Tutorial idea for 'reverse' of Internet of Things


As a compete newbie - I’ve been learning as much as I can about the Photon board over the last couple of weeks and ive discovered what i consider minimal information about what attracted to me to the board in the first place

Being more of an artist than a programmer im interested in taking digital information and presenting it in a physical form e.g. making an old bell ring when you receive an email, changing the colour of a lamp when its high tide etc. I realise this is kind of going backwards when all this information is available at a glance on our phones but thats exactly why i want to do it - as i think its more exciting and engaging than looking at a screen.

There are some projects that are very close to what im trying to achieve especially @jvanier what shall i wear clock and my own WAVEbuoy built on arduino UNO and Ethernet shield.

And there are some good tutorials about getting the data you want onto the cloud like @LukeUSMC excellent tutorial here and the webhook doc here

From mine and maybe others with minimal programming experience (i have completed all the code examples and read the excellent ‘Getting Started with Photon’ ) it seems the Photon is a great tool for artists and designers but…I cant seem to string together the existing resources to understand what would be a universal process of

  1. Identify some data you like (either in API or RSS) eg Met Office Data Point
  2. Write this code to extract that info that resides on the cloud. A good resource here
  3. Write this firmware to retrieve your data from the cloud every hour and based on the values turn a servo or light an LED etc

I realise all this info is already out there in individual forms but i am finding it very difficult to string it together in one good resource for a Photon newcomer. I think it would be a really valuable learning resource for artists and designers should something like this exist.

The reason i titled the topic ‘reverse’ of internet of things is that there seems to be lots of existing tutorials for sending sensor data to the cloud but not fetching data in in and doing something with that data…eg this video Particle.publish

If im being naive or have missed a fundamental topic i apoligise in advance :confused:


You seem to be making good progress putting the pieces together.

Since every project is different there is no universal list of steps that could be posted. For example my what to wear clock runs on batteries so the majority of the Photon code deals with deep sleep for power saving. You don’t need that in your project.

As far as architecture for your project I’d say the simplest thing is to separate the code in 2: the Photon subscribes to an event and turns on light depending on the value received, and a script running on the web that fetches the weather data every hour, parses it and publishes an event for the Photon.

I can do a little write up on that if you’d like.

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That pretty much is the universal process. There are so many public API out there, so many different ways to extract that, and at least as many ways to code a response to that, that it’s almost impossible to write a universal guide.
You can write examples, but not something that applies to everything. There’s a guide in the webhooks ‘getting started’ docs that has an example project of extracting weather data from a public API, which might be helpful.

If you’ve got any suggestions on what could be improved on this whole process or want to make contributions of your own, please do. You seem to be managing alright, and an extra pair of helping hands is much appreciated :)!

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Thanks @jvanier @Moors7

Good points - and yes i am managing but still cant seem to find a resource that explains the process of stringing the the pieces together.

Ive created a webhook to extract the data which i now understand is run from the cli on my PC, the bit i have trouble with and im sure this a fundamental understanding of the Photon and Webhook (sometimes its hard to see the woods through the trees) is putting that code onto the photon to run and fetch the data over wifi.

Ill happily write a tutorial on the subject that may appeal to people with less knowledge of programming - (i hear the purists saying i must learn the basics first - im trying…) but i think it would really help people if you could see an example of ‘If this happens on the web/API/RSS then do this’…I understand you could use IFTTT to simplify but would you need to??

The example of the webhook extracting weather data ive tried but again this then updates another service on the web and not a physical device…

@jvanier your description of the project architecture sounds exactly what im trying to achieve


The tutorial I posted pulls in data to be used on the Phton. I display it on an oled display and use it for other purposes.

I think you’re right that having a step-by-step guide putting together all the pieces can help a lot. When you start with something that works, it’s easier to tweak it for your own project.

I did write a tutorial along those lines (thanks @surfershort for letting me use the picture from your beautiful WAVEbuoy display) . I’ll post the tutorial in its own topic in the Project Share later.

Step-by-step guide to make a physical dashboard