Kodak G240 Digital Picture Frame

A while ago I got really hacked off with the latest firmware update to my QNAP TS212 NAS box. There’s nothing wrong with the hardware, I’ve had the thing for a while and it’s been absolutely bullet-proof. What QNAP do with their firmware is a disgrace though, I’ve never encountered such a bloated bag of crap in all my life and every release adds yet more features and “shiny” that I don’t need, or even want.

After an update made it virtually unusable something had to change. Luckily, you can install Debian on it, so I did. I haven’t looked back and, to be honest, this is what the device should have been without all that lame bloatware that only retards, or Windows users, could like.

RIght, that got that off my chest 🙂

I’ve been looking longingly at digital picture frames for a while but I’ve never been able to justify the cost for something that might be useless (if I can hack it and use it how I want then it’s useful, if it just displays pictures then I don’t see the point). I found this Kodak G240 on AliExpress so I thought I’d give it a punt for $16, after a bit of research.

Google led me to dpf-ax which seemed to fit the bill, although it wasn’t entirely clear that the device was supported. I decided to go for it anyway, the lure of having a simple display on my NAS box which would tell me what was going on without having to ssh in was just too much.

All I had to do was download dpf-ax and follow the instructions. Apart from installing a few extra packages on my OpenSuSE 13.1 OS there really wasn’t much extra to do. It gave me a brown trouser moment when the first attempt to flash the firmware failed and the screen turned red. That was OK though, the initial connection was via a generic SCSI device (/dev/sde1 for me). This led to the failed firmware update. At that point, just unplugging the device and plugging it back in again gives a digital display in firmware update mode on /dev/usb0. Just start the firmware upload again and it works! Perfectly!

I haven’t had the arsed time to do anything more than change the font size on the patched veersion of lcd4linux that dpf-ax installs for you yet. Here are a couple of blurry pictures…

On top of the QNAP TS-212

On top of the QNAP TS-212

Blurry close-up

Blurry close-up

I’m quite happy with it. It lets me know what’s going on – even more so once I add disk capacity and anything else I’d like to see on there.

I’ve bought another one of these on eBay (£3.95 🙂  + £3.99 postage 🙁 ) as I can see me using one with a raspberry pi at work to have “at a glance” network/cluster/firewall etc. status on my desk. Otherwise I might use it for other “status” display at home, or something. Whatever.

Added: 2014 Oct 27

I seem to have come down with some kind of lurgy so had to leave work early. After a long sleep, I got to thinking about doing something graphical with one of these displays – one of my machines at work falls over about once a week (I’ll be replacing it when I get some time) and the first I know about it is when people start complaining. If only I had a simple display on my desk that alerted me to problems, or something…

Machine/Service Status

Machine/Service Status

Disk usage

Disk usage

Those are actual size mock-ups that I’ve been testing with lcd4linux on one of my displays. It works really well so just need to organise what data I need, how often to get it and what displays to show. There are a whole load of things you can measure and I only really want to see current problems and issues that might become problems soon (disks getting full or “reallocated sector count” getting high for instance).

It hasn’t taken long to put together some python to create these images. I’ll sort something like this out for my NAS box too when I get the chance. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find any more of this particular display at any sensible price but anything based on the ax206 chipset apparently should work – how do you find out without buying one though? Hmmm.

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