Digital picture frames are cool enough in their own right but what if you could send new pictures to it every day? That’s exactly what maker Olivier Simard-Hanley has done with this Raspberry Pi project. Using our favorite SBC, he’s made what he calls DispatchPi—a way to send new photos every day to his fiancée complete with text overlay featuring a custom message.
The project is made using two custom digital picture frames, each featuring a Raspberry Pi and an E Ink display panel. The Pis connect to the internet throughout the day and pull a new image to be loaded from a specific email address. This makes it possible to send new pictures to each other every day by just sending them as an attachment with a custom message to be overlayed.
The project also involves iPhone shortcuts to make the process easier. According to Simard-Hanley, each sender relies on a custom iPhone shortcut to initiate the email that sends the image and custom text. It would still be possible to recreate this project without the shortcuts but this feature makes the process a bit more user-friendly.
It doesn’t take much hardware to recreate this project and there is room for flexibility if you don’t have the same components. In this case, Simard-Hanley is using a couple of Raspberry Pi Zeros but you could get away with using a Pi 3B or 4 if that’s all you have on hand. He’s also using a pair of 7.5-inch Waveshare E Ink displays but any eInk panel will work in its stead. You could also get away with using a non-eInk screen.
Simard-Hanley took the time to share a full tutorial that breaks down not only how the project works but how to recreate it at home. The workflow starts with the iOS shortcut that allows the user to send a picture to a shared inbox. The Raspberry Pis ping a specific URL throughout the day to check for new updates. The last email with an attachment is then processed into a grayscale bitmap and formatted with the email body text as an overlay before it’s pushed to the E Ink frame.