Voting is important to make the voice of the people as loud as possible.

But, it is also very complicated to remember all of the involved dates, so much so that you are almost certain to miss a registration date.

To try to make it easier for us with forgetful minds, a community driven effort has been gathering all of the hard to find information and dates, and compiling it on the Electioncal Website.

It's designed to share this information as an iCalendar url, which is super easy to add to your favorite desktop software or to your mobile phone.

But sometimes we need a little visual reminder, and a beautiful way to do it, is with a PyPortal.

We are going to use CircuitPython to connect to the Internet, download and process the data, and then display it in a nice and clean way, so we can always keep the pulse on our Election Calendar.

Parts

PyPortal, our easy-to-use IoT device that allows you to create all the things for the “Internet of Things” in minutes. Make custom touch screen interface...
$54.95
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PyPortal is our easy-to-use IoT device that allows you to create all the things for the “Internet of Things” in minutes. Create little pocket...
$9.95
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This cable is not only super-fashionable, with a woven pink and purple Blinka-like pattern, it's also fully reversible! That's right, you will save seconds a day by...
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Need a USB jack for charging or powering a project, but don't want to lug around a computer? This switching supply gives a clean regulated output at up to 1000mA! 110 or 240 input,...
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CircuitPython is a derivative of MicroPython designed to simplify experimentation and education on low-cost microcontrollers. It makes it easier than ever to get prototyping by requiring no upfront desktop software downloads. Simply copy and edit files on the CIRCUITPY "flash" drive to iterate.

The following instructions will show you how to install CircuitPython. If you've already installed CircuitPython but are looking to update it or reinstall it, the same steps work for that as well!

Set up CircuitPython Quick Start!

Follow this quick step-by-step for super-fast Python power :)

Click the link above to download the latest version of CircuitPython for the PyPortal.

Download and save it to your desktop (or wherever is handy).

Plug your PyPortal into your computer using a known-good USB cable.

A lot of people end up using charge-only USB cables and it is very frustrating! So make sure you have a USB cable you know is good for data sync.

Double-click the Reset button on the top in the middle (magenta arrow) on your board, and you will see the NeoPixel RGB LED (green arrow) turn green. If it turns red, check the USB cable, try another USB port, etc. Note: The little red LED next to the USB connector will pulse red. That's ok!

If double-clicking doesn't work the first time, try again. Sometimes it can take a few tries to get the rhythm right!

You will see a new disk drive appear called PORTALBOOT.

Drag the adafruit-circuitpython-pyportal-<whatever>.uf2 file to PORTALBOOT.

The LED will flash. Then, the PORTALBOOT drive will disappear and a new disk drive called CIRCUITPY will appear.

If you haven't added any code to your board, the only file that will be present is boot_out.txt. This is absolutely normal! It's time for you to add your code.py and get started!

That's it, you're done! :)

PyPortal Default Files

Click below to download a zip of the files that shipped on the PyPortal or PyPortal Pynt.

As CircuitPython development continues and there are new releases, Adafruit will stop supporting older releases. Visit https://circuitpython.org/downloads to download the latest version of CircuitPython for your board. You must download the CircuitPython Library Bundle that matches your version of CircuitPython. Please update CircuitPython and then visit https://circuitpython.org/libraries to download the latest Library Bundle.

Each CircuitPython program you run needs to have a lot of information to work. The reason CircuitPython is so simple to use is that most of that information is stored in other files and works in the background. These files are called libraries. Some of them are built into CircuitPython. Others are stored on your CIRCUITPY drive in a folder called lib. Part of what makes CircuitPython so great is its ability to store code separately from the firmware itself. Storing code separately from the firmware makes it easier to update both the code you write and the libraries you depend.

Your board may ship with a lib folder already, it's in the base directory of the drive. If not, simply create the folder yourself. When you first install CircuitPython, an empty lib directory will be created for you.

CircuitPython libraries work in the same way as regular Python modules so the Python docs are an excellent reference for how it all should work. In Python terms, you can place our library files in the lib directory because it's part of the Python path by default.

One downside of this approach of separate libraries is that they are not built in. To use them, one needs to copy them to the CIRCUITPY drive before they can be used. Fortunately, there is a library bundle.

The bundle and the library releases on GitHub also feature optimized versions of the libraries with the .mpy file extension. These files take less space on the drive and have a smaller memory footprint as they are loaded.

Due to the regular updates and space constraints, Adafruit does not ship boards with the entire bundle. Therefore, you will need to load the libraries you need when you begin working with your board. You can find example code in the guides for your board that depends on external libraries.

Either way, as you start to explore CircuitPython, you'll want to know how to get libraries on board.

The Adafruit CircuitPython Library Bundle

Adafruit provides CircuitPython libraries for much of the hardware they provide, including sensors, breakouts and more. To eliminate the need for searching for each library individually, the libraries are available together in the Adafruit CircuitPython Library Bundle. The bundle contains all the files needed to use each library.

Downloading the Adafruit CircuitPython Library Bundle

You can download the latest Adafruit CircuitPython Library Bundle release by clicking the button below. The libraries are being constantly updated and improved, so you'll always want to download the latest bundle. 

Match up the bundle version with the version of CircuitPython you are running. For example, you would download the 6.x library bundle if you're running any version of CircuitPython 6, or the 7.x library bundle if you're running any version of CircuitPython 7, etc. If you mix libraries with major CircuitPython versions, you will get incompatible mpy errors due to changes in library interfaces possible during major version changes.

Download the bundle version that matches your CircuitPython firmware version. If you don't know the version, check the version info in boot_out.txt file on the CIRCUITPY drive, or the initial prompt in the CircuitPython REPL. For example, if you're running v7.0.0, download the 7.x library bundle.

There's also a py bundle which contains the uncompressed python files, you probably don't want that unless you are doing advanced work on libraries.

The CircuitPython Community Library Bundle

The CircuitPython Community Library Bundle is made up of libraries written and provided by members of the CircuitPython community. These libraries are often written when community members encountered hardware not supported in the Adafruit Bundle, or to support a personal project. The authors all chose to submit these libraries to the Community Bundle make them available to the community.

These libraries are maintained by their authors and are not supported by Adafruit. As you would with any library, if you run into problems, feel free to file an issue on the GitHub repo for the library. Bear in mind, though, that most of these libraries are supported by a single person and you should be patient about receiving a response. Remember, these folks are not paid by Adafruit, and are volunteering their personal time when possible to provide support.

Downloading the CircuitPython Community Library Bundle

You can download the latest CircuitPython Community Library Bundle release by clicking the button below. The libraries are being constantly updated and improved, so you'll always want to download the latest bundle.

The link takes you to the latest release of the CircuitPython Community Library Bundle on GitHub. There are multiple versions of the bundle available. Download the bundle version that matches your CircuitPython firmware version. If you don't know the version, check the version info in boot_out.txt file on the CIRCUITPY drive, or the initial prompt in the CircuitPython REPL. For example, if you're running v7.0.0, download the 7.x library bundle.

Understanding the Bundle

After downloading the zip, extract its contents. This is usually done by double clicking on the zip. On Mac OSX, it places the file in the same directory as the zip.

Open the bundle folder. Inside you'll find two information files, and two folders. One folder is the lib bundle, and the other folder is the examples bundle.

Now open the lib folder. When you open the folder, you'll see a large number of .mpy files, and folders.

Example Files

All example files from each library are now included in the bundles in an examples directory (as seen above), as well as an examples-only bundle. These are included for two main reasons:

  • Allow for quick testing of devices.
  • Provide an example base of code, that is easily built upon for individualized purposes.

Copying Libraries to Your Board

First open the lib folder on your CIRCUITPY drive. Then, open the lib folder you extracted from the downloaded zip. Inside you'll find a number of folders and .mpy files. Find the library you'd like to use, and copy it to the lib folder on CIRCUITPY.

If the library is a directory with multiple .mpy files in it, be sure to copy the entire folder to CIRCUITPY/lib.

This also applies to example files. Open the examples folder you extracted from the downloaded zip, and copy the applicable file to your CIRCUITPY drive. Then, rename it to code.py to run it.

If a library has multiple .mpy files contained in a folder, be sure to copy the entire folder to CIRCUITPY/lib.

Understanding Which Libraries to Install

You now know how to load libraries on to your CircuitPython-compatible microcontroller board. You may now be wondering, how do you know which libraries you need to install? Unfortunately, it's not always straightforward. Fortunately, there is an obvious place to start, and a relatively simple way to figure out the rest. First up: the best place to start.

When you look at most CircuitPython examples, you'll see they begin with one or more import statements. These typically look like the following:

  • import library_or_module

However, import statements can also sometimes look like the following:

  • from library_or_module import name
  • from library_or_module.subpackage import name
  • from library_or_module import name as local_name

They can also have more complicated formats, such as including a try / except block, etc.

The important thing to know is that an import statement will always include the name of the module or library that you're importing.

Therefore, the best place to start is by reading through the import statements.

Here is an example import list for you to work with in this section. There is no setup or other code shown here, as the purpose of this section involves only the import list.

import time
import board
import neopixel
import adafruit_lis3dh
import usb_hid
from adafruit_hid.consumer_control import ConsumerControl
from adafruit_hid.consumer_control_code import ConsumerControlCode

Keep in mind, not all imported items are libraries. Some of them are almost always built-in CircuitPython modules. How do you know the difference? Time to visit the REPL.

In the Interacting with the REPL section on The REPL page in this guide, the help("modules") command is discussed. This command provides a list of all of the built-in modules available in CircuitPython for your board. So, if you connect to the serial console on your board, and enter the REPL, you can run help("modules") to see what modules are available for your board. Then, as you read through the import statements, you can, for the purposes of figuring out which libraries to load, ignore the statement that import modules.

The following is the list of modules built into CircuitPython for the Feather RP2040. Your list may look similar or be anything down to a significant subset of this list for smaller boards.

Now that you know what you're looking for, it's time to read through the import statements. The first two, time and board, are on the modules list above, so they're built-in.

The next one, neopixel, is not on the module list. That means it's your first library! So, you would head over to the bundle zip you downloaded, and search for neopixel. There is a neopixel.mpy file in the bundle zip. Copy it over to the lib folder on your CIRCUITPY drive. The following one, adafruit_lis3dh, is also not on the module list. Follow the same process for adafruit_lis3dh, where you'll find adafruit_lis3dh.mpy, and copy that over.

The fifth one is usb_hid, and it is in the modules list, so it is built in. Often all of the built-in modules come first in the import list, but sometimes they don't! Don't assume that everything after the first library is also a library, and verify each import with the modules list to be sure. Otherwise, you'll search the bundle and come up empty!

The final two imports are not as clear. Remember, when import statements are formatted like this, the first thing after the from is the library name. In this case, the library name is adafruit_hid. A search of the bundle will find an adafruit_hid folder. When a library is a folder, you must copy the entire folder and its contents as it is in the bundle to the lib folder on your CIRCUITPY drive. In this case, you would copy the entire adafruit_hid folder to your CIRCUITPY/lib folder.

Notice that there are two imports that begin with adafruit_hid. Sometimes you will need to import more than one thing from the same library. Regardless of how many times you import the same library, you only need to load the library by copying over the adafruit_hid folder once.

That is how you can use your example code to figure out what libraries to load on your CircuitPython-compatible board!

There are cases, however, where libraries require other libraries internally. The internally required library is called a dependency. In the event of library dependencies, the easiest way to figure out what other libraries are required is to connect to the serial console and follow along with the ImportError printed there. The following is a very simple example of an ImportError, but the concept is the same for any missing library.

Example: ImportError Due to Missing Library

If you choose to load libraries as you need them, or you're starting fresh with an existing example, you may end up with code that tries to use a library you haven't yet loaded.  This section will demonstrate what happens when you try to utilise a library that you don't have loaded on your board, and cover the steps required to resolve the issue.

This demonstration will only return an error if you do not have the required library loaded into the lib folder on your CIRCUITPY drive.

Let's use a modified version of the Blink example.

import board
import time
import simpleio

led = simpleio.DigitalOut(board.LED)

while True:
    led.value = True
    time.sleep(0.5)
    led.value = False
    time.sleep(0.5)

Save this file. Nothing happens to your board. Let's check the serial console to see what's going on.

You have an ImportError. It says there is no module named 'simpleio'. That's the one you just included in your code!

Click the link above to download the correct bundle. Extract the lib folder from the downloaded bundle file. Scroll down to find simpleio.mpy. This is the library file you're looking for! Follow the steps above to load an individual library file.

The LED starts blinking again! Let's check the serial console.

No errors! Excellent. You've successfully resolved an ImportError!

If you run into this error in the future, follow along with the steps above and choose the library that matches the one you're missing.

Library Install on Non-Express Boards

If you have an M0 non-Express board such as Trinket M0, Gemma M0, QT Py M0, or one of the M0 Trinkeys, you'll want to follow the same steps in the example above to install libraries as you need them. Remember, you don't need to wait for an ImportError if you know what library you added to your code. Open the library bundle you downloaded, find the library you need, and drag it to the lib folder on your CIRCUITPY drive.

You can still end up running out of space on your M0 non-Express board even if you only load libraries as you need them. There are a number of steps you can use to try to resolve this issue. You'll find suggestions on the Troubleshooting page.

Updating CircuitPython Libraries and Examples

Libraries and examples are updated from time to time, and it's important to update the files you have on your CIRCUITPY drive.

To update a single library or example, follow the same steps above. When you drag the library file to your lib folder, it will ask if you want to replace it. Say yes. That's it!

A new library bundle is released every time there's an update to a library. Updates include things like bug fixes and new features. It's important to check in every so often to see if the libraries you're using have been updated.

To use all the amazing features of your PyPortal with CircuitPython, you must first install a number of libraries. This page covers that process.

At a minimum, the following librarie are required. So grab them and install them into CIRCUITPY/lib directory if you have not already done so:

  • adafruit_esp32spi - This is the library that gives you internet access via the ESP32 using (you guessed it!) SPI transport. You need this for anything Internet
  • adafruit_requests - This library allows us to perform HTTP requests and get responses back from servers. GET/POST/PUT/PATCH - they're all in here!
  • adafruit_pyportal - This is our friendly wrapper library that does a lot of our projects, displays graphics and text, fetches data from the internet. Nearly all of our projects depend on it!
  • adafruit_touchscreen - a library for reading touches from the resistive touchscreen. Handles all the analog noodling, rotation and calibration for you.
  • adafruit_io - this library helps connect the PyPortal to our free data logging and viewing service
  • adafruit_display_text - not surprisingly, it displays text on the screen
  • adafruit_bitmap_font - we have fancy font support, and it's easy to make new fonts. This library reads and parses font files.
  • neopixel - for controlling the onboard NeoPixel
  • adafruit_sdcard - support for reading/writing data from the onboard SD card slot.
  • adafruit_bus_device - low level support for I2C/SPI

Location

In the code.py file (which you will have renamed from electioncal.py), you can change the location for which you want to display the election data in this lines:

# Change this to your state and county, replacing spaces for underscores and in lowercase
STATE="new_york"
COUNTY="new_york"

Adafruit IO Time Server

In order to get the precise time, our project will query the Adafruit IO Internet of Things service for the time. Adafruit IO is absolutely free to use, but you'll need to log in with your Adafruit account to use it. If you don't already have an Adafruit login, create one here.

If you haven't used Adafruit IO before, check out this guide for more info.

Once you have logged into your account, there are two pieces of information you'll need to place in your secrets.py file: Adafruit IO username, and Adafruit IO key. Head to io.adafruit.com and simply click the View AIO Key link on the left hand side of the Adafruit IO page to get this information.

Then, add them to the secrets.py file like this:

secrets = {
    'ssid' : 'your_wifi_ssid',
    'password' : 'your_wifi_password',
    'aio_username' : '_your_aio_username_',
    'aio_key' : '_your_big_huge_super_long_aio_key_'
}

CircuitPython Code

In the embedded code element below, click on the Download: Project Zip link, and save the .zip archive file to your computer.

Then, decompress the .zip file, it will unpack to a folder named PyPortal_Electioncal_US.

Copy the contents of the PyPortal_Electioncal_US directory to your PyPortal's CIRCUITPY drive, and then be sure to rename the electioncal.py file to code.py so it will automatically run when the PyPortal restarts.

This is what the final contents of the CIRCUITPY drive will look like:

import sys
import time
import board
from adafruit_pyportal import PyPortal
cwd = ("/"+__file__).rsplit('/', 1)[0] # the current working directory (where this file is)
sys.path.append(cwd)
import electioncal_graphics  # pylint: disable=wrong-import-position

# Get wifi details and more from a secrets.py file
try:
    from secrets import secrets # pylint: disable=unused-import
except ImportError:
    print("WiFi secrets are kept in secrets.py, please add them there!")
    raise

# Change this to your state and county, replacing spaces for underscores and in lowercase
STATE="new_york"
COUNTY="new_york"

DATA_SOURCE = "https://electioncal.us/en/" + STATE +"/" + COUNTY + "/voter.json"
DATA_LOCATION = []

# Initialize the pyportal object and let us know what data to fetch and where
# to display it
pyportal = PyPortal(url=DATA_SOURCE,
                    json_path=DATA_LOCATION,
                    status_neopixel=board.NEOPIXEL,
                    default_bg=0x000000)


gfx = electioncal_graphics.Electioncal_Graphics(pyportal.splash, am_pm=True)
display_refresh = None
while True:
    # only query the online time once per hour (and on first run)
    if (not display_refresh) or (time.monotonic() - display_refresh) > 3600:
        try:
            print("Getting time from internet!")
            pyportal.get_local_time()
            display_refresh = time.monotonic()
        except RuntimeError as e:
            print("Some error occured, retrying! -", e)
            continue

        try:
            value = pyportal.fetch()
            #print("Response is", value)
            gfx.load_data(value)
        except RuntimeError as e:
            print("Some error occured, retrying! -", e)
            continue
    try:
        gfx.elections_cycle()
    except RuntimeError as e:
        print("Some error ocurred, retrying! -", e)
        continue
If you run into any errors, such as "ImportError: no module named `adafruit_display_text.label`" be sure to update your libraries to the latest release bundle!

How It Works

The PyPortal Electioncal US has a few steps it takes to provide you with the information desired. It has a boot-up screen, a nice simple background, and multiple fonts for displaying the election dates.

PyPortal Constructor

When setting up the pyportal constructor, we are providing it with these things:

  • url to query
  • json_path to traverse and find the key:value pairs we need
  • default_bg default background color

Background

First, it displays a bitmap graphic as the screen's startup background while getting ready to download the Election dates. This is a 320 x 240 pixel RGB 16-bit raster graphic in .bmp format.

Time

Next, the program connects through the WiFi to get the local time via the adafruit.io server, for which we will display today's date at the bottom of the screen, to give you better context of the election dates.

API Query and JSON

At the top of this page, you configured:

DATA_SOURCE = "https://electioncal.us/en/" + STATE +"/" + COUNTY + "/voter.json"

This, with the STATE and COUNTY you defined, will turn into something like (New York County, New York State in this example):

https://electioncal.us/en/new_york/new_york/voter.json

When this query is complete, it returns a JSON file that looks like this:

{
  "version": 0,
  "name": null,
  "description": null,
  "dates": 
  	[
      {
        "date": "2020-04-28", 
        "name": "Presidential Primary",
        "original_date": "2020-04-28", 
        "state": "New York", 
        "county": "New York County",
        "key": "20200428", 
        "type": "election"
      }, 
      {
        "state": "New York", 
        "county": "New York County", 
        "name": "Mail voter registration",
        "type": "reminder",
        "election_key": "20200623",
        "subtype": "registration.received_by",
        "date": "2020-05-26", 
        "postmark_too_late": true,
        "deadline_date": "2020-06-03", 
        "explanation": "Voter registration must be received by June 3rd."
      }
    ]
}

Here is the same file beautified with the Firefox browser's built in tools (You can also use online code "beautifiers" such as https://codebeautify.org/jsonviewer or http://jsonviewer.stack.hu) :

Fetch

With the PyPortal set up, we can then use pyportal.fetch() and then from the screen object we call load_data() to load the JSON data to a way that is easy to pass through all the dates.

All of the heavy lifting of parsing that data and displaying it as text or bitmaps is done in the electioncal_graphics.py code.

JSON Traversal

The JSON file is formatted in a way that makes it easy to traverse the hierarchy and parse the data. In it, you'll see keys, such as state, county, name, type and date, and their respective values. So, here are some key : value pairs we care about:

  • state: "New York"
  • county: "New York County"
  • name: "Presidential Primary"
  • date: "2020-04-28"

In order to fetch this data from the file, we need to be able to describe their locations in the file hierarchically. This is helpful, for example, in differentiating between the 'name' value that you have in the Presidential Primary and the 'name' of the Mail voter registration. To avoid name clashing, we rely on JSON traversal.

In the electioncal_graphics.py file, you'll see how this is done. For example, the first date is found in  this hierarchy of the JSON file: ["dates"][0]["date"].

In this case the number 0 is quite important, as it has the sub-tree that is relevant for the first, date, but if you change it to a number such as 1 or 2, you will print the second and third date. Please note that the counter starts at zero.

Depending of the STATE and COUNTY you configured, you will have several election dates, so the program then tries to replace this number by [i], so that we can display not one date but many, and cycle them through the screen.

Font

The data is displayed as text created with bitmapped fonts to overlay on top of the background. The fonts used here are bitmap fonts made from the Arial typeface. You can learn more about converting type in this guide.

Graphics

Let's have a look at how the electioncal_graphics.py code places the elements on screen. Below, we can see the icon and text that are displayed. The items in quotes are the key names from the JSON file, and their values are what we see displayed using the CircuitPython label from the displayio library.

import time
import json
import displayio
from adafruit_display_text.label import Label
from adafruit_bitmap_font import bitmap_font

cwd = ("/"+__file__).rsplit('/', 1)[0] # the current working directory (where this file is)

small_font = cwd+"/fonts/Arial-12.bdf"
medium_font = cwd+"/fonts/Arial-16.bdf"
large_font = cwd+"/fonts/Arial-Bold-24.bdf"

class OpenWeather_Graphics(displayio.Group):
    def __init__(self, root_group, *, am_pm=True, celsius=True):
        super().__init__()
        self.am_pm = am_pm
        self.celsius = celsius

        root_group.append(self)
        self._icon_group = displayio.Group()
        self.append(self._icon_group)
        self._text_group = displayio.Group()
        self.append(self._text_group)

        self._icon_sprite = None
        self._icon_file = None
        self.set_icon(cwd+"/weather_background.bmp")

        self.small_font = bitmap_font.load_font(small_font)
        self.medium_font = bitmap_font.load_font(medium_font)
        self.large_font = bitmap_font.load_font(large_font)
        glyphs = b'0123456789abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ-,.: '
        self.small_font.load_glyphs(glyphs)
        self.medium_font.load_glyphs(glyphs)
        self.large_font.load_glyphs(glyphs)
        self.large_font.load_glyphs(('°',))  # a non-ascii character we need for sure
        self.city_text = None

        self.time_text = Label(self.medium_font)
        self.time_text.x = 200
        self.time_text.y = 12
        self.time_text.color = 0xFFFFFF
        self._text_group.append(self.time_text)

        self.temp_text = Label(self.large_font)
        self.temp_text.x = 200
        self.temp_text.y = 195
        self.temp_text.color = 0xFFFFFF
        self._text_group.append(self.temp_text)

        self.main_text = Label(self.large_font)
        self.main_text.x = 10
        self.main_text.y = 195
        self.main_text.color = 0xFFFFFF
        self._text_group.append(self.main_text)

        self.description_text = Label(self.small_font)
        self.description_text.x = 10
        self.description_text.y = 225
        self.description_text.color = 0xFFFFFF
        self._text_group.append(self.description_text)

    def display_weather(self, weather):
        weather = json.loads(weather)

        # set the icon/background
        weather_icon = weather['weather'][0]['icon']
        self.set_icon(cwd+"/icons/"+weather_icon+".bmp")

        city_name =  weather['name'] + ", " + weather['sys']['country']
        print(city_name)
        if not self.city_text:
            self.city_text = Label(self.medium_font, text=city_name)
            self.city_text.x = 10
            self.city_text.y = 12
            self.city_text.color = 0xFFFFFF
            self._text_group.append(self.city_text)

        self.update_time()

        main_text = weather['weather'][0]['main']
        print(main_text)
        self.main_text.text = main_text

        temperature = weather['main']['temp'] - 273.15 # its...in kelvin
        print(temperature)
        if self.celsius:
            self.temp_text.text = "%d °C" % temperature
        else:
            self.temp_text.text = "%d °F" % ((temperature * 9 / 5) + 32)

        description = weather['weather'][0]['description']
        description = description[0].upper() + description[1:]
        print(description)
        self.description_text.text = description
        # "thunderstorm with heavy drizzle"

    def update_time(self):
        """Fetch the time.localtime(), parse it out and update the display text"""
        now = time.localtime()
        hour = now[3]
        minute = now[4]
        format_str = "%d:%02d"
        if self.am_pm:
            if hour >= 12:
                hour -= 12
                format_str = format_str+" PM"
            else:
                format_str = format_str+" AM"
            if hour == 0:
                hour = 12
        time_str = format_str % (hour, minute)
        print(time_str)
        self.time_text.text = time_str

    def set_icon(self, filename):
        """The background image to a bitmap file.

        :param filename: The filename of the chosen icon

        """
        print("Set icon to ", filename)
        if self._icon_group:
            self._icon_group.pop()

        if not filename:
            return  # we're done, no icon desired

        # CircuitPython 6 & 7 compatible
        if self._icon_file:
            self._icon_file.close()
        self._icon_file = open(filename, "rb")
        icon = displayio.OnDiskBitmap(self._icon_file)
        self._icon_sprite = displayio.TileGrid(
            icon, pixel_shader=getattr(icon, 'pixel_shader', displayio.ColorConverter()))

        # # CircuitPython 7+ compatible
        # icon = displayio.OnDiskBitmap(filename)
        # self._icon_sprite = displayio.TileGrid(icon, pixel_shader=background.pixel_shader)

        self._icon_group.append(self._icon_sprite)

Text Position

Depending on the design of your background bitmap and the length of the text you're displaying, you may want to reposition the text and caption.

The PyPortal's display is 320 pixels wide and 240 pixels high. In order to refer to those positions on the screen, we use an x/y coordinate system, where x is horizontal and y is vertical.

The origin of this coordinate system is the upper left corner. This means that a pixel placed at the upper left corner would be (0,0) and the lower right corner would be (320, 240).

So, if you wanted to move the subscriber count text to the right and up closer to the top, your code may look like this for that part of the pyportal constructor: text_position=(250, 10)

Text Color

Another way to customize your display is to adjust the color of the text. The line text_color=0xFFFFFF in the constructor shows how. You will need to use the hexadecimal value for any color you want to display.

You can use something like https://htmlcolorcodes.com/ to pick your color and then copy the hex value, in this example it would be 0x0ED9EE

Now, we get ready to assemble the case on the next page.

Here's how to assemble the laser cut acrylic stand for the PyPortal. The kit comes with six pieces of acrylic and six nylon screws and nuts.

Prep

First, remove the protective paper from all of the acrylic pieces.

Sandwich

Next, do a dry fit of the three clear piece of acrylic on the back side of the PyPortal to get everything oriented properly.

The two small pieces are used as spacers to allow clearance around some of the larger parts. Lay them onto the board first, as shown.

Then, place the large clear piece on top, making sure to align the hole for the reset and the cutout for the three JST ports.

Complete the sandwich by placing the stack on top of the black front bezel with the hole for the light sensor oriented as shown here.

Legs

Now that the fit and orientation have been established, we'll install the legs.

The two legs are identical. Pick one and slot it into the case back as shown.

Place a nut into the captive slot of the leg and then feed a short screw through from the front of the clear acrylic case back. Fasten the screw (not too tight!) and then repeat for the second leg.

 

Add Long Screws

To put it all together, we'll use the four long screws to secure the entire acrylic - PyPortal - acrylic - acrylic sandwich!

Run the four long screws from the front to the back, as shown.

Screw It All Together

Finally, add the case back and legs assemblage and then thread on the four nuts to secure it all in place.

Be careful not to over-tighten the screws. Doing so can potentially crack the Pyportal display!

Bonus! Penny Roll Weight

If you'd like to give your PyPortal a bit of extra heft so it won't get pushed around on your desk, you can make a great weight for $0.50. A roll of 50 pennies does the trick! The legs are designed to hold a roll of coins perfectly!

Laser Cutter Files for PyPortal Stand

If you need to replace a piece or just want to make a spare for another PyPortal, here are the vector files for 1/8" (3mm) acrylic, in Adobe Illustrator format:

While setting up our PyPortal with this project for Electioncal US, you might run into a bit of trouble. Nothing to worry, all should be easy to solve.

Problems with the WiFi

If something is wrong with the WiFi connection, one way to recognize this problem is by connecting to the REPL Serial Console, where you might find messages like:

Connecting to AP my-access-point
Could not connect to internet ('Failed to connect to ssid', b'my-access-point')
Retrying in 3 seconds...

Here are some things you might look at to solve this:

  • Checking the name of the access point and it's password on the secrets.py file
  • Getting closer to the access point if it is far away

Problems setting up the county/state

If the JSON data cannot be found, you will see an error such as:

Error loading JSON data: Please check the configuration of county and state, in code.py

Traceback (most recent call last):

File "code.py", line 60, in

File "code.py", line 57, in

File "electioncal_graphics.py", line 76, in load_data

File "electioncal_graphics.py", line 72, in load_data

ValueError: syntax error in JSON

If this happens:

  • Check the spelling of the state and county
  • If the name of your state or county has a space, replace it with an underscore _
  • Remember to lowercase both names

PyPortal library on other devices

The PyPortal is a wonderful device, but it is not the only device that has a screen, such as the larger and smaller versions of the PyPortal such as the PyPortal Titano and the PyPortal Pynt.

Everything in the code should work well, but the laying of the text and background might be a bit off. Nothing to worry here.

Make gradual changes to electioncal_graphics.py in the __init__ section, where x and y are defined for all of the displayed objects.

This guide was first published on Jul 07, 2020. It was last updated on Jul 07, 2020.