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The Cubietruck chronicles - Chapter III: Digital PhotoFrame destiny - Part 1

Started by actkk2000, November 02, 2014, 01:14:38 am

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Hello!! :)

This is the next chapter for,3150.0.html
CT = Cubietruck
DIY = Do it yourself
PS = Power source
RPI = Raspberry Pi
TFT = 7" TFT display
WTF = What the f...

While I was wondering what to do with CT after I managed to bring it back to life and sucessfully connected it to a Lapdock, some unfortunate event happened on my mother's house (nothing to really worry about...)
A couple years ago she got a Phillips Digital PhotoFrame (DPF) similar to this:

It worked well for a long time, until a few months ago it didn't start anymore. After a quick review I found the 5V wall charger was the problem. Since I had the original CT PS without being used at that time, I could spare it and I replaced the broken DPF wall charger. So far so good, a happy mother again...

Then while I was recently tinkering with CT and the Lapdock, she told me the DPF failed again. My first thought was a PS failure, but in that case it will be a big issue since the original DPF PS was 5v and only 650mA and CT PS is 5V 2A, meaning much more amps than needed. If this PS also got burned then the DPF had to be a real electricity blood sucking crap...

But when I tested the DPF I found this time a change of PS was not the answer. I opened it to see if there was something to do, but the circuit is quite compact indeed, very interesting for such small device. Just two little boards with everything, one for processor, memory and lcd interface all integrated and a little one with a 5 keys keyboard for setup and stuff. Nothing else. So if there were something fried it will be much difficult to me to find it...

In the meantime I took the chance to test the original CT PS and add CT to Lapdock and the other project all together. The CT PS was OK. Well, here I was thinking on one side how to fix the DPF and on the other what to with CT, since there was no enough room for 3 boards on my project...
And suddenly it all made sense. Why couln't I use CT to build a DPF and replace the brown one?

I googled it and found some interesting projects for RPI:

The first link caught my attention over the others because it was designed to work with XBMC. And I could use Android and XBMC to make it work easily on CT...
It will be needed an auto loader program to start XBMC after boot ( and also to use the XBMC slideshow screensaver (

But I didn't want to spend much money on that, I wanted to help my mother but if this would be an inconvenience it would be better to tell her to buy a new DPF. Nevertheless, DIY calling is much stronger and I wanted to do something about it by my self.

So the next step will be to find a cheap display for this project. And it turned out I already had one...
From the other project I had a TFT composite monitor that I replaced by a Motorola Lapdock for Atrix.
And a quick comparaison revealed they looked very much alike, at least in size:

The only inconvenience will be that CT does not have a video composite output. No RCA connector like in RPI.
I already had a VGA to RCA cable adapter like this:

But it didn't work because it is for video cards that support TV-out via VGA port, and seems CT doesn't have that feature.
Then the only way to connect the TFT to CT would be through a VGA to RCA converter:
And I finally decided to have one (click to enlarge):

OK, at this point you have to be thinking "WTF? Are you crazy? Why would you pay for something that it is already included in RPI?"
"Why don't you use the RPI as it was intended in all the listed projects for a DPF with a RPI, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel?"
And yes, that would make sense but it turns I'm not crazy... Or am I? ???

Some people worked on the same thing for cubieboard, but with Linux:,1676.0.html,173.msg16505.html#msg16505

Anyway, I was closer to convert CT into a DPF than a RPI which was already working, assembled on a case with a system in place.
And from my point of view, CT time had been passed. It was out too much time, and I already moved onto a new project to replace it, so there was nothing left for CT, just maybe a spare part. In this way it would fulfill a purpose, and would make my mother happy again, she loves her pictures collection.

Another reasons would be Wifi connection, faster boot and faster reading of the flash memory, also more trustable than a SD card, this will work many hours per day every day, more storage space for pictures...
And Android will let me to use a nice live wallpaper which I am fond of:

With that in mind I proceeded to do some tests. First it would be needed to flash CT again with VGA Android image:
It worked like a charm, with one little problem. Due to there was hot wheater here, I noticed CT started to heat as well and eventually to turn off or restart.

When I touched the acrylic I noticed it more than warm... something I didn't realize before. This caused I consider to add something to the build that I never wanted before: a fan.
Then again needed to buy something extra, this time a 3" 12V fan to cool off CT, similar to this:

Fortunately I already had a 12V PS for the TFT and the CT addon which I bought just in case, but I never used it before.
This way I would be able to control both display and fan power feed from the addon and to power off everything from CT.

Here some pictures of the new case built with only the two remaining acrylics and the addon in the middle, over CT. No Sata disk needed. (click to enlarge):

Here testing if CT and the addon could handle power for TFT display and the cooler fan:

Will continue on the next part...,3164.0.html

See you soon!!  :D


Hi there actkk2000

Just to know...why opening each time a new topic instead of doing a new post in a topic called "the Cubietruck Chronicles"... :o
Would be simple to read,  imoo... ;D


It was a silly idea, to make it funny... like an adventure movie  ;D
Besides in this way, titles are catchy and topics are separated...
I realized it would be too long to put all the information in just one topic.
Thank you!


Silly question : I have an old 7 inch Chinese Tablet (are they all made there ??). It is completely dead. I want to see if I can revive the LCD screen so that I can use it as an interface for the Cubieboard 1. Has anyone ever done something like this ? I suppose it has some kind of ribbon cable inside the tablet which should somehow be interfaced to an HDMI adapter. I know if I can get the tablet fixed that it boots into Android again, I can simply install a VNC viewer and access the Cubieboard 1 this way. But I am looking to do this on the cheap. Dont want to spend any money on getting the tablet revived ( I suspect power / battery circuitry). Anyway how can I still use this LCD display ?
Thanks and greetings from South Africa