Share photos straight from your phone onto your photo frame with a Raspberry Pi Zero W

The Pi Zero and launched in xxx and the more recent Pi Zero W from xxx are great pieces of kit for the hobbyist. I like to keep one spare so I can have a go at ideas without having to go and buy something or wait for the mail-order to arrive. It’s like have a box of spares or a workshop already there so you can follow your maker instincts.

Project Setup

In this article, we’ll be looking at how to turn a no-name basic digital photo frame into a network-connected Bluetooth-enabled smart frame. The incentive behind this was to get my family to share their images from their own collections onto the picture frame in an almost frictionless manner.

With this setup, the family can share their images straight from their phones, over the air, or they can copy files into a file share. The idea of course is frictionless, so there’s no password, no security, and so on in this set-up, which of course presents its own problems - but that’s outside the scope of this article

In this project, we’ll use the Pi Zero W which is enabled with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi - a capability which wasn’t present in the original Pi Zero. This project also uses capabilities unique to the Pi Zero which are not present on the full-size raspberry pis - such as the ability to emulate a USB drive. So please don’t attempt this project on a regular raspberry pi or an older pi zero. This will only work with the Pi Zero W.

Installation of the operating system and basic configuration of the Pi-Zero W.

With the Pi Zero’s capability to emulate USB devices - you don’t even need a screen or keyboard to do this, you can do it straight from a computer running Windows 10.

Using the Raspberry Pi Imager to install Raspberry PI OS Lite (32bit)

Firstly you’ll need to install the operating system on a blank Micro SD card. The easiest way to do this is use the Raspberry Pi Imager. The Raspberry Pi team has put together this 40-second video to show you how its done.

40 second video on using Raspberry Pi Imager

Once you have copied the Image to the SD card, leave it in the drive so you can edit the configuration files.

Using the Raspberry Pi Imager to install Raspberry PI OS Lite (32bit)

You’ll need to update two files, and create one empty one before you can put the SD card in your Pi Zero.


Add a line


in the [all] section of the config.txt file


  1. Add the text


immediately after ‘rootwait’ in the file cmdline.txt (and on the same line)


Create a file ‘ssh’ (with no .txt extension) in the same folder as the cmdline.txt and config.txt files.

Connect up the raspberry pi zero W

Now safely remove the SD card, and insert it into the PI Zero. Connect the Pizero to your PC using an OTG cable. Make use you use the second from the end socket on the PI. You don’t need an additional power supply, the USB port of your PC will be able to supply enough power.

On later versions of Windows 10, the Raspberry Pi will show in the device manager as a COM port (often COM3), if this happens to you. Follow the video below to install an updated driver in Windows 10

Installing Ethernet/RNDIS driver on Windows 10 to connect Raspberry PI via USB

Still to come:

  • Creating a disk image to be shared by the Pi-Zero
  • Installing the Bluetooth OBEX client (obexpushd)
  • Installing a Samba file share with a guest share (no password required)
  • Configuring Cron to update the disk image
  • Installing mailutils to send the result of the cron job

To be continued…