Countdown to the Big Night

With the PyPortal coded in CircuitPython, we can set the date of the next halloween.

The PyPortal Halloween Countdown will do the following:

  • Display a random background .bmp showing Adafruit characters in costume
  • Determine the current local time using the WiFi connection to the internet
  • Display the number of days remaining until the big night
  • Display a custom background graphic once it's Halloween

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 settings.toml file: Adafruit IO username, and Adafruit IO key. Head to 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 settings.toml file like this:

CIRCUITPY_WIFI_SSID = "your_wifi_ssid"
CIRCUITPY_WIFI_PASSWORD = "your_wifi_password"
AIO_USERNAME = "your_aio_username"
AIO_KEY = "your_aio_key"
TIMEZONE = "Area/city"  #e.g. "America/Toronto"

Riffing on Code

The code in this project is nearly identical to that of the more general event countdown project. There are two primary differences:

  1. it only looks at the day, not hours and minutes (they are zeroed before the time comparison),
  2. the background is changed every minute to a random image of one of the Adafruit characters in costume.

Install CircuitPython Code and Assets

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

Then, uncompress the .zip file, it will unpack to a folder named PyPortal_Halloween_Countdown.

Copy the contents of the PyPortal_Halloween_Countdown directory to your PyPortal CIRCUITPYdrive.

# SPDX-FileCopyrightText: 2019 Dave Astels for Adafruit Industries
# SPDX-License-Identifier: MIT

PyPortal based countdown of days until Halloween.

Adafruit invests time and resources providing this open source code.
Please support Adafruit and open source hardware by purchasing
products from Adafruit!

Written by Dave Astels for Adafruit Industries
Copyright (c) 2019 Adafruit Industries
Licensed under the MIT license.

All text above must be included in any redistribution.

import os
import time
import random
import board
from adafruit_pyportal import PyPortal
from adafruit_bitmap_font import bitmap_font
from adafruit_display_text.label import Label

# The time of the thing!
# we'll make a python-friendly structure
event_time = time.struct_time((EVENT_YEAR, EVENT_MONTH, EVENT_DAY,
                               0, 0, 0,  # we don't track hours, minutes, or seconds
                               -1, -1, False))  # we dont know day of week/year or DST

# determine the current working directory
# needed so we know where to find files
cwd = ("/"+__file__).rsplit('/', 1)[0]

big_font = bitmap_font.load_font(cwd+"/fonts/Terror-94.bdf")
big_font.load_glyphs(b'0123456789') # pre-load glyphs for fast printing

backgrounds = ['background_1.bmp',

event_background = cwd+"/happy_halloween.bmp"

# Initialize the pyportal object and let us know what data to fetch and where
# to display it
pyportal = PyPortal(status_neopixel=board.NEOPIXEL,
                    default_bg=cwd + backgrounds[0],
                    caption_text='DAYS  REMAINING',
                    caption_position=(24, 218),

countdown_text = Label(big_font)
countdown_text.x = 25
countdown_text.y = 120
countdown_text.color = 0x7942a0

refresh_time = None

while True:
    # only query the online time once per hour (and on first run)
    if (not refresh_time) or (time.monotonic() - refresh_time) > 3600:
            print("Getting time from internet!")
            refresh_time = time.monotonic()
        except RuntimeError as e:
            print("Some error occured, retrying! -", e)

    timestamp = time.localtime()
    now = time.struct_time((timestamp[0], timestamp[1], timestamp[2],
                            0, 0, 0,  # we don't track seconds
                            -1, -1, False))  # we dont know day of week/year or DST

    print("Current time:", now)
    remaining = time.mktime(event_time) - time.mktime(now)
    print("Time remaining (s):", remaining)
    if remaining == 0:
        # oh, its event time!
        countdown_text.text = ''
        pyportal.set_caption('', (13, 215), 0x000000)
        while True:  # that's all folks
    days_remaining = remaining // 86400
    print("%d days remaining" % (days_remaining))
    countdown_text.text = '{:>3}'.format(days_remaining)
    pyportal.set_background(backgrounds[random.randint(0, len(backgrounds) - 1)])

    # update every minute

The PyPortal CIRCUITPY drive should have (at least) these files:


This guide was first published on Jul 12, 2019. It was last updated on Jul 22, 2024.

This page (Code) was last updated on Jul 22, 2024.

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