Weather Dashboard with Dark Sky API

Build a local weather dashboard using Python code, the Dark Sky API, and Initial State.

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You can interact with the Dark Sky API using Python code and then send the data to Initial State, where you can build customized dashboards.

Dark Sky specializes in weather forecasting and visualization. The coolest aspect of Dark Sky is their weather API that we can use to retrieve the weather data from almost anywhere in the world. It's not just weather is rainy or sunny but temperature, dew point, wind gust, humidity, precipitation, pressure, UV index, and more, all easily available for wherever you want, whenever you want.

Let's learn how to use Dark Sky's super-simple API. If you are new to using API's I promise you this is going to be really easy! And if you've used API's before then I hope we can teach you something new with the code we've used.

What you will need for this project:

You can follow along with a video on this tutorial here.

  • 1 × Initial State Software
  • 1 × Dark Sky API API

  • 1
    Getting Started

    We’ve already put in a lot of the leg work for you putting the code together and organizing the information. We’ll just need you to make a few adjustments along the way. If you want a bit of a challenge make some changes to our code and what weather data is sent, there is limitless possibilities!

    To retrieve all of the things we’ve prepared for you, you’ll need to clone the repository from GitHub. GitHub is a service that allows us to store, revise, and manage projects like this. You will want to run this script on a dedicated device. A Raspberry Pi is a perfect option to run applications like this tutorial.

    To clone the repository all we need to do is go into our Pi’s terminal, or your computers terminal that is SSH’d into your pi and type this command:

    $ git clone   

    Hit enter and you’ll see this information:

    Cloning into 'darksky'...
    remote: Counting objects: 2, done.
    remote: Total 2 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 2
    Unpacking objects: 100% (2/2), done.
    Checking connectivity... done. 

    Once you see this then congrats, you’ve successfully cloned the GitHub Repo and have all of the necessary files to build this project. Before we move on to the next step, let’s take some time to explore around this directory and learn a few basic command line commands.

    Type in the command below into your terminal:

     $ ls 

    This command lists everything that’s available in the directory that you’re currently in. This list shows that our GitHub Repo has been successfully cloned into our directory under the name “darksky.” Let’s take a look at what’s in that directory. To move to a directory, all you need to do is type “cd” and then type the name of the directory that you wish to go to.

    In this case, we’ll type:

     $ cd darksky 

    Once we hit enter, you’ll see that we’re now in the darksky directory. Let’s type "ls" again to see what files we’ve installed on our pi. ... 

    Here we see the we’ve got our readme document and python files. Let’s take a look at using the "nano" command. The nano command allows us to open up the nano text editor where we have all of our python code for each segment of this project. Go ahead and type:

    $ nano 

    Here you can see all of the code we’ve prepared for you for this project. We’re not going to make any changes to this document just yet, but feel free to scroll around and see what we’re going to be doing later in this tutorial.

  • 2
    Dark Sky API

    In order to use the Dark Sky API, you first need your own API key. Don't worry, getting an API key is quick and free. All you need to do is go to the website and click "Try for Free" to create an account.

    • You get 1,000 API calls for free each day. Every API request over the free daily limit costs $0.0001.
    • This limit automatically resets each day at midnight UTC.
    • The Forecast Request returns the current weather forecast for the next week.
    • The Time Machine Request returns the observed or forecast weather conditions for a date in the past or future.

    Your secret Dark Sky API key will look something like this: 0123456789abcdef9876543210fedcba.

    You can make an API call to Dark Sky by typing in a URL into your browser in the following format:[key]/[latitude],[longitude]

    Replace "key" with your Dark Sky API key and longitude/latitude with whatever you want. You can find your longitude and latitude by going to Google Maps and searching your location. Those values will be in the URL. Copy and paste the above dark sky URL with your access key and values added into an address bar.

    Once you do that you will see something like this:

    "visibility":7.8,"ozone":309.71},"minutely":{"summary":"Clear for the hour.","icon":"clear-day","data":[

    It can be a little overwhelming and hard to read so what I recommend doing is using a JSON Formatter to help make the data more readable. When you do this it will look something like this:

    object {9}
        latitude: 37.8267
        longitude: -122.4233
        timezone: America/Los_Angeles
    currently {19}
        time: 1550615286
        summary: Clear
        icon: clear-day
        nearestStormDistance: 57
        nearestStormBearing: 15
        precipIntensity: 0
        precipProbability: 0
        temperature: 53.9
        apparentTemperature: 53.9
        dewPoint: 29.59
        humidity: 0.39
        pressure: 1022.45
        windSpeed: 3.87
        windGust: 9.25
        windBearing: 259
        cloudCover: 0.01
        uvIndex: 3
        visibility: 7.8
        ozone: 309.71

    You've just made an API call! See how easy that was? You didn't even have to write a single line of code. Now that you've mastered API's we can move on to the data streaming portion.

  • 3
    Initial State

    We want to stream all of our weather data to a cloud service and have that service turn our data into a nice dashboard that we can access from our laptop or mobile device. Our data needs a destination. We will use Initial State as that destination.

    Step 1: Register for Initial State Account

    Go to and create a new account. You get a 14 day free trial and anyone with an edu email address can register for a free student plan.

    Step 2: Install the ISStreamer

    Install the Initial State Python module onto your Raspberry Pi. In the command prompt, run the following command:

    $ cd /home/pi/
    $ \curl -sSL -o - | sudo bash

    Step 3: Make some Automagic 

    After Step 2 you will see something similar to the following output to the screen:

    pi@raspberrypi ~ $ \curl -sSL -o - | sudo bash
    Beginning ISStreamer Python Easy Installation!
    This may take a couple minutes to install, grab some coffee :)
    But don't forget to come back, I'll have questions later!
    Found easy_install: setuptools 1.1.6
    Found pip: pip 1.5.6 from /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages/pip-1.5.6- py2.7.egg (python 2.7)
    pip major version: 1
    pip minor version: 5
    ISStreamer found, updating...
    Requirement already up-to-date: ISStreamer in /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages
    Cleaning up...
    Do you want automagically get an example script? [y/N]
    Where do you want to save the example? [default: ./]
    Please select which Initial State app you're using:
    2. [NEW!]
    Enter choice 1 or 2:
    Enter user name:
    Enter password:

    When asked if you want to automagically get an example script put "y" for yes and press enter to save your script in the default location. For the question about which app you are using, select 2 (unless you signed up before November 2018) and enter your username and password.

    Step 4: Run the Example Script

    Run the test script to make sure we can create a data stream to your Initial State account. Write the following command:

    $ python 

    Step 5: Example Data

    Go back to your Initial State account in your web browser. A new data bucket called “Python Stream Example” should have shown up on the left in your log shelf (you may have to refresh the page). Click on this bucket to view your data.

View all 5 instructions

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