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invention

Signs of Snow

by zmccune

Published on December 8, 2015

Is it snowing in Tahoe yet? Hard to know in sunny San Francisco 204 miles away. So I made a retro billboard connected to Yahoo! Weather via If This Than That to flash on when the snow is falling. Then I just need to grab my ski pass and head for the hills. 

How To Make It

STEP 1 : Make your billboard

Grab a Billboard Kit from Boundless Brooklyn (http://www.boundlessbrooklyn.com/products/billboard-model-kit) and set it up. The kit uses 'glue dots' to assemble so you can have your structure ready in about 2 minutes. I also recommend glue a plank *behind* the sign to serve as a cradle for your electronics.

STEP 2 : Add the LittleBits

Snap together 1 cloudBit, 1 wire, and 3 long LEDs. Glue them down on the cradle behind the billboard surface. Test to ensure full connections and that the LEDs are receiving power.

STEP 3 : Draw your sign

I spent nearly a week looking at vintage Lake Tahoe postcards to style the type and scenic nature view of the mountains. Then I sketched it at a coffee shop in the Castro and watercolored it in. My best tip: make it layered. Create a flat background and then glue the actual language touts on top. The raised lettering looks fantastic.

STEP 4 : Connect to the Weather

Using If This Than That, connect the CloudBit to Yahoo! Weather. I needed multiple recipes running. One to turn the lights on "forever" when conditions change to snow. 3 to turn the unit off whenever conditions change to "sunny" "overcast" or "rain."

STEP 5 : Test it

I always set up a IFTTT test for the unit that connects a simple text message to turning the lights on. When that works, I know the cloudBit is getting working instruction from the IFTTT servers.

STEP 6 : Wait for snow

Is it on yet? Is it on yet?

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