Nick MacKechnie
#8 wire kinda guy.....

DIY Digital Photo Frame

Thursday, 25 March 2010 10:08 by Nick MacKechnie

HI All,

Over the past few months, I’ve searched about for a decent digital photo frame to display our photos on. In New Zealand we seem to be limited to frames that have photos stored on a USB Stick/Flash drive, and it’s difficult to find photo frames that can be connected to a network in order to pull photos from a chosen source. The issue with this can be the ease at updating photos, and regularity of doing so – So I wanted to automate this as much as possible, and remove the need to physically “plug” something in.

Below is an old Toshiba Tecra S1 which has become the ‘brains’ of my Digital Photo frame.


I did a fair about of searching to see how others had converted laptops – Most had simply pulled the screen off the laptop, twisted the connecting cable between the laptop and the base, and then mounted it into some sort of case, typically a shadow box frame. I decided I wanted to completely remove the laptop from its casing make it look ‘pretty’ :-)

So with this in mind, I measured the full size of the main board, and screen area and depth of all the components, and visited a local framer – The Frame Workshop. He was very obliging, and did a stunning job for the modest sum of NZ$90.

Below is the view of the front of the frame – the black inlay is perspex, surrounded by wooden framing.


View of the frame looking from the inside –> out.


I lined the lcd screen up with the edges of the perspex, and then hot glue was applied in large quantities to hold it in place. I then cut some square timber to place at the top and bottom of the screen (and glued with wood glue), to enable me to screw the 4mm hard wood on top.


The next job was to attach the main board to the hard wood - the more challenging aspect was to find 2.5mm x 20 mm nuts and bolts. I finally managed to track them down, and secured the main board.


View from underneath.


Main board now mounted securely into the frame.


And finally attached the back to the frame.

DSCF8538External Power re-routed to the back, and holes drilled for power on/off and venting


Back of frame completed


And Test – Yes.. still works, phew :-)


I'm using Windows XP to drive the photo frame, and using the default ‘my pictures’ screensaver. The machine boots up and automatically kicks off the screensaver which selects a new photo every few seconds to display.

Here’s the batch file I use in Startup to kick it off.

@Echo off
%systemroot%\system32\ssmypics.scr /s

DSCF8528 DSCF8529

Now the useful part. As I mentioned in the beginning, one of the failings of most photo frames in my opinion, is the requirement to remember to grab the memory stick out of the side, and update the photos etc. What I wanted was the ability to update the photos from any machine I wanted, as well as while I travel via a mobile device (cellphone).  The frame has both a 10/100 network card and a wireless card and is always connected to the internet.

Enter Live Mesh. Mesh gives you the ability to add/remove photos (and files) from any Windows or Mac PC, as well as a Windows mobile cellphone.  So I simply created a mesh folder with my cellphone and a few of our machines and now when I add a new photo to one of the PC’s or my cellphone, it synchronised and updates the ‘photoframe’ – Job done!


Aben Samuel tweeted this on FB, so I decided to get a t-shirt printed :-)


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