For years I’ve been dreaming of a streaming media device that could just be stuck to the back of a television. Since XBMC has been far and away my favorite set-top box software, I’ve closely monitored hardware developments that can run that package. Now I think it’s time to declare that the Raspberry Pi has achieved the base specifications to be branded the XBMC device that rules them all.
There are a huge range of opinions on this topic, but please hear me out after the break to see what has brought me to this conclusion.
We’d bet that most readers stream video as the lion’s share of their entertainment consumption. It’s getting easier and easier thanks to great platforms like XBMC, but not everything is available in one place, which can be a bit off-putting. [Tony Hoang] is trying to simplify his viewing experience by creating one remote to rule all of his streaming software. He’s got an HTPC connected to his entertainment center, and used a bit of scripting to add some functionality to this Lenovo N9502 remote control.
The hack is entirely software-side. The remote already works quite well, but he remapped the home, end, and page up buttons, as well as the mouse controller. The three buttons will launch XBMC, Hulu, and Netflix respectively. They are also set to kill the other applications before launch so that one button will do everything needed to switch between one another. The mouse remapping takes care of up, down, left, and right keys for navigation in the UI and control of the playing videos. See a demo of the setup after the break.
Everything was done with autohotkey scripts for Windows. But this should be easy to code with other OSes as well. If you’re prone to have a slip of the finger you might want to work out a double-click to launch the applications so you don’t accidentally hit a key in the middle of your favorite show.
It all starts with one station in your home office but who knows where it can go from there? If you’ve got dreams of being an Internet radio jockey you can get some ideas about equipment startup from this setup that [Viktor’s] built for a friend.
He started out with a plan to have a station that offers twenty-four hour streaming but also supports live broadcast. Two computers are used in the setup. The first handles automated music broadcast and live mixing. This box has two sound cards, one is used for the automated music by feeding the output into a sound mixer that is a separate piece of hardware. The output of that mixer feeds back into the second sound card on the box. This secondary card outputs the final mix to the computer speakers.
The second computer is where a lot of the live broadcast work is done. Any steaming guest (using VOIP or Skype, etc.) come in through this box as well as jingles and sound effects used during the feed. Its sound card is also connected through the external mixer and joins the final feed headed into one of the sound cards on the primary computer.
In the end the Internet connection for the system isn’t beefy enough to reliably support a streaming station. For this a dedicated streaming service is used. It receives the live feed and then uses its increase bandwidth to propagate the signal to listeners anywhere in the world.
[Kyle Kroskey] just finished his first Arduino project, adding web control to a slot machine. He started with an IGT S+ model which were extremely popular in Vegas and Atlantic City casinos for years, but are now being replaced with more modern versions. His grand idea was to modify the machine so that it can be controlled from a PC, then unleash a live stream so that the Internets can play.
This turned out not to be too hard, there’s just a few controls he patched the Arduino into; the button for maxing out the wager amount, and sensors that measure coin inserts and payouts. In order to keep the peace he disconnected the speaker but rerouted the audio into a PC so that it can be played over the streaming feed. This make sure it’s quiet in the room without sacrificing the online fun. The PC is running Ubuntu and controls the video feed, a screen detailing jackpot data above the machine, and facilitates passing webpage player requests to the Arduino for machine control.
[Nathan] took this boombox and outfitted it for Bluetooth streaming. He took a Motorola DC800, which is meant to make headphones wireless, and connected it to the stereo inputs. The controls for the Bluetooth module were routed to the stock tape deck controls and a little bit of frosted spray paint adds a blue glow to the cassette window. Now he can stream music from his phone, including internet radio, which he’s done in the video after the break.
Another group of developers has stepped up to the plate in the never-ending attempt to integrate online streaming video with MythTV. The new plugin is called MythNetVision and aims to bring streaming and downloading video functionality both easily and legally. That means without violating the terms of service of the providing website.
We’ve seen so many attempts that fell short it’s easy to be skeptical about the chances of this plugin actually working. Plugins like MythStream and MythVodka worked only temporarily before breaking and never seemed to provide a reliable option. Many people have tried adding Boxee, Hulu Desktop, or XBMC integration by launching these separate packages via the MythTV UI but that’s far from a clean solution.
It looks like MythNetVision is taking a slightly different approach. Although not yet available, the designers have built the plugin in two parts. The frontend is a fully skinnable user interface that parses RSS feeds to provide the hooks needed to browse, search, and view video. Depending on the content, a browser may be spawned to play the video, it may be played within MythTV’s normal player, or a separate download thread can be launch with video following after the appropriate buffer level is reached. The RSS feeds come either directly from the provider, such as the Revision3 feeds, or a scraper can be written to provide custom RSS feeds from sites that don’t have them.
We’ve seen a glimpse of the progress and we’re optimistic that we’ll see a reliable plugin. Early adoption and user script contribution are the best way to help ensure this so keep an eye out for the public release of this package.
Since our last post about his WiFi Streaming Radio Project, [Jeff] has been hard at work to release part 8 of the project where he adds tuning control to the radio. Interestingly enough, the addition of the tuning control only requires a potentiometer and the completed AVR LCD board from part 7. After wiring the potentiometer to the analog to digital converter on the AVR and adding a few lines of code, the radio can now be tuned quickly and easily. In addition to thoroughly explaining the hardware changes, [Jeff] details the configuration changes required to the OpenWRT framework so that bidirectional communication between the router and AVR is possible, allowing the tuner to function properly. Be sure to check out the video above to see the tuner in action.