DIY Project: Turn an Obsolete Newspaper Stand Into a Digital News Feed

Scott Walker is a newspaper editor who has a soft spot for the traditional. Rather than get his headlines from his desktop, he rigged an old newspaper stand to gather all the days news from the web. Here’s how he did it…

Scott scored a used newspaper vending rack on eBay for about $100, shipped. He peeled off the decals covering the sides, sanded the surface, washed the cabinet inside and out, and spray painted the exterior a glossy black.

Then came the search for the perfect and least expensive monitor. “Online deals for small flat-screen LCD monitors can be found for about $130, and savvy shoppers may get even luckier. Finding a monitor with the right exterior dimensions was the tricky part,” writes Scott on his site. “The casing around the screen needed to be small enough to fit into the door inset, which is 16 1/2-by-13 inches. A 17-inch LG Flatron LCD monitor, with just a 1/2 inch border around the screen, provided the best fit.”

Scott installed a Mac Mini and power brick onto the adjustable shelf inside that used to hold newspapers. A subwoofer fits under the shelf and satellite speakers are connected on the outside. He ran rope lighting through the inside of the cabinet and down the back of the exterior.

He then wrote an AppleScript to retrieve the paper. “The Mac Mini connects to the Internet and to my iTunes library through my home wireless network. Each morning the computer launches a script triggered by an iCal alarm. While cueing up a music playlist, the script automatically gathers images, crops them in half with GraphicConverter and launches a slideshow with PhotoPresenter, a nifty little $8 shareware program with lots of snazzy transitions. The remote can pause or cycle through the pages.

“In addition to playing slideshows, music and videos, the digital newsstand can be set up to perform other automated tasks, such as sending downloaded items as e-mail attachments, displaying RSS feeds or even printing a newspaper.”

You can check out more detailed instructions at Scott’s site.

We are impressed, to say the very least!