Google Weather on graphical display with Arduino

Picture of Google Weather on graphical display with Arduino
In this project, I am using an Arduino board to show forecast of the weather from Google Weather service on a VGA screen. The display is obviously graphical one, with icons and some colorful text. It is one of those gadgets I wanted to have for some time now – A weather forecasting display that is there just like the wall clock. Yes I know you got nicer looking things on your angry-birds machine... I simply enjoy doing it myself. Had some challenges to overcome, like Arduino has only 2KB of RAM limitation, pretty small for parsing XML data…

• Current and Forecast weather information graphically displayed
• Time display from the internet, using NTP protocol
• Does not require any PC to be involved
• Indoor temperature and humidity display
• Easy to connect and assembly, only Ethernet cable and power
• Supports DHCP for network connection
• Supports both VGA screens and small 3.2" screens
• Daylight-Saving support through a user button

Some more features include change of background color between night and day for the clocks and change background color of the weather data areas depending on temperatures.

I have a newer version of this at

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Step 1: What is required to build this gadget?

Picture of What is required to build this gadget?
1. Arduino Ethernet Pro ( or Arduino with Ethernet Shield
2. 4D Systems display (uLCD-32PT) or display adaptor (uVGA II)
3. Arduino I/O headers socket
4. 5x Jumper wires (only 4 required for operation), note the display and display adaptor have male pins and Arduino typically takes female headers.
5. 2GB or less micro-SD (only needs about 150KB)
6. Power Supply
7. Ethernet Cable
8. DHT-22 Temperature and humidity sensor (optional, only if you want indoor temp)
9. Push button (optional)
10. 2x 10K Ohm resistor (optional, only if you want indoor temp)

Also for building the gadget, you will need the following
1. FTDI board, better use 5Volts one like this one.
2. PC for programming
3. A micro-SD reader device
4. Soldering Iron
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zmashiah (author) 3 years ago
After some period of time, I found few missing icons of weather and added those to the code. See the file

Dolphinone10 days ago
Is there a way to make this an updatable file? I need a file/s that not only can run Google maps but also a compass, weather display and temperature monitoring feature with display.
AndréC28 months ago

is it possible to make it work with wifi shields?

zmashiah (author)  AndréC28 months ago

Pretty confident you can. I don't have one and never tried it, but I would think that aside from setup() that needs to initialize the WiFi shield instead of the Ethernet all the rest would be the same.

AndréC2 zmashiah8 months ago

I'm going to buy a wifi shield and give it a try, if it work, I'll post it. Thanks!

zmashiah (author)  AndréC28 months ago

Just before you build this one, take a look at a different one I built that uses Netduino Plus and gets the data from Weather Underground. Much better if you ask me, and the latter is working in my living room for almost 3 years now

bbustin1 year ago
This is an extremely impressive project. Thanks for sharing it! The LCD display is so cool!
zmashiah (author)  bbustin1 year ago
Thanks you! After some time, I built a different one: that uses a Netduino but same video card and screen. Got several more improvements there over time too.
harishp2 years ago
Really great work thanks for instructions.

I'm also doing one application which may need to use some of your ideas. I'm not using any ethernet support in my application so i'll go with Arduino Uno and uVGA II.
In my application i've to write code for Arduino and connect to VGA monitor through uVGA.

The catch here is data which is going to display on monitor ll be data transfered by some other system to my main Arduino board (may be via wireless media) and one more thing is i need to produce output with resolution 1024*768 or higher...

Any one can help me out. Will the same setup support my requirements?????.

zmashiah (author)  harishp2 years ago
From what I know the uVGA does not have such high resolution.From their site you will see the supported resolutions:
Supports the following resolutions,
- 320 x 240 (QVGA)
- 640 x 480 (VGA)
- 800 x 480 (WVGA)
If the required resolution is a strong requirement, go for Rasbery PI (but it has HDMI connection not VGA).
Is any other vga controllers avilable with 1024*768 or higher resolution compatible to any other boards????
zmashiah (author)  harishp2 years ago
Not that I know of. Please remember you have ONLY 2KB of RAM on Arduino (unless you are using Arduino Mega). There is very little you can do with it for driving a detailed 1024x768 resolution screen.

Rasbery PI is a nice embedded board, cost in same range of Arduino and running Linux. I think it is the best choice if you need to drive hi-res screen.
Tanks for suggestions.

Can we interface other modules like zigbee, sensors etc?????

I'm checking, but i'm not getting any datasheet or full specifications.

last but not least, my application can run on any 16/32 bit controller. But getting output in monitor with high resolution is my first constraint.

zmashiah (author)  harishp2 years ago
Given Rasbery PI is Linus there will be support for Zigbee through open source libraries. I know there is at least one such library. You need to have UART support on the board to interface with these modules.
qlfecv2 years ago
Thanks for the great work.

I am using the LCD-43 and does not update the data on the screen.

I changed the rx and tx pins but still not working, any ideas?

zmashiah (author)  qlfecv2 years ago
Hi Jose,
Are you using GFX or SGC firmware of the display?
Please see the instruction on how to set it to GFX firmware.
Please see that the baud rate of the Arduino and that of the display are the same.

Do note, I made a new version of this with Netduino Plus, that takes data from Weather Underground service instead of Google. Now in my living room I am using the newer version of this with few more fixes I found along the way.
qlfecv zmashiah2 years ago
I'm use GFX firmware. I compile and upload WeatherScreeen.4dg file
I see the screen but no data. not update any data.

I am using Arduino ethernet board and do not know if it supports Netduino Plus.

zmashiah (author)  qlfecv2 years ago
Let's start with "debugging" the situation. First, modify the 4GL program so that it uses 9600 Baud Rate. You will see the line in setup() function that is commented out. So uncomment the line of 9600 and put comment to the current baud rate.

Download the new revision of the program after modifications above to the screen.

Next, from the 4D Workshop application, use "Tools | Terminal connect 9600" to connect to the Display from the PC.

Type the following (all characters, including the square brackets)
The outcome should be the display showing FooBar on the top of the screen for "Current Weather". If that happens, something is broken in the Arduino side.

If that does not happen, then something is broken in the serial communication of the display.
qlfecv zmashiah2 years ago
One question, what is the new version?

zmashiah (author)  qlfecv2 years ago
See here regarding the new version:

And did you do this terminal test?
qlfecv zmashiah2 years ago
I test it and work .

The problem is arduino, serial port software does not work. I changed pins (4,5) for (8,9) and does not work.

I use the library NewSoftSerial SoftwareSerial because I have not

qlfecv qlfecv2 years ago
Solved, I had to add:

pinMode(rx, INPUT);
pinMode(tx, OUTPUT);

zmashiah (author)  qlfecv2 years ago
Not sure why is that required, but happy it got resolved. Enjoy the weather :-)
qlfecv zmashiah2 years ago
I have another problem :(

In the screen no show sunny.gif icom, only show 'sunny.gif'.

I copied directory SD in SD card.

zmashiah (author)  qlfecv2 years ago
Does the SD contain the files "goowea.dat", "goowea.gc", "goowea.gci" and "goowea.gcs"?

Please try to format the SD (quick format is OK) and reload that content to it.
The .gif files are not really required on the SD as the 4D does not open any of them.
qlfecv zmashiah2 years ago
Where are the files?, In the zip file are not included.


zmashiah (author)  qlfecv2 years ago
In the file GW in here you will see the microSD directory with all files I mentioned above
qlfecv zmashiah2 years ago
I am using ver 3.0 the 4D firmware no version 0.95.

I'll try to use the version 0.95.

zmashiah (author)  qlfecv2 years ago
Ok keep me posted
qlfecv zmashiah2 years ago
working fine with v1.3 :)

Have you thought about modifying the code to work with Weather Underground?

zmashiah (author)  qlfecv2 years ago
Yes I did. Actually I built one similar unit that works with Weather Underground and published it's code in Instructables.
As the Arduino only has 2KB of RAM it is extremely challenging to do, so I moved to a different board called Netduino. It is similar to Arduino but being programmed with C# instead of C/C++. The exact board used is Netduino Plus that has Ethernet controller embedded on the board. See this:

Also note the 4D display program was modified too to include much more information I can grab from the Weather Underground service, like sunrise/sunset, moisture and barometric pressure for each day in the forecast.
zmashiah (author)  qlfecv2 years ago
OK, now that we know it is on the Arduino side, lets have the following:
What Arduino IDE version are you using? I built it with 0022 one and did not port it Arduino IDE 1.0 or 1.01

It is possible to switch between debug console and the display. In the file utilfuncs.h
change #define serialDisplay to be Serial and # define Console to be secondSerial

The the connection to the display will be digital pins 0 and 1.
On the Arduino side pin 0 is Rx, so connect it to Tx on the display
And Pin 1 on the Arduino side is Tx, connect it to Rx on the display.

zmashiah (author)  qlfecv2 years ago
One more thing:
Make sure that on the "Workshop" you set the programming to screen Flash and not to Screen Ram as in the picture below.
qlfecv zmashiah2 years ago
Yes, i programming to flash.

Thanks for the great idea! Although I don't have the ethernet pro or an ethernet shield, I made a version of this on my computer and set it up as a screen saver.
zmashiah (author)  bobthebanana3 years ago
Nice! It is definitely cold in Vancouver :-)
Funny thing is I built this because I saw a sample desktop (Vista / Win7) gadget that takes Google Weather and thought I should do it with Netduino/Arduino.
bartonkt3 years ago
Hello, I am trying to come up with a complete parts list based on the above. The two big questions I have are:

1. What do you mean by "Arduino I/O Headers socket" - this?

2. Do we also need to purchase 5x "Jumper Wires"? You don't mention how many pins they need to be, or if these are single pin??

This is the full parts list, with cost, I came up with:
3.2" LCD, $84.95,
VGA Adapter, $54.95,

Arduino Ethernet Pro, $54.95, FTDI Breakout board, $14.95, DHT 22 Temp & Humidity sensor, $9.94,
2 GB Micro SD, $6,
Push button, optional, $1.95, Power supply: Free, probably have one around the house
Ethernet cable: Free
2 x 10k ohm resistors: Free, or $0.25 each from Sparkfun
Jumper wires: ???
Arduino I/O Headers: $2.50, if I'm right above. 

Total Cost (without shipping charges): $175.25 or $145.25
zmashiah (author)  bartonkt3 years ago
Both VGA or LCD is shipped with male 0.1" headers that you need to connect to the Arduino board. The board itself, if you buy the Ethernet Pro comes with holes and no wires or headers. Total number of pins you need to connect is 5. You can choose to use wires to connect them or using jumper wires and socket. I chose to use male headers like this one: but it is really up to you.
The jumper wires in this case are female-female ones like this one:
ou will need 5 wires only and cost for a pack of 10 is $ 3,95.
Since I build a lot of stuff, I bought a stock of those in local shop for much cheaper. Try Fry's or something if you are on the west-coast.

Buying either the VGA or the LCD at at 4D systems can save you few dollars.

Ethernet Pro is a nice and compact, but if you want to save few dollars, you can buy an Arduino Uno and Ethernet Shield (Uno is ~ $23 and shield is ~ $ 15 in ebay). I did not test it with those shields, but assume it should work too. If you are not ready to do the adaption in case needed, go for the Ethernet Pro. One more comment on this, since you asked: If you go for the shield based approach, you will not need headers (those ship with female headers), but you will need a male-female jumper wire instead. 

FTDI is required (can be spared if you go for Uno+Shield) to program the units. Not required after assembly work done. That too is something I have at home...

DHT-22 is optional. But I noticed you did not include a small experimental or prototyping board to assemble it on together with the resistors and push button. You will need something like this or much simpler one you can buy at local shop that will be large enough to host multiple projects. It cost around $ 4 to have a large board that is about 10x the size required in this project (and you simply cut the size you want each time).

As for the SD, if you don't have a 1GB micro-SD somewhere from an old cell-phone or something, go for the 2GB. I think even a 1MB one would be enough, if there was such thing.

Yes, it is an expensive one, but the joy of doing it was worth every cent, penny or Shekel in my case :-).
Nick_de3 years ago
zmashiah (author)  Nick_de3 years ago
Hi Nick,
It might be possible to do this with "standard" LCD module. The code that I have here on the Arduino is basically scrapper of the XML data from the weather service (Google weather) and the entire graphics is handled by the display controller. I did not do much of graphics really (basic tiles with hand-made shading, text with variable font size and color, rectangle fills and bitmap display). All this graphical part is done in the 4GL code for the 4D systems VGA display adapter. I used it also on their LCD display (uLCD 32PT unit and it works).

The challenge will be with memory. The Arduino has enough of memory for code (about 24K used out of 32K it has) but the big shortage will be of RAM. The code already puts strings into program memory (using PROGMEM and PSTR). Not sure exactly how much memory really left, but can tell you that if you move some of the strings back to data the Arduino will reboot or behave very strangely, meaning data segment is really at the edge. Not a surprise, since overall it has only 2KB of RAM for data. Add to that the bitmaps are about 3K each, then loading those from SD to display will require working in small chunks, which is not fun. It might be more realistic to use the Mega flavor of Arduino that has 4KB of RAM for data for this type of application. The display controller has about 10KB for code and data, and I use about 5 or 6KB of it, again 3K for bitmap transfer from SD (it has its own micro SD socket), so not a big surprise. For the record, I tried this also with FEZ Panda-II (a Netduino flavor ARM board), their LCD module and Ethernet Shield. While I was able to complete the code in fraction of the time, the board was running out of memory irregularly, even before using NTP for time updates. I added aggressive garbage-collection calls but in vain. Once a day, out of nowhere the memory was eating up in one round of update from the Web service and the application will do the exception. That board has 62KB or RAM and the application code (it is C#) was weighting about 54K, so again on the edge of the resources, not exactly what you want to do with C#. I guess if I worked harder (not using XML library and stuff like that, but do it more specific as in the Arduino), it would fit, but then what is the point of using C#?
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