Raspberry Pi Media Center

Project Status: Abandoned

Click on the links below to jump to the various sections of this design….

 

Intro

I’m a geek! I don’t have a TV, I don’t have an XBox / Playstation / Wi… I do have a server though which holds lots of media that I like to play back through my laptop or on a nice Samsung monitor. Unfortunately this does mean either letting people loose on my server to play things back as well as adding a graphics card with HDMI and a sound card.

What I really need is a small simplified interface that does all these things and simplifies the interface for non techie people and prevents wandering hands blundering over the server!

Having had a quick look round it looks as though I have two options that appeal to me, google TV or Rasberry Pi. Now I know that there are other options out there like Apple TV but I just wouldn’t stoop that low and I don’t have that much money to throw away!

To cut a long story medium I went for the Pi… it can do LOTS and having the GPIO options really appeals to my techie nature as well as all of the options, the bare circuit board.

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Brief & Inspiration

Inspiration on this one is easy… XBox / Playstation / … I just want an easy way to access media content.

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Time & Money

  Estimated So Far…
Time to Design 2 hrs 2 hrs
Time to Build (Including sourcing/scrounging materials!) 20 hrs 5 hrs
Cost to Build £100 £45

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Preliminary Sketches & Development

No sketches on this one… but a few steps to work through.

1. Get it working
– Install software
2. Make it pretty
– Homemade case
– Power switch
– LEDs

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Review So Far!

Right then software seem relatively straight forward. The first software install I’m going to trial is http://www.raspbmc.com/ seems fairly straight forward.

 

Review So Far!

OK… so it wasn’t that straight forward. First off I got a slow SD card instead of a nice shiney class 10 card which meant that everything was working a little sluggishly. Then I kept coming back to the PI after a while and just saw a flashing cursor. This would require a wipe and rebuild of the card or a reinstall of a backup.

After a lot of swearing I switched to XBian instead of Raspbmc, there isn’t much between them for me so far I thought Xbian was just as rubbish until I tracked down an issue with my power supply! Once I had a nice shiney power supply instead of a cheap unbranded model from ebay then most if not all of the issues I had been having vanished.

The downside is now that I’ve ripped everything apart so many times I’ve kind of lost enthusiasm to tinker with it. It is however a great little media player for my screen. I’ve installed the XBMC app on my phone (free from the Play Store) and set a reservation for the Pi in my DHCP server so that it will always get the same IP even if I wipe and rebuild it. Its a really simple interface but I have not yet got the library working properly or the scrapers. At the moment I have to browse through my own folder structure on the server to find what I want.

Lessons learnt

  • Buy a nice SD card!
  • Don’t get a cheap power supply get a branded one!

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Final Review

Finally found out one of my major issues! I use a monitor, not a TV, there are no speakers on the monitor. I also use an analogue stereo sound system for the audio (I know don’t comment!). If you output 1080p video via HDMI and get the pi to do the D-to-A conversion for the audio out then it is just too much for my little pi!

This project is officially abandoned 🙁

I have however managed to scounge an intel Core2 Duo PC with 8 GB RAM and a silent 1GB HDMI graphics card (helps when you work in I.T.). Although this is a fairly low spec processor wise it is more than happy to be used as a media player for us to watch Downloads, iPlayer, 4od…

My pi has been given a new lease of life as well… meet PiBot.
🙂

3.5mm Input to Car Stereo

Project Status: Abandoned

Intro

The idea behind this project is to add a 3.5mm audio jack socket to my car. I currently have a Toyota Avensis with all of the factory standard equipment, including a single CD – CD player / radio. At the moment I am listening to a very small collection of CD’s and on occasion an MP3 player using a mini FM transmitter. FM transmitters are rubbish in built up cities with little spare bandwidth.

Click on the links below to jump to the various sections of this design….


 

Brief & Inspiration

Related discussion on the Toyota Car Owners Forum:
http://www.toyotaownersclub.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=101902&st=0

Adaptor and wiring loom for rear of stereo:
http://www.connects2.co.uk/c2search.aspx?catID=42&manID=232&modID=595
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Connects2-CTVTYX001-Avensis-Cororlla-Interface/dp/B005FMYD7E

CTVTYX001 – Adaptor and Wiring Loom

Haynes Manual ~£15.50

Once out to a 3.5mm audio jack it would be nice to mount that on the dashboard on a spare switch point. I would do it on a spare switch point so that if it needs to be removed or updated only the switchpoint cover needs to be replced and not the facia or any other large (and expensive) part of the dash.

3.5mm Socket
3.5mm Socket

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Time & Money

  Estimated So Far…
Time to Design 3 hrs 1 hrs
Time to Build
(Including sourcing/scrounging materials!)
4 hrs 0 hrs
Cost to Build £50 £0

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Review So Far!

Shouldn’t be too difficult to do and will set me back ~£50 but leave me with a 3.5mm audio jack socket and a haynes manual!

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