Captive cloud


I’ve seen a few cloud lamps online and really liked the idea. I thought I’d have a bash myself but needed something that would fit in with our tiny flat, so with a small footprint and easy to clean.



At the heart is a raspberry pi zero w which runs a python script and control the various functions.

Primarily it scrapes the weater underground website – and retrieves the information for the current weather along with the 24hr forecast. The screen then displays the current and forecast weather with the cloud showing the forecast only. It’s pretty versatile so it could display the current if preferred (or you could simply look out of the window!)

Cover / housing

It needed some sort of cover so I went out scouring for something like a bell jar. I bought a couple of suitable items but settled on an ikea STRÅLA Bear Lamp. It came apart easily and included a braided usb lead and adaptor (see later comments).


The cloud is made of needlefelt material and is supported on a bit of old umbrella!


The lighting to the cloud is provided by a pimoroni unicorn phat. I’ve sectioned off the bottom row with a bit of tube and run fibre optic material up to the lights to create the rain/ snow effect at the bottom of the cloud.

Early stages before the cloud showing the pibre optics wedged in to some per board. In the end I also added a bit of plastic tubimg to gide the fibre optics.


The screen is a pimoroni inkyphat which works beautifully. It takes a few seconds to display the information but when it does it stays on clearly and unobtrusively without a backlight.


The pi runs a webserver and I intend to create a web ap for this in the future that lets me control the various functions.

To the rear of the lamp are a pair of buttons – the top one forces the cloud to check the weather and the bottom one will cycle through the various animations when I’ve written the python script!


I reused the ikea power cable by soldering on a female usb a socket to allow a short lead to be placed in the housing. The lamp came with a usb power socket that supplied 1 amp – this seemed a bit low for the new use however I gave it a go and it worked fine.


Overall I’m happy with the results so far. The cloud could do with some work and my finishing skills are pretty poor so perhaps a rethink of the display housing is needed along with a bit of sanding to the internal plastic disc.

It’s my first project using a lot of pimoroni boards and they’ve proved to be reliable and very easy to use. The online documentation is fantastic and I had the inkyphat and unicorn phat up and running together in a couple of mins. The inkyphat even came with an example for a similar sort of use by displaying local weather information. Massive thumbs up to pimoroni for making this project so easy.

Above is the lamp in situ.

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