Get a Custom Purgatory Ski Report on Your Tidbyt! (Or as an RSS Feed)

a walnut Tidbyt showing the Purgatory weather report

I was gifted a Tidbyt for Christmas this year. I’d never even heard of the device before, but I’ll admit I’m kind of falling in love with the thing. If you’re not aware, it’s esssentially a small, retro-looking box that can show various messages on its Lite Brite-like display. Then again, if you’re not aware, you probably won’t get much use out of this article – unless you just want an RSS feed of Purg’s weather report. In which case, you can just get that here because I already did that work for you!

Disappointment set in, however, when I checked out the ski app display and saw it only supported mountains under the Epic pass. So, I got to digging through the developer docs, and it turns out you can write your own program to do whatever you want. Then, that grew to be a bit more involved than I wanted, until I came across their Zapier integration.

Zapier is kind of like IFTTT, and if you’re not familiar with either, it’s a website that lets you automate all types of stuff.

So today here on the Say Hi, Durango blog, we’re going to walk through getting what you see in the video above on your very own Tidbyt.

Step 1. Get a Tidbyt and sign up for a Zapier account.

Tidbyts come in a few varieties. You can snag a Zapier account for free.

You’ll also need a free account with Browse AI and a Google account, so you can use Google Drive to store updated info that Browse AI will snag from Purgatory’s website. Purg does have an RSS feed of their own, as their site is built on WordPress, but it doesn’t update daily mountain conditions, just a not-so-regularly updated blog. So we’ll get the info we need from their weather report page.

Step 2. Set up Browse AI

TLDR; If you’re good with using my RSS feed, you can skip to the Zapier integration.

Once you’ve got your Browse AI account, click Build New Robot from your dashboard.

screenshot of step one described here for Browse AI

Choose Monitor Site Changes.

screenshot of where you choose Monitor site changes

In the Origin URL field, enter https://www.purgatory.ski/mountain/weather-conditions-webcams/snow-weather/

This is Purg’s weather page.

screenshot showing where to place the aforementioned URL

Click Start Recording Task.

A new window will open up, showing our Purgatory weather page, with a big robot guy at the top right. Hover over him and choose Capture Text. You’ll then be able to select text on the page itself. I selected the number of inches of snowfall over the last day, and the text beneath Today’s Report.

screenshot of the robot in question, a lovable little guy who doesn't look human annihilating at all

Here’s what the captured text looks like. It took a couple of tries to get the hang of it, but play around, you should be able to figure it out! In this case, I chose 15″ first and the paragraphs below Today’s Report second. Whenever this text changes on the site, the robot will recognize it. This is essentially what’s going to power our RSS feed, which will then in turn be sent to our Tidbyt.

text highlighted to show what the robot captured

Next it’ll just ask you to name your fields.

screenshot of how the robot asks you to name the fields

When you’re done, the robot will present a menu where you can choose Finish Recording.

Set it to run once per day, around 8am or so. You get 50 credits per day for free with Browse AI, so setting it to once a day shouldn’t put you over 31 credits / month – in any case, they don’t ask for credit card info so no worries about being charged accidentally or something.

days of the week, a time, etc. for setting the schedule

Next, jump over to the Integrate tab, select Google Sheets, and follow along with the steps to have the robot’s findings update a new row in a sheet every time this runs.

You’ll end up with something like this in Google Sheets:

screenshot showing rows of our data in a Google Sheet

 

Step 3. Zapier!

Zapier can create an RSS feed from our Google Sheet.

Setup a Zap that is triggered by a new row in your Google Sheet, and outputs an RSS feed. You don’t need to bother with formatting the date, unless you want to show the date as part of your Tidbyt display. I did this so I could take a date format like Sat, 6 January 2024 07:30:13 -0600 and just change it to Jan 6.

screenshot of the necessary steps in Zapier to get Google Sheet into an RSS feed

Next up, Tidbyt has their own Zap functionality. They walk you through how to use it, with Slack integration, over there. Here we’ll use our custom RSS feed.

screenshot of the tidbyt zap set up

You can customize the three fields that the Tidbyt Zap provides, and you can choose an icon – but you can’t choose a custom image or to have no icon. I stuck with the Slack logo as it was the closest thing to snow I guess.

Hopefully that helps anyone with a Tidbyt, who also shreds Purg, to get this set up!