Raspberry Pi RSS

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BBC Weather RSS Display

This project uses the Raspberry PI Zero to connect to the internet, read the BBC RSS weather feed and display the readings on an inexpensive 320 x 240 pixel TFT colour screen. I have used the feedparser library to get the content of the feed. The code then pulls out the various pieces of information and displays them on the TFT screen. In addition, the screen also shows an appropriate weather icon. The display regularly auto-updates and so can be left to run.

This project has been extremely frustrating. This is the fourth version I have coded. My first one, using the Adafruit Python TFT driver kept falling over due to a memory leak in the library. So i tried another ILI9341 library I downloaded from the net. After changing all my code to use this one I still had a memory leak. Back to the drawing board again! In desperation, I ported the Adafruit Arduino C library to Raspberry Pi. My method then was to parse the data from the feed to an sqlite database and use the c-based TFT driver to read from the database display the data. This worked, but I was never happy that it was so clunky. My final iteration involved heavily adapting the Adafruit ILI9341 python library. This effort started after reading a blog post about a memory leak in the PIL putdata() function.

This has worked, and I now have a display that is purely Python-based and cycles between the current observations and the three-day forecast for any location.


The hardware I have used is the Raspberry Pi Zero and a cheap TFT screen from ebay.


In the outside columns are the pin numbers for the Raspberry Pi GPIO connector. The numbers inside are for the specific display I am using,


Pin Connections - ILI9341 TFT
WiringPi GPIO Pi ILI9341 ILI9341 Pi GPIO WiringPi
3V3 1 8 - LED 2 5V
8 GPIO2(SDA) 3 4 5V
9 GPIO3(SCL) 5 6 GND
7 GPIO4(GPCLK0) 7 8 GPIO14(TXD) 15
GND 9 10 GPIO15(RXD) 16
0 GPIO17 11 5 - D/C 12 GPIO18 (PWM0) 1
2 GPIO27 13 14 GND
3 GPIO22 15 4 - RST 16 GPIO23 4
3V3 17 1 - VCC 18 GPIO24 5
12 GPIO10(MOSI) 19 6 - MOSI 2 - GND 20 GND
13 GPIO9(MISO) 21 9 - MISO 22 GPIO25 6
14 GPIO11(SCLK) 23 7 - SCLK 3 - CS 24 GPIO8(CE0) 10
GND 25 26 GPIO7(CE1) 11
GPIO5 29 30 GND
GPIO6 31 32 GPIO12(PWM0)
GPIO13(PWM1) 33 34 GND
GPIO19(MISO) 35 36 GPIO16
GPIO26 37 38 GPIO20(MOSI)
GND 39 40 GPIO21(SCLK)

Installing Software



In order to get the info from the RSS feed I am using feedparser

Install it like this:

sudo apt-get install python3-pip

sudo pip3 install feedparser


To help with the date / time stuff I am using dateutil

Install it like this:

sudo pip3 install python-dateutil


sudo apt-get install python-rpi.gpio python3-rpi.gpio


Make sure the SPI interface is enabled.

sudo raspi-config
Raspberry Pi Configuration
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install git
sudo apt-get install python-dev python3-dev
cd ~
git clone https://github.com/doceme/py-spidev.git
cd py-spidev
sudo make install


sudo apt-get install libjpeg62
sudo apt-get install libjpeg62-dev
sudo apt-get install zlib1g-dev
sudo apt-get install libfreetype6-dev
sudo apt-get install liblcms1-dev
sudo apt-get install libopenjp2-7-dev
sudo apt-get install libtiff5
sudo pip3 install pillow


The default buffer size is 4KB. The TFT library can update the whole screen in on go. This means the buffer size must be width x height x 2 = 153,600.

sudo nano /boot/cmdline.txt



Now you will need to reboot

sudo reboot



In order to get the URL link for the weather feed, go to BBC Weather and search for your required location. On the page find the RSS link - see below:


Click on the 'Observations' link and a new browser page will open showing you the returned XML.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<rss xmlns:atom="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom" xmlns:georss="http://www.georss.org/georss" version="2.0">
    <atom:link href="http://open.live.bbc.co.uk/weather/feeds/en/2643743/observations.rss" rel="self" type="application/rss+xml" />
    <title>BBC Weather - Observations for  London, United Kingdom</title>
    <description>Latest observations for London from BBC Weather, including weather, temperature and wind information</description>
    <copyright>Copyright: (C) British Broadcasting Corporation, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/terms/additional_rss.shtml for more details</copyright>
    <pubDate>Thu, 10 Mar 2016 16:05:34 +0000</pubDate>
      <title>Thursday - 15:00 GMT: Light Cloud, 9°C (48°F)</title>
      <description>Temperature: 9°C (48°F), Wind Direction: Northerly, Wind Speed: 5mph, Humidity: 73%, Pressure: 1022mb, Rising, Visibility: Good</description>
      <pubDate>Thu, 10 Mar 2016 16:05:34 +0000</pubDate>
      <guid isPermaLink="false">http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/2643743-2016-03-10T16:05:34.000Z</guid>
      <georss:point>51.50853 -0.12574</georss:point>

Copy the link from the address bar of that page and paste it into the code below.


Auto Startup

In order to have the script run automatically at boot time you need to edit
which is in the
folder. For example:
sudo nano /etc/rc.local
At the end of the file, just above
exit 0
, add the line:
python '/home/pi/Documents/Python Projects/feedparserBBC.py' &
This assumes you have called your python file
and it is in the folder
/home/pi/Documents/Python Projects/
. The path to the Python script is in quotes as there is a space character in my folder name. Don't miss off the ampersand as this means that the Pi should carry on and boot to the Terminal or GUI.

Now, whenever you boot the Pi, the script will run in the background. This means you can run with just the TFT connected and a WiFi dongle in the USB port, i.e. 'headless'.


These are some links that gave me useful information while I was putting this project together