The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon

The eas­i­est way to build a Rasp­berry Pi pic­ture frame: Stream­ing with the FRAMEN Pho­to App

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Here is a real treat for all fans of do-it-your­­self Rasp­berry Pi pic­ture frames.

You can now use the free iOS/Android App FRAMEN Pho­to in com­bi­na­tion with your home brewed dig­i­tal pho­to frame.

This means that you can use the advan­tages of the inge­nious FRAMEN Pho­to App for your Rasp­berry Pi project, with­out hav­ing to buy a dig­i­tal pic­ture frame from FRAMEN.

The app makes it very easy to man­age and play back your pic­tures and gives you a remote con­trol for your pho­to frame. Above all, you don't have to set up dif­fer­ent soft­ware pack­ages in Lin­ux any­more; instead, you can get start­ed with­in 30 min­utes.

The FRAMEN Pho­to App is avail­able for iOS and Android and is free of charge in its basic pack­age, which should be plen­ty for most peo­ple.

Here is a short video sum­ma­ry (For Eng­lish sub­ti­tles click on "CC"):

Tell me about FRAMEN

FRAMEN is a young com­pa­ny that has set itself the goal of mak­ing stream­ing tech­nol­o­gy for images just as pop­u­lar as we know it from Net­flix for videos and Spo­ti­fy for music.

The com­pa­ny was found­ed after a suc­cess­ful Kick­starter cam­paign in 2018 and calls Frank­furt am Main/Germany home.

I recent­ly spoke with founder and man­ag­ing direc­tor Dim­itri Gärt­ner about the future of the so far rather sleepy mar­ket for dig­i­tal pic­ture frames and what FRAMEN's approach is to bring a breath of fresh air to this mar­ket.

Although the com­pa­ny also offers its own line of pic­ture frames, FRAMEN Stream­ing Tech­nol­o­gy is brows­er-based and there­fore plat­­form-inde­pen­­dent.

Since I appre­ci­ate the Rasp­berry Pi as a basis for home­made dig­i­tal pic­ture frames, we dis­cussed how to enthuse and sen­si­tize the large Rasp­berry Pi com­mu­ni­ty about image stream­ing.

The idea came up to write an easy to fol­low man­u­al, which allows con­fig­ur­ing a dig­i­tal pic­ture frame with FRAMEN stream­ing tech­nol­o­gy.

FRAMEN allows the free use of the Pho­to App up to a cloud stor­age vol­ume of 2 giga­bytes, which cor­re­sponds to about 1000 images. This should be ade­quate for most of us.

How will FRAMEN ben­e­fit from non-pay­ing users? Well, the advan­tage is in the poten­tial increase of aware­ness for the young com­pa­ny and its prod­ucts. It's the same strat­e­gy pur­sued by, e.g., Teamview­er or Drop­box which offer free ser­vices for pri­vate users with­in a defined scope.

The only thing you need for a free account is an email, and accord­ing to the man­ag­ing direc­tor Dim­itri Gärt­ner, this will not be shared.

I am very curi­ous how the FRAMEN soft­ware and the image stream­ing will be received by Rasp­berry Pi hob­by­ists and would be hap­py to hear your feed­back.

Who is this guide meant for?

For every­one who wants to build a dig­i­tal pic­ture frame with a Rasp­berry Pi and is look­ing for an inte­grat­ed and straight­for­ward soft­ware solu­tion.

For every­one who wants to man­age and oper­ate more than one pic­ture frame with ease.

For every­one who needs to con­trol a dig­i­tal frame from a dis­tance.

For every­one who has already built a dig­i­tal pic­ture frame, but is intrigued by the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the FRAMEN Pho­to Soft­ware and wants to test it with lit­tle adap­ta­tion effort.

I test­ed the set­up with a Rasp­berry Pi 4, but it should work fine with the old­er mod­els 3 or 2.

Cur­rent lim­i­ta­tions of the FRAMEN soft­ware

The FRAMEN app has fas­ci­nat­ed me because it allows very ver­sa­tile image man­age­ment, sup­ports mul­ti­ple plat­forms and is very robust.

But I don't want to hide cur­rent short­com­ings here.

For one thing, there is only a hard cut between images and no smooth cross­fad­ing or oth­er image tran­si­tion effects. This is much more ele­gant with Pi3D.

And sec­ond, playlists can­not be played in ran­dom order at present, and not more than one playlist can be select­ed at a time.

This may be a lit­tle bor­ing over time.

I have addressed these restric­tions with Dim­itri Gärt­ner. He told me that he would be look­ing into how this can be enhanced in future updates.

But you have to keep in mind that this is ver­sion 1.0 of the soft­ware. And even the Apple iPhone didn't have all the fea­tures at launch that we wouldn't do with­out today.

So it could be that these issues will soon dis­ap­pear. Should that be the case, I will be report­ing here.

Aside from that, there is lit­tle that speaks against the FRAMEN App.

How to do it

How to build the phys­i­cal frame you can read in much more detail in my arti­cle "How I built a pro­fes­sion­al dig­i­tal pic­ture frame with a Rasp­berry Pi."

Here is a sum­ma­ry.

Rasp­berry Pi Hard­ware

You will need four com­po­nents and a mon­i­tor:

Rasp­berry Pi 4 Mod­el B

If you still have an old­er Mod­el 3, or a Mod­el 2 with a WiFi don­gle, you can also use this.

A case for the Rasp­berry Pi 4 Mod­el B

Note: Rasp­berry Pi 3 cas­es are not suit­able for the RPi 4 because the loca­tion of the USB and the eth­er­net ports have been swapped.

microSD Card 64GB

32 or 16GB is enough, but the small­er capac­i­ties are hard to find and not cheap­er.

5V Pow­er Sup­ply at 3A

Pick a good one here, or you'll end up with this.

And if you don't have a mon­i­tor yet, make sure it has an HDMI input.

Exam­ples:

Mon­i­tors as of 21 inch­es

Mon­i­tors as of 24 inch­es

For a lot more infor­ma­tion on screens for dig­i­tal pho­to frames, see my arti­cle "10 essen­tial tips for pick­ing the right mon­i­tor for a dig­i­tal pic­ture frame".

You won't need a key­board or a mouse; the pic­ture frame will be set up as a head­less sys­tem.

Set­ting up the Rasp­berry Pi oper­at­ing sys­tem

Tested with: RASPBIAN BUSTER (JUNE 2019)

Now on to the nec­es­sary steps of installing the oper­at­ing sys­tem and a few adjust­ments to trans­form the Rasp­berry Pi into a main­te­­nance-free dig­i­tal pho­to frame.

Any­one who wants to read about the steps in more detail is invit­ed to take a look at this arti­cle.

Go to https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/, click on "Rasp­bian Buster with desk­top" then on " Down­load ZIP."

After that, you unzip the file.

Go to https://www.balena.io/etcher/, down­load the etch­er 64-bit installer for your oper­at­ing sys­tem, and install the appli­ca­tion. With Etch­er you flash the Rasp­bian image to the SD card.

Now insert the micro SD card into the includ­ed adapter and then into your read­er.

Start Etch­er, select the image and your SD card, and click on "Flash."

As soon as Etch­er is ready, your SD card will be eject­ed. Pull the card out and put it back in. This will remount it as a dri­ve.

Enter WiFi set­tings

Launch the Ter­mi­nal app in macOS or Lin­ux (or PuT­TY for Win­dows) and enter:

cd /Volumes/boot
touch ssh
nano wpa_supplicant.conf

After the edi­tor opens, copy and paste the code below.

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev
update_config=1
country=US
network={
ssid="your-SSID"
psk="your-password"
key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
}

Adjust your coun­try code if nec­es­sary, enter your SSID (WiFi sta­tion name) and your pass­word.

Remove the micro SD card from the adapter, insert it into the Rasp­berry Pi, and plug in the pow­er sup­ply.

The ini­tial boot of the sys­tem

Your Rasp­berry Pi is now boot­ing up for the first time and will con­nect to your WiFi. Look for the IP of "rasp­ber­rypi" in your router.

With this, you go back to the ter­mi­nal and con­nect to the Rasp­berry Pi.

ssh pi@your-ip-address

The default pass­word is "rasp­berry" (with­out quotes).

You are now con­nect­ed to your Rasp­berry Pi.

In case you can't find your Rasp­berry Pi in your router, you may have entered an incor­rect pass­word. Please go back a few steps and check your WiFi set­tings.

Basic Set­up

In the Ter­mi­nal enter

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

Allow the sys­tem update to com­plete. Then run the sys­tem con­fig­u­ra­tion.

sudo raspi-config

Make the fol­low­ing changes:

  • In 1: Chan­ge User Pass­word - enter your new pass­word
  • In 2: Net­work Opti­ons - N1: Host­na­me: Pick the name for your Rasp­berry Pi. By default, this is "Raspber­ry­Pi". You can either leave this or cus­tomize it.
  • In 3: Boot Opti­ons - Desktop/CLI: Select B4 Desk­top Autolo­gin
  • In 3: Boot Opti­ons: Wait for Net­work at Boot: Yes
  • In 4: Loca­li­sa­ti­on Opti­ons: Select I2 and fin­d your time­zone.
  • In 7 - Advan­ced Opti­ons A1: Expand File­sys­tem
  • In 7 - Advan­ced Opti­ons A2: Over­scan - No

Go back, click "Fin­ish" and reboot.

Con­fig­ur­ing the auto­mat­ic brows­er launch in FRAMEN Play

Now for the set­tings that auto­mat­i­cal­ly

  • open a brows­er win­dow in full-screen mode when you boot your Rasp­berry Pi,
  • open FRAMEN.TV, and
  • hide annoy­ing mouse point­ers or annoy­ing sys­tem noti­fi­ca­tions.

Stay in the ter­mi­nal and enter:

sudo apt install unclutter
sudo rm /etc/xdg/autostart/piwiz.desktop

Now we cre­ate a start file.

sudo nano /home/pi/start_script.sh

Copy and paste the fol­low­ing text into the edi­tor:

  1. #!/bin/bash
  2. export DISPLAY=:0
  3. unclutter -idle 0.5 -root &
  4. sed -i 's/"exited_cleanly":false/"exited_cleanly":true/' /home/pi/.config/chromium/Default/Preferences
  5. sed -i 's/"exit_type":"Crashed"/"exit_type":"Normal"/' /home/pi/.config/chromium/Default/Preferences
  6. chromium-browser --noerrdialogs --disable-infobars --kiosk https://framen.tv/register & #<<< The & is important
  7. sleep 8 # Allow time for booting and starting browser. Adjust as necessary
  8. xset s reset # Force screen on
  9. xset s 0 # Disable blanking until next boot
  10. xset -dpms # Turn off dpms blanking until next boot

Save and exit the edi­tor.

Then enter

sudo nano /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart

In the edi­tor, you can delete the whole thing and copy this text into it.

@lxpanel --profile LXDE-pi
@pcmanfm --desktop --profile LXDE-pi
bash start_script.sh

Save and exit the edi­tor. Reboot.

Now con­nect the monitor/digital pic­ture frame to your Rasp­berry Pi.

If you haven't already done so, down­load the FRAMEN Pho­to App from the App Store or Google Play onto your smart­phone.

The first time you launch it, a QR Code is shown.In the FRAMEN Pho­to App, go to the fourth icon in the bot­tom row (the mon­i­tor with the plus sign) and scan the QR code.

If you don't have a cam­era, you can also enter the num­ber man­u­al­ly.

After con­nect­ing, go to the Home icon on the app, tap an exist­ing playlist, and tap the paper fly­er icon in the mid­dle. Now the pic­tures should come up on your pic­ture frame.

You can now upload your pho­tos either via the mobile phone's cam­era roll or via app.framen.io on any brows­er.

The free ver­sion allows you to upload 20 images at a time and up to 2GB in alto­geth­er. This equals about 1000 images. Videos are cur­rent­ly not sup­port­ed. The pic­tures can have any aspect ratio. You can choose in the app how you want to dis­play them, depend­ing on the ori­en­ta­tion of your mon­i­tor.

Three pic­ture frames can be con­trolled as part of the free pack­age. You can run a dif­fer­ent playlist on each of them, or let them all run in sync.

The pic­tures are stored on Ama­zon servers and are only acces­si­ble to you. You can also delete them from there at any time. The log­ic is sim­i­lar to that of Drop­box. No one from out­side will look at it unless you explic­it­ly allow it.

How to turn the mon­i­tor on and off

What you can't yet remote con­trol with the FRAMEN Pho­to App is the mon­i­tor itself.

Here is a solu­tion:

Con­clu­sion

The FRAMEN soft­ware for dig­i­tal pic­ture frames is impres­sive. It does not only run on FRAMEN's pic­ture frames but also with every smartTV, smart­phone, tablet, and now with this man­u­al even on the Rasp­berry Pi.

Whether you just want to sniff into this appli­ca­tion area or would like to show fam­i­ly pho­tos in the house with sev­er­al pic­ture frames, with FRAMEN Pho­to and a Rasp­berry Pi, this is very straight­for­ward.

So, what do you think of this solu­tion? Tell me on my feed­back por­tal.