Following a post-Christmas decision to keep illuminated decorations on her stairway bannister throughout the year, Lorraine Underwood found a new purpose for a strip of NeoPixels she had lying around.
— Lorraine Underwood (@LMcUnderwood) February 16, 2017
Simply running the lights up the stairs, blinking and flashing to a random code, wasn’t enough for her. By using an API to check the outdoor weather, Lorraine’s lights went from decorative to informative: they now give an indication of outside weather conditions through their colour and the quantity illuminated.
“The idea is that more lights will light up as it gets warmer,” Lorraine explains. “The temperature is checked every five minutes (I think that may even be a little too often). I am looking forward to walking downstairs to a nice warm yellow light instead of the current blue!”
In total, Lorraine had 240 lights in the strip; she created a chart indicating a range of outside temperatures and the quantity of lights which for each value, as well as specifying the colour of those lights, running from chilly blue through to scorching red.
The lights are controlled by a Raspberry Pi Zero running a code that can be found on Lorraine’s blog. The code dictates which lights are lit and when.
Lorraine is planning some future additions to the build, including a toddler-proof 3D housing, powering the Zero from the lights’ power supply, and gathering her own temperature data instead of relying on a third-party API.
While gathering the temperature data from outside her house, she may also want to look into building an entire weather station, collecting extra data on rain, humidity, and wind conditions. After all, this is the UK: just because it’s hot outside, it doesn’t mean it’s not also raining.