Introduction: Digital High Score Display for Game Room / Arcade
Since I'm in the middle of creating my home game room / arcade, I wanted to be able to display everyone's high-scores for various games played in the arcade. Utilizing a second-hand digital LCD picture frame, I was able to create 'High Score' screens for all of my favorite games.
Step 1: Procure an LCD Picture Frame.
An LCD picture frame is a perfect way to display images in a 'slideshow' style format. I was able to acquire one rather cheaply, as it had several deep scratches on the display surface. All I had to do was use some polish and cleaner compound to get the screen smooth and shiny again. You can find LCD frames used for $10 - $20, and new ones usually go for about $30 - $50. Check out Amazon, Craigslist, etc. for deals.
Step 2: Get a Cheap USB Flash Drive.
Obviously, these things are everywhere nowadays. Go to Wal-Mart, Office Depot, or even the grocery store and you should be able to find a cheap, 2-Gigabyte USB flash drive for super-cheap. Since the LCD picture frames usually require the use of JPEG type images, you can store a ton of pictures with just 2 Gigs of memory.
NOTE: If you plan to use your scoreboard frame in a low-light area, you may want to consider painting the outside of your flash drive, as some have very bright internal LEDs when they're being accessed and it can distract from the picture frame's slideshow. Only paint over the flash drive housing - NOT THE USB CONNECTOR!
Step 3: Create the Image Files.
There's a ton of choices out there when it comes to graphic software. If you have Adobe Photoshop, your may want to go that route for picture quality. You could also opt for a freeware editor like GIMP. I chose to create BMP image files with Microsoft Paint, as it was a quick & easy way to generate a slide, as well as updating the scores when I needed to. Once I had the slides completed, I utilized Microsoft Office's Picture Manager to export the BMP files to JPEG format.
I wanted to show the arcade marquee (the logo that shows at the top of the old arcade cabinets) on each image with the corresponding high-scores. I spent a bit of time surfing Google and Bing images to get what I wanted. Once I had gathered all of my marquee images, I used MS Paint and resized the images accordingly to fit within the graphic constraints of my LCD picture frame (my frame has a max resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels).
As a help, I have created a zip file of the JPEG images for you to download.
Step 4: Save the Files to the USB Flash Drive.
Once you create the JPEGs, place them on your USB flash drive. Make sure you do not place them within a folder on the flash drive, as your LCD picture frame may not have the ability to find them. Place the images at the 'root' level of the drive.
NOTE: I do not know if this holds true for all LCD picture frames, but mine only displays the images in alphabetical sequence, based on the JPEG / JPG file names. Make sure you're careful with how you name your image files, depending on what order you want them to display. You may also find that modifying / copying individual files over to your flash drive can potentially cause your picture frame to display the slides out of order, despite the names of the files. I have had luck keeping an entire copy of all the images on my computer, and copying all of them over in one shot to the USB flash drive, even if I only updated one or two images.
Step 5: Plug, Play, and Power-up.
Now comes the fun! Insert your USB flash drive into your LCD picture frame (with the power off). Fire it up, and you should see your slideshow begin. It may take a couple of tries to tweak your images in a graphic editor to get them looking 'just right' on your picture frame, but that's part of the fun. Find the ideal spot to hang / place your picture frame and enjoy!!
Step 6: Final Thoughts and Video.
Overall, this project was fairly easy to complete. The biggest time-taker was the building of the images themselves, but once they're set up they're not too hard to modify. The scoreboard has turned out to be a fun addition to the game room, for when my son's friends come over for an overnight gaming party. They record their high scores on some hardcopy registration sheets I made up. Then I can update the scoreboard quickly and everyone can see their new high scores on 'the big screen'.
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