PB1400c Digital Picture Frame

PB1400 Digital Picture Frame (Rev2)

I began my work on my picture-frame a couple of weeks ago with the the acquiring of a PB5300C. This was my 1st Apple pre G3 laptop, so didn't know what to expect. (I own a iBook G4 and Pismo on the moment and before I had different iBooks from Blueberry onward) So as usual with all my computers I opened up the 5300 and looked how it was made. By freak accident I destroyed it by bending the Adapter connector (it was already flaky) Well I tried to repair it but no go, 5300 destroyed.
But maybe that was a good thing because the screen was small. So I set my eyes on a PB1400. My research (reading the service manuals of the PB5300/190, 1400c/cs and 3400) showed the 1400 series what ideal for it's small logic-board and nice screen. So I put an ad out for a 1400c/cs.
While waiting for a reaction I looked at different sites on the internet about the PB1400. It stated that the CS had a nice screen even though it was Dual-scan Passive Matrix. Well because I'm spoiled from the beginning with all those beautiful Apple laptops with active matrix TFT's, seeing a site saying that the CS had a nice screen gave me hope that the CS someone offered me was OK for my project.

So I payed the $70 for the 1400CS and waited for it to arrive at my home. Two days later I received a big package with the PB1400CS in a nice bag. I booted it and looked at the screen and was a little disappointed. I ones saw a dual scan passive matrix on a PC laptop of a friend. And the screen of this CS reminded me of that. It was not as bright as my old BluebeiBookBook and you could see the refresh. But because I didn't have any better this would do. So I disassembled it, installed a MacOS 8.6 system with JPEGview and tested the software. The next day I bought some wood and a picture frame with glass to make a case out of it.
I'll explain how I made the frame later on. Anyway the Rev1 was hanging on my wall for a couple of weeks, but I wasn't satisfied with the result. Mainly the screen wasn't what i expected so I looked for another PB1400 but now a C type. A couple of days later I bought a 1400C with a beautiful bright screen. This screen did remind me of a iBook.

So with that PB1400, the story of the Rev2 picture frame starts. Lets begin:

PB1400c installing MacOS8.6

As you can see here, the 1400c is getting a full install of MacOS 8.6. This one came with two CD-ROM drives so I could install it from my CD's. I installed it on the internal HD, then I slimmed down the system folder to the bare extensions, etc. My system folder is about 40Mb now so I transferred it to my CF card. I tested if it run and all did go well. Then I put JPEGview 3.1 on the CF card, a folder with pictures and put an alias in the startup-items folder. I set the preferences of JPEGview to show random pictures from the folder with a duration of 30 minutes. I Booted from the CF card and watched JPEGview start up and showed my pictures. So all the software was set to go. Now the hardware.

PB1400c opened

Here the 1400c is getting disassembled, i only need the screen and the Logic-board but i kept all the other parts. I was planning to exchange the old logic and screen from Rev1 with this so i had a working 1400 and an nice picture-frame.

The logicboard

Here you see the part that is important, the logic board. As you can see the pins for the battery are still there but I needed to get those because the Rev1 logic missed them. (I clipped those because i was afraid for problems in the picture-frame) Well now you're thinking 'why all the fuzz for this logic-board?' Well because the Logic-board of Rev1 had a broken/destroyed reset button. I tried to de-solder it and wire it to the to of the picture-frame but in the end i destroyed it. So that's why I'm switching logics as well.

Logic with CPU

So here you see the logic-board and the CPU card sitting on my table, ready for operation. I need to de-solder the pins for the battery and re-solder them to the old logic-board in the next picture.

CS and C Logicboards

Here you can see the old (bottom) and the new logic board (top) ready for the pin transfer. So with a lot of patience and a little luck I managed to de-solder the pins and re-solder them onto the old logic-board. I installed the old logic in the 1400 case, put the CPU card on it, hooked up the Dual-scan screen and tested if it worked on the battery. All worked so I could almost reassemble the 1400 with the Dual-scan screen.

Active Matrix and Passive Matrix

Before reassembling the PB1400 and the picture frame I tested both the logic boards and the screens side by side. So here you can see the difference between the Passive Matrix Dual-scan (left) and the Active Matrix (Right) Both are displaying the same picture and both are full brightness and same contrast. In real life the difference is more clear. But as you can see the active matrix is brighter and better looking than the Passive. The resolution of both is 800x600 with thousands of color, but the colors of the Active Matrix are better and crisper than the Passive. Don't know if my passive is just bad or not but the screen of the 1400c is 100 times nicer and good for this project.

Logic with CF

Well everything was working. The new screen looked great, but it was a big mess on the table. So before continuing with Rev2 of my picture frame I decided to reassemble the PB1400 first. So after 20 minutes it was reassembled and working properly, table was clean and i was ready to work at the picture frame. Well here I already mounted the screen on the inlay for the frame. I used the thick carton they used for the back of the frame. Originally your picture would be put between this and the glass. Anyway i centered the screen, draw lines where the screen would come and used an Xacto knife to cut out that part. It all fit very well. This was already done in Rev1 but the mounting procedure is the same. I put some double-sided tape (Nitto they use it here in the Graphic industry, nice stuff very strong) all along the sides of the screen.
The screen has an aluminum frame around it with all the electronics and mounting holes, so that's where the tape goes. I centered the screen and pushed it firmly but gently against the carton. To secure it all so it won't move I used the magical Duct tape as you can see. Now it's not going anywhere. So on the picture above you can see the logic board all ready to get mounted. CF card is in the adapter with one 48MB and beneath that the 256MB. I later removed the 48MB. It was planned in rev1 to use the 48MB for system startup and the 256 only for the pictures. But while making Rev2 I decided that I wanted a wireless card in it. So i put all the stuff on the 256MB card so i have one slot open.

the Case

Ok, here is the case. This is the Rev2 case. I made some adjustments to the hinge system and locking mechanism. I made the case out of four pieces of 4.5 cm wide wood with a thickness of 0.5 cm. The black part is from the frame I bought.
The back is 0.5 mm, I think MDF (don't know if it's called that elsewhere, but it called that here in Netherlands) I used the Dremel tool to make holes for the screws on the corners and used wood glue for extra support. So its really strong. I first assembled it without the glue and drilled an extra hole for the adapter cable, then disassembled it and reassembled it with glue. I Also drilled holes in the bottom and top for convection.

Case Open

This is the Case opened, in Rev1 it was also like this but the hinges weren't good and I only used two screws in each hinge, so it moved about and wasn't hanging flat and aligned with the sides of the case. I therefore used two locks on both sides of the case so it was at-least not moving. Rev2 gave me the chance to correct this. I used four screws in each hinges and replaced the two locks with one lock on the frame. Because the hinges didn't move anymore and the frame was perfectly aligned and centered with the case, the one lock was sufficient. I also used screws on each corner as spacers. (you can see 1 screw in the lower-right corner in this picture) The spacers are there so the frame with the screen is flat against the case. This also lets the locking mechanism work.

The Locking mechanisme

Well this is the famous locking mechanism. Originally it's used for hanging frames and paintings. But this one is lucky. Anyway because I used the spacers there is a little space between the frame and the case. And because the spacers are on the edges, you can press the middle of the frame with the lock against the case. So then you can flip the triangle thing and open the case. Simple but efficient. Oh by the way the 2 black holes are convection holes. I used the Dremeltool and i guess it's not made for making holes. Because it really burns the hole.

Mounting the Logic

Ok now its mounting time. I mounted the glass and screen in the frame. Here I'm trying to get the perfect mounting position of the Logic-board. The position on this picture is how it was mounted in Rev1, but in Rev1 the two cables that run to the screen where just hanging loose. You couldn't open the case the whole way like here. I wanted the inverter (the thing with the 4 buttons under the screen) to be mounted next to the screen like it is in the picture. But then I could connect the other cable.
I tried different positions, also with the PCMCIA cage flush against the left part of the case. I could always take the whole case out if I wanted to changes the pictures.
But i decided not to do that. Instead i flipped the logic 180 degrees and mounted it to the left side. I mounted the logic board using little screws and the mounting holes in the logic-board.

Mounted open

So here you can see it mounted the good way. The CF cards are now fully accessible without taking out the whole cage. Just press the button and it will be ejected. (when its powered off) The inverter is in the good position and even if connected with the logic the case still can open like on the picture. The only problem was the other cable, but when the case is half open (or half closed) its still easy to connect that cable to the screen. Then I had only one problem to solve: The reset switch. Its called reset switch but it acts like an one and off switch which is perfect for my use. It was already late at night and i didn't have anything long enough on the spot to use as a push device. I thought of using some Technic lego but could find the box. So i decided to use some quetips. I clipped off the cotton buds of both ends. I used tape to put it together. I made a hole in the right spot and used some wire fasteners for the wall to keep it in place. On the part that is outside the case i put a little screw and inside i used tape so it would fall out the hole. Well not pretty but it works. I also mounted the speakers so i know when its starting up in the morning.

Mounted end result

Here a close-up view of the whole thing while it's running. The case can open half ways when it's running because of the data cable to the screen. The 48MB CF card was there just for testing and is replaced with the 256MB CF card. All works perfectly.



And here is the final result on the wall. I took these pictures with my camera on a tripod, so I could make a picture without the flash. So as you can see it turned out very nice. The 2 round things in the bottom and the right side are from the hooks that i removed. I'm planning to buy some silver of black paper inlay at the Photo store so it looks more professional. But anyway the Rev2 is how I thought my picture-frame would look like so it's OK for now.

Some problems i encountered.

Well not much, mostly my own, like the reset button. Only problem that I didn't like is that for some reason the auto sleep doesn't work. I guess it just doesn't work with the PB1400. Auto wake up does work. But anyway using the reset button does the job.

Some more info.

The PB1400 Picture frame runs from one Compact-flash card of 256MB, with MacOS 8.6. Things I still want to do are:
Add an wireless Card. Already did the research and just need to find the right card. 802.11b card based on Lucent chipset.
Configure ARD so i can upload the pictures using my Pismo, wireless.
Make a better silver of black inlay so i don't see the 2 spots where the hooks where.
Lastly, I still need to paint the case black and then it's all done.

Update (23-oct-2004) Well i got my lucent wavelan silver card this week. Installed the orinocco drivers and card works. Only problem i have with the card is that it's SSSOOOOO slow. The transferspeed is almost 5kb/s! Well it's a 11MBits card and my iBook and router are 54Mbits. I tried it in the wireless network and as a own network for the pictureframe, but stil a slow connection. Don't know what it is, but i don't care. It's easier to shutdown, get the CF card, plug it in the USB reader connected to my iBook and wait a couple of minutes instead of hours Wireless.

Still not painted, but getting to it.

This project is inspired by the PB3400 Hack also on Applefritter, The Duo digital frame and some others.

Hope you enjoyed this hack and may it inspire you to make you own.

Oh and the PB1400CS works and is now used by my sister for the pre X games she plays.

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i have one of these for sale, a powerbook 1400c only 160 US dollars
if interested, let em know ernesto.escobedo@gmail.com

well done. i hope that my experiences from the 3400 frame came in handy in the design of your hack. i never thought to make the case hinged for easier access to the innards. for that matter, i have no experience in soldering, so my whole project is held together with double-sided tape and hot glue. yours looks much more professional.

and i bet it's a lot quieter without the hard drive. i hadn't thought of that... i didn't even know i could boot from a flash card. now i need a bigger CF card to go in my CF/PCMCIA adapter.

very nicely done.