Analog TV Digital Picture Frame


Repurposing an old television.

I’ve always been interested in new technology that could have existed years ago. For example, the household TV could have been used since at least the 1980s to display family pictures; imagine a service that takes your photos, scans them, and sends you back a VHS tape.


I don’t recall ever seeing such a service, though I was perhaps too young to have been in the market for it anyway. In any case, that idea really only makes sense in the context of the modern day, where we can buy digital picture frames on impulse at Target.


And in that context it’s ironic. Or amusing. So fast forward to now and, partly as a proof of concept and partly just to amuse ourselves, we built this:

[vimeo 87426740 w=700]

This particular implementation was made around a readily available single board computer, about the size of a credit card, and a few other odds and ends to tie it all together. The system wirelessly downloads new photos from my (or any) Flickr account and displays them on the screen in a random order.


You might have noticed that pictures of the actual device are conspicuously absent. We’ll post those to a separate build log at some point in the future. For now, it resides in a bundle about the size of two packs of cards, along with another bundle of wall-wart power supplies, strapped together along the power cable. In a future implementation, such as for a gallery setting, the entire assemblage will be placed directly inside the TV. We expect to have to remove the individual components from their enclosures and wire them directly together, wrapping them in insulating tape or potting them in epoxy to let them sit safely among the high voltage components in the TV.