The $30 LCD picture frame


LCD picture frames are cool, but they are expensive.With a little time and a little bargain hunting you can make one yourself without spending too much money.


First you need the raw parts.An LCD panel, a picture card reader with video out, and a memory card with pictures on it.The pictures donít need high resolution.All of the pictures I used were resized to be under 40KB.


I used the following:

A Sony PSone LCD screen: $13

A SanDisk card reader:$8

A memory stick $0 (I had it lying around)



First we need to get the LCD screen smaller.To do this you must take it apart.Take out the eight screws:

Note that the screws on top are hidden under little rubber things, and the screws by the speakers are hidden under grills.These need to be removed with a flat edged screwdriver first.Use your finger or a screwdriver to carefully pry the screen apart.Keep the screws from the top two holes, you will need them later.


Remove the speaker connections and the six screws labeled here:


The next step is optional, but it makes it a lot easier.Remove the five screws labeled here and remove the PCB.Be careful, the screen is only attached by a delicate ribbon connector.


Remove the bottom plastic piece which should be loose, then cut off where the speakers were, and where the connecting hinge is.The bottom should look like this (but probably less jagged.):


Put the LCD PCB back in the remaining plastic shell and screw it back together using the top two screws from earlier.Those are the only remaining screws that have holes to use:


Off the bottom of the LCD are a bunch of now loose connectors:

Remove this harness:

Cut off the PCB here:


This will leave you with the two connectors you need:

The power and the video input.


The power (for now) just uses the supplied AC adapter so you donít need to do anything with this.


The video input requires a custom cable (which I didnít have), but you can use it without it with some soldering.I traced the leads and figured out that you can just solder directly to the adapter.Cut a standard RCA cable leaving a standard RCA male adapter on one end, with a length of cable, then the exposed wire.There is a shield (common/ground) and a regular wire within the cable.Separate the two of these and solder them as follows:

The first pin (towards the front right of the connector) is common, the second pin is lead.Test this before you go any further to make sure that you didnít cross the wires.


Now you need something to put this project in.You need something about 6.5Ē x 6.5Ē with a depth of at least ĹĒ.The deeper the better (INSERT JOKE HERE.)I picked up a shadow box at a hobby store for about $3.00:


You can paint or stain the frame if you want.While youíre at the hobby store, get a custom matte made to fit in the frame.You want it to be the size of the frame, with a centered hole that is an rch smaller than the 3x4 LCD. I got mine for free, but at Hobby Lobby it will run about $4.00.


Attach Velcro to the top and two sides of the LCD, just outside of the display:


Now is a good time to test the LCD and adjust the brightness accordingly, as you will not have easy access to these controls after this point.


Attach Velcro to the back side of the matte you purchased.Make sure you attach it to the back and not the front otherwise you will have to go back to the hobby shop to get another one, and it will make you mad (it really pissed me off.)

Line up the LCD to the matte and attach it.


Now itís time to take apart the card reader.The one I used had four screws.They were hidden under rubber feet:


Carefully take it apart and set aside all of the parts:


Take the metal shield and use it as a template to mark for screw holes.Account for enough room on either side for any cables, memory cards, etc. that will stick out of the unit so that they are not seen from the front.You want to mark for two holes in opposite corners:


Reassemble the card reader, but only put in two of the four screws.These are the screw holes that you didnít mark with your template on the previous step.Using some longer #4 screws that you picked up from the hardware store, attach the card reader to the back of the frame using the marks you made as a guide.The front and back will look like this:


Attach the RCA cable from the LCD to the card reader and the AC power supplies to each unit, then fasten the back onto the frame and youíre done: