Archive for August, 2012

I want my raspberry pi to be a media center. Help me please !


Do you want to watch all your movie with your raspberry pi ?
Here is a quick how to, don’t forget by a noob for noobs.

If you want to know what you do need to make it work I suggest you to take a look here. The idea now is to install an operating system that allow you to have a media center.
As far as I know there are three way to get a media center in your raspberry pi which all are based on XBMC :

Which one to use ?

To be honest it is a question of point of view. In my case, I think that if you want a media center. It should only do it.
Openelec is a media center that can’t do anything else. In the other case, Raspbmc and XBMC on a linux distrib can do much more. I do think that the raspberry pi is powerful but not powerful enough to do everything in the same time. I did pick to go on Openelec because it is easy to install, I had no problem and I don’t want my movies to be laggy because of my file server (or whatever you want) running in background is using all my cpu while I watch a 1080p movie.
If you ask me I’d say, try install openelec if it works stay with it. If it doesn’t, give a try to google and forums to make it so. If it still doesn’t work, do the same with Raspbmc. If nothing works install XBMC in a linux distrib, it will have a bigger community (the linux one) and maybe more updated package but you shouldn’t put too much hope on the last one. Also, we all got the same raspberry which mean you must not be the first one to have a problem with it.

How to install it:

I don’t think it is a good idea to do another tutorial to install theses solution when there are already so many online. What I like is video so I will give you video tutorials link to install it.
To install Openelec or Raspbmc watch this, also they tell you the difference between them (somehow what I already said but in a different way). If you have any problem installing Openelec or you would like to tweak it a little read this.
I couldn’t find a nice video to install it in a linux distrib so here is a quick how to:

How to install xbmc on debian
1. add deb squeeze main non-free to /etc/apt/sources.list
2. execute apt-get update, you might see some error, ignore them as of now
3. execute apt-get install deb-multimedia-keyring
4. now its time to add GPG key, download the gpg key package from wget … -4_all.deb
5. install the downloaded package dpkg -i debian-multimedia-keyring_2010.12.26-4_all.deb
6. again do the apt-get update
7. now install the xbmc apt-get install xbmc

So now you know how to install your media center, you also know that I picked Openelec. On the media center part I will now focus only on Openelec. On a the following posts about openelec I will tell what I think about it. What configuration and addon I like using and how to make your own addon !




Ok I got my raspberry pi (model B). Now what do I do ?


If like me you got your new raspberry pi and you didn’t buy earlier anything here’s some help.
First, do not rush things ! It might sound stupid but as a good noob I did rush things and.. well I got an extra hub and wifi card for nothing. I changed them but I had to go back to the store. Not a big deal, but still a waste of time.
Now let’s think about it. What do I need to my raspberry pi ?
It depends what you want to do with it !

For all usages:
How to get it:

Getting the power supply is quite easy. You can use one you already have. Or buy a new one, here for example (Well, I like adafruit, they do nice tutorial and good goods. Most of my to buy link will link you there).  You can also run it from a battery. Here is a must read page if you want to do it. And here is a good battery pack (it is in my wishlist).
A wired power supply

Here is the most important part, do not buy a random sd card ! There are plenty of sd card that are not compatible with the raspberry pi. Moreover, if the sd card is slow, your raspberry will also be slow !
If you already have an sd card and want to know if it will work, here is a good list of compatible and non compatible cards. And here is a benchmark of theses.


For Media Center usage:
  • An external hard drive source.
  • A remote.

To get an external hard drive source you do have different option. You can use a local hard drive that you are already using (on your computer for example) and share it with the media center. In order to do that you can use a network file sharing protocol (SMB, UPnP, AFP…). There are plenty of way to share files thought your local network but one thing you should be aware of is that you’ll want to stream HD video which mean you need to have a good bandwidth speed. I highly not recommend to use it with a wireless 802.11g as you can see here it is not reliable. You can do it with a wireless 802.11n or BPL (200 mb/s is enough). Otherwise, you can plug an external hard drive but it has to have its own power supply.

Before buying a remote, if you already have one you don’t use try it ! It was my case, and it worked like a charm. It is a windows media center remote. If it is not your case, take a look here to choose one or if you feel like in a hacking spirit take a look here.

For GPIO usage:
  • A buffer to protect your gpio pin
  • Wiring cable
  • Resistor, sensor, lcd, motor, battery…
How to get it:

The raspberry pi comes with gpio but it is not protected at all. This mean that you can kill your card if you do a bad wiring. Before doing anything protect your board with a buffer ! In order to protect your board you have to read this. A good board to get is the getboard but it is a bit expensive for me so I’ll be using transistors. Another thing you should consider is buying  the Adafruit Pi Cobbler Breakout Kit for Raspberry Pi. I did my own with a spot welder but to be honest, it is quite a mess of wires.

My raspberry pi

Once you have your cobbler, buy some leds and resistor and have fun !

I did not speak about usb hub or keyboard or moose because I don’t use it since I always use either my remote or ssh which means I don’t need extra usb ports. If you need them, take a look at adafruit. The important thing is that the usb hub has to be powered and compatible with the raspberry pi.


Time for some Raspberry pi !


I just bought my Raspberry pi and I will try to explain stuff about gpio and different usage of the raspberry pi. There might be mistake in some of my explaination and I hope there will be people to notice them.
But first, what is a raspberry pi ?
Here is the wikipedia answer:

The Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized single-board computer developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the intention of stimulating the teaching of basic computer science in schools.

The Raspberry Pi has a Broadcom BCM2835 system on a chip (SoC), which includes an ARM1176JZF-S 700 MHzprocessor, VideoCore IV GPU, and 256 megabytes of RAM. It does not include a built-in hard disk or solid-state drive, but uses an SD card for booting and long-term storage. The Foundation’s goal is to offer two versions, priced at US$ 25 and US$ 35. The Foundation started accepting orders for the higher priced model on 29 February 2012.
The Foundation provides Debian and Arch Linux ARM distributions for download. Also planned are tools for supporting Python as the main programming language, with support for BBC BASIC, (As “Brandy Basic”, the BBC BASIC clone), C, and Perl.

Well, to put it simple. A raspberry pi is a little microchip (or a Plug Computer) that can runs linux and HD video. There are two model who are almost the same (model A and B, the B got a  second usb port and an ethernet controller).

Why bother ?
Because the model A costs US$ 25 and the model B costs US$ 35. It means, for thirty dollars you can have a linux server or a media center or even play with the gpio !

Aw, by the way you must be thinking. What is gpio ?
Go go wikipedia :

General Purpose Input/Output (GPIO) is a generic pin on a chip whose behavior (including whether it is an input or output pin) can be controlled (programmed) through software.GPIO pins have no special purpose defined, and go unused by default. The idea is that sometimes the system integrator building a full system that uses the chip might find it useful to have a handful of additional digital control lines, and having these available from the chip can save the hassle of having to arrange additional circuitry to provide them. For example, the Realtek ALC260 chips (audio codec) have 8 GPIO pins, which go unused by default. Some system integrators (Acer laptops) employing the ALC260 use the first GPIO (GPIO0) to turn on the amplifier used for the laptop’s internal speakers and external headphone jack.

Again, to put it simple. GPIO are pins that let you be able to plug motors, lcd, led I am a noob!

Yes, yes we’ll try to do it together !

Well I think you already understood that theses pages are by a noob for noobs, I will try to explain things as simple as possible so everyone can understand it, so feel free to give advise or ask if you didn’t understand something !

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