Homemade Digital Picture Frame

Homemade Digital Picture Frame. Yep, thats it. That is what has eaten up my free time for the past month…since the day before Thanksgiving. Cole and I decided to make these near the beginning of November…and we finished them up the day before Christmas. My parents were absolutely stunned…since it was all a big surprise for them!


Here is the little notepad document that I used to record our progress (its a bit long):

November 22nd, 2006 (Day before Thanksgiving) – After first day of digital picture frame project
Today Cole and I started our project – to make digital pictures frames. Our goal for the day was to get a hold of two laptops-or the minimum amount of parts that would work together to do what we wanted (motherboard, memory, lcd). After going to a couple used computer/repair shops, we came upon EZPC. The guy running the shop was really nice, and helped us pick out a couple laptops. We got an IMB Thinkpad 570 (without a power brick) and a Dell CPi (also no power brick). Each had 64mb ram, were built for Windows 98, and had pentium 2 processors. We paid $150 for the pair…but had to hit up ebay later to order power bricks. Those came to about $25 each…they should be here in about a week.

While we were out we also checked out Hobby Lobby to see what they had for framing options. Mainly we checked out some shadow boxes that looked suitable. Also, we saw some nice foam matte stuff that we’ll be able to use for framing out the screen. Lastly we found styrofoam blocks that should be helpful in holding the internals in place when tilting/hanging/etc the assembled frame.

Once back to Cole’s house we whipped out his photo negative scanner to test it and see about how fast it would work on my negatives (I’m thinking I have over 1500…but I have no idea on an exact number). After a bit of convincing the scanner worked great. It takes about 30-40 seconds to scan a frame…though there are index scans that have to be done on pictures that you want rotated and such. Later this weekend (Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving), I think I’ll be spending some quality time with that scanner at Cole’s (his dad wouldn’t let me borrow it, because he has also been busy with it). Hopefully before Christmas I’ll be able to scan the majority of the pictures, to have them ready to broadcast to the frame on Christmas day!! I’m really excited, and I think my parents will love it. Hopefully they’ll spend a lot of time perplexed…just staring and what-not.

November 26th, 2006 (Sunday) – at Cole’s house
Yesterday and today I have been at Cole’s, using his photo-negative scanner. I’m gearing up to have as many photos as possible scanned for Christmas. Between working 3 hours yesterday and just over 2 hours so far today, I’ve scanned about 130 pictures. I think by the time I’m done today I will have scanned over 150 pictures. I’m not sure but I think that’s about a tenth of all of our negatives. So I have a LOT to do before December 25th.

We now know that our power bricks for the laptops are on their way…both were shipped the day after we ordered them. Hopefully they will be here my the middle of this week. Cole has basically gotten the software taken care of – a nice little os/app that will load just to show a slideshow, no strings attached. This will allow us to have the frames operating on VERY LITTLE memory (something less than 20MB). That will leave plenty of space on our 4 gig laptop hard drives, but we may get compact-flash to IDE converters to eliminate the hard drive (only moving part).

November 27th, 2006 (Monday)
The power bricks came in the mail today to Cole’s house. He will hopefully be starting his work on os/software stuff today.

November 29th, 2006 (Wednesday)
Cole and I decided to get compactflash to IDE converters to use CF cards for harddrives. This will allow our frames to be free of moving parts, allowing us to also get rid of noisy fans. I ordered the cards today, and they will show up in 7-21 business days!…but that’s sort of expected since I ordered them from Hong Kong.

December 8th, 2006 (Friday)
The CF to IDE adapters haven’t arrived yet…eek! We’re hoping they’ll show up sometime soon…there is only two weeks until Christmas! We have to get the CF hard drives installed and working, and remove some antenna from my old laptop to use for wireless in my IBM Thinkpad. Once we have that worked out, we’ll have to make a little trip to my house (most of the operation has been happening at Cole’s), so we can figure out network configuration and such to be able grab pictures off the study computer.

Speaking of wireless, tonight Cole and I partly disassembled the IBM and my old Toshiba Satellite – to transfer the miniPCI wireless card into the IBM. We successfully popped the old modem out of the IBM and the wireless card from the Toshiba fit right in. Suprisingly, once we got the IBM booted up, it worked great…Damn Small Linux automatically figured out the drivers and such, and we were up and running with a network connection very easily. The tougher task became disassembling the Toshiba further to remove the antenna…that are mounted behind the LCD screen. We didn’t really get very far, but will finish it up tomorrow…hopefully. And we’ll be waiting for those CF adapters…

December 22, 2006 (Friday)
As our first day off from school for the holiday, Cole and I are trying to wrap this project up. Last weekend we completely disassembled the laptops…getting rid of extra hardware. I was left with my motherboard, screen, and harddrive (THE ADAPTERS STILL AREN’T HERE). Cole has the same stuff left with his Dell, except for his floppy drive which he is using for configuring software and such.

As you can see documentation became less and less detailed as we neared the “due date” for completion. I had much less free time, and too many details to write down anyway. If you want to know more, just ask me. I’ll also hopefully be getting some more pictures from Cole that we took while we were building the things to show the world.

Thanks for looking. Comments, questions, suggestions – all welcomed and appreciated. Hope you all had a great Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year!

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One Response to Homemade Digital Picture Frame

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