A Magic Mirror: See Yourself in This Project

We’re moving from the Arduino to the Raspberry Pi! The Raspberry Pi can be used for SO many projects.

This project, what is a Magic Mirror? That. It’s a ‘mirror’ that you can look into to get information that will help you go about your day.

A fast introduction to the Raspberry Pi: It’s a micro-computer that runs on the Linux Operating System. It can also be a bit confusing if it’s your first time using it, so rather than me being your first introduction, here’s some better resources:

The Pi (and other Linux based micro-computers) give you so many possibilities and there is so much documentation that I don’t want to risk short-changing you guys.

Anyway, the mirror.

Parts:

  • Raspberry Pi 2 or better
    • Plus relevant cables
  • Old Monitor or TV
    • Try not to buy a new one. There is enough second hand monitors in the world that either you have a spare one, or someone you know if throwing one out soon
  • Frame
    • Optional, but will make the project look much nicer

Assembly:

Ok, everyone’s journey will be a little different with this because different monitors, different frames, different willingness to play with electricity and trip the fuses in the house multiple times… Don’t ask. (I know if I had people who read this I will get comments asking, so: Later, you will see why. Mistakes are always possible, especially when tinkering with new ideas and are more likely when you ‘work’ when you should be sleeping)

Step 1: I removed the frame from around the monitor, so that I could put my own frame around it. I did a lot of testing along the way to make sure I didn’t break everything.

Ok, it’s inside of a wood box I created, the wires are all as they should be and the frame is complete (Sorry I didn’t show the making of the wood box. It’s not that interesting. Saw + Wood = Cut)

Step 1.5: Forgot to take a photo of this step, but I got a piece of acrylic cut to the size of the monitor, then I ordered some one way mirror film to go on it. Follow video tutorials about using soapy water to get the best result and minimise bubbles while putting it on and that’s the ‘mirror’ part of your Magic Mirror.

How does that work? Well, anywhere that the monitor remains dark/black will remain reflective. Anywhere that is lit up will not look as reflective so it will show information. Simple as that.

Step 2: The Raspberry Pi also needs power, but the monitor I had didn’t have a USB out on it (well… it did, but it didn’t but… That doesn’t matter) So I hacked together a solution! (Remember the “Tripping fuses” thing I said earlier? This is why)

That is (was?) a high quality USB phone charger, capable of supplying over 2.4 amps. I ‘connected’ *cough* it to the power cord for the monitor in series so it could supply power to the Raspberry Pi without having to have multiple power cables running into the mirror. It’s *technically* safe. I only know this because I experienced multiple ways which it was wasn’t safe. I’m not going to go into any extra detail because:

I DO NOT WANT ANYONE TO DO WHAT I DID THERE! PLAYING WITH MAINS ELECTRICITY SHOULD ONLY BE DONE BY QUALIFIED ELECTRICIANS!

And I do have electrical qualifications.

Assembly Complete.

Code:

https://magicmirror.builders/

They did GREAT work, there is additional modules, you can remove the modules that it comes with (I removed the news module because I’m not American) and I customised the weather module (OpenWeatherMap is pretty fun)

So that’s about it for this project! Not much that can be said for how to do it, but a lot to be said for doing it.

And when you think about why you should do it, always remember.

Why? Because we can.