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Project: Fram'd (w/ photos)

Discussion in 'Modding Worklogs' started by jboles, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. jboles

    jboles Member

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    After seeing a few other examples, I decided to have a go at making an old laptop into a digital picture frame. It's certainly nothing new, and has been done by many other people, but this is my first ever start-from-scratch mod, and I figured that not only would it make a great gift for my parents, it'd also be a talking point for visitors.

    I first read about these many months ago, but was busy with uni etc. so finally during the last week of my holidays I've got around to getting some work done on it!

    Pics/info:

    I forgot to take some pics of the laptop before I ripped it apart, but it was an old IBM Thinkpad with a couple of hurdles:
    - the trackpoint was broken and it wouldn't boot without it: solved with a BIOS hack
    - it wouldn't boot without the keyboard attached: solved by modding the keyboard connector (comment # 11)
    - a flat CMOS battery. It was a size I'd never seen before, but a quick google told me that any 3V source would do, so I grabbed a normal CR2032 battery (I have amassed quite a collection of CMOS batteries salvaged from dead motherboards :lol:)

    Once those problems were fixed, things were pretty straightforward. I used nLite to put together a trimmed-down version of Windows 2000 to fit within the 96mb of RAM I had (the Thinkpad 600 has 32mb onboard, and 2 slots but I only have 32mb DIMMs) and a 512mb partition.

    I picked up a CF to mini-IDE adapter on ebay for a few dollars, and proceeded to install onto the CF card. Though I used a 1gb CF card, I made the partition 512mb for the eventuality that the partition will reach its write-cycle limit (in god knows' how long) after which I can just switch to the other partition. A wifi card and RealVNC make configuration and maintenance a breeze.

    I think the CF and WiFi cards make this project stand out a little among many similar projects... other ones I have seen have used USB flash drives to store photographs, or booted off CDs/hard disks. My one instead is completely silent, and will access its photos off a shared folder on my parents' computer. This will make it very easy to change the photo rotation.

    Anyway, onto the photos.

    [​IMG]
    The photo frame I used, a decent-looking one from Rabbit Photo. Not shown is the MDF backing board.

    [​IMG]
    The screen removed from the laptop

    [​IMG]
    The logic board from the laptop, with the CF card and CF to mini-IDE adapter attached. There was a modem card attached to the white connector just above the IDE connector, but of course there's no need for it so I removed it to save space and weight.

    [​IMG]
    A hole cut into the MDF backing board for the screen. One edge was made wider to compensate for a narrower edge of the screen.

    [​IMG]
    Close up of a small notch cut into the backing board to allow for the screen's backlight cable.

    [​IMG]
    The screen attached into the backing board with hot glue. The inverter circuit board is visible at bottom right, it hasn't yet been attached. Hot glue seems to be perfect for this application. It's a strong adhesive, yet is flexible, which means the whole thing should be tolerant of the odd bump without stuff coming loose.

    [​IMG]
    A test-run... it still works!

    [​IMG]
    As above, without flash

    [​IMG]
    Close-up of the logic board. Wireless card is visible at right.

    [​IMG]
    The whole rear of the frame. The inverter board and CMOS battery have now been hot-glued in place

    [​IMG]
    The front of the frame

    [​IMG]
    Booting up

    [​IMG]
    A custom boot screen added for shits and giggles


    Still to do:
    - A white/light-coloured cardboard border around the front, to hide the backing board and metal border around the screen.
    - Slideshow software
    - A modded power cord (thinner, longer and camouflaged)
    - A way to hang it on the wall. Best way is probably to drill 2 holes in the backing board on either side, and run string between them.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2006
  2. dohzer

    dohzer Member

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    Very nice work.

    Slightly of topic, but is the connector joining the laptop motherboard to the screen a standard one?
    Also, is the a standard protocol for communicating with the screen?
     
  3. Abercrombi3

    Abercrombi3 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Great work man, that looks pro! should make a bunch of them and put them all down a corredor :D
     
  4. nux

    nux Member

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    If you are thinking of hooking one up to a normal PC, think again ;)

    Looks good, I hope to have one mounted and running in the next few weeks. Thread is here.
     
  5. RyoSaeba

    RyoSaeba Member

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    Awesome work there. :thumbup:

    The hanging method you might want to rethink it further. I've had frames dropped down before because the string broke.
     
  6. Blagy

    Blagy Member

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    awsome to see my old laptop been to good use :). very nice jboles :thumbup: :thumbup:
     
  7. dohzer

    dohzer Member

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    Nah, I was acually just more interested in an "embedded systems" type way, and I was just wondering if laptops these days have a standard display output port.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    jboles

    jboles Member

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    Thanks everyone :)

    dohzer: The screen is from the same laptop as the logic board, so all I had to do was rearrange the screen's ribbon cables and plug them back into the same sockets on the logic board.

    nuxie: That thread is an interesting read, I'll comment on a few things discussed:
    - I went with Windows simply because I didn't want to try messing around with drivers in Linux.... Mac OSX is about as close as I get to Linux otherwise :lol:
    - Re: automagically swiping photos off USB keys. I intend to have that too. I'll probably just have an endlessly looping batch file that delays 5 seconds, checks if the USB drive is valid, then uses XXcopy or something to recursively swipe all JPEGs off the key and dump them on the server. An equivalent under Linux would be pretty simple too.
    - If one wants to stick with Windows (as browca04 did in the other thread) I think 2000 is much better than XP, especially if hard disk space is limited or RAM is not upgradeable further (as in this case).
    - The whole thing (everything [laptop, wifi card, cf card, picture frame]except W2K, which is *cough* not yet legal) cost well under $150. Ditching the WiFi and CF cards (using USB photo upload and a hard drive instead) would bring down the cost substantially, at the expense of a little noise and inconvenience.
    - I considered enclosing the whole thing but decided against it in the interests of ventilation and aesthetics. The whole setup is surprisingly thin (I'll take a photo when i next work on it) and it's hard to see that there's actually stuff behind the frame.
    - Slideshow software. I may just go with some photo screensaver. It'll conceal whatever batch script is running in the background (see above) and a 1min startup delay will come in handy allowing the wireless connection to get going when the machine starts up.

    RyoSaeba: I'm actually thinking of heavy duty fishing line or even wire, to be more specific. Or I could glue some kind of metal loop or tab to place on the wall hook, but I don't trust one glob of glue with the entire weight of the thing :) And the frame/backing board are way too thin for screws.
     
  9. SteakTheMooCow

    SteakTheMooCow (Taking a Break)

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    If it's going to go onto a plasterboard get the plasterboard screws and secure one or two screw eyes to the back of the frame... then you could hang it triangularly with fishing line or otherwise. Keep in mind a laptop's weight, stripped and reconfigured, probably weighs less than 2kg and therefore the thinnest wire at Bunnings ($10 or something for 10m (don't quote me on that, it's been a while, sure of the price, just not the amount ($9.96 last time I looked, but didn't check length because it was too weak ;)))).
     
  10. OP
    OP
    jboles

    jboles Member

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    I'm thinking of something like this for the mounting. 2 loops of string for added weight distribution and a modicum of 'redundancy'

    [​IMG]

    Also, here is a quick batch script I put together, it uses Robocopy (a Microsoft tool available freely on the net) and RemoveDrive. It checks for the USB drive every couple of seconds, and when it finds one, it automatically snaffles all the .JPGs off it and then unmounts it. It does all this in a new window so that it's easy to tell when the copying's done. All I have to do will be to walk up to it, plug in the digital camera, wait for the copying to finish, then unplug the camera :)

    Code:
    @echo off
    :start
    :: Main batch loop
    
    :: Delay a little while (couple of seconds)
    ping 127.0.0.1 -n 2 > NUL
    
    :: If the USB drive is connected, snaffle all the JPEGs off it
    if exist g:/ call :snafflepix
    
    :: Loop back to beginning
    goto start
    
    
    :snafflepix
    :: The purpose of 'start /wait cmd /c <command>' is to open the copying in a
    :: new window in front of everything else, so that it's easy to see when it's finished.
    :: /S = recurse subdirs
    :: /R = set retry count for failures, default is (stupidly) 1 million
    :: /W = set retry wait for failures, default is (stupidly) 30sec
    :: /XO = exclude older files, in case 2 copies of the script try to copy concurrently.
    start /wait cmd /c robocopy g:/ testdir *.jpg /S /R:0 /W:0 /XO
    
    :: Unmount the USB drive. RemoveDrive is from:
    ::    http://www.uwe-sieber.de/usbstick_e.html
    removedrive g: -l
    
     
  11. MrSmith

    MrSmith Member

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    Pretty cool, but whats with everyone stealing defyant's style of mod name for now? lol.

    When I started my mod, it was only defyants name, thought i'd do it for fun.. then loads of other people did it :shock:
     
  12. .LiQU!D.

    .LiQU!D. (Banned or Deleted)

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    Dude, that's going to be fucking awesome!
     
  13. fist4jesus

    fist4jesus Member

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  14. xinzhitan14

    xinzhitan14 Member

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    wow this looks amazing.. i heard about this before in one of your other threads.. i believe.. it's a nice idea.. great work! keep it up
     
  15. lil_kimmo

    lil_kimmo Member

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    wow great work love the frame idea... keep it up
     
  16. OP
    OP
    jboles

    jboles Member

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    Well, after seeing a somewhat disparaging remark in the Electronics forum about never-finished modding projects (particularly ones "nam'd" as such) I decided I'd pop in here for an update :)

    I actually finished the thing a few weeks ago, but have been too busy to post an update since then. So here we go :)


    I whipped together a quick extension cable for the frame's power supply, which my dad then put inside the wall. The bottom end comes out underneath a power point, and the transformer sits on the floor at the bottom.
    [​IMG]

    The top end comes out through a (plastered-up) hole in the wall, to plug into the frame.
    [​IMG]

    Rear of the frame, showing the original speakers added to it and the mounting hardware.
    [​IMG]

    Overall it has a very low profile.
    [​IMG]

    Booting up
    [​IMG]

    A short script running on startup to get everything going
    [​IMG]

    Couple of shots of it in action. It's very bright outside so the image quality on the frame isn't the best, but most of the time it's excellent :)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  17. slamaa

    slamaa Member

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    dude that is awsome, how do you use it, mouse, keyboard???
    did you use laptop parts? and how do you load new images on, just change the flash card and the script you made runs them automatically?

    also, wtf is windows 200 picture frame edition, is dat real?

    a worklog would be awsome if you took photo's..


    SlamaA
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2006
  18. Ephphatha

    Ephphatha Member

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    It's set to run through a folder of photos iirc. No input required.
     
  19. OP
    OP
    jboles

    jboles Member

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    Thanks :)

    It has a wifi card and accesses a folder full of photos from my server. Yes, it's made out of an old laptop. The "picture frame edition" is just normal Win2K, the custom boot screen is just a joke. And check out the first post in this thread, it's by no means a worklog but has a few pics during construction.
     
  20. ice_cool

    ice_cool Member

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    Thats so cool mate, :thumbup: I really like the varnished outer frame.
     

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