The Other Side Podcast Network :  Our other shows
with Nate and Yannick
A tech-oriented DIY podcast, from the Other Side Podcast Network

Binding posts, power supply, and containers.

DIY Power Supply
DIY Power Supply

In this episode, recorded about a year ago, Yannick and Nate are joined by Wayne, host of the – now in hiatus – Binary Times podcast. They talk about a DIY power supply Wayne built. Then, they switch to computers and containers, with Wayne’s experience with Docker. Nate finishes the show by talking about his live stream about installing OpenSUSE.

DIY Power Supply
DIY Power Supply
Buck/boost converter - LTC3780
Buck/boost converter – LTC3780
ATX Power Supply Pinout
ATX Power Supply Pinout

All things Tasmota

On june 23, 2020, Nate and Yannick were joined by Avery to talk with him about Tasmota, an opensource firmware for ESP 8266 devices. And not just for the bare microcontroller itself, but for a lot of devices, 1971 at the time of writing ! Yannick had a super secret project that he didn’t want to talk about, and Nate had something to say at the end of the show but the conversation was so great, that he didn’t get a chance !

Raspberry Pi Powered LCD Chalkboard Smart Sign

Whenever technology and art meet in a very useful product, I can’t help but get excited and think about the applications of where a thing can be used. Instructables, yet again provides another incredible idea for something you can build as a life enhancement.

LCD Chalkboard Smart Sign on

Why this is an interesting project

I find the notion of combining a chalk board and a Raspberry Pi Zero into a single unit, can be valuable at so many levels. In this case, using it to present a positive message along with some weather information can be useful in an office, church or perhaps as a message center in your house. Very often the kitchen refrigerator becomes the message center with notes stuck to it, but maybe something like this would be more appropriate and even more efficient.

I have also thought about something like to build into my home education center for my kids. Special notes of the day or maybe their schedule, maybe just their memory work, there are many possibilities with this concept that make me think that there is so much more I could do with this base idea. Especially using a Raspberry Pi W, the whole thing could run off of a Lithium Polymer pack that that could potentially be large enough to power the screen as well and maybe just need to charge periodically.

There are so many bunny trails I can take this down and find quite the variety of uses. public message center for the office, community center, or home can be not only fun but also quite practical. Depending on the location and its implementation some of the other details may need to be tweaked.

Interesting notes about Instructions

The supply list is pretty minimal, really. If you have any significant investment in the Single Board Computer (SBC) world, you may have much of that and if you are a DIY sort, you will also likely have a lot of the tools necessary to make the chalkboard itself.

Electronics Supplies

  • Raspberry Pi Zero W (or similar, the Instructables article has a Zero W with headers attached
  • SD Card
  • Power Supply (provided through the starter kit)
  • LCD Screen (scavenged from an e-waste laptop)
  • LCD Controller board specific to the Screen
  • Power Strip
  • HDMI Cord
  • Wireless Keyboard and mouse
  • Computer to download, image the SD Card and configure the Rasperry Pi

Frame / Chalkboard Supplies

  • Pine board but any board should do
  • Plywood sheet (4 ft x 8 ft)
  • Krylon Chalkboard paint
  • Primer paint
  • Wood glue
  • Wood filler
  • Sand paper
  • Nails or screws
  • Miter saw / Miterbox and saw
  • Caulk

Depending on how you envision your Chalkboard “smart” sign, this can, of course, can be altered. The size of your donor screen will change the shape of the opening and what not.

The construction of the chalk board is pretty straight forward and based on your own personal level of technical skill with hand tools will adjust your comfort here.

The electronics portion looks like the easy part, especially since it is all Linux-y. I do think that there is some opportunity for making this battery backed as well but that is another exploration.

The way the author of this Instructable describes the steps leads me to believe that they are primarily in the Linux world but that is just fine as this would be a great write-up for those that are Linux curious. I especially appreciate this part of the article.

What I would do different to better suit me

As much as I like the artistic value of chalk, I can’t help but think that I would prefer something that was dry erase based. I am thinking, instead of using chalk board paint on surface, flat black, set the screen face to the same surface and place a 1/4″ (6.4mm) plate of glass on top of it and use the markers instead.

The main reason for markers, instead of chalk, is the reduced dust mess. There is also some freedom in the sense that the screen will be better protected from impact and contaminates when it is behind a sheet of glass. I do admit that there can be a loss of artistic flexibility with using markers instead of chalk but the reduction of mess would be worth it to me.

Final Thoughts

There is inspiration all around you and one of the beauties of the Internet is the ability to share ones creativity and inspire strangers you will never meet. The power to inspire is easier than ever and I do think that we, as a “makers” community should find ways, to build up and encourage others as much as possible. I hope that this will inspire you to, maybe not make something exactly like this but something similar that fits your unique case to make your life a little more enjoyable.

There is inspiration all around you, share and encourage others as much as possible. You never know when someone just might need that little boost to get through the day.


LCD Chalkboard Smart Sign on
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