Raspberry Pi Digital Signage

Introduction: Raspberry Pi Digital Signage

This is a simple Instructible to build a raspberry pi based digital sign (I use mine in my church lobby)

I will assume you already have some basic computer skills and know a few things about the raspberry pi.

This is not difficult and can really improve the lobby of your church or business.

There are more advanced and even commercial options for doing this but this is the easiest I have found to use.

Note that this option is pictures only so no video files.

Supplies:

Raspberry pi 3 or higher with power supply, sd card, and HDMI cable. (It's possible to use older models but the performance will be laggy and you will have to add a way for it to connect to your network for changing pictures.)

wireless keyboard and mouse (I use a mini keyboard/touchpad combo from amazon)

USB flash drive (8gb+ recommended)

HD Screen to display the pictures on. (We use a 55" screen in our lobby but use whatever size screen works for your setup)

Pictures you want to be displayed. (Why else would you be building this?)

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Step 1: Download Software.

The software that powers this project is the Kodi media player. For the Rpi the version I chose is LibreELEC since it is small and reliable with easy updates.

Get the latest version of LibreELEC at

https://libreelec.tv/

If you don't know how to flash images on an sd card for raspberry pi I recommend following the install instructions on the LibreELEC website or if you are experienced then use your preferred method. (I could write a detailed install guide but better people than me have done so and google has them listed already.)

Step 2: Setup the Software

Connect everything together except the USB flash drive. Sd card goes in the pi and connect the keyboard and mouse dongles and the HDMI to both pi and screen and power cable for the pi.

Boot into LibreElec for the first time and connect to wifi. (It is best to use the wifi that the system will be on once deployed even if you are using a different screen.)

Go into the settings and navigate to the LibreELEC settings then go to services and ensure that SAMBA is turned on and auto-share of external drives is turned on.

Reboot to ensure settings are working for the next step.

Step 3: Add Your Pictures

Put the pictures you want on the USB flash drive, and plug it into the pi. Pictures only! Video is not supportted. ( .png or .jpg files work best)

(I recommend placing them in a folder called "show" and add a folder for holding images you are not currently using but will use in the future - this makes changing pictures easier.)

Note: Make sure the pictures are high enough resolution that they will look clear but not higher than the screen. (It's technically possible to use higher resolution pictures but to prevent issues and future troubleshooting it is not recommended.)

Step 4: Setup the Slideshow.

This is the home stretch.


Navigate to settings/interface/screensaver and set the screensaver to a picture slideshow. (If it is not installed by default use the "get more" link in the list of screensavers to find it and install.) in the settings point it to the folder on your USB where you put the pictures.

Look through the settings for time and transitions and set to your liking with the important option being to keep the aspect ratio of the pictures the same. (This prevents weird stretching of images.)

Play with the options here to find what works for you and looks best for your space and your pictures.

Set the timeout for how fast the screensaver kicks in to 1 min (the lowest setting allowed).

Step 5: Adding and Removing Photos.

To add or remove photos - from any computer on the same network go to the file manager and go to "network".

You will find the shared USB flash drive from the pi in here and can copy files to it to add pictures or delete files to remove them from the slideshow. (Delete is permanent delete, not trash can.)

Step 6: Have Fun!

The system should be fully set up now and displaying your pictures.

If you haven't already then place it in the final location and manage all the wires. (I used velcro to mount it on the back of my screen and zip ties to tidy up the wires.)

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    6 Discussions

    0
    juliushemanth
    juliushemanth

    2 months ago

    Thanks for sharing this. Good to know that LibreELEC can be used for this.

    I had a privilege to do digital Signage project for a startup church and we ended up using "Screenly opensource edition" (https://www.screenly.io/ose/). It was very simple to setup.

    Pros:
    * Can play videos too
    * It's very easy to manage. Screenly has web interface hosted on the Rpi which can be accessed through browser in PC/mobile to manage it(like changing pictures, videos)
    * You can even schedule what to display when, much ahead of time. You could also add an expiry date and time for a pic/video so that it automatically stops displaying that particular pic/video after expiration.

    Cons:
    As of now it supports only on raspberry pi 3(do not support on Rpi 4). Rpi3 do not support dual band wifi, which implies you cannot connect it to 5g wifi, you have to connect it only 2.4g wifi. Intially , our church had only 5g band enabled, now we enabled 2.4g too to solve this problem.

    0
    hotrodwinston
    hotrodwinston

    Reply 2 months ago

    I looked at this option when we set it up (ours has been up since Jan 2016). But remote management is not possible on ose so it was shot down - with libreelec I could switch to Dropbox plugin or OneDrive plugin for the slideshow and remotely manage the slides if it became needed. Also at the time the reviews I was reading on it said it wasn't the most stable. Since we didn't need video we went with libreelec.

    A lot of monitors have usb ports built in, so for groups who don't plan on using the network update feature, you can plug the usb right into the tv (no pi needed) and go through the menu to display it. Only downside is that usb stick needs to be removed to update image and also depeding on the tv, it may not always display on power up until you manually open it with the remote

    0
    hotrodwinston
    hotrodwinston

    Reply 2 months ago

    Absolutely - this is for situations where the screen doesn't support that function or it is in a location that makes using the USB difficult. I am all for reducing points of failure.

    0
    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    2 months ago

    Nice job! Do you have a picture of the finished sign you made?

    0
    hotrodwinston
    hotrodwinston

    Reply 2 months ago

    I plan on adding some next time I go to church. (Where it is mounted)