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New FPP Picture Frame plugin and story about another use for old hardware

Started by CaptainMurdoch, December 12, 2023, 12:34:23 PM

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For years, I have used FPP as a digital picture frame in my living room.  I have a Pi 2B connected to a 16:9 VGA monitor via a VGA adapter on the Pi's GPIO header.  I recently was asked to setup a couple more of these for some relatives, so I decided to enhance things a little bit and make a plugin to make it easier for others to use.  I have added a new "Picture Frame" plugin to the FPP Plugin Manager.

There were several reasons for my original desire to use FPP as a Picture Frame:
- I wanted a bigger digital frame than the tiny ones sold commercially.
- I wanted to setup a system to 'burn in' FPP's updated Scheduler and Playlist code.
- I wanted more control than any commercial version.
- FUTURE - I eventually want the picture frame to automatically switch to running FPP's Virtual Display during show times while still acting as a picture frame during the day.

The new plugin and some recent FPP changes make it easier to setup FPP as a digital picture frame.

The plugin provides a script to download new images from an IMAP mailbox based on an approved sender list.  This script can be called from the playlist or on-demand.  Also included are a couple scripts to turn the HDMI monitor on and off although I may roll these into FPP Commands at some point.

The plugin has an optional "allowed senders" list and allows images from different senders to be downloaded into different subdirectories allowing them to be played more/less frequently in a playlist using the Branch playlist functionality.  You can display images from grandma more frequently than those from cousin Eddie with his RV.

For my living room picture frame, I used an old Pi 2B with 8GB MicroSD and it is hardwired to Ethernet.  The Pi 2B gives me reasonable compile times while not dedicating too much hardware for something that has really low horsepower requirements.  FPP's Image playlist entry caches scaled images, and images are preloaded in the background, so most of the time, the system is idle until it page flips to a new image and loads the next one in the background.

For the picture frames I built recently for some relatives, I went even lower-end and used some old Pi 1B that I had on a shelf.  These have a 4GB SD card, 8GB USB flash drive, and Edimax WiFi dongle.  I picked up some electronics project cases from Amazon to house all the parts.  The monitors I used have 19V power supplies that put out way more current than the monitors need, so I used some old buck converters to grab the 19V DC input and drop it down to 5V to power the Pi.  I added a switch in the side of the case in the event that I needed to get them to power cycle the Pi.  Add on a 12" HDMI->DVI cable from Amazon, a couple old bowling trophy plaques from Value Village, a dremel, a drill, some felt feet, and a can of black spray paint and I now have two picture frames like the ones in the attached pictures.  I cut off most of the stand for each monitor and cut a hole in the bowling plaque to match the remaining stand stub.  I poked the stand up through the hole in the plaque and secure it with nails and epoxy.  I spraypainted the stand and base glossy black and added some felt feet.  The Pi, switch, and buck converter went into the case with a few holes for cables and to allow replacing the USB flash drive if it gets too small.  These also give the Pi 1 B a little ventilation along with some holes drilled into the top close to the back of the monitor.  Since these are WiFi connected and the Pi gets its power  from the monitor's power supply, that means there is only one cable going to the box.

I also run Home Assistant for home automation and the 3rd-party FPP integration from which allows Home Assistant to monitor and control a FPP instance.  For our picture frame, this allows me to turn off the frame (and monitor) when we leave the house or when I trigger the Movie scene in HA via the TV remote control.  Other than that, the picture frame runs from 6:30AM to 9:30PM every day.  It's a 2-minute playlist that loops all day long as shown in the attached screenshots.

The next thing I'm looking at is adding a PIR sensor to one of the frames since one of my relatives has an inconsistent work schedule.  The PIR would turn the monitor on for a specified time frame whenever it detects motion.  I will likely integrate that into the plugin as well since I am trying to keep these systems as 'stock' as possible.  I'm also testing an OpenVPN plugin to allow easy configuration of OpenVPN clients since I want to be able to remote into these frames if I need to fix anything.  I'll post more about that once I get it tested and ready for use by others.

Attached are pictures of one of the frames I built along with screenshots from FPP showing the plugin setup, example playlist, pixel overlay model setup, etc..


Another screenshot of Home Assistant scene.  The 'select source' plays a playlist.  In this case, I have a playlist which turns off the monitor so it doesn't blink at us while we're watching a movie.

In HA, I installed the FPP integration manually, so my configuration.yaml file looks like the text below.  I use HACS and the integration can be installed via HACS, so I want to switch sometime.

  - platform: falcon_pi_player
    name: "Picture Frame"



This is very interesting and I will be looking into this after Christmas.  Only 2 days ago I purchased a commercial version for my wife so the kids can push images to it from college.  so just a bit late but will still be checking this out

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