Raspberry Pi Internet Weather Station

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About: Founder of Powerhouse Electronics. For more info goto: www.ph-elec.com

This Instructable will show you how to build a really cool Raspberry Pi Internet-based weather station. Actually, to call this build a "weather station" is a bit of an under statement. This build could easily be extended to provide much more than simply the weather. However, it's a good start and it looks really cool on my desk.

Our family (OK, mostly me) has enjoyed having the family iPad on the kitchen counter, when not in use, quietly showing the current outside weather conditions. However, it's a pain to load and unload the iPad in and out of the arcade cradle case. Plus, just when I go to look at the weather, I discover someone has taken the iPad / weather display. What's needed is a permanent counter-top display that the kids are not going to swipe like the iPad.

Step 1: Gen 1 - the Lunchbox Pi Weather Station

My first thought was to use a little composite video display. I picked up the one in the picture on Ebay for $22 bucks - simply search on "4.3 Inch TFT LCD Car Rear View Monitor Car Monitor". The display has a reported resolution of 656 by 416 pixels which defiantly makes displaying a lot of useful information a challenge! The display requires 12Vdc as the supply voltage. The Raspberry Pi, of course, needs 5Vdc as the supply voltage. To resolve this, I bought a cheap USB car charger from Amazon. For around $6 bucks I found a 5Vdc by 2 Amp car changer. Therefore, the lunchbox has an external 12Vdc wall wart power supply. The 12Vdc powers the display directly. The 12Vdc also goes to the USB car charger which steps the voltage down to a regulated 5Vdc. As a final hack, I soldered a pair of wires directly between the car charger and the Raspberry Pi - not my best idea.

While it all kinda worked I was not really satisfied with the quality of the video on the composite display. The small font on the display was more fuzzy than I would like. Plus, while the lunchbox at first seemed cute later it seemed kinda cheesy.

Step 2: Gen 2 - HDMI Monitor + Laser Cut Plexiglass Arcade Case

Back on eBay I found a nice looking $54 dollar HDMI open frame monitor with a resolution of 800x600. By definition, an open frame anything needs a frame to mount in. Since the cuteness of the lunchbox was long over it was time for some laser cut acrylic. My local hacker space i3Detroit has a really nice 150 watt cutter that can make mince meat of 4.5mm acrylic.

I loosely based my arcade enclosure on the iPad arcade box. If I ever make a Gen 3 design it would defiantly include a removable / slide out tray for the Pi. Turns out, it's a major pain in the neck trying to plug things in and out of the Pi since there is not much room between the Pi and the side walls.

The HDMI monitor also requires a 12Vdc feed. So, I used the same trick of using a USB car charger again. This time, however, I chopped up an old USB cable so soldered wires on the Pi was not required.

If anyone is interested in the arcade case post a comment below and I'll upload the DXF files. Or, the files are on my web site at ph-elec.com.

Step 3: Pi Setup

To setup a new Raspberry Pi with the needed software is not that hard. All the software is written in Python with just one added Python module. The extra Python module is called "pywapi". Here is a link where you can download the module. This module makes it easy to get real-time weather from either Yahoo, Weather.com, or NOAA.

First things first, here is a checklist to setting up a raw Raspberry Pi:

  1. Download the latest Raspbian (Debian Wheezy). Unzip to obtain a .img file.
  2. Write the to a SD card with "dd bs=4M if=2014-09-09-wheezy-raspbian.img of=/dev/sdb"
  3. The dd command takes about five minutes. When complete, run "sync" to flush the pipes.
  4. Install SD card in the Pi and reboot. Make sure there is an Ethernet connection to the Pi.
  5. Using the "Attached Devices" page on the router, find the IP address of the new Pi.
  6. Login to the Pi using "ssh pi@192.168.1.???" where ??? is the IP number from above. Password will be "raspberry".
  7. On the Pi, use the command "raspi-config" to setup defaults.
    1. Turn on automatic boot into the GUI.
    2. Set the host name to something like "MyPi".
  8. Install VNC on the Pi with "sudo apt-get install tightvncserver".
    1. Run "tightvncserver" which sets the password.
  9. Back on the big Linux box, use "Remote Desktop" to view the Pi GUI desktop.
    1. Set Protocol to "VNC" and IP number to "192.168.1.???:1". Note the ":1" on the end of the IP number.
    2. Hit the connect button and supply the VNC password.
    3. Bingo, remote GUI Pi desktop!
      1. This saves dragging out a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to connect up to the new Pi.
    4. On the desktop, run the WiFi setup icon. Setup the new Pi / USB WiFi to connect to the network.
    5. Close the VNC connection - we're now done with remote desktops.
  10. Back in the ssh window, reboot the Pi with "sudo reboot". Disconnect the Ethernet cable since the WiFi is now setup.
  11. Back on the home router, find the new IP number the Pi is using with WiFi.
  12. Using ssh, log back in using the new IP number. This time the connect will be over WiFi.
  13. Using the Files Manger on Linux, connect to the Pi using the "connect to server" command.
    1. The server address is "sftp://192.168.1.???/home/pi".
  14. Basic setup complete.

Next, the pywapi needs to be downloaded and installed. Again, this is not too hard with the following steps:

  1. Download the latest from here. Extract the archive into a new directory.
  2. Using File Manger, copy the directory to the Pi home directory.
  3. Using ssh, do the following on the Pi:
    1. cd pywapi-0.3.8
    2. sudo python setup.py build
    3. sudo python setup.py install
  4. Done.

Update, I forgot two mention two other things:

  1. On the Pi run the following command:
    1. sudo apt-get install avahi-daemon
      1. This allows connecting to the Pi by name. So, on your main computer you can connect as "ssh pi@MyPi.local" instead of using IP numbers. With multiple Pi's on the network it's easy to get them confused unless called out by name.
    2. sudo raspi-config
      1. Look for and run the 4th option called "Internationalisation Options" and set your timezone.
      2. With the timezone set and ntpd (network time protocol daemon) running the Pi will always display the correct time to within a couple milliseconds! Gotta love it.
  2. OK, now we're done again.

Step 4: Source Code

All the source code for this little weather display is based on Python, PyGame, and Pywapi. All open source / free software.

PyGame is used to do all the GUI stuff. Really amazing stuff. Using PyGame, the entire display is rebuilt once per second. Near the top of my source code you'll find a section that allows tweaking for different display sizes. There is one section for the small composite video display and a second section for the larger HDMI display. I simply comment out one of the two sections based on the display size I need.

To get my source code running just unzip the attachment and copy the whole directory onto the Pi using File Manage. Once copied, start the code use the following ssh commands:

  1. cd Weather
  2. sudo python weather.py

The sudo command is needed so that Python can control / read the GPIO pins. There is probably some way around this restriction but it eludes me.

Once everything gets working using ssh it's time to get weather to start automatically on a reboot. This is also really easy to do.

  1. Using ssh, run "sudo vi /etc/rc.local"
  2. Just before the last line, which says "exit 0", add the following to lines.

    1. cd /home/pi/Weather
    2. sudo python weather.py &> err.log

This will automatically start the weather application on the Pi after a reboot. If later you want to turn this off, just use ssh to edit the file and add the comment character "#" in front of both lines and reboot.

Note, my source code is a big hack and I'm not very proud of it. However, if I waited until it was presentable it never would be presented. So, take it or leave it just don't cry about as I have a very thin skin.

A couple of other things to note about my code. Buried down in there you'll notice some code to talk to an X10 device. This was my attempt to control my outside pole lights that are on address A3. I simply wanted the lamps on at dusk and off at dawn. Seems easy enough and I thought I had it working. Using a USB-to-RS232 dongle on the Pi I had connected a CM11A X10 module. The CM11A is an old X10 macro module. The CM11A also has a RS232 port that allows control over the X10 bus. Seems there are still some bugs because the lamp pole lights aren't getting the message!

Also of note, on the larger display there is a nice open gap along the right hand side of the display. My plan is add some status lamps in that area. I'm playing with some IEEE802.15.4 radios and their outputs will one day show up in that open spot.

For the latest and greatest updates please visit my web site at ph-elec.com.

Well, let me know in the comments section below any questions you may have.

Thanks, Jim.

Oh, and don't forget to vote for me! Thanks again.

BTW: There is always more info on my web site: www.ph-elec.com

Step 5: Metric Update

Attached is a new version that allows the display of either metric or imperial.

Hope this helps,

Jim

31 People Made This Project!

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103 Discussions

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DanielŘ691

Question 4 weeks ago

Greetings. Please do anyone advise how to change this value to update the weather after 15 minutes? Thank you and once again many thanks to all, especially the author of the project!
wPeriod = (6,10,14,21,25,29,36,40,44,51,55,59)# Weather update periods. MUST be "outside" News periods (calculated as nPeriod+nTime)

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Flenders5432

Question 5 weeks ago

Hello everybody
how do I change the code to use weatherunderground weather data and API from my personal weather station?
thanks a lot :-)

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DanielŘ691

Question 5 weeks ago

Hello! Can someone please advise how to get hPA instead of mb? Changing value does nothing :-(
baroUnits = ' mb'
baroScale = 29.529980164712

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DanielŘ691

Question 7 weeks ago

Hello everyone! First of all, thank you for this tutorial. Can someone please tell me how to translate the wind direction into Czech? I rewrote these lines in the wtranslat.py file to def wtranslat.py na def TranslateWindDir( code ):
value = int( ( code / 22.5 ) + 0.5 )
dir =["S","SSV","SV","VSV","V","VJV", "JV", "JJV","J","JJZ","JZ","ZJZ","Z","ZSZ","SZ","SSZ"] does not display. The rest of the translation works great! Thank you for answer!

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bahukbia

Question 6 months ago on Introduction

I set everything up and it runs, but when the weather calls for partly cloudy it crashes.
I get:

New Weather Update: 11/03/18 3:53 PM EDT
Icon Index: 29 34 39 38
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "/home/pi/weather/weather.py", line 806, in <module>
myDisp.disp_weather()
File "/home/pi/weather/weather.py", line 340, in disp_weather
icon = pygame.image.load(sd + icons[self.icon[0]]).convert_alpha()
pygame.error: Couldn't open icons/partly_cloudy.png

The file is there and it has the same permissions as the other icons.

2 answers
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RossS29bahukbia

Answer 3 months ago

Did you ever figure out how to solve this?

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bahukbiaRossS29

Reply 3 months ago

No, my work around was setup the bash so when I launch a terminal it will cd to the directory then launch the program. Since I only use that Pi as a printer server and weather station I am living with it.

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RossS29

3 months ago

I am trying to get this to run on startup automatically. When I add the command to run it to rc.local I get the following error when booting:
KeyError -> Weather Error
Error: no data from Weather.com
If I run the program manually from the CLI it works as expected.
Has anyone else ran into and solved this problem?

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VeijoT

Question 4 months ago

I like very much this project and I also get it work quite easily with 7 inch touch display. I have tried to look if I could time display from AM/PM to 24-hour mode. Have anyone done this before?

7 answers
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vince84VeijoT

Answer 4 months ago

Hello,
what is your 7 inch touch display (where do you buy it ) ?
thanks

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vince84VeijoT

Reply 4 months ago

ok thank you
do you use with python 2 or 3 ?

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VeijoTvince84

Reply 4 months ago

my python version is 2.7.13

I have earlier issues with screen settings but I changed line drivers = ['fbcon', 'directfb', 'svgalib'] to drivers = ['X11', 'X11', 'X11']

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vince84VeijoT

Reply 4 months ago

with python 3, the program don"t works. How install pyton 2.7 on the raspberry ?

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CynosureSVeijoT

Answer 4 months ago

You need to modify some lines of code:
in the function: def disp_weather(self):
- modify
tm1 = time.strftime( "%a, %b %d %I:%M", time.localtime() )
to
tm1 = time.strftime( "%a, %b %d %H:%M", time.localtime() )
- modify line
self.screen.blit( rtm3, (tp+tx1+tx2,self.tmdateYPos) )
to
# self.screen.blit( rtm3, (tp+tx1+tx2,self.tmdateYPos) )
(comment out)

This will give you 24h time
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VeijoTCynosureS

Reply 4 months ago

Thanks to @CynosureS, worked well and really easy to implement

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Pikmin Engineering

Tip 4 months ago

Here's how to set your location: On line 164 (self.w = pywapi.get_weather_from_weather_com( '48085', units='imperial' )), replace "48085" with your own zip code.

1 reply
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vince84Pikmin Engineering

Reply 4 months ago

Hello,
what is your 7 inch touch display (where do you buy it ) ?
thanks

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mickeypop

4 months ago

Does /dev/gpiomem exist? If so RPi.GPIO should use this device to access the GPIO. If /dev/gpiomem does not exist try: sudo rpi-update

to make sure you are using a recent kernel, and
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

to make sure you are using a recent RPi.GPIO.
You will also need to make sure you are a member of the gpio group:
sudo adduser pi gpio

EDITED TO ADD
I'm not sure if it's a Raspbian or (more likely) a raspberrypi.org problem.
Check that /dev/gpiomem has the correct permissions.
$ ls -l /dev/gpiomem
crw-rw---- 1 root gpio 244, 0 Dec 28 22:51 /dev/gpiomem

If it doesn't then set the correct permissions as follows

sudo chown root.gpio /dev/gpiomem
sudo chmod g+rw /dev/gpiomem

--- that should give GPIO access without sudo ---
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AaronP148

Question 6 months ago

Ok.. how to I set my location/town/city? I can see any place to do that so I think it is just Getting the timezone city? not sure. anyone have any idea?