This idea goes back to the year 2003 when I first ran across the concept on
mini-itx.com. Someone made
a Pictureframe PC and had details about it
Ever since I saw this idea, I knew someday I would get to make one of my own.
Fast forward 4 years later. With extra money to burn and an undesirable need
to start a new project, I started on the pictureframe PC. First it involved
collecting the computer parts that would go inside of the picture frame. Here's
a run down on the parts I used for this project...
Hanns-G 19" LCD Monitor
VIA EPIA-EN 1.2GHz fanless motherboard
Corsair 512MB DDR2-533
Hawking 802.11b/g 54Mbps wireless USB adapter
Power Supply -
picoPSU-80 80W power supply & power brick
Input Devices -
Hard Drive -
Toshiba 40GB 5400RPM SATA laptop hard drive
Cooling Fan -
Enermax 80mm case fan
I first used the guide
as an example to go by but with a few upgrades on my project. I decided to use a
19" monitor and as faster motherboard/CPU combo along with more RAM. It wasn't
until I got all the parts enclosed in the pictureframe when I ran into an
overheating problem. The parts alone on the table would run at 55 degrees and it
was stable. But once they were all crammed into the picture frame, they reached
over 66 degrees and the system would lock up. I really wanted to have a fanless
system, but because of my faster components, they created too much heat and a
fan would have to be necessary. The hot parts in the PC from hottest to coolest
were the hard drive, motherboard, and power brick. The hard drive would get too
hot and stay hot keeping the system hot. I originally had a 120GB SATA drive in
there. Because of this, I decided to go with the
Enermax 80mm case fan which runs so quiet it's barely noticeable and it
keeps the system running stable at 53 degrees. I also replaced the 120GB SATA
drive with a 40GB laptop drive and noticed a major decrease in temperature.
My stepdad owns a picture frame store and was able to put together the
picture frame for me. I then used wire and heavy-duty Velcro to hold all the
parts in place. Since I wanted just one wire coming out of the PC, I spliced the
power cables of the PC and the monitor together so just one cable needs to be
plugged into power. Now when the PC is plugged into power, it automatically
comes online. When the PC is powered down, just unplug the PC and plug it back
in to get it powered on again. I decided to do it this way so I would not have
extra buttons protruding through the side of the picture frame, giving the
entire project a clean look.
The PC is running Windows XP Professional and is heavily tweaked for maximum
performance. Since it's main purpose is to run a screensaver, a 1.2GHz CPU and
512MB of RAM is a bit overkill, but gives me room to do other things with this
PC in the future.
Once this is hung on the wall, it can be set to run a variety of
screensavers, from pictures, videos, a clock, etc. The wireless
keyboard/trackball work great and can reach well beyond the 20' distance it's
rated for. This PC is also great for visitors who would like to jump online to
check email as well.
Since my stepdad helped me with this project with framing part of it, I let him borrow it for a few weeks to display in his shop to show
off. I made a screensaver of all his framed work to scroll by. He's told me many
people have came into the shop and were in awe of this machine. I told him if
someone offered enough money for one, I'd put together another one!