Last updated: December 5, 2023
Users have the option of purchasing a Screenly Player or self-building a Screenly Player. While the self-build process is certainly doable, building a Screenly Player on your own requires a good amount of comfort with assembling hardware.
If you’d like to purchase a Screenly Player that is ready-to-go, you can purchase it from our web page here. Our players currently ship from the US or UK to most countries worldwide.
If you would like to self-build a Screenly Player, please see the steps below. Following the details of each step closely will help ensure that your Screenly Player performs reliably.
Step 1: Gather the required hardware.
To build a Screenly Player, you will need to gather the required hardware. Most self-build users already have the required hardware in their office or home from past projects. If you are missing any of the required hardware components, you can find each component from a variety of vendors on Amazon.
You will need:
- A Raspberry Pi Model 4B with 2GB RAM or more (highly preferred - the more RAM, the better), Raspberry Pi Model 3B+, or a Raspberry Pi Model 3B. The Raspberry Pi is a minicomputer that runs Screenly’s digital signage software. You can find a list of official resellers for the Pi 4 here, the Pi 3B+ here, or the Pi 3B here.
- An official Raspberry Pi power supply cable for your device. Many non-official power supply cables deliver inconsistent power and can cause performance issues. Be sure to purchase the official power supply cable appropriate for your model of Raspberry Pi. You can find our recommended official power supply for the Pi 4 model (USB-C) on Amazon here, and for the Pi 3B+ and 3B models (Micro USB male connector) on Amazon here.
- A case for your Raspberry Pi device. Our long experience with digital signage has taught us the value of good ventilation for keeping your digital signage player reliable. To ensure reliability, we do not recommend the official case from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, as it does not have ventilation holes. Always choose a case with great ventilation and fitted heatsinks or a total-heatsink aluminum case, like those made by Flirc (Pi 4 and Pi 3).
- A Class 10 microSD card that is preferably 16GB or greater. We currently recommend buying SanDisk Industrial-grade cards. Part Number: SDSDQAF3-016G. This can be found on Amazon here.
- A microSD card reader/writer. Most PCs have a microSD card reader/writer built-in. However, you can purchase an external microSD card reader/writer that plugs into your PC/Mac via USB or USB-C port. Here is an example also made by SanDisk.
- An HDMI cable. You will need an HDMI cable to connect your Screenly Player to the TV or monitor that you will use for your digital screen.
Once you have the required hardware listed above, move on to Step 2 below. Note that while you do not need a TV or monitor to self-build a Screenly Player, you will need a TV or monitor to be the screen for your digital sign. Your selected TV or monitor will need to accept HDMI input.
Step 2: Install Screenly software onto your microSD card.
Next, you will need to install the Screenly Player software onto your microSD card. Check out our article on installing Screenly Player software on your microSD card for step-by-step instructions.
Step 3: Assemble your hardware.
Now that you have all the required hardware and the Screenly Player software installed on your microSD card, it’s time to put all the pieces together.
First, you'll need to insert your microSD card into the microSD card slot on your Raspberry Pi device. You can find pictures of where to locate this in our guide here. The microSD card slot is underneath the top side of the Raspberry Pi device (we consider the top side of the device to be the side with the silver USB port, HDMI port, and power port).
Next, put your Raspberry Pi device in its case. Some self-build users go without a case. However, we certainly recommend using a case, as the Raspberry Pi device is quite fragile and can become quite hot.
Then, plug one end of the HDMI cable into the Raspberry Pi device, and plug the other end into the TV or monitor. Lastly, plug the power supply cable into your Raspberry Pi device. Note that Screenly Players built with a Pi 4B or 3B+ can be powered using Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology. Learn more on how to power your Screenly Player using PoE here.
That’s it! You have successfully self-built a Screenly Player. To get your digital sign up and running, follow the instructions on your TV or monitor to pair your Screenly Player with your online Screenly account.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at Screenly Support. We’re always happy to help our users, especially if they are stuck!