Inexpensive Touchscreen "Life Command Center" Using Pine64




About: Love making stuff.

After deciding to back the Pine64 (similar to the Raspberry Pi) on Kickstarter I needed to figure out a cool project to use it with. After getting the Pine64 working with Android and finding a relatively cheap touchscreen LCD on eBay I had the idea to build a "command center" for my life and place it in my kitchen to replace my existing family calendar and cork board.

The general idea was to have a large touchscreen monitor that used Android widgets to provide some of the following functions:

  • Shared Calendar (view and add)
  • IP Camera viewer
  • Stock Ticker
  • Weather (w/ radar)
  • News
  • Sports Scores

Overall the whole project worked out great and cost me around 150 (most of it was the touch screen). I'd love to hear ideas on how to make it even better, more comments the better.

What makes the Pine64 unique for this project is that currently Raspberry Pis cannot run the full Android OS. The Pine64 2gb runs it pretty well!

Step 1: Pine64 Setup

The Pine64 is a relatively inexpensive and powerful System on a Chip. For this project I used the $29 2b version, . The 2gb version might be overkill for this project but it's what I had handy.

Since I needed Internet connectivity I also used the Wifi module which just attached to the top of the board -

From there the setup is pretty easy. First, you need to burn the Android OS on to a MicroSD card - here is the link and instructions -

For the monitor I found a great deal on a Dell e2014tt 20" touchscreen monitor on eBay. Setting up the touchscreen was really easy, basically just connect the USB connector on the Pine64 to the USB on the monitor and then connect the HDMI ports on the Pine64 and monitor.

At this point you can connect a power supply (5V) to the pine 64 and you will basically have a 20 inch tablet running stock Android.

Step 2: Android Setup

Now that you have your Android OS setup you basically can configure it however you want. The first step is to get your Google account setup so you can use Google Play to download additional apps and widgets. Once I setup the account the first thing I downloaded was the Apex Launcher which I found had a number of great features for this type of project. I recommend you play around with the Apex Launcher settings to find what you like best.

From there I basically found widgets that I liked and configured the various screens. Here are the widgets I used:

  • Digi Clock - Highly Customizable clock widgets
  • Business Calendar 2 - This works with my shared Google Calendar so I can display daily and monthly views of my calendar.
  • Accuweather - provide the local 3 day forecast
  • My Radar - provides an icon that when clicked opens up a detailed weather radar for the area
  • Brilliant Quotes - Gives me a quote of the day
  • Countdown+ Reminders - Create countdowns to specific events
  • Imperihome - I use this to control most of my home automation devices (alarm, lights, Nest)
  • IP Cam Viewer - I can see the camera at my front door
  • Feedly - News feeds
  • Google Keep - For lists of groceries and Todo lists
  • theScore - Sports Scores
  • Ticker - for Stock quotes.

I also used an app called SetOrientation to force the tablet to be in Portrait orientation at all times.

Step 3: Mount & Finishing Touches

So now that I had things working the way I wanted I wanted to make it permanent. Basically the monitor had 3 cables going to it (USB, HDMI and Power). I drilled a small whole in a cabinet in my kitchen and ran the 3 wires into a cabinet where I mounted the Pine64.

The monitor was mounted to the side of the cabinet using a VESA mount I found on Amazon -

At this point things looked good but I didn't like the exposed sides and wires, so I built a simple frame to cover the wires making it look like it belonged in the kitchen. This was done with just a few pieces of pine.

I keep looking for additional widgets to add or ways to further integrate it into my life further. Very interested to thoughts and ideas on how to improve this.



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12 Discussions


9 months ago

I know this is an older intractable, but I just built a similar one. I too was a Pine Kickstarter backer, and it has been sitting on a shelf waiting for me to find a use for. I had found this Instructable and so I kept watching eBay for a monitor to use with it. Well after 2 years or so, I finally won a Planar 22inch monitor at a good price. I used the Pine Android 7.1 image, a 64GB Samsung micro SD card and I was up and going. I installed Rotation Lock to force landscape mode for the Weatherbug app, loaded up Shop 'n Cook mobile (to read my recipes from Shop 'n Cook pro), Plex (for music and video) and Moon+ reader (access to cookbooks on my Calibre eBook server).

I was able to remove the Planar screen from the desktop base and that gave me a VESA 100X100 grid that attached to the Monoprice iPad mount that I had existing in the kitchen that had an old iPad Air attached. The Pine A64 went in the Playbox enclosure that was part of the Kickstarter, and I used Command Strips to attach that to the back of the monitor. The Planar built in speakers leave a lot to be desired, so I attached a JBL bluetooth speaker to the mount arm with some zip ties.

Obviously this gives a bigger screen, but more importantly, the Pine A64 is more up to date and even though it is Android instead of IOS, it runs everything without crashing/slowness that the outdated iPad had.

I am very happy with my result and want to give thanks to FrankA2 for the idea and instructions! Thanks!!


1 year ago

Great how-to!

I have a RPi3, a couple of Android boxes and a 23" Dell MultiTouch display (S2340T) that I am attempting to use to build a similar "Life Command Center" to mimic the functionality of the Samsung FamilyHub refrigerator display (less the refrigerator). My first attempt was on RPi Raspbian but my complete ignorance to coding quickly stifled that plan. While then [single point] touch interface worked, my hope of finding a single good app or a suitable compilation of apps proved fruitless. My second and third attempts were using my Android boxes (Minix NEO U9-H and ABox A1 Plus) but neither would allow touch interface nor could I get either to enter portrait screen mode, even with the app you suggest above. My next plan is to either find an Android build for the RPi or purchase a Pine64 like you have. FYI: The best price I could find on the Pine64 1GB was $35 on Ebay.

Do you know if it is still true that Android won't run on a RaspberryPi? Even the newer RPi3? Can the Pine64 run a newer version of Android? Like Android v7?


1 year ago

Yea, its still kicking just fine.


1 year ago

I'm curious if you still using this. I'm really interested in making one as well. PINE64 has more updated Android images but I would use this one if it is still working. Thanks for doing this!!


1 year ago

Hey Frank, I'm from Australia and I'm interested in which monitor you are using. Is there any other big touch screen that is compatible with the pine64.?



2 years ago

Great project Frank and affordable, congrats!

One question though, what made you go through basically building a big tablet instead of going just for buying an Android tablet with a big screen?

Do you see any advantages in terms of functionality compared to a tablet?

2 replies

Reply 2 years ago

How much would it cost you to buy a 20" tablet? Also, you have the fun of building it yourself.


Reply 2 years ago

He used a 20 inch touch screen monitor which cost him $90 bucks which is cheap and a pine64.


2 years ago

The dell specs say that monitor is 1600x900 max resolution. Is the desktop size correct on this monitor, or do you have areas that you can't see? My Pine64 is only sized properly on a 1080 screen.


2 years ago

So, do you suppose any Touchscreen with USB input will be supported by Android in this kind of configuration?


Reply 2 years ago

I got the monitor off ebay for around $90 (haven't seen as good of a deal since).