Aesthetic Digital Picture Frame for Visualization

Walking from Sharper Image to zGallerie at the mall made me connect the Phillips Digital Picture frame with a large white frame with a small 8×5 phto area at zGallerie. Given visualization is one of our focus points this year, it quickly turned into a project to combine the two elements into a Primal Brand story.

This was a quick project, no plans, just sawdust and scraps from the get-go. Pretty much what happens when a geek has tools.

The end result is pictured at left. Of course the photos rotate. The active photo of the word "ELVIS" was taken at the Elvis car museum in Memphis last year.

The build process is illustrated in pictures as follows. I would like to issue a disclaimer on the drill visible in some of the photos. It is NOT my primarly drill. Like all good geeks I have a Dewalt professional.Zgalleriepictureframe40bucks But of course I leave it at work, so what you see is my antique hand me down Black and Decker with the old-world drill bit chuck. The death of an american brand….

The main point is onward to the project pictures!

Step 1 – $40 bucks for the picture frame. $250 for the Philips Digital picture frame. Misc stuff was probably another $20 although that was all stuff from the garage. Project cost was approximately $310 not including random stuff.

Hackingtheback_1Step 2 – Measure twice and cut once. Given picture frames are 5×7 and digital picture frames are NOT 5×7, there was a need for some approximation. 

In this case the digital picture frame was 4 x 8 which left some over compensation.

This is what made the Philips product desirable because the white frame matched the existing matte and compensated for the size difference without any more work.


Step 3 – cut and install the back supports. These are needed to keep the frame level on the wall accounting for the depth of the digital picture frame (a little over an inch thick/deep)

The supports are 1 and 1/4 inch tall and two inches from the edge of the frame because I didn’t want to have to paint them. The supports were ripped on the table saw from scraps from another project. Pine because it is light, easy to work with and nobody is going to see them anyway.

The supports are installed with two screws through the wood backing going from the backing into the supports. Keeping the supports centered makes it harder to see them from the sides when the frame is on display.

Installing the screws through the backing, given it is that hardboard stuff that splinters, required predrilling the holes and counter sinking the screw head for a flush mount. It is very important for the screws to be completely flush with the backing as it presses against the matt from the back and you do not want bulges showing through.

If you don’t have a drill bit for counter sinking you could just use a razor to create a nice slope on all sides of the holes to accomplish the same thing. But you will have to drill that pilot hole.

Step 4 – install the picture frame cable to hang the frame and also hold the digital frame firmly in place when hung using tension.


This was done by drilling two holes in each support approximately in the middle of the wooden supports by width and close to the ends. These were not measured, just drilled about an inch from each side.

The X pattern is pulled tight by the weight of the frame which of course helps hold the digital frame in place on the back. I wanted to be able to easily remove the digital frame from the wooden frame and this design seemed to accomplish those objectives. It is just easier to pop it out to work at your desk.

Also, just to be safe, use heavy duty guage picture frame wire. With lots of modern art posters every once in a while we have an escapee that can cause serious damage to the frame and possibly people with broken glass. The cable and wall mounting equipment, even for a light frame like this one, is not a place to be cheap.


Step 5 – install the digital frame into the white zGallerie frame. This is the project-shot-on-kitchen-counter shot.

Step 6 – fight with the Phillips digital picture frame to get the photos to show up correctly. OK, you probably won’t have this problem but we want to rotate through a bunch of different photos from over the years. Right now it seems to be selecting 20 or so shots to display even though clearly the other images are on the SD card. I haven’t figured this one out yet. But I did notice that new photos taken from a digital camera don’t seem to be having any problems.

Step 7 – mount on the wall. Final shot on the wall below.

Also note the frame has a battery built in, so if you had a REALLY
important event you could just unplog the unsightly wire. Or run it
through the wall.


The photo of Lady Liberty was taken in 2005 in NYC while I was up there for a conference. One of my favorites. (note to self – must post to flickr)

Please DO post your comments below or send me shots of similar projects so I can link and/or post.


UPDATES: First, a shout out to Annisa, yes, they make larger digital picture frames. Next time I’ll buy a bigger one. Whatever….

Some questions that came up about the Phillips frame:

  1. You can schedule it to turn on and off at specific times. On at 8:00 AM and off at 10:00 PM to save energy. It also says that showing the same picture for a long time does NOT hurt the screen.
  2. Video – this model does not show video. In fact as noted above I can’t quite get it to show all of my jpgs either. I read several reviews online that were positive so perhaps I am doing something wrong and will resolve it. Recent photos DO seem to be working fine with the frame.
  3. Price wise this frame was $250 while larger 8×5 (don’t say it Annisa) frames were only $225. The only difference was the frame border and the depth of the unit. I paid the extra 25 bucks because this one was close to plug and play with the frame I found. If I were a framer I would buy the cheaper larger unit and contruct it that way. Time is money though…

Will I build one for you? Um… no. Just print this how-to and take it to your friendly neighborhood craftsman (if that isn’t you) and they can probably run with it and even improve it. If you do that please DO send me pictures as I’d like to see the results. Or post them to flickr so I can link to them.

Wish list. Not sure how far USB cables can run, but if I owned a photo gallery it would be fun to have three of these spaced out on a long wall with the display synchronized. The low cost way is probably to load them up with identical photos and press "play" at the exact same time.

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