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Dashing.io is a neat interface for creating a gorgeous dashboard. The app displays a web-based customizable dashboard with widgets of your choosing. As it’s simple to setup on Linux-based machines, Dashing offers superb opportunities to create a wall-mounted dashboard with a Raspberry Pi.
This project is not only fun, but it creates a functional dashboard. You won’t shouldn’t any in-depth technical knowhow to get this one working, so it’s a great Raspberry Pi project for beginners.
Before making your wall-mounted dashboard, you’ll need a few items. First, you’ll obviously need a Raspberry Pi. Since Dashing.io is quite lightweight, a Raspberry Pi 2 will suffice. That’s what I used and it ran like a champ. A Raspberry Pi Zero should be fine as well. Additionally, you’ll need a microSD card loaded with a Linux operating system. We recommend the standard Raspbian, a Debian-based OS, but you can also use any Linux operating system that’s compatible with a Raspberry Pi. As Dashing.io requires an internet connection, you’ll also need a Wi-Fi adapter or Ethernet cable running into the Pi.
Then you’ll need a display for the Raspberry Pi, means of mounting, and a frame. If you feel like getting fancy, you can snag a Raspberry Pi touchscreen and frame the Pi in that with a shadow box. Alternately, any old monitor and an extra frame or wood to make one will suffice. There’s no shortage of ways to connect your Raspberry Pi to a monitor or TV.
This project can be completed over a remote SSH connection, but since it outputs to the display on Raspberry Pi, it’s probably easier just to do everything from the desktop there with a mouse and keyboard attached.
Before installing Dashing.io, you’ll need a bit of software. Dashing.io needs Ruby 1.9.9 or later as a prerequisite. If you’re using Raspbian, chances are you have that pre-installed. You can check using the following command:
This should return some text telling you the version of Ruby, or that Ruby is not installed.
If you don’t have Ruby installed, you can accomplish this by running the following command:
sudo apt-get install ruby1.9.1-dev
You’ll also need g++. To install that enter the command:
sudo apt-get install g++
With Ruby and g++ installed, we can proceed with installing our Dashing project. Run the command:
sudo gem install dashing
This installs Dashing. Make a new directory called dashboard and change directory into it:
mkdir dashboard && cd dashboard
Let’s set up a new project. Now enter:
dashing new sweet_dashboard_project
By creating a new dashboard project, we’ll have a folder set up for our new dashboard. Feel free to name this whatever you’d like but just remember what you called it. Make sure you’re in the sweet_dashboard_project folder in your command line. Use the the command:
cd dashboard/sweet_dashboard_project sudo gem install bundler
This allows you to run the bundler. To accomplish that, enter:
There’s now a template of a dashboard set up. You’ll soon be able to view this in your web browser, but before doing so, you’ll need to start dashing. Make sure you’re in your sweet_dashboard_project directory in the command line, then enter:
cd dashboard/sweet_dashboard_project dashing start
To view the dashboard, open your web browser and load up
http://raspberrypi.local:3030 if you’re doing this from another machine).
sudo apt-get install npm
Notice that Dashing by default uses port 3030. You may add parameters to edit that port. In a command line, run:
dashing start -p [port number]
This allows you to specify a desired port. Then you would load Dashing with http://localhost:[port number] rather than 3030.
Just like you start Dashing you can also stop it. To stop Dashing, run:
Similarly, if you’d like to run Dashing in the background, add -d to the command:
dashing start -d
Adding Widgets to Dashing
By default, you’ll see a few basic widgets like Buzzwords and a Synergy bar on your dashboard, but it’s fairly useless without adding your own custom functionality. You’ll find a list of available widgets you can tweak. I added a digital clock that displays the date and time. Adding a widget is as simple as loading its assets and editing an HTML file.
How you install a widgets slightly depends on the specific widget. For example, the 12-hour clock widget I loaded up required a command line install plus HTML dashboard file edit. For the Dashing 12-hour clock widget, open a command prompt and navigate to the root Dashing project directory:
Once you’ve changed directories to the root Dashing project, run:
dashing install 6e2f80b4812c5b9474f3
But that’s not all. Now, you need to place the following HTML code in your Dashing project file:
<li data-row="1" data-col="1" data-sizex="1" data-sizey="1"> <div data-view="TwelveHourClock"></div> </li>
You’ll find the project file is under dashboard/sweet_dashboard_project/dashboards. The default install includes an erb file called sample.erb. You can use this or make your own. Using Dashboard, you can make several dashboard designs using erb files with different names. Then simply navigate to
localhost:3030/[name of erb file] to view a different dashboard. Open your desired erb file and add the proper HTML code to add a new widget to your Dashing dashboard.
To add a new widget, it’s as simple as loading the HTML code at the end of the erb template as a new list item. You can edit where in the dashboard layout widgets are by dragging them around in the web app. You’ll need to use HTML logic by placing the list items together within the unordered list (ul) tags. But placement within the list doesn’t dictate dashboard placement – you adjust that later by dragging and dropping widgets.
Mounting Your Dashing Dashboard
There’s no right or wrong way to mount your monitor to the wall. If you’ve got one of the Raspberry Pi touchscreens, you may wish to get a simple frame or shadow box to put around that. You can put your carpentry skills to use and build a frame with wood, or use an existing frame. I used a shadow box and an old 20-inch Samsung monitor.
A Dashingly Good Display: Final Thoughts
Dashing is an excellent project for your Raspberry Pi. It’s incredibly easy to set up, and there’s a decent selection of third-party widgets. There is a small caveat: Dashing is no longer actively maintained or supported, but that just means you shouldn’t expect updates to the main software — everything already there will continue to work. There’s also a fork, called Smashing, which has a similar featureset.
I’d recommend combining Dashing with another project. For instance, try installing the Siri-like Jasper on your Raspberry Pi for a dashboard display that doubles as an open-sourced artificial intelligence assistant. Or try a bit of Raspberry Pi home automation.