Step 1) Choose OS.

I was originally looking to use a Raspberry Pi for this project. Although I have used my Pi as a media console I was not extremely familiar with how I might get all the programs I want to use up and running so I ended up choosing to use Windows as I knew the support existed.

Step 2) Form Factor

I needed this to be a discrete display hanging on the wall not much thicker than existing wall art or mirrors in the home. I determined that I'd have maybe 1/2" - 3/4" of space for the computer behind the frame holding the screen so I needed the computer to be very small. I had seen various chinese mini pc's pop up in my searches in the past and decided to go with the Ainol Mini PC. While I raise an eyebrow at the name choice, it fit my needs fairly well with these specs:

Intel Z3735F 1.83 GHz, 2GB RAM, 32GB eMMC, Windows 8.1, 7000mAh battery (acting as a UPS), Wifi & BT 4.0, 2 full size USB, micro SD card slot, mini USB port, mini HDMI port.

I could have gone with a Windows Stick computer but I liked the battery feature and the USB options. The mini pc was actually cheaper than the stick computers which fit with the budget as well.

Step 3) Choose LCD screen, compatible touchscreen panel, and compatible screen control board.

This step was a bit tricky to find a LCD screen, with perfectly sized USB touchscreen panel and the proper control board to match the LCD screen. I ended up contacting njytouch on eBay to see if they had any kits. They ended up having a full kit with all the matching components but it was too expensive for my project. I ended up purchasing the USB touchscreen panel and control board from njytouch and buying the same spec LCD screen in their kit from another eBay seller.

I must say the njytouch had amazing customer support. When I first got my control board and my LCD the colours were off. I contacted njytouch and they were very responsive. They provided the following instructions which solved my display issue:

1. Connect to any of the inputs, VGA, HDMI, DVI, etc.
2. Power up the board and switch off from the 'power' button.
3. Press and hold the 'menu' button, then press the 'power' button briefly, release the 'menu' button.
4. Then press the 'menu' button again.
5. There will now be a hidden factory setting in the OSD menu.
6. Select the factory setting using the + - keys.
7. In the factory settings change the setting 'Lvds Map' from 0 to 1.

Step 4) Frame Assembly

I now had the main components in hand and set out to find a way to mount everything nicely. I originally was going to use a metal picture frame kit to house everything nicely but my budget wouldn't allow it. I took some scrap 1x pine and made my own frame. I didn't want the frame to have too thick of a bezel hindering the touchscreen use so I made a slot the thickness of my screen and glass 1/8" from the top surface. The frame was then sanded, stained, and clearcoated to match some of our other frames. I used some L brackets to fasten the 4th side of the frame in case I ever have to removed the screen assembly in the future. Since I wanted access to the fullsize USB ports from the outside and the power button on the mini pc I used a router to create a space in the frame for the mini pc to slide into.

Step 5) Component Assembly

This was the part I was waiting for. I glued the glass USB touchscreen to my LCD panel and slid the glued assembly into the frame. After mounting the 4th side of the frame with the L brackets I now had a puzzle of components to mount fit on the backside of the LCD screen. After a few iterations I found the final position of most of the components for the most part but there were 2 things I had to figure out; 1) I didn't want to power the LCD screen and the PC with two separate power cords 2) How was I going to access the display menu and power buttons?

Display buttons: I decided to install the button board off to the side of the panel. Luckily the board was the exact depth as the cavity behind the LCD screen. After measuring out where the buttons would be on the outside some holes were drilled. Plexiglass rods were inserted into the holes to act as an extension of the buttons inside. One rod was made smaller to sit flush with the frame and sit over the LED on the button board.

Power: The display ran off 12V and the mini PC runs off 5v. I soldered 2 wires onto the leads of the barrel connector on the display control board and those wires fed a DC-DC voltage converter with an USB output. I bought a USB to 2.5mm barrel jack adapter to power the mini pc from the voltage converter.

I now use a single 12V/2A power adapter which feeds the display board and mini pc.

Step 6) Features

I setup a family Gmail account to use both Google Calendar and Google Keep. With the account setup on the Control Panel and on our mobile devices we can make notes and calendar events that sync with everyone's phone and the control panel. We can see everything on the control panel as we are leaving the house.

I have some outside garage lights that can only be controlled from in the garage so I got a z-wave module to install on the garage switch and a z-wave stick to run from the mini pc.I went with Home Genie as my HA software since my house won't have too much HA at this point in time. I installed the Aeotec micro switch module in the 2-gang outlet box in my garage and used the Gen 5 Aeotec Z-Wave stick in inclusion mode to add it. Once the micro switch was added to the stick I plugged it back into the usb hub and added a z-wave module in HomeGenie and named it garage. It worked very easily.

Step 7) Mounting

I ssed some 3/4" aluminum angle mounted to the wall with toggle bolts. I drilled some holes through the top of the frame and through the angle and glued nuts to the angle over the holes. Since the screws will just be preventing the panel from falling off the angle I figured hot glue was enough to keep the nuts in place.

Once the angle was made I had to install the recessed outlet box. I wanted the panel mounted in a way that didn't show any wiring so a recessed tv box and a low profile power adapter would do the trick. I hardwired the outlet in the recessed box from the light switch below.