43 thoughts on “Live Sectional HowTo”

  1. This is a great project and very helpful walkthrough. I did a huge 8×4 map based on this with 101 LEDs. Works pretty well, however I have a few airports that are not reporting on here, but they report on foreflight and other aviation apps. My home airport is one in particular (KAPS). Any insight?? Again awesome tutorial and explanation.

    1. How did you string all your set of lights together? Was it as simple as connecting the male to female? My 2nd strand isn’t talking

      1. Hi Glenn,

        I was able to just connect the end of the first with the beginning of the second. If you think there is a problem with the connectors, you can cut them off and solder each wire together individually.

        Hope this helps,


  2. I like to concept and have been building one myself but the code you provided is having issues with my Raspberry Pi. I would like to discuss with you some of the challenges and see what type of hardware you used. Please contact me at duax@Comcast.net. Thank you, Brett.

  3. Hello,

    I’m following through your instructions, but etcher is telling me that the image file is 15.52GB. You mentioned above that it now supports 8GB SD cards. Any ideas what a solution to this might be?

    1. Type the following command at the prompt:
      sudo chmod a+w /NeoSectional/airports
      This changes owner permissions

  4. HI Bill,

    Great walk through, I am just about to start making this. I have a question before i begin though. THe Metars I want are in Ireland and the UK. Will the steps be the same for pulling the metars? Do i just change the airport icao names i mean. for example Donegal airport in Ireland ie EIDL.

  5. I see the note at the top about an update, was that done? I’m interested in starting one of these this fall, thanks!

    1. Hi Jim,

      I am hoping to release the 2.0 version by the end of the week. We are still running it through its paces and there are a couple of small details that aren’t mission critical, but would make it a more streamlined product that I’d like to get figured out in the code. I can send you the beta version of the code if you want to jump right in. It seems very stable and I haven’t had any negative feedback from the few people that are helping me test it out. Other wise I will have it out in the next few days for the official release.

      Also if you wouldn’t mind sending me a picture of your finished product to put on this site, I’d really appreciate it.



  6. Installed version 2 on my Rpi and have yet to get it working.
    Version 1 has been running for several months.
    Keep running into the below error;

    Updating FAA Weather Data
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “/NeoSectional/metar.py”, line 139, in
    root = ET.fromstring(content)
    NameError: name ‘content’ is not defined

    Don Jennings

  7. Bill, I did get the Live Sectional map to work.
    Looks like I was having a WIFI issue.
    I ended up having to reboot my router and also drop a “ssh” file into my boot directory.
    Looks like SSH is disabled, by default, in the Rpi now. Dropping a SSH file into the boot directory enables it.
    On another note, I have commented out /NeoSectional/test.py in the startup.sh but still have the rainbow effect when I run startup.sh.
    Thanks !!!

  8. This is pretty cool but a lot of work to build. Have you considered making these for FBOs and other folks and selling them?

  9. How do you stop the raspberry pi process once you’ve set it up? I want to update the airport coding and control X doesn’t stop the program.

    1. Hi Kenneth,

      Try – Ctrl + Alt + F2 This should stop the script and bring you back to the command prompt.

      V3 will be released in about a week and will make changes like this a breeze.

      Let me know if you need any more assistance.


  10. This project has been amazing. I am done with everything except the light sensor.

    Just curious how you mount the light sensor to make it look good – i.e. so it doesn’t show the electronics but still functions well. I’m thinking about tucking it in to a corner so it’s not so obvious.

    1. The only part of the light sensor that needs to be visible is the little ball that extrudes from the end of the chip. You could use a chisel or a hand router to notch out a part for the board to be embedded in the frame with just the sensor portion protruding above the frame surface up against the wall. This would provide a very low profile.



  11. Almost finished with this project. Ended up getting a little drill happy and making more airports than 100 so I am waiting on my last string of LEDs to be delivered. This is a neat project and the one person who sells them was going to make me wait 2.5 months to receive it. I got this done in a weekend. This tutorial makes the lights and computer part super easy…the actual map, foam board, and gluing the lights in is a very tedious process.

    What happens if I decide to remove the buttons and light sensor from the project without changing any programming?

    1. Everything will work just fine without either being connected. Please send a picture of your finished project I’d love to add it to the site.

      Be sure to check out V3 when we release it in about a week.


  12. I would like to begin planning which airports I will use.

    Is there a list of airports? Or; which website is the program querying for weather data?

  13. Thanks for the project! I have built all of the electronics and am finishing the board. In the process, I ported the code to Python3 and fixed a few bugs (including the ending in NULL crash.) I’d love to upload the code to you.

  14. Bill,
    LiveSectional is pretty cool. First I should tell you that I am not a programmer. I am a hardware guy but software eludes me. I built a frame and downloaded Phjill Sling’s version but struggled for weeks and could never get it up and running automatically. So I downloaded your software V2.o. I am running it off a pi ZERO. Have a HDMI monitor and usb keyboard for fine tuning it. (100 LED’s)I have it up and running. It seems to run perfectly with the monitor connected. The problem is when I disconnect the monitor and reboot. (disconnect the power) The Rainbow test from “metar.py” (at least that where I think its coming from) does lots of funky LED flashing then just flashes LED’s in what appears a random pattern indefinitely . As soon as I plug in the monitor into the pi it works just fine.

    I did disable the test.py script in Startup.sh, made no difference. I do not have the pushbuttons or light sensors installed. The pi is grounded to the LED’s .
    Do you have any ideas ? I would be happy to send whatever you need.

    Regards Bob

    1. This sounds like it may be grounding issue. We are about to release V3 as well that may help you set things up more efficiently.

      Let me know if you need more help.


  15. Hello, thanks for providing this guide. I am getting an error on startup: ValueError: invalid literal for int() with base 10: ”

  16. Bill,
    I have it up and seems to be operating . My question is if you reboot or shut it down with the buttons, do you have to hook keyboard and monitor back up to give it the start up command?
    It isn’t taking off on its own with the start up button.
    Thanks for your time

    1. It sounds like auto run isn’t currently enabled on your system. If you update your system to run V3 which is due out later this week you can make these changes very easily.


  17. The converter/power supply is out of stock. They are offering instead a ALITOVE 30W Universal AC to DC Power Supply Adapter 3V 4.5V 5V 6V 7.5V 9V 12V Adjustable with 6 Adapter Tips…

    I don’t think this would matter.. Thoughts?

  18. My son and I are building one of these now. Thanks for paving the road for us.

    Is it possible to build this with only one power supply? It is a bit cumbersome to have 2.

    I know you briefly mentioned that the power supply for the Pi is temperamental.

    Is it not possible to get 5V from the breadboard for the lights or is that not powerful enough?

    1. You should be able to power the pi off of the bread board. I’ve noticed that the Pi3B+ and the 4B are pretty finicky on power, and sometimes having the displayed connected impacts things as well, your milage may vary.

      Let me know if you need further assistance.


    2. I built mine without the power/reboot switches or light sensor on a Pi Zero W. The only connections I made were the pos, neg, data wires directly to the Pi and only use the single power supply to the Pi. You might need the second one for the Pi 3+

  19. Took me about a day and fully built it but having some issues now that I programed the airports. I got the rainbow effect and it started running the script on bootup with no end in sight. What do I do to resolve this issue. Please email me at rcarr90@gmail.com

  20. Hi, thanks for the walkthrough.

    Question… I have “commented out” the sudo python /NeoSectional/test.py section of the startup.sh file and the rainbow effect is still happening.

    My startup.sh file looks like this:
    #sudo python /NeoSectional/test.py
    sudo python /NeoSectional/metar.py

    Terminal only Mac is even color coding that line as a comment. Is there another place this needs to be edited?

    1. Hi Brian,

      We are about to release Version 3 which gives you an easy way to make this edit. Please stay tuned for this release.



  21. Bill,

    Tried to make mine with a Zero (lower profile for the frame)(using a power supply module and level shifter), but no luck. Swapped the Zero for a 3 and worked like a charm. Any thoughts?

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