DAKboard: Create an interactive wall display from a monitor and Raspberry Pi

By Russell Barnes. Posted

Turn an old monitor or picture frame into a connected wall display with DAKboard

DAKboard is a gorgeous web interface that displays photographs, weather and other information (such as events from your calendar or Wunderlist to‑do list).

Hooking up a Raspberry Pi to a monitor is one of the easiest things to do. In fact, that’s pretty much what you do when you first set up a Raspberry Pi.

That’s one of the things that makes DAKboard such an enticing project.

DAKBoard wall display

Use DAKBoard to create an interactive wall display

Start with a fresh installation of the Raspbian OS on your Raspberry Pi.

Begin by connecting to a wireless network. Click on the networking icon in the Menu bar and choose your wireless network.

Now open the Chromium web browser and set up an account at dakboard.com. You’ll be taken to the DAKboard app interface. Before going any further, click the Options tab in DAKboard. Click on your account name (in the menu to the left) and choose Account. See the bit where it says ‘Private URL’ – you’ll need this URL later, so minimise Chrome for now.

Configure Raspbian for DAKBoard

Back in Raspbian, choose Menu > Preferences > Raspberry Pi Configuration. Ensure that Boot is set to Desktop and Auto Login is ticked.

We’re going to turn SSH on, so it’s a good idea to click Change Password first. Enter a new password for your wall display so you can access it remotely. Choose Interfaces and set SSH to Enabled.

Finally, click Localisation and Set Locale. Ensure that the Country is set to your location; it’s ‘GB: Great Britain’ by default. Click on Set Timezone and choose the correct time zone for your locale; it’s UTC (which is the same as GMT) by default.

Now we’ll hide the mouse pointer after a few moments of inactivity. Open Terminal and enter:

sudo apt-get install unclutter

Next, make a couple of system configuration changes.

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

…and add:

# Display orientation. Landscape = 0, Portrait = 1

# Use 24 bit colors

Use CTRL+O, ENTER, and CTRL+X to save and exit Nano.

Now we want to force the screen to stay on, and load the Chromium browser with the DAKboard website on boot. Enter this in Terminal:

sudo nano ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart

Delete the contents of the autostart file and replace it with this:

@xset s off
@xset -dpms
@xset s noblank
@chromium-browser --noerrdialogs --incognito --kiosk http://dakboard.com/app/?p=YOUR_PRIVATE_URL

After saving the file and exiting nano, enter sudo reboot. The Raspberry Pi will restart and when it boots, you will see DAKboard running in full-screen mode (without a mouse pointer).

The next step is to customise the DAKboard interface. Click on Options and use the Date/Time, Calendars, Photos, Weather, and News options to customise the display.

Now you need to fix your Raspberry Pi to the rear of your monitor and hang it on the wall. Dan from DAKboard suggests an IPS display: “You’ll still be able to see it when viewing at an angle greater than 90 degrees,” he explains.

If you plan to wall-mount the monitor, make sure the USB ports face down and not straight out (or the cables will stick into the wall).

Dan recommends a Dell S2340L 23-inch screen. “The plastic case is perfect for this setup,” he says. “There’s almost no bezel on the front, and the back cover pops off easily, leaving the frame which I then attached the photo frame wire to use for hanging.”

  1. Set up DAKboard Using a regular monitor and keyboard, set up the DAKboard software on your Raspberry Pi. Make sure it’s connected to your wireless network and set up SSH so you can access it remotely.DAKBoard wall display
  2. Fix the Raspberry Pi Attach the Raspberry Pi to the rear of the monitor. Using a short HDMI lead will help to contain the cables. A professional edition uses the DSI cable on the Raspberry Pi.DAKBoard wall display
  3. Wall-mount the display Now mount the monitor on your wall. Most monitors have brackets available for this purpose. You can also remove the bezel and use photo frame wire to hang the screen.DAKBoard wall display

You can find more details on the build on Dan’s website. DAKboard also sells a pre-built model, which is a monitor containing a Raspberry Pi, for $299.

From The MagPi store