Jeff Avery's Blog Ramblings of a Madman

Laptop Digital Picture Frame

January 7, 2009 / by Jeff Avery

OK, have you seen the price of a 15″ DFP (Digital Picture Frame)? You have got to be kidding me. To say I’m cheap is an understatement so it didn’t take too many trips to Costco, looking at their 15″ frames, to have me looking for a better way.
Enter one laptop circa 1980 /sarcasm, one long weekend off work, a day on and and I’m off to the races. I neglected to take pictures of the laptop tear down but it’s pretty much like any other laptop tear down. The only difficult part of this is finding a laptop that will allow you to flip the screen around on the mother board. Most of the laptops I have torn down (albeit this may just be luck on my part) have had a rigid ribbon cable connecting the LCD to the motherboard. It is usually very short and you cannot flip it so your only option here is to situate the mother board so it will attach properly.

This laptop was a Solo 9300 Gateway. It’s a PIII 650 with 128 Megabytes (no, not Gigabytes) of RAM so a little tweaking was needed to run XP. As not to spend the entire weekend combing the registry I used a copy of XPLite I had and removed all the network components, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, and anything else I could get my hands on. I disabled just about every service XP had to offer and set the performance option to best performance (read: disable fisher price interface). I manually disabled any remaining eye candy and it actually boots pretty fast.

For the slide show I used Infranview (Open Source) to create a slide show screen saver and it ran great. I tried ACDsee’s screen saver slide show first but it appears they may have issues with cards that do not support DirectX 9.

Enough babble here are some pictures. This is the back of the LCD. I removed the bezel on the front but left the back cover on and glued (J.B. Weld is my friend) the parts to the back of it.

It never ceases to amaze me how some things can just work out while others tend to boost stock in Excedrin. With the LCD back housing still attached it provided the perfect spacer resting on the bottom of the shadow box frame. Speaking of the shadow box Michael’s $9.00…nice. so since its weight is supported on the bottom of the frame and the back cover was tight enough to hold it in place I did not need to mount the laptop inside the frame at all. Some days are just good. One other thing that can be a problem with this idea is if the power button is integrated in some sort of panel. You can see this one was but I was able to cut it down fairly easy on the band saw without distroying it.

The speaker bar was also integrated with all the DVD controls so I just hacked it down as well and it mounted fairly clean on the back. Notice right below the right speaker I used a mouse ball (old school) as a spacer. I just thought I should keep to the recycled parts theme. The glue ran a bit but J.B. Weld is like a rock when it hardens.

I took the front bezel off the LCD but it could have been left on. It did make the perfect template though for sizing the matting. If I had actually been able to cut the matting properly, without leaving little white traces all over, it would have turned out perfect. If I do it over I will use a white background matting instead of black. I may pull it back off and use a black marker to clean it up.

Her it is mounted in the box with the back cover on. The two small holes at the top are for the speakers, the middle hole is for some air flow, and the bottom hole is for the power button. I also drilled some holes at the bottom of the frame for air. The far right hole is for a PS2 keyboard in case I want to use on. The far left is for the power cord. I added small rubber feet to lift it off the ground some to allow air flow.

Well, here it is all put together.

Here it is booting up.

Here it is running the slideshow.

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