I have wanted my own always-on Status Board for years, displaying ambient status for things I’d otherwise forget. So, I made one.
I used a free trial of Geckoboard to bring all of these stats together. The most useful part of this screen is the graphs on the left that come from RescueTime that let me know where my time goes on the computer.
My experimentation with Geckoboard explains why Pingdom, Twitter, and YHOO widgets are up there: I was curious what they’d look like, but they aren’t useful on this screen. They’ll be replaced with birthday reminders and other distant calendar things I often miss. My roommate and I both use the UP by Jawbone fitness tracker, so I plan to introduce friendly competition by putting our stats up there too.
The heart of my status board is a little Android stick that’s powered by the TV’s USB port:
It’s basically a giant Android tablet. The Android stick turns on and off with the TV. (Sadly, it’s no BAT since there’s no touchscreen.) I use a tiny keyboard and trackpad combo to drive it. It can run Air Display, YouTube, AirPlay video, etc.
You can make this for about $250. Here’s what I used:
- TCL LE32HDF3010 32″ LED TV, $189 at Fry’s
- MK808 Mini Android Stick, $42.95 on Amazon
- FAVI FE01-BL Mini Wireless Keyboard with Mouse Touchpad, $18.77 on Amazon
The LE32HDF3010 at Fry’s is no longer offered at $189. You can find the same model at Costco for $199. A similar TV by Sanyo at Fry’s is currently $189, so check their weekly ad for what’s cheap this week.
I preferred the LE32HDF3010 because unlike most sub-$200 TVs, it has a slim bezel. Because it’s LED, it’s very energy-efficient and only draws 45 watts—less than some of our lights. (I also turn the TV off before leaving the house or sleeping.) You can also move it from room-to-room pretty easily since it’s only 14 pounds. The resolution is 720p, which isn’t stellar but does the job.
You’ll want to shop around for the MK808, since there are lots of variations. I bought mine from Seeed Studio at discount, but they no longer offer it. The MK808 that I have does not play Netflix or Rdio out of the box and requires a firmware update to fix the problem. I don’t need these apps, so it’s not a problem for me.
I used the Auto-Start app to automatically launch the built-in browser app on startup and full!screen to hide Android’s bottom tool bar. The TV boots to Android and in about a minute the status board website appears.
It’s a fun setup and an easy project. If you’ve been wanting your own status board, it’s now pretty cheap to create.