a day. The only other part is a level shifter—the total cost for the electricals is under $25 for a meter long Weather Portal.”

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