Geckoboard + Pi3 = Wallboard

At Blue we’ve been using Geckoboard to power our office wallboards for about six months. We use them to track our business volumes and workflow queues. To begin with we were using the built-in browser that ships with Sony’s Android based TV’s. There are two major issues with this they only display for an hour then a screensaver appears and they run out of memory. Geckoboard advise against using these built-in browsers.

Bravia_All_apps

Interestingly Geckoboard have put the Rasberry Pi on “do not use list”, however, their article pre-dates the the arrival of the Pi3 which has a much more powerful processor and built in wifi.

What is our Pi made of?

If your pc is running windows you can use Windisk Imager + 7 Zip to extract the img file and write it to the micro SD card.

Configuration

The Ubuntu Mate helper has a Raspberry Pi section, inside there is a button that will resize your boot disk to make full use of the space on your SD card. Press this button.

To make your Pi operate as an always on dashboard you need to disable the screen saver and power saving. In Ubuntu Mate you can do this in System>Preferences>Look and Feel>Screensaver.

To make our Pi’s fill the screen on the Sony TV’s we had to disable overscan, this was done by editing the /boot/config.txt and un-commenting disable_overscan=1. After a reboot the pi filled the screen and the inch thick black border was gone.

Open up a terminal window and type:

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

Scroll down to below the video modes section where you should see the overscan section and simply un-comment the disable_overscan=1 setting.

If everything has worked you should have an awesome looking wallboard. We’ve found our Pi3’s to be very stable, the only intervention needed is down to Firefox needing to restart after an update. Sony TV’s have a feature that allows you to set them to go off and come on at specific times of day which is helpful for us.

Update:  

Do not use the Belkin PSU, whilst it is rated at 2.4 amps it is only able to provide 1.4 amps which is not sufficient when the Pi is working hard. It causes under voltage alerts and may affect stability. We are looking for an alternative.

2nd Update:

We’ve switched to using the official 2.5 amp Pi PSU. tThe Pi’s are more stable with the official PSU but they are still not stable enough for a wallboard. We were looking for 7 days of stable use but are getting only 2 days on average. We’re not really sure what the major cause of the instability is.

Final update:

We have started using the google chromebit ‘s to power our geckobard dashboards, they are not perfect but they are a lot more stable than the pi3. They are also quicker and easier to setup.