LED Strip Aurora Alerts

I love my Blinky Tape LED strip (basically a NeoPixel with a built it USB microcontroller) and one of my lifelong ambitions is to see the northern lights (Aurora Borealis). Unfortunately living in light polluted SE England means that this is unlikely. So I’ve put together a project that simulates the lights when they should be visible. If you live in the north then this can also be used to alert you to look outside.


This project uses data from the excellent AuroraWatch UK at Lancaster University and as usual the open source code is on GitHub. I decided to use a different approach to my tube and national rail alerts by using images and a negated signalling system. This means that the default value of the tape is to alert (the animation is loaded into the controller) and the Raspberry Pi simply blanks the tape when it gets an alert that isn’t red (high activity).

To use the project load your choice of one of the tiny PNG images onto the tape with the Pattern Paint software that comes with it. Then clone the git repository to the Pi, connect the tape and run the script. You probably want to set it to run in the background (with an & after it) and at boot by adding it to /etc/rc.local before the exit 0.

python /home/pi/BlinkyTape_Python/Aurora.py &  

Here are some videos of it in action along with the small images that create the animations. The images are symmetrical to ensure a smooth animation when it loops.



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