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redRover Kobo Picture Frame


This was an experiment to try and breathe new life into an old e-reader that had been gathering dust in my drawer, perfect for space lovers & those who like poking around embedded Linux devices.

Thankfully, there's a fairly active group of hackers that have repurposed their Kobos for similar projects, namely weather displays. Building on their work, I was able to use my very old Kobo WiFi (though newer models should work just as well) as a display for images taken by the mars rover. At 12:00 EST each day, the system retrieves the latest rover photo from NASA's Open API then crops and displays it.

*Some of the answers to my problems were scraped from defunct internet forums. If you see some of your code in this repo, let me know!


Setting up the kobo is incredibly easy:

Before starting:


  1. Root your Kobo using this guide.

  2. Attach your Kobo to your PC and copy the redRover folder of this repo to the internal storage, which should mount as removable storage.

  • Do not change the name of the folder.
  • Do not move or modify the contents of the folder (yet).
  1. Telnet into your Kobo, and do the following:
  • cd to /mnt/onboard/redRover/.
  • Run ./
  • reboot the system for changes to take effect.

And you're done!

Server setup.

By default, will download an image from my server, with no additional configuration needed. However, if you'd like to process your own images, the well-commented server-side code is available in the Server directory. It's written for use on Linux, with a web root of /var/www/, but changing this is a ctrl-F away.

*Note: The script depends on PIL for working with images.

Those wishing to self-host might also want to review NASA's Mars Rover Photos API Documentation.

Caveats and Potential Improvements

  • There are 3 versions of busybox on the system in total: the system's version, the vanilla version compiled for ARMv6, and the version with the rtcwake patch.
  • Fetching and cropping the image could be handled on the device if the appropriate libraries (esp. PIL) could be cross-compiled for the platform.
  • The entire system could be bundled into a KoboRoot.tgz file. I may do this at some point.


This repo contains the code for the client and server-side portions of the redRover project.






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