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Offline AndyInMokum

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Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« on: January 03, 2015, 09:28:03 am »
Hi everyone, I hope everyone who celebrated had a great festive season  ;).  I hope you are all suitably recovered too  :D!!  I treated myself with a Raspberry Pi B+: http://www.raspberrypi.org/.  I've installed Raspbmc to run a dirt cheap Media Centre.  Raspbmc is XBMC ported to run on the Raspberry Pi: http://www.raspbmc.com/.  Wow, this little computer is great fun!!  Out of the box, its a bare bones motherboard, see the website for further details.  After it is assembled into a case it is about the size of pack of playing cards. I installed Raspbmc onto a 16gb USB 3 thumbdrive.  It still needs to have a micro SD card for the boot sector.  I used this combination because I wanted to safely overclock the little 700MHz ARM processor.  A standard installation with everything on the micro SD card in no good for industrial overclocking as it will corrupt the SD card in a hurry.  So don't try it.  Raspbmc overclocks by default to 800MHz.  This works but is still a little laggy.  I've jacked it up to 1GHz.  Here's the /boot/config.txt.
Code: [Select]
arm_freq=1000
core_freq=500
gpu_freq=300
isp_freq=410
sdram_freq=600
over_voltage=6
This works for me very well.  I stuck some heat sinks on it for good measure.  It is now dynamically overclocked with the temp maxing out at around 56℃.  The ARM processor is rated at 85℃.  Its still not exactly a rocket ship but its more than enough to run Raspbmc very smoothly with little to no lag.  I have it connected to my Sony Bravia 40" TV via an HDMI cable and the Raspberry Pi sits silently behind the TV just doing its thing  ;).   

I now have access to thousands of HD, Full HD movies, countless TV channels and enough music to keep me busy for a very long time.  That is just the tip of the iceberg too.  Raspbmc is great for showing photographs and home videos too.  Raspbmc is based on Debian so using ssh to remotely access and manage folders and files it is very familiar territory.  I've also stuck an additional 32GB thumb drive to store media files.  Using Filezilla to use FTP to move media files to Raspbmc is so easy.  I'll eventually swap out the 32GB for an external hard drive; preferably an SSD to keep it with no moving parts.  Streaming at the moment is a little hit and miss.  This is because of my slow internet - 10Mbit/s  :-[.  However, I'm getting faster internet on Jan 14th - 50Mbit/s  :o.  That should fix that problem  ;)

I've already said the Raspberry Pi is great fun and it really is just that.  The whole Raspberry Pi/Raspbmc setup cost me around 70.  That's around $85 or ₤55  :o.  I'm still tinkering with it and I'm sure I'll find more surprises.  So far I'm really impressed.  If you want a kick butt Media Centre that is ridiculously cheap and great fun, don't look any further than the Raspberry PI/Raspbmc setup - it rocks ;)!!
« Last Edit: January 03, 2015, 10:11:33 am by AndyInMokum, Reason: Punctuation and spelling »
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Offline 10i

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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2015, 01:54:55 pm »
Glad you are enjoying the Raspberry pi, they are great little "toys".
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Offline AndyInMokum

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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2015, 02:22:43 pm »
Yeh, its great fun.  It is really funny how they have captured the imaginations of so many people from all over the world.  For doing low level tasks, they are ideal and really cheap  ;)!
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Offline PCNetSpec

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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2015, 06:36:01 pm »
I have a model B sitting in the garage collecting dust .. I might just break it out again, but I'd need a powered USB hub (model B only had 2 USB ports, as opposed to the B+'s 4)
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Offline AndyInMokum

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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2015, 07:05:25 pm »
They really are cool little beasties.  I've seen one used for a quadcopter and an old style arcade games player.  There's heaps of other really cool stuff to do.  Before I installed Raspbmc, I installed Raspbian and had a play around.  Its a very cut down version of Debian.  Perfectly functional too. You can even install a version of Arch and Fedora.  The Crunchbang gang were also working on Pi Bang. I saw a very cool basic programming package on it - Scratch.  It was developed by a load of geeks from MIT for kids of 8+, (perfect for me  :D) to learn basic programming.  It is really fun too.  I found it in the Ubuntu repos too, so I've installed it on Peppermint. Yeah, the Raspberry Pi is a blast ;).
« Last Edit: January 03, 2015, 08:12:00 pm by AndyInMokum »
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Offline AndyInMokum

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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2015, 04:54:51 am »
A quick update on my "Raspberry Pi Adventure".  My Raspbmc, (Kodi) build works like a charm: http://www.raspbmc.com/.  I made a few easy hardware modifications to increase the Pi's flexibility and performance.  I changed the bog standard plastic case and removed the small heat sinks from the original build.  It now has an aluminium Flirc Raspberry Pi B+ Case with a built in heat sink.  Raspbmc now runs at around 42℃/104℉ while streaming HD video. This has reduced the operating temperature by around 10℃/22℉ from my original build.  I have also added a 1TB Verbatim external HDD that is attached through a powered USB hub.  I'm now able to download movies and music directly onto the HDD through one of the many Raspbmc's addons such as, Genesis

I can also use an Open source FTP programme like Filezilla to transfer media from my laptop directly to the Raspberry Pi's external hard drive.  Raspbmc (Kodi) being based on Debian 7 "Wheezy", makes it really easy to perform management tasks from my laptop using SSH.  The Raspberry Pi is not a powerful computer by any means.  However, you don't need a "fire breathing monster" to run a media centre.  My Raspbmc, (Kodi) is performing very smoothly and is also very stable.  Its cheap to run too.  The Raspberry Pi B+ set up I have uses about 2 watts ;).  I've worked out that if I run it 24/7.  It will cost me around 8, $10, ₤7 a year  :o!!  If anyone is thinking about getting/building a media centre, I can highly recommend building your own Raspbmc (Kodi) box - great low cost fun ;)!
« Last Edit: January 30, 2015, 10:58:49 am by AndyInMokum »
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Offline mattosensei

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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2015, 08:11:23 am »
Hi this has piqued my interest.

I have a (fairly old now, but still going strong) 26" flatscreen TV but one cannot plug USBs into it (unlike newer TVs) so the only way I can stream to it is by physically connecting laptops/desktops to it. In the past (when I used my PS3) I could get that to stream (if I recall correctly) but I don't use that any more.

So it seems the low-cost Pi may be the answer for me. My TV has 3x HDMI slots (of which only 1x is used, to my Freeview set-top box), so I could spare another for the Pi. My router also sits near the back of the TV so I could plug the Pi in that way.

I have never used 'home theatre' setups before (Kodi etc) so this is going to be new territory.  ::)

I have plenty of micro-USB phone chargers sitting unused (plus a first-gen Kindle charger). Fairly sure I have old SD cards flying around (including a newer high capacity one in my camera that isn't getting much use). I also have a WIFI dongle that I was given free a while back which I have never used. So I'm thinking I'd just need the barebones board (currently 20 on Amazon.co.uk) and a box?  8)

Offline AndyInMokum

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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2015, 09:16:39 am »
Hi mattosensei, it looks like you are basically all set for a Raspbmc (Kodi) box.  I recommend getting the Raspberry Pi B+.  It has 4 USB slots and is runs slightly more efficiently.  It is best to overclock the Pi for Raspbmc, so install it to a good quality fast USB 3 thumb drive.  You will need to format the thumb drive to FAT32 and make a file called usb. You will still need the micro SD card for the boot partition.  If you only use the micro SD card it will corrupt when the Pi is overclocked.  If you can find one on ebay, use the aluminium Flirc Raspberry Pi B+ Case with the built in heat sink.  It really makes a difference.  The power supply needs to be a good one that has 5V potential difference.  You will need a HDMI cable too.  Once you have all that you are ready to go.  I hardly ever watch regular TV now.  I run my music and Radio through Raspbmc (Kodi) too.  There are also addons for YouTube, Spotify and God knows what else.  Honestly, you are spoilt for choice.  Here is the website for installing Raspbmc: http://www.raspbmc.com/wiki/user/os-x-linux-installation/.  It is self-explanatory.  Good luck and have fun with it  ;).
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Offline PCNetSpec

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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2015, 09:27:52 am »
They *really* need to add a SATA controller to the Pi .. that would open up so many more capabilities :)
(I'd certainly be willing to pay the extra)
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Offline AndyInMokum

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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2015, 09:51:59 am »
Yeah, that would be really nice.  For what it is and what it is designed for, its a cracking bit of kit.  The B series is not going to be developed any more.  It will be interesting to see if the C series Pi have a SATA controller when it comes out  ;).
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Offline mattosensei

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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2015, 10:24:43 am »
Andy thanks for the advice - appreciated. Think I'm going to bite the bullet and join the Pi bandwagon  :-*

What capacity micro SD card do I need for the boot partition (think I'll have to buy one as I do have one in my mobile but that's the only one). I probably also need to buy a new higher-capacity USB thumb drive as my 16 gig one is used as a persistent Peppermint 'standalone' on this here Windows laptop (which 99% of the time is booted into Peppermint  :P)

That case you recommended looks good. Oddly, it's only 15 on ebay (seems v.cheap) but 25 on Amazon... (and seller in both cases is Pi Hut!   :-\)

In terms of the Kodi media centre - do you download directly to the USB thumbdrive on the Pi, or are you streaming from the network?

Thanks for your help.  :)

Offline AndyInMokum

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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2015, 11:05:03 am »
If you are going to install Raspbmc to a USB drive, I would only get a 4GB one . They are the smallest available now I think.  It is only going to be used for the boot partition.  Just make sure its a good quality one.  A SanDisk or, Kingston class 10 card is ideal.  The USB 3 thumb drive is going to be your root partition.  This is where your operating system and addons are going to be stored.  16GB is a good size.  A USB 3 Thumb drive is recommended even though the Raspberry Pi is USB 2.  It is still quicker.  If you are going to download or store media files, you will need an additional external target drive.  This can be any USB storage device.  I'm using a 1TB Verbatum HDD.  I'm streaming internet radio at the moment and it runs like a champ.  This mad Greek bloke has some great Kodi setup tutorials https://www.youtube.com/user/galatiscy.  He really is a top notch chap  ;).
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Offline mattosensei

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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2015, 05:49:26 am »
Ohh...

I bought the B+ over the weekend and as of 0900 this morning I believe the latest model has just been announced, the 'Raspberry Pi 2 Model B'

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/02/02/raspberry_pi_model_2/

http://www.hotukdeals.com/deals/new-raspberry-pi-2-27-42-rs-components-2134307

http://www.raspberrypi.org/products/

Wonder if I should try and cancel my order and get that one instead? Probably too late now. Not sure. That said, if the B+ will do everything I need (in terms of media center) then not a problem I'm assuming to stick with it.

EDIT

I'm cancelling the order through Amazon now... I'm also off to the Continent for 10 days with work from Wed so will look into it again when I'm back. Still excited about it but would rather get the newer model if just a few quid more.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2015, 06:22:46 am by mattosensei »

Offline AndyInMokum

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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2015, 07:59:51 am »
Great, I'm interested to hear how you get on with the quad core, 1GB Pi2.  Its as Mark commented on though.  It would have been nicer if they had added a SATA controller.  That with the new specs would really be wicked micro computer. 

I'm already thinking about a new Pi project.  The garden in my apartment block is a wild bird haven in the middle of the city.  This include the thousands of wild rose-ringed parakeets that have taken up residence here  >:(.  There are so many blue and great tits that nest here in the spring. I'm thinking about setting up a nesting box with an infrared  camera attached to a Raspberry PI.  http://www.raspberrypi.org/learning/infrared-bird-box/.  I'll then stream it so the neighbour's kids can watch chicks hatching and developing.  If you find the Pi 2 works well for the Raspbmc box.  I might swap it out and use the Pi B+ I have for the nesting box.  Good luck with the project  ;).
« Last Edit: February 02, 2015, 08:05:33 am by AndyInMokum »
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Re: Raspberry Pi - Raspbmc
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2015, 02:56:02 pm »
If I had a monitor or TV with hdmi I would have bought the new Raspberry pi today
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