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Citizen Engineers Unite on Channel 9! The Junktop Revival

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    Visit the Junktop Revival Wiki for a step by step guide on how you can create a picture frame from an old laptop. 

    The next step is to put the source online for the application that drives this picture frame. 

    What's cool here is how the application uses Web Services for Devices to listen for WS-Discovery messages.  Once detected it fires up a simple plug and play system automatically making the picture frame accessible on your home network.

    Want to join in the fun?

    - See what we mean by Citizen Engineers
    - Join the discussion in the Citizen Engineer's Forum
    - Read the Junktop Revival How To
    - Add your own projects to the Wiki

  • User profile image

    Here's a sneak peek at the picture frame application.  More photos can be found on the Junktop Revival Wiki.

    This all started when the Windows Device Experience Team wanted to build a demo for WinHEC that would show off their new API’s and an implementation of the WS-Discovery spec.

    Since PC hardware is readily available but “device” hardware is harder to come by they came up with the idea of building Windows XP SP2 app that would emulate a device on standard PC hardware.

    Even though the goal was to get people to support this on laser printers, MP3 players, and other more resource-constrained devices with this approach they could get started right away. The question was, what should the ‘device’ PC do?

    After some thinking about smart alarm clocks and digital guitars they decided that a Digital Picture Frame was the best bet. To understand why they made this choice, you have to dig into what they wanted to show.

    First off, they were about to ship prerelease version of their Network-Connected Device Development Kit (DDK) at WinHEC (early May 2004).

    Their main goal was to show how you can use these tools to make the networked device install process simple. What they do is use the WSDAPI to listen for WS-Discovery messages.

    When they are detected the PnP-X code kicks off and the user is asked to go through a ‘device association’ step (to make sure you are installing the device you think you are) and then it fires up the plug and play system. From there, the user sees the exact same “Found New Hardware” wizard that they are accustom to.

    Why is this cool?
    I have two portable music players in my office. Both have USB ports and you get a great experience when you connect them that way. But, one has an Ethernet port and the other has a built in WiFI card. Installing them on a network is not nearly as easy.

    This DDK included three APIs: WSDAPI to support WS-Discovery, PnP-X to bridge the plug and play system to network connected devices, and function discovery which makes it easier for Windows developers to find and work with devices (regardless of whether they are bus or network connected).

    With these bits install and a device that speaks WS-Discovery the user does not need to care about how the devices is connected (USB, WiFI, BlueTooth, FireWire, etc.), they just plug it in and get the same experience every time.

    That’s cool!

  • User profile image

    Very nice, Jeff.
    I would like to build something like that too, if i had the skills.

    But, one point comes to me, how would you deal with the heat that comes from the laptop.

    I mean being the screen so close to the heat parts of the laptop, couldn't the display end up damaged ?


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    Maybe you guys can show me how to accomplish that when I come to check out the Microsoft campus for the summer? Wink

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    can this display simple videos too? could i get it to do a countdown of 60 seconds as a video, or maybe a really cool carchase scene from one of my fave movies...

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    sure, it's a Windows XP machine. You can run any media player on it.

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    We're working on also creating the Picture Frame project using Windows CE - The Windows CE development tools ship with a "Virtual PC" emulator that will give you the ability to configure, build, download, and debug your operating system without needing any additional hardware.

    The first step in building the Windows CE Picture Frame should be posted early next week... keep an eye out for the instructions !!

    Mike Hall
    Mobile and Embedded Devices Group

  • User profile image

    Really enjoyed this article - need to find an old laptop at work now and give it a go!

  • User profile image

    martindolphin wrote:
    Really enjoyed this article - need to find an old laptop at work now and give it a go!

    E-bay Wink

  • User profile image

    Yes, this is channel9 at it's best, a place were we can come together and learn something!

    Does anyone remember "The Mirror", a monitor you could walk around your house with?

    I have thought of building one of them, it was a great idea but they were too expensive.

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    Alex Keizer

    It sure looks cool!

    One thing that seems unresolved is how the machine will get its power. The laptops at our company (Dell) have a rather chunky adapter to connect it to a wall outlet.

    How did you solve this?


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    Alex Keizer wrote:

    One thing that seems unresolved is how the machine will get its power. The laptops at our company (Dell) have a rather chunky adapter to connect it to a wall outlet.

    I had a similar problem at my home when I was installing a flat panel TV.  I resolved it by placing it on a wall with a closet behind it.

    I then drilled a 2" diameter hole directly behind the plasma and running the wires and component cord through this hole.  I installed an electrical outlet in the closet and shelves for the components.  Thi resulted in a very clean design with no visible wires or components.  I put a small plastic grommet on the whole to keep it looking professional.

    I remote the infared for the Tivo, MCEs and DVD player using a small x10 unit. 


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    Wow, great post! Now I wish I had an old laptop lying around... that would be a really cool weekend project to work on.

    Just like a previous post, I wonder how you handle the power requirements. I noticed that one of your requirements is to not have anything sticking into the picture frame... then how do you have the power plug going into the wall? Is there a plug hidden behind the frame?

  • User profile image

    ericch1 wrote:
    Wow, great post! Now I wish I had an old laptop lying around... that would be a really cool weekend project to work on.

    Yes, this too seems the fishy part of it all to me. I think if I had any Laptop "laying around" there are much better things that I could be doing rather than hanging it on a wall. Smiley I  mean everyone has some machines around, but I think all mine that are in the graveyard now MIGHT be able to run windows 3.11 and maybe one that can do windows 98. No XP level machines for sure...those would be put to good use. Machines dont grow on trees after all. Smiley


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    Another way to go is to build this using PC components.  This gets around some of the complexities of disassembling a laptop and allows you to be more discerning about which components you invest in and which ones you skimp on.


    The Windows Network-Connected Devices group took this approach built this frame around a VIA Mini-ITX board.  They ended up with a frame that was thicker than Ivan’s frame, but since this was done as a proof-of-concept for the WinHEC demo the thickness was an acceptable trade off.  

    They also went with wired Ethernet on the theory that demo’ing a wireless device would be less predictable and would also start to get away from the main thing they wanted to show – their new Network Connected Device DDK.   I suppose if I have to run power through a wall then running a network cable is not a huge issue.


    Notice that the PC next to the frame is showing the sample app that comes with the NDC DDK (Instructions on how to get the DDK bits are at


    Front view:


    Back view


    The remote controls you see in the picture are to something else that was on the same bench, I didn’t realize they were there until just now.  Sorry for any confusion but they have nothing to do with this device.

  • User profile image

    True. The laptop that I used was pretty good laptop machine. That is why I installed Windows XP on it. I could use even older machine and install older OS on it too, but it is all realtive. In our group we scrapped our Windows XP machines and replaced them with Longhorn compatible machines. They require a  beter video to be able to support the cool graphics features of the OS and a little bit more RAM: let's say 1GB to have the performance and the glitch free animations.

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    Actually no. There is cardboard between the computer and the display screen. The cardboard creates a barrier for the heat. Also the computer is in it's original case and it uses the original ventilation mechanism. To help all that there is an air layer between the cardboard and the display (about 2 mm of air) that works like the air layer in the double pane windows.

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    Last Tango J105

      Make a few holes in the box and close it, looks better, the holes for the cables, and make a few more in the center (on the back) for air to escape, and come in.

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