We have a calendar that is updated monthly with events but it is done manually. We also tend to forget things we have ran out of or other minor chores.
In this age I thought it was much easier to have a sync'd calendar and notepad type system that can be accessed with mobile devices but I wanted to have a neat way to display information to keep our family in sync. It also had to be something large and visual that can be seen on the way out the door as well as being easy to use, so it had to be touchscreen.
I decided I would make a 17" touchscreen computer that would hang discretely in our kitchen/main entrance area. Once I decided on how to display the information it became evident I could use it for some home automation purposes as well :)
While the function of this wasn't mean to be a media centre, I do have Kodi installed and the mini PC is paired with a bluetooth speaker in the kitchen for audio should we want to watch something while we are in the kitchen..
1 × Ainol Mini PC Chinese Windows Mini PC
1 × B173RW01 V.5 Laptop LCD LED Screen, bought off eBay Specs http://www.panelook.com/B173RW01%20V5_AUO_17.3_LC...
1 × M.NT68676 VGA DVI HDMI Controller Board Kit for B173RW01 LED Panel 1600X900 http://bit.ly/1OzS9TV
Search Ebay for LCD Controller Driver Board and the Model of your laptop screen
1 × 17.3" 5 Wire Resistive Touch Panel USB Controller 16:9 For 17.3" LCD Screen
1 × DC-DC Buck Voltage Converter 4.5-40V 12V to 5V/2A Step-down Volt Transformer Stabilizer Voltage Regulator Module Power Supply Switch Inverter Board with LED Voltmeter 5V USB Charger http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00IWOPS8K
1 × 4-Port USB 2.0 Ultra-Mini Hub
1 × Aeotec by Aeon Labs Z-Stick Z-Wave Plus Gen5 ZW090-A http://www.amazon.ca/Aeon-Labs-Aeotec-Z-Wave-Z-St...
1 × Aeotec by Aeon Labs Z-Wave Micro Switch DSC26103-ZWUS http://www.amazon.ca/Aeon-Labs-DSC26103-Aeotec-Ed...
1 × USB Male to USB Female Converter On-The-Go (OTG) Adapter
1 × HDMI to HDMI Mini- M/M, 1-Ft Length
1 × USB to 2.5mm Barrel Jack 5V Cable http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00KH50J68
1 x Extruded Acrylic Plexiglass Rod Clear 3mm (1/8in) x 203mm (8in) http://www.ebay.ca/itm/371237781192
Future additions: I could see adding in laptop speakers for audio although the bluetooth works great with a bluetooth speaker. I would love to add a battery for the screen just to see if I could make it work.
Step 1: Choose OS
I was originally looking to use a Raspberry Pi for this project as there are a few other wall mounted RPi systems out there. Although I have used my Pi as a media console I was not extremely familiar with how I might get all the programs I want to use up and running so I ended up choosing to use Windows as I knew the support existed.
Step 2: Form Factor
I needed this to be a discrete display hanging on the wall not much thicker than existing wall art or mirrors in the home. I determined that I'd have maybe 1/2" - 3/4" of space for the computer behind the frame holding the screen so I needed the computer to be very small. I had seen various chinese mini pc's pop up in my searches in the past and decided to go with the Ainol Mini PC. While I raise an eyebrow at the name choice, it fit my needs fairly well with these specs: Intel Z3735F 1.83 GHz, 2GB RAM, 32GB eMMC, Windows 8.1, 7000mAh battery (acting as a UPS), Wifi & BT 4.0, 2 full size USB, micro SD card slot, mini USB port, mini HDMI port.
I could have gone with a Windows Stick computer but I liked the battery feature and the extra USB ports. The mini pc was actually cheaper than the stick computers which fit with the budget as well.
Step 3: Choose LCD Screen, Compatible Touchscreen Panel, and Compatible Screen Control Board.
This step was a bit tricky to find a LCD screen, with perfectly sized USB touchscreen panel and the proper control board to match the LCD screen. I referenced the instructable as a guide initially, https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Ras... ,however I needed to make sure I could also find a USB touchscreen that matched the exact dimension of the lcd panel.
I ended up contacting njytouch on eBay to see if they had any kits that included the lcd panel, the control board, and a touchscreen. They ended up having a full kit with all the matching components but it was too expensive for my project. I ended up purchasing the USB touchscreen panel and control board from njytouch and buying the same spec LCD screen that was in their kit from another eBay seller.
1) B173RW01 V.5 Laptop LCD LED Screen
2) M.NT68676 VGA DVI HDMI Controller Board Kit for B173RW01 LED Panel 1600X900
3) 17.3" 5 Wire Resistive Touch Panel USB Controller 16:9 For 17.3" LCD Screen
LCD Panel Dimensions:
Active Area : 382.08×214.92 mm
External Dimension : 398.1×232.8×5.8 mm
USB Touchscreen Dimensions:
Active Area: 382.98±0.5mm x 215.77±0.5mm
External Dimension 401.29±0.5mm x 233.3±0.5mm
As you can see, the active area matches very well between the LCD and the Touchscreen. The External dimension is a bit bigger on the Touchscreen but that's ok as its hidden in the frame.
I must say the njytouch had amazing customer support. When I first got my control board and my LCD the colours were off. I contacted njytouch and they were very responsive. They provided the following instructions which solved my display issue:
1. Connect to any of the inputs, VGA, HDMI, DVI, etc.
2. Power up the board and switch off from the 'power' button.
3. Press and hold the 'menu' button, then press the 'power' button briefly, release the 'menu' button.
4. Then press the 'menu' button again.
5. There will now be a hidden factory setting in the OSD menu.
6. Select the factory setting using the + - keys. 7. In the factory settings change the setting 'Lvds Map' from 0 to 1.
Step 4: Frame Assembly
I now had the main components in hand and set out to find a way to mount everything nicely. I originally was going to use a metal picture frame kit like in the above referenced instructable to house everything nicely but my budget wouldn't allow it. I took some scrap 1x pine and made my own frame using a table saw and mitre saw. I didn't want the frame to have too thick of a bezel hindering the touchscreen use so I made a slot the thickness of my screen and glass 1/8" from the top surface.
Run the pine through the table saw to get a width of 1 1/8".
Make a slot in the frame by making multiple passes over the table saw blade or use a dado blade. I do not own a dado blade so after 3-4 passes I checked the slot width to see if it fit over the glass and screen. Continue to make very small passes until the screen fits nicely into the slot. Repeat for all 4 sides.
Cut the ends of the wood at 45 degrees with the mitre saw so that all 4 pieces join like a picture frame.
The end piece also had to make room for the cable that runs from the touchscreen to its usb control board. I used the mitre saw and made a wider notch in the approximate location of the cable so it could fold around the screen in the slot with ease.
Glue the 2 long side pieces and one of the shorter sides together to make a 3 piece assembly. I used some small L brackets to fasten the 4th side of the frame in case I ever have to removed the screen assembly in the future.
Sand, stain, and clearcoat your frame to your liking. I did ours to match some of our other furniture in the house.
Since I wanted access to the USB ports from the outside and the power button on the mini pc I needed a way to make the pc accessible from the side. I traced the profile of the pc on the outside edge and used a router with a 1/2" bit to create a space in the side of the frame for the mini pc to slide into. Depending and what type of pc you use you may need a different approach.
Step 5: Component Assembly
This was the fun part I was waiting for.
I glued the glass USB touchscreen to my LCD panel. You may want to use double sided tape for a less permanent approach however I was trying to keep the profile as low as possible. Slide the glued assembly into the frame. Mounting the 4th side of the frame with the L brackets to the 3 piece assembly. Now you will have a puzzle of components to mount and fit on the backside of the LCD screen.
After a few iterations I found the final position of most of the components for the most part but there were 2 things I had to figure out; 1) I didn't want to power the LCD screen and the PC with two separate power cords 2) How was I going to access the display menu and power buttons?
Display buttons: I decided to install the display button board off to the side of the panel on top of where the mini pc was installed. Luckily the board was the exact depth as the cavity behind the LCD screen (~3/4"). After measuring out where the buttons would be on the outside of the frame some 1/8" holes were drilled. 1/8" plexiglass rods purchased from ebay (http://bit.ly/1IMXmr2) were cut to length inserted into the holes to act as an extension of the buttons inside, I left about 1/8" outside the frame as that felt good to the touch. One rod was cut shorter to sit flush with the frame and sit over the LED on the button board to show the red or green power indicator lights.
Power: The display runs off 12V and the mini PC runs off 5v. I soldered 2 wires onto the leads of the barrel connector on the display control board and those wires fed a DC-DC voltage converter with an USB output (http://amzn.to/1JTfCKq). I bought a USB to 2.5mm barrel jack adapter (http://amzn.to/1ZKwvjD) to power the mini pc from the voltage converter. I now use a single 12V/2A power adapter which powers the display board and charges the mini pc.
Step 6: Syncing and Home Automation
I setup a family Gmail account to use both Google Calendar and Google Keep. With the account setup on the Control Panel and on our mobile devices we can make notes and calendar events that sync with everyone's phone and the control panel. We can see everything on the control panel as we are leaving the house.
I have some outside garage lights that can only be controlled from in the garage so I got some z-wave components (Z-wave stick and z-wave micro switch module) to control the lights from inside the house and downloaded HomeGenie home automation software.
Install a z-wave micro switch module (or a z-wave light switch) into the light switch box that you need to control. Follow instruction on the manufacturers website or that came with the module and use an electrician if required. These are the steps I did:
Push the button on the micro switch to activate it. Push the button on the usb z-wave stick to set it to inclusion mode and go near the micro switch. It should blink faster and then hold for a couple seconds to show that it added the module. I went back t the panel and plugged the z-wave stick into the usb hub connected to the mini pc. Open HomeGenie and go to Configure->Groups and Modules->Select a Group. Pick from the list the z-wave module you want to associate.In the module popup click the Opt button. In the zwave option form click on Association Set. I renamed it to Garage and it worked! I added the module to my HomeGenie dashboard and it was setup and good to go.
Step 7: Wall Mounting
Use some 3/4" aluminum angle and cut it to fit under the top of the wooden frame. Clamp the angle to the frame and drill three holes from the top through the wood and aluminum. Using hot glue I attached 3 nuts over the holes which will allow screws to mount the panel frame to the angle, however you can buy a thicker angle and thread it or use jb weld for a more secure mounting.Drill three holes on the other leg of the angle, this is where the toggle bolt will go through to mount the angle to the wall.
Once my mounting angle was finished I installed a recessed tv outlet box. This was so I could use a low profile power adapter behind the panel inside the recessed box. If you are not familiar with electrical work please hire an electrician to install the outlet. I took power from the feed into the light switch below whee the panel was to be installed. Follow the instructions on the outlet box for installation.
Once the outlet box is in place measure where you want the panel to be and where the toggle bolt holes should go. Drill 3/8" holes in the drywall/plaster for the toggle bolts to pass though. Tighten the toggle bolts to hand tight and then use a level to level the mounting angle.
Place the frame over the angle and match the holes as close as possible. drop 1 screw in each top hole until it seats into the nut and thread to a hand tighten and not to hard.