Monday, February 23, 2009

Framed on V-Day

So I sort of took the easy way out this Christmas and bought my girlfriend a TV. She subsequently upgraded to an HD signal in her apartment and it looks great but I can't help but feel the gift lacked a little heart. I wanted to make up for that a little this Valentine's Day. We have accumulated a lot of silly pictures of us over the last couple years and I've had the idea of putting them all on a digital picture frame for some time now. Alone, that would have been a step in the right direction but I knew I could do better. While perusing the capabilities of some online machine shops, I came up with the idea of combining said digital picture frame with a custom front bezel. And why not throw a few tri-color LED's in there for good measure. Check out the video for some cool multicolor animation action.

This project took me way more time than I initially imagined. Good thing I started it more than a month before Valentines Day. Choosing the digiframe was not a trivial task. Most of the frames I found where either undersized for my taste or large, expensive and wide screen. I guess the wide aspect screen is good for HD video resolutions but I'd wager most people are going to go primarily with digitized photos which are almost entirely produced with a 4:3 resolution aspect ratio. After a pretty good search, I found an adequate candidate in an 8" Matsunichi model. I took a bit of a gamble with a non name brand selection but that ended up working in my favor since the flimsy construction made ripping it apart pretty easy. And the screen turned out to be just as bright as the reviews said it would... Bonus.

Check this out, I used a friggin laser to cut the letters out of the front bezel. Would have been a lot cooler if not for the smell of burnt plastic. A friggin laser! The rest of the outer casing came together with some high strength plastic glue and screws. And then came the programming. I hacked together some of the ugliest code you can imagine. I really need some training in proper coding techniques. Yikes. But the end result looks pretty good so I'm happy. Though I think during "Randy Jackson presents America's Best Dance Crew" she likes the TV just a little bit more.