Smart Mirror

I’m building a smart mirror for my refurbished bathroom. Starting with a damaged LED mirror as the base I already have half of the underlying infrastructure in place. The LED mirror was already wired safely onto the wall and the insulated steel frame had drivers, transformers and other electrical components inside. Since the mirror itself was damaged when I removed it to store during the bathroom refurbishment, I needed a new partly silvered glass and I ordered this in the excellent Mirropane™ Chrome Spy having selected this from the sample pack sent by Brigla-Therm.

Removing the old broken mirror from the frame wasn’t easy! In fact, it was downright scary slowly prising off shards of glass from their glue and I did it very, very slowly. Once removed, I cleaned the old frame and reattached the new mirror glass using bathroom silicone sealant. Light showed through from the overlapped areas behind the white tiled wall so I covered the overlapped sides using black tape.

I chose a VA type of monitor after looking at the discussions on the MagicMirror forum. Apparently these show better contrasts than TN or IPS types, although their response times are slower and less suited to gaming. That’s fine by me – I’m not planning to run anything fast moving on this display as the primary things will be static text and graphics.

The software is relatively simple; I saw one video where the builder said that ‘maintaining JSON was hard’. As a software developer I find it relatively easy so the approach I have gone for is to run the MagicMirror (MM) server remotely in a virtual container and use a browser on a very small client (Raspberry Pi Zero W) to boot and display a single page in full screen mode. I like and admire DakBoard but firstly it is a subscription instead of a one-off cost, and I feel it is also more geared towards the commercial smart mirror provider with billing plans for your remote clients.

I’d also like to control the monitor’s buttons using the GPIO from the RPi but I am uncertain at the moment how to do this. I’d also like to physically turn off the monitor back light when not in use but again not sure yet how this would work. Relays seem an obvious choice.

Power was a challenge as the space behind the mirror is limited particularly in the thickness dimension. Instead of the hulking wall-warts I have decided to build a small soldered breadboard with miniature power supplies to convert from the standard 230V delivered to the mirror into the 12V and 5V needed by the monitor and RPi.

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