The CLUE microcontroller is a powerful little board. In this project, we've used it to power a NeoPixel strip installed in a frame around a vertical moss garden.

The CLUE does a great job of lighting the plants artfully, and we've taken it a step further by incorporating data from the CLUE's onboard weather sensors. This vertical garden functions as a barometer or thermometer, showing colors based on the current and recent air pressure or temperature. Five different light zones show you at a glance whether the air pressure is rising or falling, turning the art piece into a functional barometer.

This lovely vertical moss garden predicts the weather. It's art with a superpower! That's pretty neat.

We used fresh moss from the backyard, preserved in glycerine and dyed to maintain its vibrant green color. That means there's no watering needed -- the moss will stay fresh and soft indefinitely on its own. 

We installed the moss into a pre-existing frame cut down from an old, broken shoji screen we found in the basement. Then we added a frame for the lights made from corner trim from the hardware store.

The electronics build is fairly simple, with no soldering required. This is not really a beginner project, but you don't have to be an electronics wizard to hook everything up. The trickiest part for me was the woodworking -- building a frame from corner trim is harder than it looks!

The rest of the magic happens with CircuitPython code and your imagination. Customize the type of data shown: we've included code to visualize temperature or air pressure, and it wouldn't be too hard to add your own code that would visualize humidity, ambient light, sound or other data collected by the CLUE. 

You can also customize colors, data thresholds, and pixel mapping (how the colors are laid out) in the CircuitPython code, so it's fun to use this guide as a starting point to create something unique and beautiful.

Parts

Adafruit CLUE - nRF52840 Express with Bluetooth LE

PRODUCT ID: 4500
Do you feel like you just don't have a CLUE? Well, we can help with that - get a CLUE here at Adafruit by picking up this sensor-packed development board. We wanted to build some...
$39.95
IN STOCK

Adafruit NeoPixel Digital RGB LED Strip - White 30 LED

PRODUCT ID: 1376
You thought it couldn't get better than our world-famous 32-LED-per-meter Digital LED strip but we will prove you wrong! These...
$84.75
IN STOCK

5V 2A (2000mA) switching power supply - UL Listed

PRODUCT ID: 276
This is a FCC/CE certified and UL listed power supply. Need a lot of 5V power? This switching supply gives a clean regulated 5V output at up to 2000mA. 110 or 240 input, so it works in...
$7.95
IN STOCK

JST PH 2-Pin Cable - Female Connector 100mm

PRODUCT ID: 261
Red and black tinned wires with a 2-pin JST PH connector on the end. 4" / 100mm long. Matches up nicely with our Lipoly chargers!
OUT OF STOCK

Female DC Power adapter - 2.1mm jack to screw terminal block

PRODUCT ID: 368
If you need to connect a DC power wall wart to a board that doesn't have a DC jack - this adapter will come in very handy! There is a 2.1mm DC jack on one end, and a screw terminal...
$2.00
IN STOCK
1 x Bolt-On Kit
Bolts to attach LEDs to the CLUE with no soldering
3 x Wire
Silicone Stranded Wire in red, black, and white
2 x UV Pigment
Fluorescent Pigment in Yellow & Green

Moss Prep & Preservation

  • 1 qt of glycerine
  • Warm water dyes in your favorite greens
  • White vinegar
  • Fluorescent pigments in yellow and green

Frame Materials

  • Picture frame or screen with backing
  • 2" corner trim
  • Stain or paint as desired
  • Silicone Adhesive to secure the LEDs to the frame
  • Picture hanging hardware

Tools & Other Stuff We Used

A soldering iron is NOT required for this project, though if you've got one, you can use it in place of the solder seal wire connectors and the bolt-on kit.

This guide was first published on May 06, 2020. It was last updated on May 06, 2020.
This page (Overview) was last updated on Sep 02, 2020.