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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>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>
<p>Thank you for a great Instructable! I have one problem--wireless access with Raspbmc. I think I've tried every solution on the web with no success. Can you help?</p>
<p>Are you using OpenElec all i did was go into settings you should be able to find all the WiFi settings there assuming you have a wifi dongle plugged in.</p><p>Also if i'm getting this wrong try plugging the WiFi dongle into the Rpi directly, instead of a USB hub.</p>
<p>Tried the dongle both ways - no joy. I'm probably going to use a wired network connection. So I went on to Step 7 of the Instructable and when I powered everything up, here's the raster below. Any ideas??</p>
<p>John, this looks like an issue with your LCD controller board and/or LCD screen. Which LCD screen do you have and which model LCD controller? Have you checked with NJYTOUCH if your controller supports your screen and is programmed correctly?</p>
<p>Hi John. Thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed it! Can you be more specific with the problem you're having with wireless in Raspbmc? To get consistent and stable wireless support with the Edimax under Raspbian, it's important to do the following system tweaks which are not configured by default (see below). Not sure if these are in Raspbmc or not...but it's worth taking a look.</p><p>#Add 'wireless-power off' to /etc/network/interfaces so wifi operates properly<br># Disable power saving in realtek 8192cu<br># add 'options 8192cu rtw_power_mgnt=0 rtw_enusbss=1 rtw_ips_mode=1' to /etc/modprobe.d/8192cu.conf</p>
<p>Thanks, Andy! I'm a real noobie here but I'll give this a try. </p><p>Also, my issue is that Raspbmc will scan for wireless, see my network but will not connect for some reason. </p>
<p>Ok...my suggestions will probably not help in that case. This change is just to prevent situations where your wireless will lock up or stop working.</p><p>You may want to try loading Raspbian on another SD card and see if you can boot it up and find your wireless network. This would be a good datapoint for you to know exactly where the problem is. I've found Raspbmc to sometimes be a bit more bleeding edge than Raspbian...you could also try the OpenElec distribution which is an XBMC oriented distribution for RPi but also maybe a bit more stable. Simply boot up and then from the command line type 'startx' to go into the gui. You can then use the WiFi setup tool on the desktop to look for and add networks.</p>
<p>This could be my solution I've been looking for, I work as a video artist, mainly showing projected work in non-commercial galleries. Someone is going to purchase my work but I need to appropriate it for a household setting, so it can hang on the wall just like a painting. Anyway I've been trying to work with digital photo frames, firstly getting the right MP4 with the right codecs is a nightmare, and the quality is poor (plastic imports from China). Would it be possible not to stream a video through the internet but just play via a usb? </p>
<p>Hey Tim, you might be interested in Canviz: http://CanvizIsArt.com/</p>
Hi Tim. Thanks for your comment. If you use XBMC as the Instructable suggests, the default is to play locally and a USB stick was what I used when I built it. You still might have to deal with codecs though, since XBMC handles some better than others.<br> <br> Something else that could interest you is my new company <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fireside/533547870057302" rel="nofollow">Fireside</a>, which has its roots in this very instructable (and is launching soon). Fireside is like Sonos for video/pictures, providing a visual ambience ecosystem for the home. It also has apps for adding content and does all the transcoding / conversions for you.
<p>Thanks Andy</p><p>Codecs are a real pain, most common for me are MP4 - ACC, H.264 or .Mov - Linear PCM, H.264, my vids are created on FCE and then Quicktime conversion. I've trialled XBMC on my Mac it is running my videos fine, this might change when XBMC is on the Raspberry Pi.</p><p>Signed up to Fireside, as there are more and more digital video artists anything to help us sell our work to the general public is always welcome, ideally we want a device that can play one single MP4orMov that is secured within (one piece, one frame) and can hang on the wall, no different to a painting, ideally battery powered.</p><p>Anyway thanks again. </p>
<p>Doing it!<br>My UK pricing so far.<br><br>R-Pi (B+) - &pound;27.44<br>Edimax Wifi - &pound;8.28<br>USB Hub (recently released R-Pi one) - &pound;10.11<br>Black Pi case - &pound;2.46<br>Mains for Pi - &pound;2.88<br>2m cable HDMI - DVI - &pound;1.84<br>LCD Controller Board (HDMI+DVI+VGA+AUDIO LCD Controller Board for LP154WX4 1280x800 DIY M.NT68676.2A) - &pound;23.00<br>LG 17&quot; LP154WX4 Screen (2nd hand) - &pound;16.14</p><p>Total &pound;92.15 ($149.18)</p><p>The items left to source are slightly more expensive here in the UK, a LCD power adapter is about &pound;11 ($18). Framing will be about &pound;20 ($32), though cross that bridge later on, and could always fashion one myself. </p><p>The audio HDMI to HDMI converter - found this one over here similar price ($31.50), </p><p><a href="http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/like/171362162017?limghlpsr=true&hlpv=2&ops=true&viphx=1&hlpht=true&lpid=108&device=c&adtype=pla&crdt=0&ff3=1&ff11=ICEP3.0.0-L&ff12=67&ff13=80&ff14=108&ff19=0" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/like/171362162017?limghlpsr=true&amp;hlpv=2&amp;ops=true&amp;viphx=1&amp;hlpht=true&amp;lpid=108&amp;device=c&amp;adtype=pla&amp;crdt=0&amp;ff3=1&amp;ff11=ICEP3.0.0-L&amp;ff12=67&amp;ff13=80&amp;ff14=108&amp;ff19=0</a></p><p>Leaving the framing out my main spend should be around the &pound;120 ($195), which is pretty good.<br></p>

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