Digital picture frames are expensive. A small, nearly wallet-sized digital picture frame costs $50 on the low end. Most come with no memory at all, and require the purchase of an additional memory card for another $20 – $40.
Because of the cost, many people are getting creative with their old computers, and turning them into digital picture frames. This is actually quite simple to do, and does not require much knowledge of electronics.
Any old laptop will do. However, it must have a working LCD, a hard drive and memory, an AC adapter, and the ability to turn on and run. If you don’t have an old laptop, than there are many on sites like Ebay and Amazon that are relatively cheap.
Once you have a functioning laptop, proceed with the following steps to make a functioning picture frame that can be mounted on the wall or sat on a desk.
Step 1: Load an operating system onto the laptop. The best for this kind of project is a small Linux distro such as Puppy Linux, Mini-Sabayon, or DS Linux. Simply burn the ISO onto a CD and load it onto the computer.
Step 2: Try to obtain a manual online for your laptop. Use that manual to take off the plastic outer shell and reveal the motherboard. You want to remove as many extra parts as possible. This means the CD/DVD drive, the PCMCIA slot, the battery, and any extra plastic that is not needed. Be sure that you don’t break the any parts, or destroy the keyboard or LCD.
Step 3: Once the extra parts are removed from the laptop, try to fold the LDC behind the laptop so that it lies flush on the back. If it doesn’t, than remove any plastic that is in the way until the screen can be laid flush backwards.
Step 4: Once the LCD can be folded back onto the laptop, you are ready to make a case. The case can be anything you like. Some prefer to build a small wood box to place the device in. Theres use wiring tape to hold the laptop together, and then glue a picture frame over the LCD.
Step 5: You can load pictures onto the laptop any time via the USB port and a separate memory stick or external hard drive. Once the pictures are loaded, you will need an app to scroll them. Most OS’s come with a screen saver that allows you to load pictures and have them scroll through. Mini-Sabayon Linux, for example, has this screen saver. Simply set it to load the screen saver after one minute and load the pictures you want to be included.
Step 6: Plug in the computer, mount it onto a wall, and watch the slide-show!