Surframe V2 - Surfboard Photo Frame

It’s a Sunday…and it’s raining! So why not revisit one of the old projects and see if we could make some improvements! I’ve had these pine panel in the workshop for months and figured it was a good time to do some revisions. Every time I have made a photo frame like this the photo tends to get drowned out. So we went big! 12″ x 28″! That’s 304mm x 711mm for us metric minded people. Going that big had me playing with the size of the board and no doubt you can tell by the pics where I made the errors. Can you spot them?


CNC - The lazy man's router...

The CNC router has served me well. Even though I don’t really do a lot with it, it sure makes cutting 2D items super easy and quick. For this design, I decided to widen the board slightly so that the corners of where the photo and acrylic sit is a bit stronger. I was a bit worried that where the pine is laminated it could split apart. However, after cutting it seems to be pretty strong. The laminated panels I’m using are 450mm wide and somehow, as you can see I managed to cut outside the panel slightly. This was because I got a bit lazy and didn’t measure properly. (I also assumed my ‘zero’ reference points were wider than the cut…obviously not!)

Also, not sure if you have spotted it, but I had to use the ’tile’ function in my CAM software as the router is not long enough. This can be tricky, but having one straight edge is good to slide the panel through. This keeps everything aligned.


Manual Labour

I still have not figured out how to do a bevelled edge on my router, so against my will, I did this by hand. This gives the frame a bit more of that actual surfboard feel. It’s the little things that finish it off. Oh, I also sanded a whole lot. 250grit, 120 grit and even 1200 wet and dry to see if I could get that ultra smooth look.


okay, okay, so I made two frames...

As you may have noticed I did make two frames. The first was only 12″ x 18″. I felt the picture was drowned out a bit by the board, so I went to the larger format which I think will be a much better setup. The first frame I finished in a clear coat stain. I wanted to try and make the Pine ‘pop’. I am still undecided on this and will try some different stains over the next week or so. Anyhoo, I am sure you are sick of reading my babble so check out the progress pics below.


Look Dad, I dug a hole... (Movie: The Castle)

 


PiFrame - Surfboard

The idea behind this was to create an aesthetically pleasing frame for an old screen that I had lying around. No chance was I going to create a standard boring square frame and hang this on the wall. It has been done before…. A few weeks prior to making the surfboard frame I had seen a really nice piece of static wall art with a massive photo framed into a board. It looked unreal and was the inspiration for this surfboard PiFrame.


Parts List

  • Suitable wooden panel approx 18-20mm thick. (I used 1800x600 Panel, 18mm thick)
  • An old LCD monitor (Preferably with buttons including power on the bottom or back. not on the front.)
  • A Solid wall mount (I used a small VESA mount extendable arm - yes it holds the weight fine....)
  • RPI2 with Raspbian installed.
  • 5v PSU - (I used good quality Meanwell enclosed PSU)
  • HDMI cable
  • USB wifi module
  • 240v IEC cable - Y cable with two inputs.


The Frame

For the Initial board I decided to use the workshop CNC router to speed up the process. The first thing we did was decide upon the shape for the board. The classic thruster shape seemed like the best choice as we could scale it down to fit the 1800×600 wooden panel easily. After drawing up the basic board shape in solid works I moved the drawing over to Aspire. We use Aspire to create our tool paths for the CNC. We then measured the outer edges of the monitor without compensation. The LCD monitor needed to press fit nicely into the wooden panel.

Cutting out the basic template is pretty quick and easy with the CNC router. After we have the basic frame, a quick sand all over using 80grit and 120 grit sandpaper…..then some wet and dry. A base coat of blue paint was applied and a light wash of white. Another quick sand to give it the ‘weathered’ look and a coat of clear varnish has the frame ready to seat the LCD monitor and electronics.


The Hardware

The cut-out for the LCD into the frame was just about perfect and the monitor pressed in nicely, at this stage we didn’t really even need to secure it to the screen as it was a very nice fit. (You may want to affix the frame to the monitor!) Mounting of the hobby enclosure was through 4 x self tapping screws. Just make sure you do not punch through the front of the frame. The electronics hobby box was a bit of a mash together as you can tell, but if you spend a bit more time on it, im sure you can mount everything a bit nicer than what I have.

For the wall mount we decided that the most flexible option was the LCD monitor swing arm. You need to be careful with the weight on these things, however after a bit of experimenting we found that the short arm was perfect and stable enough to hold the weight of the LCD, the frame and the electronics.


The Software

  • Raspbian OS on RPi
  • Sign Up for an account at DAKboard.com (This is a BETA web configuration I used to display items in the frame)
  • Install Chromium web browser on the PI. (A perfect browser for Kiosk mode - see Dakboard.com for install)

I stumbled accross a little web site that specialises in turning a monitor into a useful device that is actually asthetically pleasing. It involves setting up an account and setting the Pi’s web browser to kiosk mode and loading the page in full screen. Once loaded it can show data such as, Date, Time, Weather, iCal calendar entries and link to dropbox or flikr to display HD background photos. Not a bad setup, but i stress that it is in BETA and has a few bugs. I believe there are other project floating about that can do similar. (Post them in the comments, I’m keen to explore other possibilities.)


What Next?

Let me know if you want a detailed article on all the installation steps including step-by-step install of the software. Please comment below.