There’s a time and place for everything and now, thanks to maker and developer Volodymyr Shumara, there’s a place for /r/place. Using our favorite microcontroller, the Raspberry Pi Pico, Shumara has managed to create a digital picture frame that takes a section of the /r/place canvas from Reddit and displays it on an E Ink panel.
If you’re not familiar with /r/place, you might be wondering what it is. Over at Reddit, a subreddit exists with a huge canvas. Users can place one pixel at a time and must wait before they can place another. Over time, users can create works of art, override the works of other people and ultimately make a huge collage of images made from pure collaboration. The /r/place canvas for 2023 has wrapped up and can be seen over at Reddit. This is the image Shumara’s project is sourcing.
The /r/place canvas might consist entirely of just pixel art but it’s so large that the Pico isn’t capable of storing it locally. This means that the project must be broken up into two components. The Pico is responsible for displaying images to the eInk panel but a separate Pi, Shumara recommends a Raspberry Pi Zero, is used to host a server with the full-sized image using Flask. It transmits smaller images to the Pico to be used in the picture frame.
If you want to recreate this project, you’ve got a lot of room for flexibility. At the most basic level, however, you’ll need a Raspberry Pi Pico W, a separate Pi for the Flask server and a panel to display the /r/place images. In this case, Shumara is using a 3.7-inch Waveshare E Ink display with a resolution of 480 x 280. You can always customize the project further by decorating the panel with a frame, etc.
If you want to dig into the source code, you’re in luck. Shumara was kind enough to share everything over at GitHub for any interested parties to explore. There you’ll find code for both the client side that runs on the Pico as well as the server side.
If you want to see this Raspberry Pi project up close, you can check out the original thread shared by Shumara over at Reddit. It has pictures of the frame in action as well as additional details about its construction.