The Raspberry Pi Zero – and the not-perpetually-out-of-stock Raspberry Pi A+ – only have one USB port, but behind that port is a lot of functionality. This is an OTG USB port, and just like the USB port on your smartphone, this little plug can become any kind of USB device. Transforming the Pi into a USB gadget allows it to be a serial connection, MIDI device, audio source or sink, or a USB mass storage device.
[Francesco] was especially interested in the USB mass storage capability of the Raspberry Pi Zero and built a small project to show off its capabilities. He turned a Pi Zero into the controller for a digital picture frame, constantly displaying all the image files on a small screen.
The build started with [Andrew Mulholland]’s guide for Pi Zero OTG modes, with just a few modifications. When the Pi is plugged into a PC, it automatically becomes a 100 Megabyte USB storage device. You don’t need that much space on a digital picture frame, anyway.
While setting up a digital picture frame is easy enough, there’s still a tremendous amount of untapped potential in using the Pi Zero as a USB gadget. With enough buttons, switches, and sensors, the Pi can become a wearable MIDI device, or with the Pi camera module, an IP webcam. Neat stuff, and we can’t wait to see what the community comes up with next.
39 thoughts on “The Pi Zero Mass Storage Picture Frame”
I’m really not sure what’s been achieved here aside from plugging in a USB cable.
The pi zero as a USB gadget is well documented. The hack didn’t manage to modify the files displayed to the picture frame from the pi.
I think MTP would be required instead of mass storage, not sure if picture frames support that though.
Some picture frame displays, and bigger ones including laptops and monitors panels, can be driven by controller boards commonly sold on Ebay or Aliexpress. Letting the PI directly drive one of those panels would be awesome.
Alternatively one can use one of those controller boards, but then they must be programmed to interface to the specified panel and the programming board requires a parallel port.
Could a PI become a LCD panel driver or at least become a programmer for a driver board?
Surely a lot of work is involved, but not an impossible task IMO. That would be a real hack.
Yes, there definitely is demand: old picture frames are uber cheap at flea markets over here.
You are right Liam, I think I am doing better with this new article http://garagetech.tips/build-kiosk-pi-zero-otg-digital-frame/ where having a PiZero connected to the digital frame starts to make sense and be more than just a dumb storage.
Let me know what you think.
a pity the Pi Zero doesn’t have a camera connector!
Yeah, about that….
HAD cameras are getting cheaper. A fast ADC on board could do wonders in many other applications too (sdr, instrumentation, etc).
That would be AHD cameras, sorry.
The A and A+ do though!
yep, the A+ is only slightly larger and works AWESOME with the camera board.
Can’t *quite* manage USB gadget mode yet, though; the dwc2 driver doesn’t let you override the host/device mode. That’s needed because the OTG id pin is tied to ground on the A+. There’s a small patch to fix it, but it looks like it’s going to have to get into the Pi kernel via linux mainline, which will probably take a while.
USB IP cam…. makes no sense for me.
I just bought one of these
with a CS mount lens, a better lens with actual focus and an aperture is on the way!
I’m working on a “Luke Skywalker” monocular thingo with an IMU.
USB cameras that have actual “real” lenses are expensive
maybe right. but the article talks about USB and what you can do with it and then over a it cam. so USB IP cam is stupid.
It’s not stupid, it’s just only useful in a few niche situations. I’m putting a Pi+camera inside a laser cutter, and it’d be ideal to just have it connected/powered/serving images via USB. I’d really rather not stick a whole B+ in there if I can get it working with an A+ I have surplus. And I’m doing a bunch of computer vision stuff on board, so a dumb camera isn’t an option.
I would love to experiment with the PI-Zero but, there are no PI-Zeros available from legitimate suppliers for $5. They are scooped up by opportunists and sold on eBay for $35 to $45. Sorry I’m not playing that game’
It was introduced with great fan fair then became unobtainable. It is disappointing it is taking so long for them to be on sale. I have a couple of projects the small size is an asset for. But I don’t want to have to pay the exorbitant prices for the addons I don’t want or need. I do wonder if the “$5” Pi Zero will ever appear again.
They’re out there. I got both of mine from MicroCenter. I got my first Zero about a week after they were released thanks to someone not coming in to pick up the one they had reserved online for in-store pick-up. I was there for other stuff but started a conversation with the salesman who told me of the expired reservations at customer service. I got my second one just a couple weeks ago because I was at MicroCenter for random stuff again and who couldn’t use another 5$ Zero? My MicroCenter is currently soldout again, but I know for sure that they had ’10+ In Stock’ for well over a week.
I understand the frustration of Starter Packs but try to understand… it’s a $5 Pi. Profit margin can’t be all that high to start with then you factor in 2nd and 3rd hand sellers… they have to make a profit somehow even if it’s just to afford the box and tape to mail it in- packing it in with a power supply and a couple of adapter cables allows them to squeeze a couple extra dollars out of it to make it worth their while to sell.
There should have been a 5 board minimum for online orders since that would have effectively made it into a $25 minimum order. Probably would have meant several more Zeros on fleaBay… but whatever, as far as I’m concerned that’s up to the buyer to reconcile their own foolishness for participating in such a thing. My hope is that with an established minimum the sellers would be less inclined to focus on ‘packs’.
Wow… it feels good to write a comment on a legit keyboard for a change instead of a phone-keyboard.
Agreed; even Adafruit is playing this game. Their listing for the bare Pi Zero had been out of stock for months, but every week or two they’re selling the Starter packs — if you want $5 worth of peripherals for an extra $25 on the pricetag.
Why do people pay that much for it? It’s the price of a full one.
Couldn’t tell you. It’s the reason I’m still sadly without one. I’d happily pay $15 or more just for the form factor — if that’s what it actually costed and not just an unreasonable vendor mark-up. Maybe they should’ve just announced a higher price from the start, then let it drop over time.
Now I’m beginning to think that all yall with your pi zeroes are just trying to rub that in our faces.
I agree. They have three official stockists and the only one of those three that exists in my part of the word don’t even bother to put it on their website so obviously they have never sold a single unit.
This is NOT a distribution system it’s a buddy system were a select few get access to Pi Zero’s.
So effectively they have said to people in my part of the world “well Fu(k you”.
So now the more I read about any Pi, the more I hate them.
Duuuuuddddeee!!… you are totally missing out on so much awesome… …So much awesome.
I mean… just yeah, …so much awesome.
I’m not missing out on anything. There are more than enough alternatives to a Pi that your average stockist *does* have in stock.
I have 2.
…didn’t even try, really. Both times it was like… ‘I’m here, it’s here… meh, I’ll spend more than $5 on gas getting home. Sure… might as well…’
They were just available at adafruit yesterday, and microcenter’s also restocked….. They are hard to get but if you are watching pretty easy. I’ve gotten two at the Cincinnati microcenter and could have gotten more multiple times they’ve had them in stock….
all Adafruit have left in stock are the useless greedy starter packs.
Really? I’m signed up for the notification emails for the bare bones Zero and have yet to receive a single email. Maybe I should check my spam folder.
Another option would be a wifi dongle and setting up SAMBA. You could set up a server and drag and drop to the pi or set up a client on the pi and have it go to your server.
Or you could use your instagram feed https://www.instagram.com/developer/
The “dumb” picture frames don’t bother caching so at least in theory, it’s possible to change the contents of the files in real time.
“only have one USB port”
BRIAN PLEASE GET A EDITOR :<
If you want edited posts, I’m the wrong person complain to.
However (the Raspberry Pi Zero) AND (the Raspberry Pi Model A+) are two things, making ‘have’ correct. So, cram it, or something.
[Benchoff] doesn’t need an editor the *helpful* readers here are always willing to *assist* in an eh em *polite* way!
Well played, [Benchoff|. Well played.
You should go to Merriam Webster, you could spend the rest of your life correcting grammar there.
I thought the A+’s USB mode select pin was hard-wired to host mode underneath the BGA (i.e. no way to get gadget mode)?
I certainly couldn’t persuade it to work on an A+ anyway
It can be overridden in software; there’s just a bug in the dwc2 driver that stops it working. There’s a patch to fix it, but it’s probably going to have to work it’s way into linux mainline before getting merged into the Pi kernel fork.
This game is getting ridiculous.
Raspberry PI Zero: $5 but single core and unobtanium.
Orange Pi One: $10, quad core and available.
Not another bloody… Here’s an idea. Put a picture of the time in a jpg then have that the only picture available
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