I’ve always tinkered with things, whenever I could get my hands on them. I’m not a programmer or an electrical engineer, but I think I have an analytical mind and enjoy the creativity of making. It’s free of judgement; if it doesn’t work, that means I haven’t learned enough. If it breaks, then it’s up to me to fix.
So I made this little thing which takes the weather forecast from forecast.io for my home (in the next one hour) and changes the colour of my Philips Hue bulb accordingly. Cold (0c) is blue. Hot (32c+) is nearer red. Greens and yellows mix in between. It updates every ten minutes and changes the colour of a wall I often sit next to. At a glance, I know if it’s hot or cold in the next hour.
So far, so pointless. The real fun came in interpreting the rain. Forecast.io have been around for a couple of years in the States, but only recently appeared in the UK. Their API lets you check a forecast in the future and, if rain is on the radar, they’ll tell you a) how much and b) the probability. So with a bit of maths, my script will turn the bulb a shade of blue (or purple) if rain is on the way in the next 40 minutes. There are thresholds of course (probability has to be over 30% for me to care, and over a certain quantity) but so far, it’s been completely accurate. If I’m going outside, all I need do is check the wall – if it’s blue (or worse, purple), I’ll need my umbrella.
It’s all mostly pointless and my lovely girlfriend wonders what the hell these flashing lights are doing, but I get a huge amount of satisfaction from it. It runs off a Raspberry Pi and is silently doing maths in the background while I go about my life. It’s niche, it’s mostly pointless, but it’s mine and I made it. There’s so much help available online for newbie coders and enthusiasts, and I am genuinely shocked at what the Pi is capable of doing. Furthermore, the impact this little device will have on the younger generation could be seismic in altering society’s disparagingly lowbrow opinion of programmers and geeks (this has already virtually disappeared in the last decade alone), but moreover it should inspire thousands of makers and creators. This is a great thing.
You can get HueCast on Github. I’ve never posted there before, so I’ve probably broken every rule. Be kind – and tinker as you see fit.