Digital Signage

I’ve been experimenting a bit with Digital Signage. I have a TV set up on the wall in the basement with my Raspberry Pi connected to it so it is the perfect place to try out some signage software.

After trying a couple of signage apps, I put this together using DAKboard. They have a free to use version which allows you to create a screen with some options for layout, background, calendar, weather and news, etc.

DAKBoard

Here I have selected a basic layout and linked my Google calendar, some local weather and I’m cycling photos from one of my albums on Flickr. There’s an option to add a news RSS feed as well, but after a while I decided the screen was too cluttered and removed it.

DAKboard is web based and thus is platform independent. I have created and edited my screen using my Windows 10 computer as well as my Raspberry Pi running Pi OS.

If you want multiple screens and more advanced features, you can upgrade to the Plus version for a monthly fee.

Some of the digital signage apps I’m looking at are:

Raspberry Pi 400

A few weeks ago I bought a Raspberry Pi 400. The Raspberry Pi is a Single Board Computer (SBC) that comes in a variety of flavours. The 400 is basically a Raspberry Pi 4B built into a keyboard.

Raspberry Pi 400

For what it costs (CDN $134.95) it is an impressive bit of technology. Here’s some specs:

ProcessorBroadcom BCM2711 quad-core Cortex-A72
(ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.8GHz
RAM4GB LPDDR4-3200
ConnectivityDual-band (2.4GHz and 5.0GHz) IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac
wireless LAN, Bluetooth 5.0, BLE
Gigabit Ethernet
2 × USB 3.0 and 1 × USB 2.0 ports
GPIOHorizontal 40-pin GPIO header 
Video & sound2 × micro HDMI ports (supports up to 4Kp60)
MultimediaH.265 (4Kp60 decode);
H.264 (1080p60 decode, 1080p30 encode);
OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics
SD card supportMicroSD card slot for operating system and data storage
Keyboard78 key compact keyboard, US Keyboard Layout
Power5V DC via USB connector
Operating temperature0°C to +50°C
Dimensions286 mm × 122 mm × 23 mm (maximum)

The Pi runs a version of Linux called Raspberry Pi OS which is based on the Debian distribution. Learning Linux wasn’t too bad once you catch on to the way things are done, which is different from Windows.

My rationale for buying the Pi was that I needed a dedicated computer to run my PROVer 3018 CNC machine. My original intent was to use the Pi, but because it requires a monitor I found it easier to just move my Windows 10 laptop to the workshop.

My Raspberry Pi 400 has now replaced my Windows 10 laptop as my everyday computer. So far it has handled every task I’ve given it: web browsing, email, spreadsheets, word processing and presentations. The Pi OS comes with LibreOffice software which does everything that Microsoft Office does, is fully compatible with MS Office and costs exactly $0.00

Component Kit for Raspberry Pi

All Pi’s come with a set of I/O pins. The Pi 400 has 40 pin I/O which can be programmed using Python. I bought a component kit which includes an assortment of resistors, LEDs, switches, etc which you can control from the PI using Python.

I have so much more to say about this amazing machine. So I’m sure there will be more posts about it in the future.

If you’re interested in a Raspberry Pi, I purchased mine from BuyaPi.ca and I highly recommend them. Their customer service was great.