Weather at a glance with Raspberry Pi


I am a big fan of the Rapsberry Pi single board computing platform, and I've used the devices in numerous projects. I recently acquired a Pimoroni Unicorn Phat (Pico Hardware Attached to Top) - a 4 x 8, 255 color LED display and I decided to see how well a small display would work to convey information at a glance.

I will use a Pi Zero W and the Pimoroni Unicorn Phat (I know, its a silly name!) to display local weather conditions in realtime.

To reach this goal, I will use code written in Python to use Pandas to scrape the current hourly weather info based on a given Zip Code. To make full use of the 4 separate LED columns it will display:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Precipitation,
  • Wind Speed

Before stepping into the code there is the conceptual problem - how do I output a float as a combination of 8 LEDS of various color?

Since the 'screen' will display 4 separate values, we'll need to code them separately.

First is the temperature. As a resident of the NYC area, the annual temperature can range from 0 F to 95 F in a typical year, so I split the temperature into three groups. Cold, Warm, and Hot, represented by blue, green, and red respectively.

Cold is any below 32 F, Warm is 33 - 74 F, and Hot is 75+ F.

According to the display below, it is ~85 degrees, ~80% humidity,  ~20% precipitation, and wind speed of ~16 MPH in NYC

  • Temperature (Blue -> cold [0, 32], Green -> warm [33, 74], Red -> hot[75,100])
  • Humidity reflects % humidity * 8 / 100
  • Precipitation reflects % precipitation * 8 / 100
  • Wind Speed in MPH is a log_2 scale

When I took this image it was a bit cooler in Memphis (38101), it is ~75 degrees, ~90% humidity,  ~30% precipitation, and wind speed of ~16 MPH in TN

Lastly we have Beaver (25813), ~ 87 degrees, ~65% humidity,  ~0% precipitation, and wind speed of ~8 MPH in WVA.


Below is a snipped of code for setting the color and number of active LEDS in a given row.


def set_temp(temp):

    temp = int(temp)

    def linshuffle(linspace,temp):

        ticks = linspace

        tmp = temp



        ticks = pd.Series(ticks)

        return max(1,int(ticks[ticks == temp].index[0]))


    if int(temp) <= 32:

        T = linshuffle(np.linspace(0,32,10),temp)

        R,G,B = (0,0,100)


    elif int(temp) < 75:

        T = linshuffle(np.linspace(32,75,10),temp)

        R,G,B = (0,int(np.ceil(3*int(temp))),0)


    elif int(temp) >= 75:

        T = linshuffle(np.linspace(75,100,10),temp)

        R,G,B = (2*int(temp),0,0)



How do we get weather information?

There are two options, the first is to use a hardware sensor and capture the data. The second method is to scrape the relevant information from the web. In this instance, we can get the hourly weather information containing temperature (F), humidity %, precipitation %, and wind speed (MPH)

The data above is from, their hourly weather information is exactly what we need!

Here's the Python & Pandas code to quickly scrape the table of data without needing to parse the HTML tree.

def get_weather_df(zip_code):
Zip_Code = zip_code.strip().replace(' ','').split('-')[0]
if len(Zip_Code) == 5 and Zip_Code.isnumeric():
url = '' %(Zip_Code)
url = weather_url()
temp_df = pd.read_html(url)[0]
temp_df = temp_df.iloc[:,1:]
temp_df.columns = ['Time','Description','Temp','Feels','Precip','Humidity','Wind']
temp_df['Time'] = pd.to_datetime(temp_df['Time'])
temp_df['Temp'] = temp_df['Temp'].map(lambda x: int(x[:-1]))
temp_df['Feels'] = temp_df['Feels'].map(lambda x: int(x[:-1]))
temp_df['Precip'] = temp_df['Precip'].map(lambda x: int(x[:-1]))
temp_df['Humidity'] = temp_df['Humidity'].map(lambda x: int(x[:-1]))
temp_df['Wind Direction'] = temp_df['Wind'].map(lambda x: x.split()[0])
temp_df['Wind Speed'] = temp_df['Wind'].map(lambda x: x.split()[1])''
temp_df = temp_df[['Description','Temp','Feels','Precip','Humidity','Wind Direction','Wind Speed']]
return (temp_df)

Lucky for us, the Pandas read_html() method is powerful enough to grab the entire page of data in one go!. The subsequent lines of code are to clean up the content - ie: change strings to ints, remove % symbol and degree sign.

The full code can be found on my github page here

Scott Edenbaum
Scott Edenbaum
Scott Edenbaum is a recent graduate from the NYC Data Science Academy. He was hired by the Academy to assist in buildout of the learning management system and seeks to pursue a career as a Data Scientist. Scott's work background built his experience with the banking, financial, and client services industries. For the last 4 years, he was a dedicated Financial Advisor, specializing in data analysis, so clients had a complete understanding of their portfolio. In 2011, he earned a B.S. in Mathematics with a Minor in Computer Science from Ramapo College of New Jersey. As a self-proclaimed, "technology enthusiast," Scott can often be found tinkering with his latest Raspberry-Pi project, or testing out new electronics. Scott is passionate about supporting his community, and initiated a math tutoring program with his local library to provide help to struggling students, and students looking to get ahead. Scott and his wife currently reside in Edgewater, NJ.

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