Digital Picture Frame

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Project by sandflea posted 03-14-2008 05:31 PM 1502 views 5 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just got a new camera so I thought it would be a good idea to finally show some of my stuff.

I work at a software development company and a few months ago our IT department decided to sell of a bunch of old laptops that were too slow to be useful for the company. They were selling them for only $30 so I tried to think of something I could do with one. Being a computer geek also, I remembered a project I had seen on another forum where a guy took some desktop components and a store bought shadow box style frame and turned it into a ‘digital picture frame’ where the computer is set to always run its screen saver and the screen saver simply scrolls through all the pictures on the hard drive. Remembering that I thought I could 1-up him by building the frame from scratch.

The frame is Spanish cedar with a dutch oil finish. The legs that hold it up are cocobolo. I used Kreg pocket screws to join the face to the carcass because I liked how the color of the screw heads worked with the color and grain pattern of the Spanish cedar. The backing is a piece of hardboard with slits cut into it for air flow to keep the computer components cool.

I removed the laptop guts from its chassis and them removed any hardware that was unnecessary like the speakers, keyboard, etc. I then added a receiver for a wireless keyboard and mouse combo. I flipped the screen around to face away from the motherboard and then mounted the whole thing inside the carcass I built using the mounting holes that the manufacturer built in the laptop parts to mount them to their chassis. I also set an automatic startup so the laptop boots up 5 minutes before I get to work and shuts down 5 minutes after I leave. The frame is networked with my work computer so if I ever need to add more pictures I just copy them from my work computer to the frame’s hard drive. The keyboard and mouse rarely get used but I keep them there in case any settings need to be changed or anything.

When I get the parts I plan on making a larger version of this frame to hang in my living room at home.

-- Sawdust is life

8 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3954 days

#1 posted 03-14-2008 05:33 PM

Great job. That has to be one of ths most expensive picture frames I have seen.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View sandflea's profile


23 posts in 3749 days

#2 posted 03-14-2008 05:58 PM

Out of my pocket it was actually quite cheap. My brother works at a cabinet shop and they had some spanish cedar scraps they were throwing out. He, knowing the wood addict I am saved them for me so those were free. The cocobolo was on sale at Woodcraft for about $5 during a pen turning blank sale they had a while ago and the laptop was only $30. Including the finish, screws and hardboard I think I was only out $40 and I got the wireless keyboard and mouse on sale for $20. Still maybe a lot for a small frame but it was fun and I get a lot of comments on it at work.

-- Sawdust is life

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 3956 days

#3 posted 03-14-2008 06:11 PM

This is a great idea for a way to recycle these old laptops. I could see them selling very well too, as long as you can keep the price down. I found in a quick Google search a 10” model going for around $250.00. has a 21” Viewsonic LCD monitor on sale right now for like $180.00 after the rebate. You really can’t beat that. And I’ll bet it would make into a big seller too.

Good project Sandflea!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View sandflea's profile


23 posts in 3749 days

#4 posted 03-14-2008 07:11 PM

I actually considered building them to sell, but after having worked in the tech support industry for several years and finally getting out of it I have no interest in providing tech support on something I sell. I had considering a video tutorial for people to follow to do their own though, then I can share the idea and avoid tech calls at the same time. That’s probably what I’ll do when I finish fixing up my shop and making it presentable.

-- Sawdust is life

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3788 days

#5 posted 03-14-2008 07:33 PM

This is a very unique frame, Sandflea. And built from scraps, essentially. $40 for a digital frame is a bargain, especially give the size of this one. This definately gives me an idea. I would never have considered anything like this except for your post.

Well done.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4032 days

#6 posted 03-14-2008 08:49 PM

That is really clever. I have a 5×7 digital frame that cost in the neighborhood of $100 – so your project was a bargain. Nice combination of two skills.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3841 days

#7 posted 03-14-2008 09:01 PM

I am impressed. I like the recycle angle, too. Nice work.

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3430 days

#8 posted 02-14-2010 10:57 PM

excellent. its so minor, but the vents have an old-world charm to them :-)

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