Well just because I haven't been very active lately doesn't mean that I haven't been up to nerdy things! My latest project? A digital movie-poster frame for my media room. In this article I'll go into the basic (simple) setup I started with. In the following articles, I'll cover some of the more intricate things I got into with this project; including image sizing and adding Raspberry Pi into the mix to get more control over my display.
The idea is simple. So simple in fact that you'll probably wonder why you didn't think of it yourself... I know I did. I should start out by giving full credit to TKNice on Blu-Ray.com for inspiring this whole journey, and believe me it did turn into a journey lol. The concept; turn a large flat screen TV on its side, mount it on the wall, and use it as a digital picture frame.
For the initial "simple" setup, here is a list of thing you're going to need:
- A flat screen television with a slideshow capability, and USB port (most TVs have these now, but make sure you check just in case).
- A wall mount small enough to fit behind your screen.
- A USB thumb drive.
- That's pretty much it.
In the initial thread, it was recommended that you use at least a 42" screen to come as close to the size of an actual movie poster, but if you're using this to display Comic Book covers, art, or even posters... ultimately the size is up to you and your wallet. Since I plan on using mine to primarily display movie posters, I was initially looking for a good deal on a 42" screen (as recommended), but ultimately settled on a 39" Vizio. The reason was simple: price! I just happened to stumble across a really good deal, and couldn't pass it up; a ridiculous clearance price PLUS an additional 20% off because it was an "open box" item!? Pfft... done deal! I had been pricing TVs for about a month already, it was time to take the plunge.
The next thing I needed was a way to hang it on the wall. One thing I had to keep in mind was that I was going to be hanging it vertically, in "portrait mode". This took a bit of research, because I couldn't just go by the suggested screen size since I was going to be using it in a non-traditional manner. A quick check of the box told me that my TV measured 34.64" x 20.34" x 2.48". So I needed a wall mounting kit that was no wider than 20", because that was how tall my screen was (remember it's going to be hung sideways). I also needed to make sure that the bracket could hold the weight of my TV; 12.57 lbs. I ultimately settled on the "Merax Fixed Wall Mount for 26" - 50" Screens" because it was only 17.5" wide, could hold more than 3x the weight of my TV, and it was only $13.99 ($18.98 shipped). The plentiful vertical holes in the bracket meant that I shouldn't have any problem finding some holes that lined up with the ones on the back of my television, and the adjustable width meant that I didn't have to worry about the horizontal spacing of the mounting holes.
Once the mounting hardware arrived, all I had to do was hang the mounting plate on the wall, and attach the brackets to the back of the TV. This should have been simple, but I did run into a bit of a snag; the mounting kit didn't include the size of screws that the back of my screen used. A bit aggravating, but since I wasn't using it the way it was intended (mounting the TV sideways) I should have expected at least one hiccup. A quick check of the manual told me that the 39" Vizios use 12mm M4 screws with a 0.70 mm pitch, all of which meant nothing to me, but the guy at the hardware store was able to find the right ones easy enough with this information; total cost for the screws was 91 cents, including tax for five of them (one extra in case I lost one lol).
From there it was smooth sailing as far as the actual installation was concerned. I loaded up some posters to the thumb drive, put it in the back of the TV, and started the slideshow. I'll cover preparing images for the display in my next article, but suffice to say it was a lot more impressive than I thought it would be!
I've called this the "simple" installation, because for many of you this will work perfectly, and be a great centerpiece in your Media Room, Nerd Cave, or wherever: whether you're displaying movie posters, comic book covers, or just some of your favorite art/photography. I did run into a few things that I didn't like with how the TV's firmware handled the images, so I set out on a mission find a solution to these problems. Most notably it would only recognize the first 217 images on the USB drive, and the longest it would display a picture was about 30 seconds. For most people this won't be an issue, but I had already amassed about 700 movie posters, and wanted them to rotate at a slower rate than my Vizio would allow. My solution took me down a couple of different roads, but it ultimately ended up being pretty simple; use a Raspberry Pi unit to run my display, which would allow me more control over the display. I'll cover this in an upcoming article also, since I'm still waiting them to arrive.
Since I used my Lerbergs to kind of frame my screen, if you're looking for an easy way to build a frame for your display, my man @Hozzy__ detailed a rather eloquent looking frame in his build thread; it's well worth a look-see.