The Chocolate Box News Reader

The Chocolate Box News Reader (CBNR) continuously displays news from the CBC RSS feeds.

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* Based on a Raspberry Pi 2
* 29 news feeds - Top Stories, World, and Canada Regional
* 15 news items per feed
* It takes about 90 minutes to cycle through the full news set
* Each news item has "more" information that can be displayed on request.
* Will run offline with stored news
* Can run on continuous power (current uptime is 8 weeks 4 days)
* Even with only the dumb keypad & 2x16 display, it can connect to a local wifi access point, with password, or web login

More info:

Update 20170226: Added main image - somehow it had got lost.

Reason for Building

"Worst case of scope creep I've ever seen."
-Ron Grimes
February 1, 2017

It started with a Raspberry Pi and the dumb 4x3 keypad, and a question: "I wonder if I can drive the keypad?" Well, Yes, after some tries, and some inspirational code from GitHub (I hope to give credit if/when I find the original source again).

Same thing with the 2x16 Parallax display unit: "I wonder if I can drive that too?". Well, Yes.

Next question: "Um, what to display?" A stock ticker is boring (well, to me, anyway), and I wanted something that was changing steadily - not too fast, or slow. So, News was the answer, and I'd found the CBC RSS feed sometime in my travels on the Interwebs.

And from there the project grew... and grew...

Other questions to me (and answers):

  • How do I parse RSS data [completed]
  • How can I to run on continuous power so I don't lose Uptime [completed]
  • How do I to use shrinkwrap insulation [completed]
  • How can I connect to a local wifi access point to enter a wifi password, or via a web login, with only a dumb keypad & a 2x16 display, and without using a keyboard, mouse, screen. (This took several months to figure out!) [completed]
    Hint: I cheat!
  • How can I use git, and publish to GitHub [completed]


The CBNR is built from:

Wiring Diagram

Fritzing diagram

  • 1 × Raspberry Pi 2
  • 1 × wifi dongle From Canakit or other supplier. Redundant if using a Raspberry Pi 3
  • 1 × Parallax 2x16 LCD display Serial interface
  • 1 × 4x3 keypad Very simple switching architecture
  • 1 × Chocolate box Only containing the best quality chocolate, of course.

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