Tutorial:   Assembly! Building an IOT Lightning Detector with your Raspberry Pi – Part2

Tutorial: Assembly! Building an IOT Lightning Detector with your Raspberry Pi – Part2

At SwitchDoc Labs we have been building a number of prototype IOT (Internet Of Things) devices for a number of different videos, articles, products and books we have been working on.   Our latest Book,  “Raspberry Pi IoT Projects: Prototyping Experiments for Makers“, has been selling well on Amazon, published by APress-Springer/Daniel.  Our first O’Reilly Publishing tutorial video, “Introduction to the ESP8266 and the IOT” also just came out.  Time for a new project, the Raspberry Pi IOT Lightning Detector.

Part 2 shows you how to put together the hardware for the Raspberry Pi IOT Lightning Detector.  No soldering required!




The general idea of the Thunder Board IOT is to build a software platform to build more complex IOT sensors.   In this column and the next, we will be going through a complete,  IOT design.   As well as providing a test bed for the new Grove Thunder Board Lightning Detector.

The Hardware

The parts list for the Thunder Board IOT for Raspberry Pi  project is  follows.


Thunder Board Lightning Detector Part C
Pi2Grover Board Part B
Grove LCD Display With Backlight Part D
Grove Buzzer Part E
Additional Grove Cables (2-30cm Cables) Part F, Part G
 Raspberry Pi 3 – Many Sources  Part A
 Two Additional Grove Cables 20cm Part H and Part I
3D-Print Files (at GitHub)

Or you can buy the Thunder Board IOT for Raspberry Pi Full Kit at  a discount.

If you don’t have a 3D Printer, you can buy the 3D printed case here.



The Assembly Steps

Thunder Board IOT

Fully Assembled Thunder Board IOT

Using Grove connectors, this is a very easy project to put together.  Step by step instructions follow:

(Step 1) – Remove power from the Raspberry Pi (Part A) (be sure to shut it down before you remove power!).

(Step 2) – Take the Pi2Grover (Part  B) and align the pins on the Raspberry Pi 3 (Part A) GPIO header accurately and the carefully push down the Pi2Grover board on to the Raspberry Pi 3 board.   Note that the end of the Pi2Grover board that hangs over the USB and Network plugs on the Raspberry Pi 3 has no pins on the bottom of the Pi2Grover board so it can’t short out.








(Step 3) – Take a 20cm Grove Cable (Part H) plug it in the upper right Grove connector on Pi2Grover (Part B) labeled I2C and connect the other end to the I2C LCD 2/Backlight (Part D)

(Step 4) – Take a 30cm Grove Cable (Part F) and plug it into Pi2Grover (Part B) label I2C under the Cable in Step 3 above.   Take the other end of the 30cm Cable (Part F) and plug it into the connector labeled I2C on the Thunder Board (Part C).   Make sure you put the cable in the correct plug.  You won’t blow anything up, but it won’t work either.


(Step 5) – Take a 30cm Grove Cable (Part G) and plug it into Pi2Grover (Part B) in the plug labels D16/19.  Take the other end of the 30cm Cable (Part G) and plug it into the connector labeled INT on the thunder Board (Part C).


That’s all for Initial Assembly.  We will install the Grove Buzzer (Part E) and the remaining 20cm Grove Cable (Part I) later in the instructions.   

Why not install the Grove Buzzer now?  If you do, it will buzz incessantly while you complete the software install.  Irritating for sure!


Installation in the Optional 3D Printed Box

No 3D Printer?  You can buy a print of the box here.

If any of your 3D parts are too tight, you can use a fingernail file to slightly mold them.


(Step 6) – Put on the Brass Standoffs on the Raspberry Pi 3 board – Note, if you use a Raspberry Pi Zero, you may have to change the board mounting.


(Step 7) – Place the Raspberry Pi in the four standing holes in the 3D Printed Box.  Make sure you align it the same way in the picture below.   If you find the holes are too loose, wrap one or more pylon with tape before you insert them into the holes.


(Step 8) – Put Non-Conductive tape (Like electricians tap, painters blue tape or scotch tape) over the conductors on the LCD Board (PartD) and over the exposed contacts and metal on the Raspberry Pi as shown.   This is in case the LCD is pushed back into the box by mistake when the Kit is powered up.   Just a caution!


(Step 9) – Please the Grove Buzzer (Part E) in the slot as shown.   Don’t plug it in yet!  Wait until you have installed the software.



(Step 10) – Push the I2C LCD w/Backlight into the top of the Box as shown.   Watch the Orientation.  If it is too tight, use a nail file to shave a bit off.  Too loose?  Tape it in.



(Step 11) – Now unplug the grove 30cm Cables (Part F and Part G) going to the Thunder Board (Part C) and route them through the hole in the top and then up the 3D tube (placing the tube on the stand on the top of the box), then through the pylon stand (putting the pylon stand into the tube) and then replugging the cables (Part F and Part G) into the Thunder Board (Part C).  MAKE SURE YOU PLUG THE CABLES INTO THE RIGHT GROVE CONNECTORS AS IN STEP 4.





(Step 12) – Snap the top of the box on to the box bottom and then snap the lightning board box on the top of the lightning pylon.  You are now done.

Coming in Part 3

Part 3 will go through the installation of the Raspberry Pi software, initial tests and the installation of the Grove Buzzer (Part E).


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