My DIY iPhone Digital Photo Frame

Juan Orozco
Juan Orozco

I like digital photo frames, especially the DIY bunch.  Why buy one when you can make one way cooler - on the cheap?

I am still working on turning my old iBook into one, but with my limited experience of Linux and it's command line interface, it's taking longer than I thought.

[iPhone Frame][1]
iPhone Frame

Previous to the GameBoy DSi announcement, I contemplated turning my SP into a digital frame as well.  But the SP is the last gameboy to play original Gameboy games and advance Gameboy games, so that guy is staying in one piece.

While I finish getting the software ready on the iBook, I thought about converting a small frame into a fancy dock for my iPhone.  I was playing a slideshow of Izzy's antics to Ciri earlier this week on my iPhone when the idea came to me.

As with the iBook, before taking anything apart, I needed to make sure the software would cooperate.  Luckily, the app store has a few choices when it comes to slideshow applications.

The frame itself is pretty straight forward, and cheap.  All I needed was:

  • iPhone (or Touch) with PhotoFrame application - there's a few choices, but PhotoFrame is free 😀
  • cardboard (after a trip to Ikea, we have tons)
  • school glue
  • an unused frame
  • paint (if you want to paint it)
  • small amount of matting (but I guess you could use construction paper, too)
  • a few screws (to screw the back part down, duh.)
  • a handy box cutter (a cutting mat would help too, or a lot of scrap cardboard)
  • and of course, a screwdriver (a drill is funner, though.)

The first step was to cut the matting to size.  Remember to measure twice and stuff.

[iPhone pocket and matting][1]
iPhone pocket and matting

The frame I used was a little deep, so I laid some slices of cardboard below the mat.  This way, the mat would get pressed against the glass instead of wiggling around.  Then, I cut more slices of card board in a sort of L shape to fit around the phone.  Next, I glued it all together, making sure that the slices were aligned.

While the glue dried, I took the frame into the garage and gave it a good coat of spray paint.  I wanted to use a black paint to bring out the image, but all I had on hand was primer gray and a hammered finished metallic paint.  I didn't feel like packing up the kid and drive to Lowe's, so I used the hammered finish stuff.  Anyway, one good coat, then another a few hours later.  It was dry by the next day and looked pretty good.

The "pocket" should be ready by the next day, too.  Although, the glue I used constricted the cardboard a bit after it dried - I should have left something inside the pocket to push against the cardboard.  Oh well.

I aligned the pocket into the frame and screwed it down with the wood screws, and viola!  iPhone Frame!  Just be careful not to drive the screws all the way through. DOH!  Yea, I thought the screws weren't long enough, but they were. >:(

The app on the iPhone will download 10 pictures to the phone (I think it's 10) and then loop between them.  You can set it so it displays photos from either the public photostream or your photostream.  There's other software on the app store that have more options, but most of them aren't free (some are just a buck, that's not too bad. 😛  ) and many don't support Flickr.

A future upgrade will be to create some sort of ejecting mechanism for it.  As it is, I have to turn the frame upside down or pull on the cord to get it out.  In the near future, I'm going to drill some holes in the back for ventilation - it gets a little warm when connected.

It's also not very convenient when the phone rings (a bluetooth headset would solve this problem.), but it still looks really cool on my shelf.