First demo of my display screen project coming up

It seems a long time ago, but my plan when I first worked through installing and using node.js on a Raspberry Pi was to put the groundwork in place for a system of multiple information displays, centrally managed and connected over a network. The Raspberry Pi is great choice for this sort of thing, as it is cheap, small, can easily be added to wired or wireless networks, and has built-in HDMI to drive all modern flat-screen displays.

I had hoped to be further ahead with this project, but life got in the way and I suddenly find myself called to demonstrate (informally, at least) my progress on the project. It’s a problem of mine that I get too attracted by the challenges of the low-level nuts and bolts, so I have been having lots of fun building a distributed, self-updating infrastructure allowing any screen (and its attached Pi) to be switched on or off at any time, and still find the right information to display.

One of the hold-ups, however, has been the actual display of the pages. My infrastructure doesn’t care what format of information it is distributing and updating, but for the whole system to work, something needs to display stuff on the physical screen. I had thought about using a browser in “kiosk mode”, and got into some interesting discussions around this at an Ipswich Makerspace meeting There were some suggestions of building something a bit more custom using one of the many Raspberry Pi graphics libraries, but that felt a bit much for a “minimum viable product”.

When faced with an impending demo, though, I have decided to go with Screenly OSE as the display front end, at least for the moment. It’s not as full featured as the commercial version, but it should get me out of a hole for now. It can display images, web pages and videos, either stored locally or from a remote server, and has a simple but pleasant web-based management interface.

So, I’m still beavering away at my display system, but if you are interested in the possibilities of using a Raspberry Pi to control an unattended display screen, you should take a look at Screenly.

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