Instructables

Still Yet Another Digital Picture Frame (Linux)

Picture of Still Yet Another Digital Picture Frame (Linux)
Having seen other designs I wanted to try making one of my own. Although not exactly cheap at ~$135 it was a fun project and a I am very happy with the results. It's clean simple and only requires one small wire for power.

Project Costs:
Laptop with 15" screen $50
Frame $20
16GB Compact Flash card $35 - much bigger then necessary
Wireless card Free
Switches and wire $15
Mating and misc. $15

Total $135

DISCLAIMER: This project involves electricity, heat, and confined spaces. I take no responsibility for any death or damages to anyone or anything from attempts to make this project.

 
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Step 1: The laptop

Picture of The laptop
Trying to find a good laptop for this project was a bit of a stretch. On one hand you want the slowest , least power hungry system while wanting the highest quality screen. After doing some looking online I settled on a Dell Inspiron 5000.

At $3,776 MSRP this laptop didn't come cheap. Much of that cost came from the impressive 15" screen. After scouring cragislist I found the perfect system for only $50. That's like a savings of $3,726 in only 8 years. The only issues were it has the 1440x1050 resolution monitor instead of the rarer 1600x1200 option and it would flicker lightly especially when looking at the color blue.

Pentium III 650MHz
440BX cheapest motherboard
128MB PC100 SDRAM
15" 1400x1050 LCD
ATI Rage Mobility 128 w/8MB SGRAM
20GB 4200rpm hard drive
8x/24x DVD/CDROM drive
Integrated floppy drive

A major bonus about his laptop was that is was the first Pentium III that used Intel SpeedStep. While this might not sound like that big of a deal especially since almost every laptop now has this technology. It allowed me to manually under clock the CPU from 650 MHz to 500 MHz and reducing the CPU power usage from 9 Watts to just over 5 Watts. Since I don't plan on having an active cooling system every bit of power savings equals less heat to have to worry about.

Excellent Project! You wouldn't want to share your script that pulls featured pictures would you? I'm still working on getting my drivers to work with ndiswrapper. Once that is complete i would love to pull images from the web!
For everyone looking for a script to access picasa, i have an alternative suggestion.  Look into a product called dropbox. Install it on your picture frame OS and any other computer in the world.  Binaries are available for free download.  Drag and drop the pictures you wish to use into dropbox (which is essentially just a shared folder being hosted in the interwebs) on your PC.  Then direct  your slide show viewer on your picture frame to use that folder as its source.  I just tried it and it was pretty simple and turned out quite well.  Not only that but it is completely live.  As soon as I dropped a new picture into Dropbox, it would appear on my picture frame(!)  Also, instead of DSL i used Puppy linux and booted from a 512mb usb flash drive.
Lakitu4 years ago
 Great job. Nice to see some linux love and great use of wireless. Can I ask why you left the CD-ROM attached?
mikedahlgren (author)  Lakitu4 years ago
 Thanks for the comment.  However I am a little confused by it.  There is no cdrom attached.  However I did keep it in case I ever needed it. 
 OK, sorry, I misunderstood because in the picture for step 5 it says you hooked up the CD-ROM, but of course there isn't one in the picture. My bad. Thanks for clearing that up.
chunkyblamm4 years ago
I am going to do this with an old computer and have been searching through a few different instructables to gain info.  Particularly this one and the one here www.instructables.com/id/USBWEB_Digital_Picture_Frame/.  I like having the script from yours that shows photos other than my personal ones.  Although I like in the other instructable it boots into an html page then goes to the pictures.  Is there any way to combine this?  This will be my first experience of any type with Linux.  Or does your method boot directly to the pictures?
djpain4 years ago
I have an old 17" screen which does "waves" when i put in on the pc...but can we use it in any way one this?
without a laptop or anything...
for example if i buy one digital photo frame and then chagne the screen??
but i dont know how...!!
:P little help over here :D
Hi djpain.

The simple answer I'm afraid is "no"

Sounds like the psu in your 17" screen needs repairing. Because of the nature of digital frames it would be very difficult to "mod" a cheap digi frame with a big screen, you would be better off finding a cheapo laptop....
yy i know about the screen.. its not the psu but the "motherboard" or however its called...!!!but i cant find a laptop cheap :(...if i found i would mod the screen to be used by the laptop...if you find anything cheap let me know..!!and then i will make an instructable using the screen :D i want to make it as a gift to my mother :)!you know she will be watching it she will think that its magic xD
thnx a lot for the answer!!
Great instructable! I gave you a 5 lots of work and thought put into this!
Tux_Fan5 years ago
Very Nice. I built a DPF a while ago and it mysteriously died so I have another laptop almost exactly the one that you used that I am thinking about using. You added some things into your DPF that I did not think about. The laptop that I will probably use is a Inspiron 8000 that has been used well. All of the plastics are cracked the touchpad and keyboard intermittently work. And to top it off the screen hinges are shot. I was also thinking of mounting the power brick to the frame but you are probably right.
good and Excellent Project.... i love that
jmalone685 years ago
Thanks for that. I'll have to look at it a bit more closely. I think I've got phpFlickr, with PHP, to work with a script, so now I've got two options. I certainly appreciate the update.
micahdear5 years ago
Excellent job.. 5 starts!
mikedahlgren (author)  micahdear5 years ago
Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it especially since only one person voted on the project and they gave me 3 stars. :-(
bigk30005 years ago
well constructing the frame is the easy part. It would be nice if you went into more detail of the linux portion, you didnt really say anything.
mikedahlgren (author)  bigk30005 years ago
As I mentioned, I followed the guide from http://www.thewares.net/item/33 for the Linux portion and attempted to point out any issues that I hit in the process. Do you have any specifics that you would like to see addressed?
jmalone685 years ago
Love the frame. I'm part way doing one for myself, using DSL and have hit the wall when it comes to downloading photos from the WWW. Would REALLY love to get my hands on your Picasa script/hack.
mikedahlgren (author)  jmalone685 years ago
I have updated the project with a "step 9" that includes the script as well as an attempt to explain it.
What program are you using to display the slideshow? I had a similar setup myself but wanted to add in a side widget bar and have yet to find something that suits my needs.
mikedahlgren (author)  douginthezoo5 years ago
The program that I am using is called Feh. It works really well, however I don't think it will do what you are looking for. My only qualm with it is I wish it would also do transitions like fade between the pictures.
Thanks, that's what I had used as well. I also embedded a custom conky on the screen for dtae, time, fortune, etc, but was hoping to find a way of forcing the pictures over to the right more so they didn't get obscured. Your frame looks great by the way.