Raspberry Pi Smart TV

[Tony] decided his “smart” LED TV wasn’t quite smart enough. So he stuffed a Raspberry Pi in it.

Upon opening the case of his 40″ Hisense Smart LED TV, he discovered that the logic board actually had two unused USB pads — what luck! He tapped off of them to get 5V @ 500mA to power the Pi… Later on he realized this wasn’t the ideal solution — when the TV turned off, it cut the Pi’s power too. So he pulled out his multimeter and probed the board, this time finding a 5V source that remained on while the unit was plugged in.

Next up was the placement of the Raspberry Pi. The included speakers on this particular TV weren’t that good, and since [Tony] uses a surround sound system anyway, he decided to make use of their space better. Cutting out the grill and removing the whole assembly left him with more than enough room to store the Pi and mount a 3D printed LAN and USB port cover!

He’s running Raspbmc which lends the TV tons of functionality. If you don’t mind voiding your warranty, this is a great hack!

25 thoughts on “Raspberry Pi Smart TV

      1. So you cant tell the difference between AC3 and 12bit stereo? Because I get 5.1 AC3 surround sound audio at 24bit out of my Raspberry pi HDMI connector. It’s called AC3 passthrough and it works wonderfully on XBMC.

  1. It’s funny to note that LG, Samsung, etc… come with these TVs and call them Smart TVs. The thing is they’re not so smart and they’re not even easy to use (they tried to simplify the control remote by adding functions in the UI instead of the remote, and they ended up making it a hassle just to switch sources).
    I really do want the TV industry to go in this direction (specially in the direction of these hacks) but highly rated companies just keep wrecking it. If I ever find myself with my own “Smart” TV, I’ll stuff in a Raspberry Pi in it.

    1. I agree with you that ‘smart TV’ interfaces suck, but this will unfortunately never happen because consumer products have to be accessible to everyone. Many non-technical people have trouble connecting basic components, they can’t be expected to flash the latest version of Raspbian to their TV and search obscure forum threads for configuration instructions. Granny McEnduser doesn’t know that unplugging her TV corrupted the OS so it won’t boot, she only cares that it isn’t running her stories anymore (and it’s a Samsung product, therefore it’s Samsung’s responsibility to fix it).

      Smart TVs should be designed more like Roku or Apple TV. Sure the Roku 3 plays games and the Apple TV is locked into Apple’s infrastructure*. However, both open up a wide variety of easily accessible content without requiring the user to tinker under the hood to make everything work properly. Does that sacrifice some flexibility? Of course it does. Will every single user miss that flexibility? I highly doubt it. Ease of use and surface-level customization are more important to a mass-market device than an entirely accessible back room.

      As an example, look at the smartphone market. Only a small portion of phones out there are rooted, because the vast majority of users don’t care about the additional functionality rooting allows. They’re not too stupid to root their phone, they just don’t care to because all they want is to change the wallpaper, rearrange apps, play games, and share pictures with their friends. One could even argue that the iPhone took off like it did _because_ users feel more free to customize technically trivial settings without fear of breaking something important.

      Whenever anyone asks me to recommend a “Smart” TV, I tell them to save their money (or buy a better non-smart TV) and buy a streaming box instead. Not only is the experience a lot cleaner, but if they want one in another room they can buy one that works exactly the same.

      * Yes I know most Apple TV models can be jailbroken to some extent, but that’s getting into “fiddling with technical nonsense users don’t care about” territory.

      1. I do not disagree. It’s just that these companies believe they are simplifying things by adding a lot of stuff in the UI that gives a rather confusing experience, and adding components like Ethernet and don’t have proper drivers for these components (the Smart TV my dad owns can’t establish a connection on Wired some of the times, or when a Wifi USB is plugged in).
        And that’s what I’m really upset about. They ship things that don’t work. These issues cannot even be fixed with software updates, not to mention that these updates are an even bigger hassle. In these cases, homebrew stuff will most of the times fix it by adding other stuff (in this case, the Pi).
        The problem is, like you said, people don’t care or don’t want to care about rooting devices, and they shouldn’t. It brings a lot of good results, in case the person doesn’t brick the device, but people should be happy with what comes out of the box. Because of these faulty TVs, that, in order to fix the issues, require you to buy a “better” version of the hardware, people are not getting the user interface that was available a few years ago that was simple with normal TVs, mainly because they had only one function: displaying television channels. If they want to add functions, they should do it without crippling the main, basic functionality of the TV set.
        This hack could’ve shown that people can do stuff other than what came with the box; it shows, however, that they are crippled and doing these complicated (for the average consumer) hacks makes the overall experience much better.

      2. Why do you want all users in one basket from the get go? “Free Market” ideology allows good ideas to sprout and grow without corporate tentacles interfering. If they work well, they’ll spread. If they work really well, the corporate tentacles will take notice, make some modifications, and make a product available to everyone in a mass-produced price range.

  2. Sadly he did it the wrong way. he should have had that SD card sticking out of the TV’s case so he can easily change/update without having to open the case.

    Don’t use the USB power plug, you can power it from the power pins on the GPIO header.

      1. If you have the SD card part sticking out for easy swapping of the card, then the USB power connector would also be sticking out. If you go this route then it’s tidier to power via GPIO.

    1. Sadly as usual you’re an idiot troll who doesn’t realise that there’s no need to swap the storage on a computer just to change/upgrade.

      I want to see one of your hacks one day. Every time you suggest someone did something wrong you come up with a worse solution. Heck HaD even started an entire section for you called Fail, why not submit some of your achievements for us.

  3. Ironically, the main differences between expensive and cheap TV sets from the same series is that the cheap ones have a bulkier case and the expensive ones have “smart” TV functionality. Rolling your own Raspi into the case may just save you a few hundred bucks (and save you from some bad surprises…)

    Speaking of bad surprises. Read what this blogger discovered his TV set does: http://doctorbeet.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/lg-smart-tvs-logging-usb-filenames-and.html

    Couldn’t have happened with a Raspi TV… :-)

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