Cheapest Magic Mirror
Does anyone have suggestions on building the cheapest Magic Mirror. I’d like to teach a class how to build one where each one works on their own version but I need them to be as cheap as possible so everyone can afford one. I’m guessing something small will help with the price.
For the LCD you can ask at your local recycling center if they have a bunch of old monitors they’d be willing to donate to the school. Otherwise try places like Craigslist or so. You should find old 17" LCD screens for around 5 bucks. If they are not working, but the LCD panel looks ok, you can buy very cheap universal LCD controller boards like this.
The board runs on 5V so you also need a power supply. Try to find cheap 12V power supplies. Those to drive LEDs are generally very inexpensive. 25W should be enough per MagicMirror, but it greatly depends on the number and size of the CCFLs of the LCD. Use a 12V-to5V DC-DC buck converter. I have this one and I can also use it to power my RaspPi.
You’ll also need either an inverter or LED driver for the backlight. I am not linking a product here because it depends on the number of CCFL’s/LED strips but they should generally be less than 2 bucks a piece.
That’s my input from the LCD side of the project. Let me know if you need help or have any questions. I only posted AliExpress links but you can check any other places of course. Check out eBay, Banggood.com, Gearbest and so on. Make sure you do some searching to always get the best price! Especially if it has to be as cheap as possible.
Edit: fixed mainly typos.
I just felt like setting something up and take a picture to visualize the whole thing better.
For my actual mirror I use a V59 controller board which is great but it costs more. The board I linked above can control a large number of screens that run on either 3.3V or 5V. It can’t handle 12V panels, though. AFAIK 12V panels are mainly used in larger screens like TVs. Regular computer screens should use 5V. Anyway, always look for the data sheets before connecting the board to the LCD.
The LED driver for the LCD backlight generally needs 9-30V input. Since the LCD controller board only provides 5V I am drawing 12V directly from the power supply.
@madscientist Thanks for responding. Your idea would be great if I was going to make a cheap for myself but it wont work in my situation. I cant be busy with each students lcd and mirror configuration. Instead ill likely go with a small screen that works as is. These are young students.
I built this for $11. Your students wouldn’t have to do any electronics and everything is included with the laptop, in most cases. I’ve done a few of these. This one is the cheapest.
@teitlebot Of course. Just wanted to show a possible “cheapest” way. It always depends on your budget and skills/age of your students.
No need to go for the LCD controller board path if you get working screens.
I think you have to be lucky to get an old eeePC for just $11. Let alone multiple of those. Have a look into RasPi alternatives like Orange Pi. They are a bit cheaper and I think there’s a forum thread here somewhere of people running MM on it. The Pi0 would be probably the cheapest alternative but I’ve never managed to run MM on it…
Of course a cheap laptop is the easiest way to go if you can get enough for cheap. An old laptop for $25 is still cheaper than a RasPi and already comes with power supply and screen.
@madscientist I did see some posts about using the pi0 for magic mirror. What problems did you have?
Never got it to display anything. Page could not load or something like that. Not on the Pi0 and also not remotely on another PC. After many attemps and long hours of troubleshooting and reading I finally gave up on it.
I really would love to get it working though as I’d like to make another cheap mirror for my brother as a present. Still have a two-way-mirror lying around…