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Raspberry Pi Media Centre

14 Apr

Note to readers: if you normally read this blog for the things about travel to foreign parts, or stuff about cooking, you probably want to give this post a miss. Most of this is mainly intended to be a reminder of what I was trying to get working, rather than an entertaining read. You Have Been Warned.

The media centre PC in the lounge has been providing fairly faithful service for something like eight years now, but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth. I think it’s on its third hard disk, and probably fourth cooling fan, but it just hasn’t got the processing power to cope with anything more than standard resolution video, and I’d really like to be able to play HD content.

Also, I’ve recently got a NAS with some big fat hard disks, and it seemed to make sense to let this do all the work of downloading and storing content, and just have something in the lounge that would play the files without any other concerns.

Also also… I wanted an excuse to play with a Raspberry Pi, and this seemed like a good reason, and potentially a cheap solution. If it works, I can buy another one to stick in the bedroom for those times when we each want to watch something different.

The first step was to get the required hardware:

  • Raspberry Pi (obviously);
  • Suitable power supply (I’m sure I’ve got a spare USB charger lying around, but you can never have too many);
  • HDMI cable (I don’t have a spare. I’ve got lots of SCART cables now, but hardly anything uses that any more);
  • Box for the Pi (just a plain one; I’m hoping that it can just be tucked up behind the TV, out of the way);
  • SD cards (two: one for raspbmc, the other for “playing”).

This little lot arrived from RS last week (the SD cards were actually some bizarrely cheap special deal from PC World):
image

Doesn’t look like much, does it? You can get an idea of the scale from the charger and SD cards. I reckon you could just about fit one inside a packet of Cook’s Matches, which might make a nice ‘disguise’ for hiding one in a kitchen.

In theory, the next step is to copy the desired operating system on to the SD cards, plug it all together, and it should mostly Just Work. In practice… well, I’m not holding my breath.

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Posted by on Sunday 14 April 2013 in Geeky stuff

 

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