You can make a seemingly innocuous portrait come to life using an ornately framed flat panel TV powered by a Raspberry Pi. With proper lighting, it will look just like a painting, but every so often, the portrait subject's eyes will shift their gaze ever so slighting, sending chills up the spines of your unsuspecting victims, er, friends.

You'll use a hidden Raspberry Pi Zero as the image playback device to drive the TV over HDMI. Plus, you'll have a set of controls available using the buttons and thumbstick of the Joy Bonnet so you can pause and start the show, and more!

Parts and Materials

Most of the parts you'll need for the image player are provided in the Adabox 005 kit -- you'll just need to supply an OTG Ethernet hub or WiFi dongle, plus a keyboard and mouse. Here are the individual parts:

1 x Raspberry Pi Zero
Version 1.3 Pi Zero ( the W model will work, too)
1 x Joy Bonnet
Controls for your Pi Zero
1 x Adafruit Pi Zero Case
Lovely little case, with snap-off GPIO port cover
1 x Hammer Headers
solderless Raspberry Pi connections


1 x 8GB MicroSD Card with NOOBS 2.0
Micro SD card for your Raspbian instlallation
1 x USB OTG Host Cable
MicroB OTG male to A female
1 x Ethernet Hub and USB Hub
with Micro USB OTG connector

You can save some money and add some convenience by getting the Pi Zero budget pack instead of some of the individual parts above:

1 x Pi Zero Budget Pack
Pi Zero, case, power, SD card, header pins, mini HDMI to HDMI adapter, and OTG cable!

For the digital portrait you'll need:

  • Flat panel TV with HDMI input
  • Ornate frame, large enough to fit TV, or
  • Framing material or crown molding (a cheaper alternative) to make your own
  • VESA mounting hardware to hang the TV
  • Miscellaneous hardware to affix the frame to the TV, such as small wood screws and angle brackets 


If you're going to cut a matte for your TV to fit a frame, you'll need a long straight edge or framing square, and a utility knife.

To cut a frame to exact dimensions or make one from framing or molding, you'll need a tape measure, hand saw and miter box, or a miter saw, as well as fasteners and wood glue, and some corner clamps.

Let's get started setting up the Pi Zero.

This guide was first published on Sep 15, 2017. It was last updated on Sep 15, 2017.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Sep 11, 2017.

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