Neeraj Rane's Custom ePaper Photo Frame Turns a PCB Frame Into an Interactive Map

This ePaper photo frame's PCB isn't just for show: Exposed copper map pins let you pull up images by location with a tap.

Electrical engineer Neeraj Rane has built an ePaper photo frame with a difference: an exposed circuit board displays map pins that doubles as touch-sensitive buttons to bring up images associated with each place.

"Someone has rightly said that 'memories are special moments that tell our story,'" Rane explains of the inspiration behind the project. "So, I wanted to build something which can bring back the old memories from my favorite places."

Built with a custom PCB, this photo frame lets you choose a location and see an image — in black and white. (📹: Neeraj Rane)

The resulting built takes a 4.3" Waveshare ePaper display board — which requires power only when it's changing state, using electrophoretic display technology — and pairs it with an Espressif ESP32-WROOM-32 module to load and display photos.

It's the frame that makes the project stand out, though: It's a custom PCB, built in Altium Designer, and an artistic one to boot.

"The plan is to display a few of my favorite places on a map on the PCB's silkscreen layer," Rane notes. "The copper touchpads would then be placed pointing at the locations."

"The PCB will have a cutout in the middle for the ePaper display i.e. the PCB itself will be a part of the frame. [The] PCB will have a black solder mask along with an ENIG finish. White silkscreen on a black background and gold-plated touchpads. Sweet!"

Once assembled and programmed, the frame allows the user to tap on any of the exposed map pins to trigger the loading of a bitmap photo taken in that area; if no pin is tapped, the images cycle once an hour — and throws in a joke or two to mix things up.

"I am using an old mobile charger (5V/2A) to power the display," Rane writes. "The photo frame turned out to be very beautiful, [I] just can't take my eyes off it! This can be a perfect gift for your loved ones."

Rane has published a tutorial for the build on Instructables as well as walkthrough video below.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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