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Bicycle Barometer, a Nanode project by Richard Pope

James Greig | December 30, 2012

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Unless you are a die-hard cyclist, it’s sometimes hard to know if you should cycle to work, or take public transport. Maybe it’s going to rain, or hail, or snow, or all three. Or perhaps you’re hungover and don’t fancy riding in, but your local tube line is out of action.

Data-hacker Richard Pope has created a smart gadget which takes some of the guesswork out of the equation.

His bicycle barometer makes use of data about the weather, the status of the tube lines he takes to work, and whether his local station is open or shut. This is all reduced to a single value, displayed on a dial with a bike sign at one end and a tube sign at the other.

“For example, if it is raining a bit the dial will move a bit towards the tube sign, but if the tube is suffering delays, it will move a bit back in the other direction. Different data points get different weightings. So for example, snow is more important than a bit of drizzle; the tube station being shut trumps everything.”

Built using a Nanode and a flea market clock, his creation uses data from the Met Office’s Datapoint API combined with TFL’s line status and station status API’s.

Can you tell me a little about the thinking behind the project?
I’m not a total fair weather cyclist, but there are days I do, days I don’t. So I got thinking about the number of variables I weigh up in my head each morning and decided to build something to give my brain a helping hand. I’ve been playing about with Arduinos/Nanodes recently, and have a long standing interest in making better use of government data. So it seemed like the perfect project.

How long have you been using the barometer for?
I’ve only just finished it. But earlier in the year I experimented with custom rain alerts on and they were really helpful and pretty accurate. The plan is to start using it in anger in the new year and tweak the calibration as I go.

What is a Nanode exactly?
Nanode is a programable circuit board that connects to the internet. It makes it easy to build physical things that grab data from the internet, or that publish information to the internet from sensors in the real world. The Nanode project was started by the London Hackspace.

What tips would you give people who are just getting started on their first Nanode/Arduino project?
Just get stuck in and try and build something. There are loads of examples online that people can copy and paste. You don’t need to be a programmer.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Currently I’m only making use of tube data, wind speed, temperature and weather conditions. I’d like to expand it to include pollution and traffic data.

Posted to Journal
by James Greig

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