A Frame for Openframe




About: Technology, design, art.

Almost a year ago my friend Jonathan Wohl and I started working on a side project called Openframe (openframe.io), an open source platform for displaying digital art. The idea is to make it really easy for artists, curators and art enthusiasts in general to share, discover and enjoy art in a new format.

Openframe is based on the Raspberry Pi. You just need one of those and an old screen to setup an Openframe. In this tutorial we'll build a frame using a screen we found in the dumpster.

The following is just one idea of how to build a frame — feel free to be creative and modify to your preference!

Things you'll need for the frame

- An LCD display

- A wooden frame

- A screwdriver

- Plywood

- Woodworking tools: ideally a table saw

- Wood glue

(artwork from Patricio Gonzalez Vivo and Anders Hoff)

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Step 1: Get a Display and a Wooden Frame

Any display should work. The Raspberry Pi has HMDI output so ideally the display would have HDMI input, but otherwise you can use an adaptor (VGA>HDMI or DVI>HDMI).

For the frame, we got one from A.I.Friedman that fit perfectly for the 17'' display we found.

Step 2: Remove the Display Stand and Plastic Covers

Although each screen is different, removing the stand and plastic covers should be pretty easy.

First we'll remove the screen stand; some stands have a button you can press to unlatch it, some others have a few screws.

Next we'll remove the screws that hold the back cover to the display body. After that we'll separate the plastic front and back cover using screwdriver. After all the snapping points are removed the front cover should come out pretty easily. You may need to detach the buttons from the cover cover using a small screwdriver.

Then you can flip the screen and remove the back cover. There may be some parts you can remove to clean up the back of the display, like the USB ports which we won't need.

Step 3: Build Spacing Wood Blocks to Support the Screen

Place the display on the back of the frame and push it to one corner.

Measure with precision the gap between the edges of the display and the inner side of the frame both vertically and horizontally. Divide the distances by two—these are the widths of the spacing blocks for top/bottom and left/right. Measure also the depth of the display. This will determine the thickness of the plywood. We were lucky that the height was 3/4'', so we used standard 3/4'' plywood.

From the piece of plywood, we'll cut a strip of each width we determined for the spacers. We'll then cut the strips into blocks that will be used to center the display within the frame.

Step 4: Glue the Blocks to the Frame

Use wood glue to fix the wood blocks to the inner side of the frame. If it's sufficiently tight, there is no need to clamp them; the pressure from the display will act as a clamp.

Step 5: Secure the Display to the Frame

Cut pieces of thin plywood or masonite that will be used to secure the display in place. Use small wood screws to attach the pieces to the wood blocks.

Step 6: The Frame Is Ready!

You can now connect the Raspberry Pi to the frame, and follow the instructions from openframe.io to setup the Openframe software and start displaying art.

Feel free to ask any questions or post your frames here or in Twitter, using #openframe. We'd love to see what you've built!

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    7 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Question about powering the Raspberry Pi - does the frame have two power cables running into it (one for the display, the other for the pi)?

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Hi mutewit, for now yes. We've been thinking about creating a splitter (3D printed probably) to have only one cable running to the frame. We'll update if we (or someone) develops it!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Doesn't the display have a USB port?


    Reply 3 years ago

    Good question sky_eye! We've tried to power the RPi form the display's USB port, but it won't have enough power. It would only work if you'd plug in the the USB type B from a power source or computer (which will add another cable)—then it will work.


    3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing. I will definitely check out openframe - wasn't aware of it until now. Awesome idea!

    Several weeks ago I made something similar, just... offline with a digital photo frame :-)

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    This sound really impressive !