Apologies this post has taken longer than I expected to get out. Its a bit different from the others as its about a specific project.
I decided to give making the Magic Mirror a go. It was my first (and I expect not my last) DIY project and I must say I really enjoyed doing it. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while but as with many people the first road block instantly made me move onto the next thing to do. Not very productive right?
So this time round when the urge to make it took me I put myself on the spot, I told my fiance I’d make it for her as a gift for her birthday, though I didn’t tell her exactly what it was only that I was making something myself.
So what is the Magic Mirror? If you haven’t checked out the above link I’d recommend you do they can probably explain it better than me. Essentially it’s a mirror that gives you information, be it the time, weather, news headlines, and a lot more. The image below shows my end product :
What I needed to make the Magic Mirror was:
- A Monitor
- A Raspberry Pi
- A Frame
- A Two-way / See through mirror
The monitor I used was Iiyama ProLite E2207WS, mainly because I’ve had it for years and wasn’t doing anything with it.
First thing I needed to do was get the frame off it, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Was quite worried I’d end up damaging the buttons but it worked out well. You do definitely need to be careful not to damage them as you may not be able to use the monitor if you do.
If you don’t have a monitor lying around make sure you get one where the HDMI connector would not be facing the wall. They should be facing towards the floor if the monitor was standing up right. Another useful option for the monitor would be to ensure it has a USB port capable of powering a Raspberry Pi, that way you only need to worry about one cable. Unfortunately for me my monitor did not have a USB port so I have two cables on display.
I think it’s recommended you use the Raspberry Pi 3 to make the Magic Mirror but again I had a Raspberry PI 2 Model B+ lying about the house that I wanted to do something with. So instead of buying a new Raspberry Pi I just used that instead (and now have an excuse to get the Pi 3). There wasn’t really much to this bit to be fair, those behind the Magic Mirror software make it very easy to get things installed and moving, this is what you need to do:
Generally its considered best practice to ensure your OS is up to date before you get started.
Open a bash terminal
Run the following:
bash -c "$(curl -sL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/MichMich/MagicMirror/master/installers/raspberry.sh)"
This will pull down and install everything we need to get the MagicMirror up and running. Once complete you should be presented with the MagicMirror UI.
The next thing you can do is modify the configuration slightly to better suit your needs. For example
- Update the news feeds to a provider of your choice
- Update the weather to your location or one you are interested in
- Update the Calendar to your own
- You can also add additional modules:
- For information on this please check out the GitHub page here
Now finally for the Pi we need to make sure the Magic Mirror starts for us on boot. It is recommended to use PM2 for this.
Setting up PM2
First, we need to install it; so run the following from terminal:
sudo npm install -g pm2
Second, we need ensure PM2 starts on boot; run:
Once that is finished, run the command it shows you.
Next up we need to add a start script for our Magic Mirror, it is recommended to put this script in the Magic Mirror directory (and its just cleaner)
cd ~ vi mm.sh
If you’re not experienced with ‘vi’ try ‘nano‘ instead. Now we want to add our startup commands
cd ~/MagicMirror DISPLAY=:0 npm stat
Save and close vi. Ensure script is executable by running:
chmod a+x mm.sh
Now lets start MagicMirror using PM2; run:
pm2 start mm.sh
MagicMirror should now start up. Once it does press the super key + tab to navigate back to your terminal and run the following to ensure PM2 starts your MagicMirror on boot.
That’s it, our software side of things is complete next up lets check out the Mirror itself.
The mirror was one of the things that stopped me going forward in the past. I’d spoken to a local Mirror shop and they made it sound like getting the two way sheet/glass was going to be really difficult. Annoyingly if I’d just taken a look on the web I’d have found it. This time round I took to Amazon a tried to hunt something down, luckily I found a seller called Sign Materials Direct who sold something along the lines that I needed.
Unfortunately they didn’t sell it the size I needed as the sheet needs to match the monitor. Luckily, again, however someone had had a similar issue as me and had asked the question about customisation. Turns out they can cut the material to “any shape or size” you need. So I got in touch with them at the email address in the link (who got back to me very quickly) and within a few days I had my custom cut sheet that fit perfectly.
If you’re in the UK I would highly recommend you give them a try, I was really happy with the price and speed.
Also best to add I’m not affiliated with Sign Materials Direct, just a happy customer.
At first I was thinking I might make the frame myself as I was going to have to make a housing unit to put the monitor in and then attach it to the frame anyway. Then I realised, I am neither a carpenter nor an artist and threw that idea a way.
We have a large Mirror in our living room and thought getting a matching frame would look quite good. So off to the local Mirror shop I went again, that’s where the larger mirror came from, and that was a no go as their supplier doesn’t do custom sizes. But moving on anyway I gave the internet a go and found a company who make custom frames and thought they looked really nice. So I got the frame from there.
Now I was a bit worried about was may be I’d measured something wrong or had typed something wrong, made a “school boy error” or one of the pieces didn’t fit right etc. But nope it was all good, the frame and Mirror fit perfectly.
The next step was to get some decent wood and cut it to house the monitor and Raspberry Pi. I didn’t have a saw so this was a pretty good excuse to get an over the top tool for the job right?
The wood I used was Redwood planed timber, apparently normally used for door frames. But did the job quite nicely in this instance. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures for that part which may have been the most interesting, wood cuttings everywhere and a large circular saw.
Anyway I ended up with a bit more than I needed, mainly because I cut one piece slightly too small so had to go buy some more. Though I’m sure I’ll be needing to cut it for a shelf or something… or to just cut it. So got the wood cut to the right size, screwed the pieces together, and painted the whole thing white. Eventually, once dried, got the housing unit attached to the back of the frame with perhaps a few too many screws than was needed but better safe than sorry right?
One thing I would add if you decided to do this yourself, I can’t imagine the unit would get too hot but I drilled two large(ish) holes into the top of the housing unit to allow some kind of air flow just in case. I’m not planning on leaving it powered on all the time but I would say it’s worth putting the holes there.
On the wall
The final job, getting it on the wall. This step was easier to do than I thought it would be as the wall had a large screw in it already for the Magic Mirror to rest on all I needed to add was something to stabilise it. This was done by adding some 90° hooks to the underside of the Housing unit to give the overall structure more support. I may add some more hooks to the top of the housing unit to make sure but it is certainly well secure now.
Well thanks for sticking all the way through this post. I know it’s not my normal style but I thought I might try adding this as it’s the first project I gave a go and am quite pleased with the results. The fiance really likes it so that’s good.
With all the modules available for the Magic Mirror and no doubt some more really cool ones that will come out the in future I’m going to add to what I’ve got so far. Things like facial recognition, Alexa integration, calendar notifications, and there’s plenty more.
Hopefully you decide to give it a go yourself and if there’s anything I can help with please get in touch.