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The goal of this project was to create a low cost Raspberry Pi Media Panel--a nice looking screen that could stand in the living room or attach to the refrigerator with the primary purpose of streaming personal photo and video content full time, but also be able to do some other cool things when needed...like show the weather, play a movie, play music, or receive AirPlay content.

Read this blog post if you want to learn more about what a media panel is and why you might want one.

Success criteria were:
-Low cost: a full blown computing device and screen for between $100 and $200 all in
-Attractive: meaning my wife finds it aesthetically acceptable for the living room
-Light: no more than a few pounds
-Thin: no more than an inch thick, including frame
-Quick: can be built in a few hours or less
-Simple: requiring mainly assembly, versus construction or manufacturing

Update:

Several people have asked me about an integrated product/service like this that is off-the-shelf. I've been working on one for over two years, and it unlocks the photos and videos you have in the cloud and creates smart channels of your content you can stream to any screen. It's like Pandora, but for your memories.

We call it Fireside.

Fireside makes enjoying and sharing your photos and videos as easy as taking them--and it makes it easy to turn your tablet (or any Android device) into a smart photo frame. It also makes it easy to add an auto-curated "family channel" to your TV. If Sonos is your home's audio ambience, Fireside is your home's visual ambience.

The app is currently free from Amazon, and works with Google Photos or Dropbox. Try it now.

Step 1: Select the right LCD Screen

There is a lot to picking the right LCD screen...so much that I wrote a completely separate blog post on how to select the right LCD screen for your media panel. If you want the full details and/or are thinking of doing something different, read that post.

To keep things short and simple, I recommend using a 15" or 17" screen similar to the screens used in the MacBook or MacBook Pro. You can, of course, also use a screen from an old laptop you already own, but you need to make sure you can find an LCD controller board that can operate it.

We bought our screens from Laptopscreen.com, and the exact models we chose were the LG & Philips LP154WP1-TLA1 and the LG & Philips LP171WU3-TLA2. They were about $75 each brand new. Both screens were matte finish, though the next time I think we'll opt for glossy.

Don't worry so much about the numbers after the dash...they don't have a large impact on the screen. The critical numbers that determine whether an LCD Controller will support your panel and how to program it are the LP154WP1 and LP171WU3.

If you have questions, or are thinking about getting a different screen, read this blog post first.

<p>would it be possible to upload photos from the mobile phone to the xmbc on the pi via some app? ideally via the local wifi connection between the two? i imagine i could configure the pi as an access point (without internet access) and the possibly move up the pics? my ideal scenario would be to put the pic frame to my parents house and upload whenever i visit them.</p>
<p>Hi, I see this and I am wondering, I work for a 911 Dispatch center and I was thinking of a project that would allow me to put displays around the hallways that act as digital fire escape displays, but could also be used to display other information, like in the case of a fire (detected via sensors) display the exit route for the location that the screen is in. Is this something that could be done with your display?</p>
<p>I like that you're thinking about using technology to improve safety, although I wonder if digital displays make sense for escape information. Also, I'm curious what might change such that a dynamic display would be necessary.</p>
Forgot to add images of the prototype.
I like to think it would considering you can run a Raspberry and a display for a rather decent time with a small battery unit attached should power be cut to the units due to the fire et cetera. I even found a place that is working with me on a wall mounted 10.1 touch screen unit.<br><br>I am going to do some testing and see what kind of system I can come up with and what kinds of run times I am looking at et cetera. It's the software that will be my biggest issue, as I am not a programmer :)
Thanks for the note. Sounds like an interesting use case and might use similar components, but the software it would need is quite different and it sounds to me like a separate product.
<p>Also, is there any way to power the raspberry pi from the controller board?</p>
<p>Also, is there any way to power the raspberry pi from the controller board?</p>
<p>Also, is there any way to power the raspberry pi from the controller board?</p>
<p>I got the exact same panel as you (LP171WU3-TL-A2). Is there any chance you can share the exact dimensions of the frame that you ordered and all the other parts from American Frame?</p>
<p>Is it possible to view Fireside (app.fireside.co) on XBMC (or OSMC)?</p>
I don't believe so. They would need to support Android or HTML5 apps, which the last time I looked they do not.
<p>Is there a way to configure the slideshow to start automatically or do you have to start it with your mobile device?</p>
<p>I bought the [t.vst59.031 lcd controler board][1] to use it on an used laptop screen. The problem is that this board doesn't come with the LVDS cable.</p><p>I have the LVDS cable from the laptop but the pins don't match on the controller side. Should I buy a cable like [this one][2].</p><p>Or should I just get the cables and connectors and build it myself? How easy is it?</p><p>Or can I use half of the laptop's LVDS cable (with the connector on the lcd side), cut the other end(connector to the motherboard), and bind it with a 30pin [connector like this][3]?</p><p>My lcd is a samsung LTN154X3-L03.</p><p> [1]: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/272086508548</p><p> [2]: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/25cm-FIX-30P-S8-30-Pins-Hole-Forward-LVDS-Cable-For-LCD-Panel-Display-Replace-/291435337233</p><p> [3]: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/8-Sets-FC-30P-30Pin-2-54mm-ISP-3-in-1-JTAG-Socket-Connector-for-Flat-Ribbon-Wire-/391220404596</p>
<p>Hello, </p><p>I'm trying to do a similar project.</p><p>I have an old laptop lcd screen (LTN154X3-L03) and was planning to order this item to connect it to the raspberry pi:</p><p><a href="http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/272086508548" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/272086508548</a></p><p>The description of the item mentions that it supports my screen but the problem is that this item seems not to have an &quot;inverter&quot;. </p><p>The &quot;inverter&quot; seems to be present in most projects like this one...is it really needed? what is it for? </p><p>And is it possible that this item (T.VST59) has the inverter integrated in the board?</p><p>(I've asked the distributed and they claim not to be technical and do not know.)</p><p>Many thanks</p>
<p>An inverter takes low voltage DC and steps it up to the high voltage needed for a fluorescent tube backlight. The tubes look like long glass thermometers or miniature versions of your 4 foot shop light tubes. If you have LEDs or want to start off with new parts you don't need an inverter, because LEDs work off lower voltage. </p>
<p>Very nice!!</p>
<p>could this be accomplished with the new pi zero?</p>
<p>I've an idea to replace all the choir books with a simple and very inexpensive picture display. It would need to be capable of storing the music pics I scan in and would really be nice if I could update using wireless instead of USB, etc. The screen needs to be 10-11 inches max and doesn't have to show video or anything more complicated than simply viewing pics. Any thoughts?</p>
<p>Can you show the back? I'm curious how you hid everything. I did a similar build a few years ago using a 19&quot; Dell display and an antique laptop, but it was about 2&quot; thick and weighed a ton. Beautiful build!</p>
<p>Thanks for sharing! I've been looking at doing something like this for at least two years, but the frame has always been an issue until now. Thank you for sharing! Out of curiosity, has anyone tried to do anything with the Pi Signage Server: https://github.com/colloqi/pisignage-server?</p>
<p>Hello, </p><p>I'm trying to do a similar project.</p><p>I have an old laptop lcd screen (LTN154X3-L03) and was planning to order this item to connect it to the raspberry pi:</p><p><a href="http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/272086508548" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/272086508548</a></p><p>The description of the item mentions that it supports my screen but the problem is that this item seems not to have an &quot;inverter&quot;. </p><p>The &quot;inverter&quot; seems to be present in most projects like this one...is it really needed? what is it for? </p><p>And is it possible that this item (T.VST59) has the inverter integrated in the board?</p><p>(I've asked the distributed and they claim not to be technical and do not know.)</p><p>Many thanks</p>
<p>Made one!</p>
<p>Any chance the instructions could be updated for panels that are in stock somewhere, and compatible components? I know that's a pain in the you know what to update, but&hellip;</p>
<p>Great Instructable! </p><p>Is there anyway to mix news &amp; weather into the photos slideshow so that we see updated news and weather along with the photos ! That would made for a perfect media Panel !</p>
<p>Hi SnehalB3, XBMC has addons that allow you to add various things like news or weather. I'm not sure exactly what is available now or how it might work with the media panel, but this is where I'd look if you want this for xbmc.</p>
<p>I'm looking for a fireside-like app for a custom photo frame that will fit into the apple ecosystem. Any suggestions?</p><p>Best,</p><p>Bruce Denham (bdenhamATsuddenlinkDOTnet</p>
Hi Bruce. Fireside will have an app for iOS and tvOS shortly. If by apple ecosystem you're looking for something that can access photos and videos in iCloud that is a much more challenging question since Apple only allows access to iCloud content through iOS.
<p>Ah Ok. Yes, I was wondering about that. I may just have to create an iOS app and install it on my old iPad 3, but then I'm limited in screen size. I may also look into jailbreaking my AppleTV 2, then mounting it on the back of the monitor. Bulky, but I'll surround with a nice picture frame and mount on the wall. Wiring may be a problem...Got a lot more to think about. But thanks for your post. I really like the idea of using a laptop monitor with a raspberry pi 2, but squeamish about connecting up and programming the the right LCD controller with the right code. But you've inspired me! Thanks. </p><p>Any other tips or advice is always appreciated. Many thanks.</p>
<p>My pleasure, Bruce. Good luck!</p>
<p>BTW, I just checked out your Fireside site, read more about it, and signed up for the limited beta for the service. Great stuff! It's feature set is basically everything I wanted (and more). Fantastic job! </p><p>Question: Is the service going to be accessible from the raspberry pi 2 with wifi? That would be excellent. </p><p>Keep up the great work on making photo frames relevant again! </p><p>Best,<br>Bruce</p><p>PS: I just ordered the LCD controller board from NJY (HDMI USB AV VGA ATV LCD LVDS Controller Board for LP171WU3-TLA2 1920x1200) and am now trying to find the panel in-stock somewhere. Exciting! Can't thank you enough for posting this and sharing all your hard earned research.</p>
<p>Hi Bruce. Glad you're enjoying it and my pleasure. I've been very happy with laptopscreen.com for panels. Regarding Fireside on Raspberry Pi 2 / WiFi...there is nothing I would like more than to support it. We have countless Raspberry Pi of all model type. It mostly comes down to platform support. If there is a stable port of Android for Raspberry Pi with good hardware acceleration support for video and graphics then yes. </p>
<p>People were telling me my house looked a little bare and I had a spare LCD screen from my old broken laptop. This looked like a good idea on how to use the Pi and have something to put on the wall! </p><p>Thanks for putting together these instructions Andy - I enjoyed making this because it was easy to follow and I would have been lost without these instructions. I might try and make another for someone as a christmas present.</p><p>Cheers</p><p>Chris, London UK</p>
Hi Chris. Thanks for the comment--and nice looking frame!
<p>I'm already using my TV with Raspberry Pi as a media center. XBMC is extremely helpful. LCD Controller board sounds really interesting, should try that out. Thank you for the post. </p>
<p>Instructables was made for posters like you and posts like this! Great tutorial! I will just add that if you are having trouble finding the right controller for your LCD panel, you can ask the vendor and/or manufacturer via email. It's very likely they will be native in another language, but will reply in english. This can be incredibly helpful for specific information. Very neat.</p><p>(For instance, I had to do this because my LCD panel came from a family's member's laptop that had gotten one too many viruses.) </p>
<p>thanks for the quick reply </p><p>i will have to see if i can do something </p><p>nothing ventuerd nothing gained </p>
<p>I have an old 9&quot; android that no longer boots ,could i use the screen from that?</p><p>would it have all the bits i need there ?</p>
<p>It's possible you might be able to use the screen, but you would need to find an LED driver board for it. The Raspberry Pi has a DSI video connector but as far as I know it is still undocumented and there are no screens that can use it. This means you need to use HDMI to deliver video from your Raspberry Pi to your Android screen...and therefore need some way to convert the HDMI signals into something the screen can handle (which will be something akin to LVDS or MIPI and not HDMI)</p>
<p>Hi Andy! That's a great work there :) <br>I'm about to embark on this DIY journey. Could you tell me if there's a way possible to to play animated gifs after the photo frame is completed? <br>Thanks,</p>
<p>Unfortunately, I don't believe so. Others may be aware of a tool that can do this.</p>
<p>Ohh, I see. Thanks anyways!</p><p>If anyone could tell me if there's a way possible to play animated gifs after the photo frame is completed, please help me!!</p>
<p>Nice! Sorry to see the Kickstarter didnt hit the mark. Do you have any plans to share/sell your designs for the rear enclosure? Thanks!</p>
<p>I would like some clarification on the measurement needed for the frame. With the measurements from the LCD, do you select a frame size that will give you an inside frame size a bit smaller than the LCD?</p>
Hi Marty, thanks for your note. I recommend ordering your LCD first and then getting the exact outside dimensions. This is then your &quot;content&quot; or &quot;picture&quot; dimensions when you order your custom frame from American Frame.
<p>thanks for a great write up!</p><p>I used slideshow screensaver to access a shared drive on my desktop PC so I can easily add photos to the library and all works great.</p><p>I don't have the LCD yet and haven't ordered the frame, did you have enough room to mount the raspberry pi to the backing board and still hang on the wall OK or do I need to look for a deeper frame?</p>
<p>Hi Philip, You will need a deeper frame to try to mount the raspberry pi to the backing board and be able to hang it on the wall. The ethernet jack is the point where the Rpi board is deepest...almost 1 inch.</p>
<p>I am new to raspberry pi, I got my model B yesterday and I want to make this project but I don't know what to download and where. can somebody please help me and reply whit links on what I need to download for this project? thanks </p>

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Bio: I was the Founder/CEO of 3jam (sold to Skype) and more recently rebuilt the product and engineering team from 5 to 25 people at ... More »
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