What’s the weather doing? Rather than check your phone’s native weather app, or heading to weather.com on your computer, why not build a dedicated weather display? No, we’re not talking about a Raspberry Pi-powered smart mirror. Instead, a more physical, tangible project that uses an established method of displaying information, relying on mechanical systems, rather than an HDMI cable.
If you’re looking for a build to really push your DIY abilities, or simply have a passion for airport-style flip boards, this Arduino-powered Internet of Things project is worth considering.
Featuring 144 custom-cut flaps, each displaying half a letter, this is an IoT device that uses the XOD, the open source, visual programming language for Arduino. As project developer gabbapeople writes on the project’s Instructable: “The idea is to display data about the current weather and temperature in my city. To display the information I decided to make a retro split-flap display in the spirit of the old railway station display boards.”
Requiring some metalwork and manual assembly of the flip holder, the bill of materials for this ambitious project ranges from an Arduino Mega 2560 to plexiglass panels. It’s complex, but the Instructables page includes everything you need, from CAD files to code. The weather board accesses the AccuWeather.com API; although this is not free to use, the trial option allows enough access for half-hourly updates.
With the project up and running, you’ll need to know exactly what it is you’re looking at. The weather board relies on abbreviations for weather types. In the example video, the board displays ICLO, followed by a temperature. These abbreviations might be worth learning, but the Instructables page links to a handy abbreviations cheat sheet that lets you decipher the meaning (ICLO refers to ‘Intermittent Clouds’).
Reckon you could build your own version of this? Perhaps consider a more complex option with more flaps, based on a slightly smaller design? Why limit yourself to the weather? Perhaps enhance the project to display news headlines, or even flight departures!