Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Raspberry Pi Digital Picture Frame (Part 1)

A few years ago I purchased a Kodak Pulse email addressable picture frame for my mother.  Though a little expensive at $200 I thought this was a great product. It allowed my siblings and I to send pictures to Mom from our cellphones and other devices. It was fun for Mom as well as she could see pictures of the grandkids almost immediately after an event happened.  Unfortunately the picture frame stopped connecting to my mothers WI-FI network and I was unable to fix it.  I didn't want to spend another $200 thus I began looking at alternatives, old desktops/laptops/tablets and perhaps using flikr, or some other photo sharing service. I didn't want to be tied down to yet another online service.  As I was researching alternatives the Raspberry PI B was announced, this was the perfect solution, small footprint, linux based and cheap, and I probably had stuff laying about the house.

Before I begin describing the build I'd like to give a shout out to Cameron Wiebe for his excellent post on building a Raspberry Pi picture frame some of the instructions below come directly from his article.

What I Built

A digital picture frame that automatically checks a gmail account for new messages then downloads any attached images and automatically displays them. I configured the gmail account for IMAP, and used a Perl script to query the account.

What I Used

Things I bought:
Raspberry PI B (512 MB): $39.99
NetGear USB wireless card. $25.00.
USB keyboard: $7
USB mouse: $3

Things I had laying around:
4GB micro SD card with a bunch of adapters. See pic below.
7" Polaroid monitor, left over from a two screen auto DVD player
Video cable
5V 700mA wall wart left over from an old Nokia cell phone
12 V wall wart to power the monitor borrowed from a USB switch.
4 port unpowered usb hub

Setting up the Raspberry Pi
I started with the instructions here , then went here to download Raspberry Pi Wheezy. I have a MacBook so I followed the excellent instructions here to copy the image to the SD card. Be patient the transfer takes a few minutes. Please read the instructions carefully. If you do it wrong you could trash your system.

Now plug everything in and power up. I was pleasantly surprised everything started up without any issues.  Read Part 2 for complete details to get your Digital Picture Frame up and running.

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