Introduction: Weather Forecast Beacon

About: Art without engineering is dreaming. Engineering without art is calculating. Automotive engineer, school teacher and hobbyist photographer who loves creating!

In this project i am presenting a model from a local weather beacon that i made using 3D printing, LED stripes, a power supply and an Arduino board with wifi connection in order to access the weather forecast of the next day.

The main purpose of the project is to to display the current weather forecast but it can also be used as a light show, compass or lamp. The weather forecast for the next day is indicated by the luminous color of the ball and various time courses of the lighting of the ball and shaft.

The display means:

for the ball: blue light: bright to cloudy, dry yellow light: overcast to cloudy, without precipitation white light: precipitation (rain or snow) Steady light: constant weather tendency Flashing light: inconsistent weather tendency for the shaft: rising light: temperature rises falling light: temperature is falling constant light: temperature remains the same.

In total there are 3 × 2 × 3 = 18 different combinations that can be displayed. Of course you can use any possible custom colour combination, depending of the use, as every single led can be controlled separatelly.


1x Arduino Nano 33 IoT Amazon

1x 5V 12A Power Supply Adaptor Amazon

1x BTF-LIGHTING WS2812B 5M 60 LEDs/Pixels/m Amazon

The led stripe i used is waterproof and IP65 certified because i let sometimes the beaacon outside, for indoor use you can use the IP30 version.

1x 470 Ω Resistor

1x 1000 mF Capacitor

15x Dupont Cables

Step 1: Creating Base and Top Frames

The model is designed in Autodesk Fusion 360 and then had it 3D printed. Using the .stl files you can 3d print the frames. As you see on the pictures the model on the drawing and the printed product look a bit different, because i have made some improvements on the design.

The original height of the beacon is eleven meters and the chosen scale 1:35 which means that the model is about 35 cm tall. The total lenght of the led stripes is 1.72 m, which corresponds to 103 leds.

If you would like to build a smaller or bigger model feel free to change the dimensions or the design by manipulating the Autodesk Fusion 360 File (.f3d).

Step 2: Mounting and Soldering the Led Stripes Together

The led stripe can be cut at the marked points, see the first photo. Very important is to place each part of the stripe at the right direction and after soldering two stripes to controll if the connection is working.

For the base you will need three stripes of twelve leds. All stripes have to be connected in series so the first 36 leds of the base are divided in three stripes of eight and should be connected as seen on the fourth picture. Make sure you solder the right the positive, negative and data pin between the stripes.

After connecting two stripes together please check if the connection was made properly by measuring the resistance between the pins with an Ohmometer. The measurment should be less than 1 Ohm. You should also test the connection by connecting the stripes to your board as seen on the last picture and the run the sketch.The library FastLED.h must be installed and the commented lines of the code should be customized. If everything works right the leds should turn on for a second and the turn off for one second.

Step 3: Mounting and Soldering the Stripes of the Top Frame

The connections of the stripes at the top can be found on the first picture. For the top frame are required six stripes of eight leds and one stripe of nineteen leds. After cutting the stripes start by soldering the pins at the end of led 44 with a 6 cm cable, the other side should be solderded to the pins of the led 45. Pay attention to the direction of current and data, the arrows on the picture show the right direction and should match the data pins; the Do pin of Led 44 must be soldered to the Din pin of Led 45.

If the ahesive tape of some stripes doesn't stick on the frame consider using tie raps to secure the affected stripes on place.

After soldering and mounting all stripes one thing is left, solder the led 36 of the base the pins of led 37 of the top frame.

The last thing to do is to fill with glue or silicone the areas at the soldering points if you intend to let the beacon outside, in order to make it waterproof.

Step 4: Wiring the External Power Supply

The current draw of the stripes depends on the brightness and the colour of the leds. Each led consumes 60 mA at full brightness, which means 6.2 A are required if all leds are turned on simultaneously. Since USB ports are able of supplying only up to 500 mA current, an external power supply is necessary. You can also power the beacon from Arduino using a 5V power bank, connected to the USB port of the board, but you must reduce brightness of the Leds to the minimum, othewise the Leds will flicker and most important your Arduino board may be permanently damaged.

For this purpose i used a 5V DC 12 A power supply adaptor, which should be carefully wired to your AC house power supply depending on your country standards. The terminals Live, Neutral and Earth must be correctly connected to a power plug wire as seen on the photos. !! Working with AC can be dangerous, please ask for professional advise if you don't have experience with AC circuits!!

The DC side of the power adaptor should be connected to the stripes and your board.

That's it, the hardware part is ready, at the second part we will see some examples of code for many diferrent uses of the project.

LED Strip Speed Challenge

Participated in the
LED Strip Speed Challenge