Saturday, June 24, 2006

Digital Picture Frame


I've tried in the past to make my own digital picture frame. With many of the ones out there not terribly expensive, but actually having monthly fees per month (which is insane). Prices have really fallen on units like these, so what I did wasn't a tremendous cost savings, but it does allow you to customize it to your liking and mine can actually do a lot more if I feel like doing some upgrades.

Before we moved to North Carolina, I had built a larger one out of an old internet appliance called an I-Opener. It was a 10" passive matrix display, and loud. On the plus side, I had it running Windows Server 2003 and it had a wireless usb connection to the network. Not bad for a computer running a 200Mhz processor. By alas, it was too loud for my wife to accept in the living room and it just didn't look right.

I'm not going to go through a serious step by step process with pictures because what took me about a month last year, only took my an evening and I got it going.

The digital picture frame you see above is make up of only 4 parts.

1. An 8" LCD TV. I chose the Buslink 8" LCD TV because I could get it for $90 after coupon on buy.com. An 8" screen will fit exactly into a 5x7 frame. This is definitely the highest priced item.
2. Sandisk SDV1-A . Truth be told, I went as cheap as I could on this. This is simply a digital card reader for display on the tv. It doesn't matter what I model you get as long as it support RCA video out and it will do a slideshow. If you want to get really fancy, some of the card readers for televisions support things like music and video. I went with the one that was $18 after coupon on buy.com. I think I must have bought one of the last ones they had but you can get it elsewhere.
3. A memory card. You don't need a very big memory card, and the ridiculously small ones that comes with new digital cameras work fine unless you need a really large variety of pictures. Lucky for me I've got a couple compact flash cards just collecting dust and I pulled out my 256mb and popped it in.
4. Any 5x7 frame that is to your liking. I chose a black one at target that about $20.

Total cost: ~$128
I also picked up some hooks that I screwed into the back of the frame to mount the tv onto it. The best part of the tv is it already has a stand built into it to keep the picture from up! I plugged everything together and discovered I had no way of turning the tv on. So I drilled a small hole for the remote control sensor on the tv and had it up and going. The Sandisk card reader has a remote of its own so thats how I know how 2 remotes for this thing.

Like I said, I had it going in one evening. My only regret was not getting the proper tools so the wood around the hole for the remote sensor is a little bit raised on the front and I had to take a sharpee to it to make it black again, but I'm okay with it. For some reason, that imperfection is a lot more obvious in a photo than real life so I'm not posting it with the flash on. :)

Since the tv supports rca in, I could conceivably hook up anything to it in a pinch. I could put a dvd player up to it and bring it into the bedroom since we don't have a tv in there. If I wanted to get real fancy, I'd mount the card reader to the back, but at this point since all of it is black it really doesn't look too bad.

Definitely a lot quieter (virtually silent) and better looking than the i-opener turned out last year.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, you are broadcasting my face over the internet, im not sure how I feel about that w/o my consent...HA. What is that a pic from, cause I don't remember taking that at all

Tony Real said...

That was from when Mom had made some chocolate covered strawberries and they were so large we were comparing them to the size of your cell phone.

It just happened to be the picture that was up when I snapped the shot. I can change it if need be. But it is good to know you are reading my blog!

Anonymous said...

Naw, its cool...I chime in from time to time.

shannonm said...

You need to show pics of the i-opener in all it's glory

Anonymous said...

Is there something off-the-shelf that does this too?

You know how lazy I can get...