Digital Signage Using Raspberry Pi

Digital Signage Using Raspberry Pi

What is Digital Signage? Digital Signage uses technologies such as LCD, LED, TV and projector to display digital content such as images, video, strea

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What is Digital Signage?

Digital Signage uses technologies such as LCD, LED, TV and projector to display digital content such as images, video, streaming media, web pages, text and etc.

How Can Digital Signage Help Me?

Here are some typical use cases of Digital Signage.

Digital menu boards for restaurants, always up-to-date and visualise offerings and promotions.
   

Real estate agents can digital advertise in shop windows for property listing.

It can also be used at the reception area to welcome customers or provide event, venue information.

What is Raspberry Pi?

Raspberry Pi is a credit-card-size mini computer. Similar to a standard computer, Raspberry Pi can connect to monitor, network, keyboard and mouse. Its operating system is a derivative of Ubuntu and Debian, sharing many same commands.

Raspberry Pi can perform various different functions depending on what applications are installed. It can be media centre server, digital signage server, home storage server, NTP server, and Internet of Things (IoT) these days.

On the right is my home setup for media centre (please ignore the messy cables :p). The Raspberry Pi allows me to download movies remotely and functions as a media player as well. The Raspberry Pi also connects external hard disks as storage to provide network storage.

Digital Signage Using Raspberry Pi

Preparation:

  • A Raspberry Pi: I was using Pi 3 with Wifi capability
  • An SD Card: Class 10 4G minimum, 8G recommended
  • An HDMI cable: this is to connect Pi with monitor/TV
  • A keyboard: only required for installation. Remote management in future will be via HTTP and/or SSH
  • A monitor/TV that has HDMI input: if not, HDMI/VGA or HDMI/DVI converter will be required
  • Screenly (Open Source Edition): digital signature content management and player application, which can be downloaded from https://github.com/screenly/screenly-ose/releases
  • SD card burner application: it is to burn Screenly image to the SD card.  I was using Etcher, available from https://etcher.io/
  • A PC/laptop within same local network for content management

Topology:

The topology is as below. No internet is required unless you want to play stream media or website on the digital signage.

I set up the local wireless network so that I can manage multiple digital signage players (Raspberry Pi) remotely from my laptop, upload content and schedule date time and sequence etc. Such remote content management also helps if the screen and/or the player are too high to reach.

After content is setup, no local network is required either.

Steps:

  1. Download Screenly image (refer to ‘Preparation’ section for download link)
  2. Use Etcher to burn Screenly image to SD card (refer to ‘Preparation’ section for download link)
  3. Insert SD card to Raspberry Pi and boot up
  4. Connect the keyboard to Raspberry Pi and press ctrl+alt+F1 to enter command line mode, noting local command line mode will not work while content is playing. Stop content playing or wait for content stop first. After SSH is enabled (Step 6), the remote command line access will not be affected by content playing.
  5. Access command line system using username ‘pi’ password ‘raspberry’. This is the Raspberry Pi operating system default username and password.
  6. Enter command “sudo raspi-config” to start configuration GUI as below. Change password, enable SSH (Interfacing Options –> SSH) and resize boot file system (Advanced Options –> Expand Filesystem).
  7. Configure Wifi network interface on the Raspberry Pi.
    Please note, the traditional Linux way of editing “/etc/network/interfaces” will not work for Screenly – the wireless interface change will be overwritten by Screenly Network Manager. Use Network Manager (nmcli) instead.
  8. After Screenly boot up, there will be management IP shown on the screen. Connect to the Screenly IP via HTTP from the laptop and the content management interface shows as below:
  9. Remote command line management is as below. Very similar command as we use on Ubuntu.

Demonstration

Video demonstration on how our digital signage looks like.

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