Raspberry Pi

All posts tagged Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi TV Time Machine

I just saw this cool little TV Time Machine project for the Raspberry Pi:

“For the innards, Wellington used a cannibalised thrift store Dell monitor, hooking it up to a Raspberry Pi 2 and some second-hand speakers. After the addition of Adafruit’s video looper code to loop free content downloaded from the Internet Archive, plus some 3D-printed channel and volume knobs, the TV Time Machine was complete.”

However, we already have a TV Time Machine that can play anything available on our TiVo Roamio OTA (over-the-air):

Broadcast television today is a retro paradise: MeTV, Antenna TV, GRIT, Comet, Heroes & Icons, GetTV, COZI, etc.

The TiVo also can provide DVR recordings, any show we have on Plex, anything on Netflix or Amazon.

Our TV Time Machine in action:

We run the HDMI output of our TiVo to our big TV in the den.

But a composite output is available as well.

I connected an X10 video sender unit to this output with an RCA cable (red, white, and yellow plugs).

Whatever is playing on TiVo in the den is transmitted via the sender to the video receiver unit in the guest room, which is attached to the 1983 TV set by a standard TV coax cable.

The den TV doesn’t need to be on.

[Above left: video sender unit in den; above right: video receiver unit in the guest room. The little curved rod is an IR extender, not needed here. It can be folded down.]

Control the den TiVo remotely from the guest room with the free TiVo phone app:

I try to keep the sender off when not in use because it jams part of the crowded 2.4 GHz band used by older wifi routers; see previous post Conflict between Wifi, X10 video sender.

The X10 receiver can be on all the time. The old TV is always set on channel 3.

(Video sender/receiver pair in the TTM aStore)

Since these devices are analog, the picture looks especially good on an old analog TV.

Next up: “Police Squad!”… IN COLOR

We have all 6 “Police Squad!” and all 49 “The Outer Limits” episodes on Plex.

Browser view. I was able to fix the database’s misspelling in Track 3’s title with Mp3tag. (Click to enlarge)

I probably was drawn to listen to the original “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” soundtracks this week due to my last few posts subconsciously reminding me of that 1964 spy show’s gadgetry.

Some time back, I bought the three U.N.C.L.E. soundtrack packages (2 CDs each) from Film Score Monthly. They were compiled by Jon Burlingame, who also wrote the detailed booklets included in each set. The scores by Jerry Goldsmith, Morton Stevens, Walter Scharf, Lalo Schifrin, Gerald Fried, Robert Drasnin and Richard Shores still sound great.

I can hardly stand to put CDs into a player at this point, preferring to rip them once to my Plex server for anytime, anywhere use with Plex apps in Roku, my smartphone, or the Raspberry Pi/OSMC. My mental set has changed, as when TV came in and altered peoples’ relationship to radio.

Plex Chromecast’d from phone app to the big system.

It’s especially difficult to physically handle these sets, as 2-CD jewel boxes seem prone to breakage and droppage. Also, the fat little booklets (important for full enjoyment of the music) do not enjoy being extracted from or replaced in the cases.

I had previously ripped these CDs with Windows Media Player, but the result was a mess. WMP’s tagging of the .mp3 files was inconsistent, possibly due to the sets being limited editions. This made them poorly organized under Plex.

By now, I know about Plex naming conventions, and use a free tool, Mp3tag, to add/change the tags embedded in each .mp3. So I was ready to try again.


The first problem is with Plex seeing each CD of the pair as a separate album. To solve it:

  • Rip the first CD of the set. Then open up Mp3tag and display the folder containing the .mp3 files. Mp3tag shows you a tag called “discnumber”.
  • Select all the tracks, make their discnumber=1 and save.
  • Do the same with the ripped tracks from the second disc, making those tracks discnumber=2.
  • Then you can move all the .mp3s into a single folder, and Plex will see it as a single album with 2 CDs.

In addition, Plex needed a couple of tags to be fixed:

The “Album” and “Album Artist” tags are key.

I had to experiment with the “Album” tag. Windows Media Player had tagged it “The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Vol. 1 [Original Soundtrack Album] Disc 1” (and then Disc 2), which confused Plex, even after removing the “Disc 1/2″ part of the tag.

Ultimately, in Mp3tag, I changed all the tracks to Album=”The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Vol. 1″ and Album Artist=”Various Artists”. The latter is a catchall solution for compilation albums, and soundtrack albums not entirely composed of tracks from a single artist.

Windows Media Player had also filed the album folder under Music/Soundtrack. To correspond with my retagging, I moved all the tracks to a folder I named “The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Vol. 1″ (same as the Album tag) under the already-existing Music/Various Artists folder.

Mp3tag revealed that the music already was tagged Genre=”Soundtrack”, which is good enough for my purposes, so I deleted the now-empty Soundtracks folder.

I repeated the above for Volumes 2 and 3.

Using Mp3tag free software to fix tags for Vol.3. I dragged the key tags into view. (Click to enlarge)

The album art Plex selected for each album was a bit grainy. If you can find (or scan) a higher-resolution version, you can edit the album in Plex and add the new art under “Poster”. I also added a landscape-oriented Background image of the U.N.C.L.E. logo for each album.

(FYI, most CDs rip correctly with no alteration needed. These were exceptions.)


Not yet content, I wanted to keep all the album booklets together for use while listening.

I repurposed a UPS mailer, printing and gluing on an image found via Google.

(I always wondered why Napoleon Solo’s badge was #11, while Illya was #2. No mystery about Mr. Waverly being #1. If Solo ever complained, maybe Illya pointed out in mock solace that “11” in binary is 3 in decimal.)

Back in the dot-matrix printer era (the 1990s), I printed out an excellent online U.N.C.L.E. TV episode guide, written by Bill Koenig. At that time, I went so far as to bind it into a homemade U.N.C.L.E. folder. With the new packet,  I have a dossier.

(This guide is available at SpyCommandFeatures.wordpress.com with additional articles about the show. I added a shortcut to my phone for even easier reference.)

Homemade episode guide and CD booklet folder


Heroes & Icons (Tulsa channel 41.4) has been playing “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” I have recorded all but 4 of the 105 episodes to hard drive with my Raspberry Pi/OSMC/Windows Media Center setup. The remaining 4 should be coming up within the next month.

My next project may be to remove the commercials and convert them to .mp4 format with MCEBuddy.


Previous U.N.C.L.E. research from Tulsa TV Memories:

The T-Town Affair

U.N.C.L.E., SAGE, SABRE, Strangelove & Tulsa: Connections

And, U.N.C.L.E. HQ in the TTM aStore

kodirecent

The new Plex beta addon for Kodi as seen on our 65″ TV. (Click to enlarge.)

Plex is a great free way to deliver local music/TV/movie content from your computer(s) to your TVs, smartphones, tablets, and browsers.

There are free official Plex apps on several of our media devices: Roku boxes, smartphones, and TiVo.

I have been using the unofficial PleXBMC addon with my $35 Raspberry Pi/OSMC-Kodi computer.

Now there is an official Plex for Kodi addon. It is still in beta, and is currently available only to PlexPass holders.

Preview it in the following series of screenshots.

They also show how I have organized for Plex my Windows-automated online recordings of the locally-produced weekend KWGS music shows (see the previous Cord-Cutting post). Details after the screenshots…

folksaladkodi

My Christmas recording of “The Folk Sampler”. I added the pix from KWGS’ and Mike Flynn’s websites.

folksaladkodi

Christmas “Folk Salad”. That is my own simple naming convention for the recordings.

allthisjazzkodi

Christmas Eve “All This Jazz”. The AAC+ format provides the best sound for the 56Kbps bandwidth.

swingonthiskodi

Christmas Eve “Swing On This”. Grabbed the nice background shot from the internet.


How to organize home-recorded radio shows for Plex:

I will demonstrate by adding my KWGS recordings of “Jazz Night in America” to Plex.

They are on my Windows Desktop in a folder called 1JazzNightInAmerica, with names like JNIA20150704.mp3.

For Plex, each .mp3 needs to be in a separate folder, so that Plex will see them as “albums”. We will name each folder the same as the .mp3 name. My simple naming convention allows them to be put in order by date.

Right-click an .mp3 in Windows Explorer, select “Rename” from the context menu, and use Ctrl-C to copy the show name. Then right-click on the leftmost space within the right pane of Explorer, create a New Folder, then do Ctrl-V to paste in the name of the show. Finally, move the .mp3 into the new folder of the same name. Do this for all the .mp3s.

jniamp3s-=========>>jniafolders

I created a new folder in Windows Explorer under “Music” called “Jazz Night in America (KWGS)” to be consistent with the naming of the other KWGS shows. (I configured Plex to look for new music in the Music folder when I installed it on this PC.)

Now I move one of the folders from 1JazzNightInAmerica into it.

Plex will detect it eventually, but to snap it up, I tell Plex to Update Libraries. Now I see an [Unknown Artist]/[Unknown Album] under “Recently Added Music”. I ignore it for now and go to my Music Library on Plex where I see a list of artists. Scroll down and find “Unknown Artist”. This will now be renamed.

Click the pencil icon for the [Unknown Artist] to edit. Type “Jazz Night in America (KWGS)” into the Artist slot. I copy and paste that same text into the “Sort Artist” field as well. You may, if you wish, add genre Tags (I selected “Jazz” and “Contemporary Jazz”).

You may also add a Poster image and a Background image for this artist. I usually look for official images associated with the show. You need only enter the URL of an image and it will be imported into Plex (but go ahead and save them to your PC as well for future use). I found a photo of host Christian McBride with his bass, and the JNIA logo to use as the background.

I now have a new “Artist” listed as “Jazz Night in America (KWGS)”. Click that artist icon. This artist has one [Unknown Album] so far. Edit the album by clicking the pencil icon on it.

The path to the .mp3 is visible under the Info tab. Copy the intended album name from the path, in this case, “JNIA20150704”. Paste it into both the Album and Sort Album slots under the General tab.

Click to enlarge.

(Optionally, you may also wish to add the same image you used for the artist Poster above; it must already be saved on your PC to do this. Plex uses it for display in some views if it is there. I found that if I added the image to this first album, Plex added it to the rest of the albums I added later.)

I now have a new Artist with one properly named Album to his credit.

At this point, I cut and paste the remaining folders from the Desktop folder into Music/Jazz Night in America (KWGS) folder.

I then tell Plex to Update the Music Library again. When complete, Recently Added Music shows a bunch of new [Unknown Artist]/[Unknown Albums].

You must edit each one, but it is easier this time. For Artist, just type in “Ja”, which will be sufficient to bring up a small list of matching artists from your library. Select “Jazz Night in America (KWGS)”. Click the Info tab and copy the name of this album (e.g., JNIA20150711) from the path, and paste it into Album and Sort Album under the General tab. Save Changes.

The latter process was a bit laborious, since I had so many shows already recorded. It’s not so much work if you are just beginning to record a weekly show.

Here is Mr. McBride and his shows. Now I can go to any of my devices with Plex and listen!

I hope this is helpful to someone, somewhere.

jniaplexview

Browser view of “Jazz Night in America (KWGS)” in Plex, with all the shows (“albums”) I previously recorded. All are now available to my Plex apps on Roku, smartphone, TiVo, Chromecast, Raspberry Pi. (Click to enlarge)

PIXEL, the new desktop for the Raspbian OS, on the media room screen.

Browsing the previous post on the Cord-Cutting Blog.

Browsing the previous post on the Cord-Cutting Blog.

Just yesterday, a new desktop environment for the Raspberry Pi computer’s Windows-style Raspbian operating system was released:

Introducing PIXEL (from the Pi Blog)

PIXEL makes big-screen browsing an even better experience, not least by the addition of Chromium (Wikipedia link), a minimalist version of the Google Chrome browser.

With my wireless mouse and keyboard, it’s a way to browse on a large scale from the comfort of the Laz-E-Boy.

I followed the directions to upgrade the Raspbian image I had on microSD card via command line entries on a system terminal. (Click icon at the top of the desktop to get a terminal.)

If you are starting fresh, you can download the entire image. (By the way, I just made this WordPress.org blog edit while in Chromium on our big screen.)

I also like a new feature, RealVNC (Wikipedia link). I am able to look at and manipulate the desktop of any of our Windows PCs.

Another fun feature for the media room. Did I mention PIXEL is free to download?

Read all about it at the above link.

Update, 11/17/2016: PIXEL is the perfect way to play free Tulsa Library Hoopla music and free Amazon Prime music in the media room. But I found that the Amazon site with all its Javascript imposes a heavy CPU load which can cause overheating of the Pi. No other activity, including video, has ever made the little thermometer icon show up! Read more in the footnote on the Amazon Music post.

New Raspberry Pi 3 with Ethernet, & USB dongles: IR remote control, wireless keyboard.

New Raspberry Pi 3 with USB dongles: IR remote control, wireless keyboard/mouse.

For once, I spent birthday cash on a specific fun item: the new Raspberry Pi 3. The Pi with clear case and power supply cost $50.

A few needed extra expenses:

Two Kingston Digital 8GB microSDHC Class 10 UHS-I microSD cards: $11 total

Wireless USB PC Computer Remote Control Media Center Controller: $8

Logitech MK270 Wireless USB Keyboard/Mouse Combo: $20 (already had one to use with the hacked Wii)

This new Pi has a quad-core processor, ten times more powerful than my original Pi (which has a new job, plugged into our bedroom TV). That makes for much snappier response in OSMC (Open System Media Center), an adaptation of Kodi software for the Pi and other devices.

I loaded one of the microSD cards with OSMC, then customized it. That’s easy by now, having previously explored most of its many available settings and options.

The other microSD card I loaded with Raspbian, a Windows-like operating system for the Pi.

For the first time, using Raspbian, I can efficiently browse with the 65″ theater room TV as a monitor using a wireless keyboard and mouse.

I recall presuming back in the early 2000s that big-screen browsing would be coming soon. It turned out that laptops were a much better way. (The height of boredom is watching someone else browse.) But this would be great for demonstrating a site to a group of people.

As much fun as I have with the Pi, I must admit that a Roku/Chromecast/Apple TV/Fire TV-type device can do almost everything it can do for home theater.

The Pi on OSMC/Kodi definitely can’t replace one of these devices, as it does not have proper addons for Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

But the Pi still does a few unique things for me:

Serves Windows Media Center PVR recordings to the TV. But I wouldn’t need the Pi for that if the WMC PC had an HDMI output. And Emby is capable of doing the same, only better!

Plays back practically all audio and video formats.

For example, I use VLC media player with Windows Scheduler on a PC to record weekly radio shows from KWGS online. The highest quality stream offered is in the advanced audio coding format AAC+. The Pi/OSMC is a good way to take advantage of this .m4a stream delivered via Plex, my current preference in music/video library systems.

Chromecast can handle some .m4a files, but not these (tried it per How to Stream Local Media from Desktop, Android and iOS to Chromecast); my Roku 3 wouldn’t play them, even using the Roku Media Player channel.

Skip directly and easily to specific times on audio/video recordings with a Kodi smartphone app, such as Kore or Yatse. Roku can play my .mp3 files, but no skipping allowed.

OSMC has a slicker and more comprehensive interface than Roku. It includes current Yahoo weather for your zip code and a news ticker, just in case you shut yourself off from the outside world a little too much.

Free Kodi addons of various stripes, e.g., ESPN3.

More tinkering (and hair-pulling) possibilities.

As I mentioned, the original Pi has moved to our bedroom. I added a USB wifi dongle, got it onto the current version of OSMC, added PlexBMC and a few other music and video addons.

But honestly, the Roku LT is sufficient in there. I will be thinking about what else I might do with the old Pi, e.g., RISC OS, Software-Defined Radio, etc. (See previous post $8 USB tuner turns PC into FM radio/recorder.)

Update, 10/6/2016: I wound up moving the old Pi running OSMC back to the theater room; the new Pi is also there running PIXEL (Raspbian OS). With the Logitech Harmony remote, I can switch between the two rather than changing SD/microSD cards.

My original Pi