Homemade Digital Picture Frame




This Instructable will show you how I built a large Digital Picture Frame, that will blow away anything you can buy at the store!

My Frame uses a 15 inch LCD monitor, that I had laying around the house, but theres no reason you couldn't use a larger one.

This is how I built it, use it as a guide to come up with your own Super Duper Picture Frame!

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Step 1: The Monitor and Frame

-The Monitor-

As I said in the intro, I just happened to have a 15 inch LCD monitor I wasn't using, that was perfect for this project, laying around.

IMPORTANT: Make sure the monitor you use has NO buttons on the front of it.
This is so that, when mounted to the wood picture frame, the buttons wont be pressed against the back of the glass

IMPORTANT: Make sure the monitor has a flat frame on its front side
This is so that it will sit flush when mounted up against the glass of the wooden picture frame.

- To prep the monitor for mounting you will need to remove the bottom mount, and the plastic back cover. (I would guess that this would void the warranty of a new LCD)

-The Frame-

I had the wooden picture frame made at a local framing shop. It's a "shadow box" style frame without a back and has hanging brackets added.
You will have to measure the dimensions of the LCD's Viewable area and get them to cut the matting of the picture frame so that only the LCD's screen is visible.

-Mounting the LCD-

I had some tin lying around, which I used to fabricate the mounting brackets (using a Dremel Rotary Tool). To attach the brackets to the LCD, I used the screws and holes that originally held the LCD's plastic back piece on, and then used wood screws to attach the brackets to the picture frame.

Take your time and make sure that the LCD is square and true (look at the front...not the back!) and then tighten down all the screws.

Step 2: The Brains of the Operation

Now for the stuff that makes it go.....

I used a fanless Mini ITX motherboard that I purchased from Logic Supply as well as a power supply board and plug in, also a Hard Drive Converter is needed to allow a 2.5 laptop hard drive to be connected to the motherboards IDE
I used an old 20 Gig laptop hard drive that I had laying around.

-Mount the Power Supplies: I used a combination of double sided sticky velcro tape, plastic wire ties, and wire tie mounts ( you know the ones with the sticky tape on the back)

Try to mount the power supplies closer to the top of the picture frame, as they will generate some heat.

-Junction Box: I used a metal project box from the local electronics store as the junction box.

I drilled 3 holes in it, and then cut the 3 prong ends off of the power supplies and ran them into the junction box. In the one remaining hole, I ran one end of an extension cord that I cut in half, and merreted all the wires together. ( This is so all the components will be run off of one power cord...)

***Super Heavy Danger Alert***
If you dont know how to hook up AC power, have someone that does, do it for you! Also, Im quit sure that my junction box is ummm... not up to "code". Don't do it this way (lawsuit averted!)

-Start Button: Drill a hole in the top of the wooden frame, near the back, and mount a momentary normaly open push button. (also from the electronics store) This will be used to start the system, and will be connected to the "start" pins of the motherboard.

You will need a 2 pin female square connector on the other end, (steal one from and old computer)

Dont mount the hard drive yet if you are going to install the OS and software outside of the picture frame, like I did.

Step 3: Install OS and Software

I installed all the software outside of the picture frame, I also robbed power to run the cd drive and floppy drive, from one of my computers. (I sure do have alot of extra "stuff" lying around!)

I used an old copy of Windows 98SE that I had, and hacked it a bit by removing the Shutdown and Startup screens to ones I made in MSPaint see Annoyances.org for instructions.

I also went into Regedit and turned off my desktop (so that no Icons will apear) and disabled/hid the task bar.

I set up my network using the motherboards built in LAN ( you could also add wireless if you wanted)

I installed RealVNC to control the Picture Frame remotely.

I searched for a few days to find a Slide show program that I liked, but couldn't.
I finally just wrote my own in Visual Basic, that worked nicely. (Contact me if you would like to use it for your DPF project and I will email it to you.)

Step 4: Mount the Hardware

Mount the hard drive using the sticky-backed zip tie mounts, and zip ties.

Mount the motherboard ( makes sure the bottom of the board isn't touching anything metal!)

I drilled holes through the middle of the sticky-backed zip tie mounts, and ran a screw up through the bottom (the sticky side) I then put the screws through the motherboard mount holes, and tightened them up with some nylock nuts.

Make sure you know where you want the board to be before you peel off the paper from the backs of the zip tie mounts( those little things are sticky!)

Connect the hard drive cable, power cables, LAN and LCD signal cable.

Stand back and enjoy!

-Other Things You Can Do-

Since this guy is just a mini-pc hanging on the wall you could also set it up to:

-display daily weather reports
-daily stock info
-add an infrared sensor and remote control software to control it
-add wireless mouse and keyboard to surf the net
-display tv listings
-add some speakers (or connect it to your stereo) for a wall mounted juke box

The list goes on and on....hope you enjoy!

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19 Discussions


5 months ago

Excellent work. Result looks great. That's one powerful picture viewer!


Question 8 months ago on Introduction

Hello, looks like great project. Can you share visual basic program?
my email is crocolatte(@)mail.com.



4 years ago on Introduction

Hello, I just came accross this instructables and I can tell it is incredible help to me - I want to surprise my grandmom with such a frame, to keep track on us :)

Could you pelase send over the visual basic slideshow script? ahristoff@abv.bg

Thanks a lot!!!


7 years ago on Introduction

I would like to make this frame. Can you please send me your Slide show program at Tapiavw@yahoo.com? Thanks


7 years ago on Introduction

I like this project and am going to make it up. Could you let me have the Slide show please.


8 years ago on Introduction

Great work! Does the Mini ITX board need both the ATX and the P4 power attached to boot? I can't get mine to boot with just the ATX (normal) plug.


10 years ago on Introduction

There are some pretty cheep touch screen kits out there. I'm imagining hanging this thing in up in your kitchen or, even cooler, embedding it in your counter and reading the news, weather, email, or schedule while eating your Wheaties.

1 reply

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

Better have it waterproof for that! An LCD with a very good viewing range would be needed too...


9 years ago on Step 4

I love you intructable
------I just wish i had more stuff "laying around" like you do
I'll try this thanks --------------------o.O


9 years ago on Step 4

I thought your instructible was great . . . i'm doing this for my mom for her birthday  . . . do you still have the slideshow program laying around.

1 reply

Reply 9 years ago on Step 4

ditto - slideshow would be great.

and, what material is encasing the monitor inside the frame?



10 years ago on Introduction

Hi Could I please Have A Copy Of Your Slidehow Program Email me 'Henryandtom@gmail.com' thanks loads p.s yours is like the coolest laptop picture frame I have seen on instructbles And I like how you used windows for it Thanks, Henry


10 years ago on Step 4

GOOD JOB.... THANKS..... how many about heat?


10 years ago on Introduction

Very nice, could you tell me what the power supply is that you used for the motherboard? And how did you wire it to the 20 pin connector? Thanks!


10 years ago on Introduction

looks nice, im planing on making something similar soon,however im just gona mounting the monitor in the frame, the computer is to big to put in the frame, I plan on using it to run linux, with a full screen conky, to display news weather, calendar, download stats etc.


10 years ago on Introduction

This is a nice build with great instruction. I think I might try that jukebox idea. THANKS!


11 years ago on Introduction

Excellent work. Result looks great. That's one powerful picture viewer!


11 years ago on Introduction

Very nice job. Unfortunately I just bought one for my Grandma and don't really have the funds to buy the parts. I don't have them lying around either. If I did I would make one. That said, good job.