Raspberry Pi Message Board

Type:Systems Development, Website Design
Client:Scientific and Technical Gases

Using an inexpensive micro computer, the raspberry pi, and a 42″ screen we created a live message board system to display live information across multiple sites.

raspberry pi message board

The Project

StG needed a way to communicate news, general messages and important info throughout their multiple sites. Not all employees used email or had a dedicated computer so an intranet was not an ideal solution.
We proposed to build electronic message boards that could be placed anywhere there was wifi, which would automatically update themselves to present live info to employees and visitors.

An individual message board would consist of a microcomputer attached to a large screen. The micro computer would then display an internally hosted website which would automatically refresh its content to display on the screens.

The Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi (RPi) is a single-board computer that is about the size of a credit card. Running a an OS called Raspbian Wheezy (based on Linux) the RPi is capable of the same tasks as a normal computer, albeit a bit slower due to the limited processing power and memory. However for the purposes of this project it was perfect, and very inexpensive.

The RPi runs off usb, so we ensured that the screens we sourced had built in usb connectors to power the RPis without the need for extra cables,
To display the website we installed a version of Google’s Chrome browser and had it automatically launch the website in kiosk mode when the RPi was turned on. Kiosk mode hides all UI features and run the website as if it were a fullscreen app.

We gave each RPi a specific name which allowed us to remotely connect over wifi to each of them if we ever needed to reboot or update settings. We set them up to be completely autonomous however so that simply turning the screen off and on again would reboot and fix any issues with them.

single raspberry pi in case

A single Raspberry Pi in a case

2013-06-19 17.29.52

Multiple RPis in named cases to differentiate between them.

The Message Board Website

The website was built to display various different types of info in panels laid out on the screen. Certain panels would cycle through multiple posts in a slider format, while other simply presented a fixed message.
Each panel was responsible for updating itself with any new info. This was achieved by using OOP (Object Oriented Programming) in JavaScript. A panel object would display itself differently according to the info it was retrieving, it would animate between slides if necessary and update itself at regular intervals.

The auto updating was achieved using AJAX and jQuery, with the data being sent in JSON strings from the server. We then used WordPress for the content management system, allowing specific employees to easily update and add new posts potentially from anywhere in the world.

raspberry pi message board system screenshot

The design of the message board, with fake made up content

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