- My Raspberry Pi 3 has WiFi capabilities out of the box. Earlier models of the Pi (and the PiZero) will require an Ethernet cable or WiFi dongle.
- The Official Touch Screen works out of the box with newer versions of Raspian. Using other screens or older versions of Raspian may require extra configuration.
Setting up the Dashboard
Step 1 : Configuring DAKboard
The biggest obstacle to me starting this project was time. Basically I didn’t have the time to create my own graphical display (and set up integrations to Google Calendar etc) from scratch.
While browsing the Raspberry Pi reddit forums I came across DAKboard – a service which allows you to configure and access your own dashboard from any browser. You need to sign up for an account, but the service is completely free.
DAKboard offers the following information and integrations:
- Calendars via iCal (many calendars including Google support this standard).
- Background pictures via a range of providers such as Dropbox and Flickr.
- Weather forecast via Yahoo or WeatherUnderground
- RSS feed display.
Configuring these integrations was trivial and intuitive. Once I had signed up for an account it took me less than 10 minutes to get my own DAKboard page running on my Mac.
Now I needed to set this up to run on my dashboard hardware.
Step 2 : Configuring the Raspberry Pi
On booting up Raspian I was presented with the new Pixel Desktop environment.
I accomplished this by adding the following line to the /home/pi/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart file.
@chromium-browser --disable-session-crashed-bubble --disable-infobars --kiosk http://dakboard.com/?p=###########
This line starts Chrome in Kiosk mode each time the Desktop environment starts up – without infobars or warnings. The final argument is a private link to my DAKboard (you’ll find your own link under the DAKboard account settings).
I also ran the following from the command prompt, which removes the mouse pointer from the touch screen display when the mouse is inactive.
sudo apt-get install unclutter
All I needed to do now was restart the Raspberry Pi and voila!
Conclusion (and further work)
I’m very pleased with the final result – especially in regards to how l quickly I got this up and running.
A big advantage with the DAKboard service is that it is so easy to set up. You can literally have a dashboard ready in minutes. In addition it is flexible – you can run it on an old PC, a Tablet or a Raspberry Pi – whatever you have lying around.
The downside of the DAKboard is it’s limited functionality. As it is closed source one is not able to go in and tweak the layout or content. For some this limitation might be a deal breaker, but I still think that DAKboard is a great time saver for your own dashboard!
The Official Raspberry Pi Touch Screen was perfect for this project. The screen goes into sleep mode after about 10 minutes and can be awakened by tapping on the screen. Perfect for our hallway as we don’t need the screen to be on 24/7.
I’m now looking into to how I can add an extra web page (for example with local transport information) to the dashboard and swipe between the two. I’ll be sure to update this blog once I figure out how to do that!
Have you undertaken a similar project? Maybe you have built a Magic Mirror like the one my colleague Cato Antonsen has? Feel free to share your experiences and suggestions in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!