Six Raspberry Pi 4’s Power Sci-Fi-Themed Chinese Take-Out Signage
rice box“Chinese takeout on the go” is a cyberpunk neon and sci-fi inspired kiosk blur. As spotted by Reddit user PaimonforsaleThe kiosk resembles a 1990s sci-fi set, but with six Raspberry Pi 4s hidden in plain sight.
Located on the corner of Morningside Drive and Times Boulevard in Houston, Texas, The Rice Box is a recent addition to the area. The owner seems to love sci-fi, with six Raspberry Pis used to create a digital signage solution and prominently placed in the display. Perhaps they’re also fans of our favorite single-board computers?
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The Raspberry Pi’s only use one micro-HDMI output each, and if you look at the prop signage layout, you’ll see six screens. Most notable are the three large screens that display the menus. Just above these screens are three more screens, complete with sci-fi themed animations, supposedly for set dressing.
The Raspberry Pi 4 is protected by a glass or plexiglass screen. I don’t know yet how theft-proof they will be. Each Raspberry Pi is attached to a red frame. Each frame bears 3D printed imprints, with exposed lines of filament on the top layer. These frames are easy to make with the best 3D printers and laser cutters. The PI is powered using USB C power, but that’s about it. No GPIO pins are used, nor is the USB port. This means that many buttons and switches on signage are just decoration. It’s a real shame because it was fun to have some sounds/lights react to user input.
The code that runs the signage is unknown. This could be a custom one using the Raspberry Pi OS and a bit of Python.Most of the time it’s something like DAK board, screenlyagain Full PageOS, displays web pages using the Chromium browser in kiosk mode. Using his 6 Raspberry Pi 4s for 6 displays seems a bit “overkill”. The Raspberry Pi 4 introduced dual micro HDMI ports, each capable of outputting a 4K30 signal. Can these digital signage OSes output to both HDMI ports at the same time? However, they are based on Raspberry Pi OS/Linux, so hacking their functions is not that difficult.
The Raspberry Pi has been used for digital signage since the board was released. Its low cost and easy access (at the time) made it a natural choice for signage manufacturers. Even IKEA uses Raspberry Pi for store signs. The overall build of the Rice Box is impressive and exudes a Blade Runner aesthetic. I expected Rick Deckard ordering noodles in a world drenched in neon rain.