You Must Have Seen One Of The Spirits Of The Forest, And That Means You're A Very Lucky Girl. You Can Only See The Spirits If They Want You To. Let's Go Give Them A Proper Greeting.

Tatsuo, to Mei, "My Neighbor Totoro"

Rainy days can get us down. Some mornings taunt us with gorgeous blue skies, promising spring breezes and sunshine all day, but then turn dark and stormy in the afternoon. Did you have time to check a weather app, and remember to bring your umbrella? You did not.

Let the spirits of the forest work for you. Build yourself a smart umbrella stand that knows the weather and lets you know with a beautiful glow if you are going to need your umbrella that day. My umbrella stand is themed after "My Neighbor Totoro" and gives me a smile every time I walk past it. 

The Raspberry Pi Pico W connects to your WiFi and performs a simple task: is it going to rain today? If the answer is yes, your umbrella stand lights up and glows, reminding you to grab your umbrella. 

This is a fairly easy project that's suitable for beginners. You'll need basic soldering skills and a little ingenuity. The code is written in CircuitPython, which is easy to install and update on the Pico W.

You'll also need a free account with Adafruit IO, Adafruit's online cloud service. This is a great project for getting started with internet-connected making.

Parts

Angled shot of a green microcontroller with castellated pads.
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Adafruit NeoPixel Digital RGB LED Strip with all the LEDs lighting in a rainbow pattern.
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1 x USB Cable
USB Micro to USB A Cable
1 x Power Supply
5v switching USB Power Supply
1 x Heat Shrink
Clear Heat Shrink Tubing
3 x Silicone Stranded Wire
Silicone Stranded wire - Get 3 colors

Additional Materials & Tools

  • Hot glue gun
  • Heat gun
  • Soldering Iron & Accessories
  • Devcon Silicone Glue - available at most hardware stores

I decorated my umbrella stand with a 3d-printed figurine of Totoro, and also a large vinyl sticker. I used an Elegoo Saturn resin printer and a Cricut Maker vinyl cutter to make these.

This guide was first published on Apr 26, 2023. It was last updated on Jun 18, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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