I know that digital picture frames have been done before. Some are very slick with fancy programs and custom frames while others are old laptops duct taped into a shadow box. This is somewhere in between, but closer to the later.
Step 1: Start With an Old Laptop
This one still works and is running XP. It has no onboard wireless but is still fully functional for what it is.
Step 2: Disassemble Johnny 5
I tried to be careful and not break anything, because I wasn't sure what I may need to reuse. The second image shows the clearance shadow box picture frame I bought at the local grocery/department/campground store.
Step 3: Mount the Monitor: Not the Merrimack
I decided to use a piece of plywood to mount the monitor and the original picture frame back to mount the motherboard.
I used the picture frame back to set the fence on the table saw so the two pieces are exactly the same length/width.
The monitor was mounted with 2 sided tape and some screws.
A cut was made in the plywood to allow the cable to get to the CPU, later this had to be modified so that the cable could reach the plug on the motherboard.
I drilled some holes for the cooling fan.
Step 4: The Brains of the Operation
I used a chisel to remove the plastic rivets holding the aluminum cooling/ground from the old case.
I then used 2 sided tape and some screws to mount it to the picture frame back.
The motherboard was easily mounted to the aluminum and everything I was keeping reinstalled.
I kept the USB ports (all 3), the power port, and the cooling fins.
The PCMCIA port was blocked of, the key board, track pad, speakers, modem ports, CD drive were all removed (I had to reinstall the CD drive later to get rid of an annoying error message that would not allow the computer to boot with a key stroke).
I used my Mat Cutter (for the first time) to cut the mat so that it just hides the edges of the monitor.
Step 5: Making It Work
The digital picture frame was intended as a gift so I removed all files, programs, and applications that were not needed.
The screen save is set to show a slide show of the Pictures folder and change pictures every 3 minutes (the max setting). The screen saver comes on after 1 minute of inactivity.
If a USB mouse and keyboard are plugged in it can still be used as a computer, this is handy for adding photos from a thumb drive.
In normal operation, it is plugged in and the power turned on (Jerry Rigged screw and hinge actuate the original on/off switch on the back). After booting it shows the desktop for one minute then goes into the slide show and continues until unplugged.