I've always wanted to build a Metar Map and finally set out to do it. I followed the path forged by Philip Rueker, a Sling builder out of Washington. Thanks Philip, great write-up! This was my first time working with a raspberry pi and I thought it was all pretty fun and straightforward. Having an IT background definitely helped and I think there were a few areas that might trip someone up that isn't an IT nerd, but nothing insurmountable.
Lucky for me I have a cousin who works at a print shop and she managed to create a beautiful ~5ft x 3ft foam board print out of the FAA VFR US Planner chart. Thanks, Ali! <3 Love you cuz. I was also fortunate to have a neighbor who is an amazing woodworker. I was looking for a frame and the local frame shop was being vague about cost and said it would take a few weeks and I was sort of impatient and mentioned it to my neighbor who got started building a custom frame with me the very next day! We created a beautiful product in two mornings' worth of work. I even learned quite a bit about woodworking in the process, thank you so much Gary! Last but not least I thank my gorgeous wifey Brandi, who helped me paint the frame, glue the LED lights in, and other tidbits of help here and there.
Originally I was going to do 50 lights, but that seemed sparse across the entire USA, so I then added another 50 and decided why stop there and ended up with 151. I didn't want to hassle with boosting the power to the LEDs so I was a little worried I couldn't power that many off of just the Raspberry Pi, but I found with the intensity turned down way low (.2 out of 1.0 total) it works just fine and is a preferable brightness anyways, as its way too bright at full 1.0.
It's so rewarding to come into my office each day and see the US weather at a glance. I highly recommend buying or building one of these for yourself! The final photo doesn't do it much justice since the colors of the lights don't show up well in the photo, but it looks great in person! Oops, I guess I left off one last person to thank. I thank myself for being kind of awesome, woohoo! :D