Creating a digital picture frame is a perennial favorite Raspberry Pi project — it’s useful, relatively simple, and doesn’t require a lot of parts, making it a great first Pi project for beginners. But, as with most things made out of the Raspberry Pi, this seemingly simple concept has been been taken to the next level: here are seven of the most fabulous Pi picture frame projects to inspire you.
The /r/earthporn sub-reddit is a great place to see some of the most amazing things the planet has to offer, while /r/showerthoughts contains some absolute gems of wisdom, like “When jogging, we put on special clothes so people don’t think we are running from or to something.”
Reddit user tvm78 decided to combine the two to produce a frame that displays a beautiful scene from the former, overlaid with the text of a (potentially) insightful thought from the second, to create a random inspirational poster. You’ll have to hop around the comments to get the information on how to create your own (it’s done using a Python script), but the combination of the two is rather magical.
Some other combinations were suggested, too, like /r/architectureporn + /r/nocontext, and /r/abandonedporn + /r/nosleep. If you can think of other good possibilities, share them in the comments below!
Some of the other frames on this list include the weather, but this tutorial from Lachlan Gabb is one of the most comprehensive out there, walking you through every step required to get the frame up and running. If you want to try one of the other frames, but aren’t sure where to start, this tutorial is a good place to read up on the basics, before going on to customize your own.
The home dashboard is a great way to use a picture frame, as it lets you create a customized information display on top of your favorite photos. This particular build from Reddit user eguliyev shows the time, weather, a quote, news, tasks, and stocks. Using the iChrome extension, you can get this same setup or customize one of your own.
iChrome lets you fully customize a new tab page in Chrome, from the basics listed above to social network and RSS feeds, a dictionary, bookmarks, Google notifications, and custom HTML. Aside: even if you don’t use iChrome for a Raspberry Pi home dashboard, you should definitely considering using it to make your new tabs in Chrome more useful.
The redditor who posted this is running a standard Raspbian Jessie GUI with a Chromium browser, to take advantage of the iChrome extension, making this a rather simple project in terms of programming. Notice the difference it makes to add a nice wooden frame.
This Raspberry Pi picture frame is a pretty standard one in most respects, but it can be easily updated remotely, which makes it a bit more fun than some similar options. It pulls items in from a specific folder in Google Drive, so you could even give permission to multiple people to choose the next photo.
The creator of this project – a Hackaday reader Greg – also added a wireless remote to turn the picture frame from photo display to weather display mode, so you can see the local weather with a button press. He used an old computer monitor instead of a smaller Raspberry-Pi specific screen, but you could use anything to hand, and has made all the scripts available to download.
A digital picture frame is a cool idea, but an always-on monitor can burn through electricity. If you want to decrease the amount of energy that you’re using, you can add a motion detector to only turn the screen on when someone is nearby (the detector used in this project is a simple one that you can find in any Arduino starter kit).
This particular frame by Samuel Clay pulls images from Instagram and Flickr, but you could combine his motion detection scripts with any of the other frame designs here.
One of the best parts about a digital picture frame is that you’re not actually limited to real photos — it can display whatever you want! And with the popularity of GIFs, it’s no wonder that someone created a animated GIF frame.
This particular build by Lifehacker author Thorin Klosowski uses the full-screen trending feature from Giphy, but there are tons of great places you could find GIFs specifically for this project. And you could easily combine this project with another one on this list to get a group of hand-selected GIFs on your frame.
Instructables user ozua has taken the simple wall-mounted Google Calendar project and stepped it up with a custom calendar and notification center. The screen itself is an old laptop screen, and it’s mounted to a piece of wood that’s been carved out to fit the Raspberry Pi. The look of Google Calendar is customized with CSS, letting you make tweaks to colors and layouts to better fit your aesthetic.
The entire setup is covered in cork, which you could use to leave notes or reminders (or just to improve upon the look of plywood mounted on the wall).
One of the coolest features of this project is that there are four pushbuttons mounted on the frame and connected to GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi — two of them control the month view (moving forward and backward), one switches between calendar and agenda view, and the fourth refreshes the calendar. Pushed at the same time, the buttons restart the Pi. These are all managed by a Python script.
Your Favorite Pi Picture Frame Projects
These seven projects are great for getting started on your own Raspberry-Pi-powered picture frame, but there are a lot of other possibilities for how you could use this extremely versatile tiny computer to take a generic picture frame up a notch.
Have you tried any of these projects? Or have you built a digital frame of your own? Share your favorites and your experiences below!